LONDON – Buckingham Palace on Friday answered one of the biggest remaining questions about Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations: saying that Prince Andrew, Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, won’t be on the palace balcony when the monarch greets the public on June 2.
The balcony appearance is a centerpiece moment of many royal celebrations, with the royal family smiling and waving to fans at home and millions watching on television around the world. But the build-up to the ceremonies marking Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne have been dogged by questions about whether Andrew, Harry and Meghan would be in such a public spotlight amid a sex scandal and family tensions.
The queen has now settled the matter, decreeing that only working members of the royal family will join her on the balcony to watch a Royal Air Force fly-past after the traditional military review known as Trooping the Color.
”After careful consideration, the queen has decided this year’s traditional Trooping the Color balcony appearance on Thursday 2nd June will be limited to Her Majesty and those members of the royal family who are currently undertaking official public duties on behalf of the queen,’’ the palace said.
The decision comes amid a debate over Andrew’s status after he reached a multimillion pound settlement with a woman who accused him of sexual exploitation. Andrew stepped away from royal duties and was stripped of his honorary military titles amid the scandal caused by the allegations and his links to the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Still, Britain’s media has been awash with reports that Andrew wanted a public role in the Jubilee after he settled the lawsuit.
Harry also kept open the possibility of a balcony appearance in an interview with NBC last month, though he said “security issues and everything else’’ might complicate such a decision. Harry and Meghan, also known as the duke and duchess of Sussex, stepped away from frontline royal duties and moved to California in 2020. They are locked in a legal battle with Britain’s Home Office over security arrangements when they travel to the U.K.
As plans for the Jubilee began to take shape, Harry and Meghan announced Friday they would travel to the U.K. for the festivities.
“Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are excited and honored to attend the queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations this June with their children,” a spokesperson for the couple said.
While Andrew and the Sussexes won’t join the queen on the balcony, as members of the royal family they would be free to attend other events, a palace source said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with palace policies.
The queen’s decision means that she will be accompanied on the balcony by three of her four children and their spouses: Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall; Princess Anne and retired Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence; and Prince Edward and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex.
Prince William, Harry’s older brother, and his wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, will also be on the balcony with their three children, George, Charlotte and Louis. William is second in line to the throne after his father Charles.
This story corrects the name of the prince in the penultimate paragraph to Prince Charles, not Prince Andrew.
Follow all AP stories on the British royals at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii