Queen ‘could never truly understand’ reason Prince Harry stepped back

King Charles, William and Harry arrive at Queen's funeral

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Royal expert Katie Nicholl has suggested Queen Elizabeth II struggled to come to terms with the controversial departure of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as working members of the Royal Family. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped back from royal duties in 2020, with the Duke of Sussex repeatedly denying claims he “blindsided” his grandmother with the move. In discussion on her book, The New Royals, Ms Nicholl suggested the late Queen had never been able to fully sympathise with Prince Harry’s desire to escape the responsibilities of royal life, especially given her promise to dedicate her lifetime to public service and provide stability as monarch until her death.

Speaking on The Mail’s Palace Confidential, the royal commentator said: “She [Queen Elizabeth II] could never truly understand why he gave it all up. 

“For a young girl who was never destined to be Queen, but who made that pledge to serve for her whole life – duty was in her DNA.

“So the idea that one of hers could turn their backs on that duty,  I think she did struggle to understand that.”

Before her reign even began, then-Princess Elizabeth had pledged to devote her “whole life” to the services required of the Royal Family during a radio address on her 21st birthday.

Ms Nicholl continued: “After Harry had spoken about no one wanting the responsibility of being King, I’m paraphrasing but it was in his interview with Newsweek, she just couldn’t understand that comment.

“That sort of ‘no one would want duty’ because she was thrust into it with no choice whatsoever.

“When her father became King, the one certainty in her life was that she would be Queen and that was just non-negotiable.”

Following the abdication of King Edward VIII, who stepped down in order to marry a divorcee, a young Queen Elizabeth was forced into the forefront of the royal sphere, becoming next in line to the throne after her father.

Read more: Harry had no plans to see Queen until she died – reality has sunk in

During a 2017 interview with Newsweek, Prince Harry questioned: “Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.”

The Duke of Sussex  suggested the British monarchy continued to exist for the “greater good of the people,” rather than an individual desire among any member to become Head of State.

His struggles with the duty expected of Royal Family members was again reflected upon in his 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey. 

Prince Harry told Oprah: “My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don’t get to leave.” 

He confessed that prior to his own departure as a working royal, he had felt “trapped within the system”.

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Despite the suggestions of Ms Nicholl, that the Queen “struggled to understand” her grandson’s motivations behind the step back, Prince Harry has maintained the decision never came as a shock to the late monarch.

The Duke of Sussex declared: “I’ve never blindsided my grandmother. I have too much respect for her.”

Prince Harry reported he had at least three private conversations with the late Queen, in addition to further discussions with his father, before his departure from the royal sphere was publicly announced.

He added that reports he had “blindsided” his grandmother likely emanated from an untrustworthy source “within the institution ”.

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