Meghan Markle, Prince Harry have Princess Diana's sisters 'in their corner' amid royal family snub: experts
Princess Diana’s older sisters, Lady Jane Fellowes and Lady Sarah McCorquodale, were said to be present at Lilibet’s christening in California.
The U.K.’s DailyMail reported that Prince Harry’s two aunts from his mother's side were among the 20–30 guests who attended the "intimate" ceremony and after-party at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s mansion in Montecito.
Multiple royal experts told Fox News Digital they weren’t surprised that the siblings were in attendance to commemorate the 1-year-old’s special day.
"I think there is a genuine, heartfelt desire on the part of the Spencers to maintain the late Princess of Wales' remarkable legacy — to make sure she's not forgotten as we approach the coronation," said Christopher Andersen, author of "The King."
"They are also filling the void left by the royal family, whose senior members were invited but chose not to attend," he shared. "I think there's also a none-to-subtle message here — one being sent by both the Sussexes and Diana's family — that even if the royals turn their backs on them, Harry, Meghan and their children will always have Diana's family in their corner."
"In that sense, Lady Sarah and Lady Jane are really proxies for Diana," he noted. "They were at the christening because she couldn't be there. It's really quite touching when you think about it."
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The celebration for Lilibet Diana was confirmed on Wednesday. She turns 2 in June.
"I can confirm that Princess Lilibet Diana was christened on Friday, March 3 by the bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, the Rev John Taylor," a spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex told Fox News Digital in a statement.
A source told People magazine that the couple extended an invitation to King Charles, Queen Consort Camilla, Prince William and Kate Middleton; however, they were not in attendance. A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
In addition to Meghan Markle's mother, Doria Ragland, there was a 10-person choir flown in from Atlanta by Tyler Perry, Lilibet’s godfather.
"Having a gospel choir sing the great Edwin Hawkins Singers classic 'Oh Happy Day' is so uplifting and so totally, rousingly American — just another thumb in the eye of the monarchy's stuffy, disapproving men in gray," said Andersen. "Harry and Meghan have a completely new life outside the control of the monarchy now, and even little gestures like this are meant to underscore that."
Over the years, Harry has remained incredibly close to his aunts. Diana was four and six years younger than Fellowes and McCordquodale. In 1997, the women accompanied the former Prince Charles to Paris to bring Diana’s body back home to the UK after her death following a car crash at age 36.
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While the women rarely speak out publicly about their beloved sister, they have shown their support for her two sons during some of the most important events of their lives, including their royal weddings.
"Harry is very close with his aunts," said royal expert Shannon Felton Spence. "In a break from tradition, the photos released from Harry and Megan’s wedding, and Archie’s christening, included both of Diana’s sisters. It’s lovely — Harry has continued a close relationship with them and made the Spencers such an important piece of Archie and Lili’s lives. It’s really such a touching way to keep their ‘Granny Diana’ present in their lives."
Kinsey Schofield, the host of the "To Di For Daily" podcast, said that with the sisters making the trip across the pond, one question remains – where was Markle’s estranged father?
"I am happy that his aunts were in attendance as the Sussexes have a habit of alienating family members and burning bridges," she explained. "It is nice that Diana’s sisters continue to make an effort. However, it does make me wonder where Thomas Markle was. It was leaked that Prince William and King Charles turned down their invite to the backyard baptism to make Harry and Meghan look like they were being the bigger person yet no sign of an invite for Thomas Markle… who has begged to meet his grandchildren."
"I have always heard that Diana’s sisters were worried about Prince Harry and felt like he was lost," Schofield claimed. "Hopefully after seeing him in California… they feel some comfort in his life choices."
Harry, 38, was last pictured with his aunts in 2021 when he unveiled a statue of his late mother alongside Prince William at Kensington Palace. The brothers were seen being warmly greeted by the women with kisses and hugs.
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Experts have argued that royal diaries are planned over a year in advance. Therefore, it would have been difficult for the royal family to participate in the christening as they were obligated to fulfill official functions.
It was recently confirmed that the king's office had been in touch with Harry about the new monarch’s coronation, raising the possibility the prince will attend the historic ceremony despite tensions within the royal family.
If Harry and his wife were to attend the May 6 coronation at Westminster Abbey in London, it would be the first meeting between Charles and his younger son since Harry deepened the rift within the House of Windsor by revealing family secrets in his bestselling book, "Spare."
A spokesperson for the couple said that Harry had received "email correspondence" from the king’s office about the coronation. Buckingham Palace did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"An immediate decision on whether the Duke and Duchess will attend will not be disclosed by us at this time," the couple’s office said in a statement.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped back as senior royals in 2020. They reside in California with their daughter Lilibet and son Archie.