King Charles should let Harry back into the fold – The Spectator

First, it was a flagpole. Back in 1997, inside the Windsor bubble based at Balmoral – where the priority was two princes whose mother had just died – it made complete and utter sense for no flag to fly at Buckingham Palace. Protocol dictated one didn’t have the Union Jack at half-mast at the institution’s headquarters.
Those mourning Diana, Princess of Wales, and those writing the newspaper headlines didn’t give a fig for protocol. The passions being displayed on the streets of London prompted headlines such as ‘Show Us You Care’ and ‘Where Is Our Queen? Where Is Her Flag’? And in the end the tabloid keyboard warriors delivered a visible Queen and a flagpole that was bare no longer.
Twenty-five years on, King Charles has demonstrated he’s learnt some of the lessons from that very difficult week in the Queen’s life. He’s already ushered in a more emotionally literate reign. He’s comfortable being hugged and kissed by well-wishers with the impact of his grief visible on his face. His mother, one of her close relatives once told me, was of a generation that kept their feelings buried and viewed displaying them in public as a failure.
However, protocol continues to retain the power to make the monarchy appear out of step. The rules dictate that uniforms are for working royals. Simples, as Orlov, the marketing meerkat is given to declare.
Prince Andrew doesn’t view it as so straightforward. With the prospect diminishing as each second passes of the Falklands veteran ever cutting another ribbon, the prince clearly bent his brother’s ear and a compromise was hatched. Andrew will wear a uniform when he joins his siblings as they pay homage to their mother at a vigil in Westminster Hall.
The Andrew accommodation highlighted the absurdity of Prince Harry’s position. He was destined to wear civilian clothes when he paid his respects to his grandmother, despite the fact he’d served Queen and country during two tours of Afghanistan. Such a status quo was untenable and common sense has come to the monarchy’s aid.
The Harry compromise – where, at the King’s request, he’ll wear a military uniform when he attends a vigil with the Queen’s other grandchildren – raises the question as to what further compromises might be needed when it comes to Harry and Meghan.
I’ve written here before that I believe the couple’s exit deal was unnecessarily harsh and should have been tempered by the fact this was a family saying goodbye to one of its own.
King Charles could turn his declaration of love for Harry and Meghan into action. He could give Harry back his honorary military appointments and find the couple space on the Buckingham Palace balcony every now and then. A straightforward task for a family that's well versed in shifting once concrete positions to survive. In 1917, they abandoned Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and embraced Windsor in response to anti-German sentiment. In return for Charles’s magnanimity, Harry’s soul-bearing autobiography could disappear into the long grass.
Such talk intensely irritates the couple’s many critics in the British media and elsewhere who believe that those who’ve made their bed need to pipe down and just lie in it. A status quo King will listen to these voices. A bold King will act and might just begin to ameliorate family discord and give himself the breathing space to focus on other aspects of his new reign.
Peter Hunt is a commentator on the monarchy and constitutional issues. He is a former BBC diplomatic and royal correspondent. He tweets at @_PeterHunt


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