Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Hold First Birthday Party for Lilibet. No Senior Royals Went.

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Karwai Tang/WireImage
Karwai Tang/WireImage

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Lilibet’s birthday party is the royal proxy war

The Daily Beast reported yesterday that it was “highly unlikely” that Queen Elizabeth was planning to “attend a rumored first birthday party for her great-grand-daughter Lilibet at Frogmore Cottage on Saturday,” and so it turned out.

The Sun reports that the “relaxed” birthday party for Lilibet, held by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, was absent real royals, with only the Tindall and Phillips kids—the grandchildren of Princess Anne—expected to show up.

Watch Paddington Bear and Queen Elizabeth Take Tea in Platinum Jubilee Comedy Video

Their parents—Zara and Mike Tindall, and Peter and Autumn Philips—are not HRHs, which makes their attendance entirely uncontroversial.

The queen, who was not well enough to make most of her own Jubilee celebrations, did not attend. Laid up at Windsor with mobility problems, she was in her “comfy clothes” watching the racing on TV, as Zara later told reporters at the Derby horse race. HM is believed to be gathering her strength in the hope she can make a balcony appearance Sunday to wrap up the four-day weekend.

William and Kate, meanwhile, made it amply clear they were not attending Lilibet’s first birthday party, and nor were their children, by the simple expedient of making a high profile public appearance hundreds of miles away in Cardiff with George and Charlotte Saturday.

Online joy was visible however, with birthday wishes for Lilibet issuing forth from the social media accounts of the Royal Family, Charles and Camilla, and Will and Kate. In private, it is known that the queen met her namesake for the first time at a private meeting with Harry and his family.

The Sun says Harry and Meghan “held an informal garden party at Frogmore Cottage, on the royal estate, with a birthday cake, balloons, party games and picnic snacks.”

Whoever has spoken to the paper is well-briefed on the event; and whatever else, it serves to show that the Sussexes have enjoyed at least one occasion over these last few days of Platinum Jubilee events—a period of time which, at least visually, has seemed to have underscored their isolation from the rest of the royals. Has Harry even spoken to William? No one knows. Not a smile has been exchanged the pair in public at least.

Sources told the Sun: “It was a lovely do and had everything you’d expect from a child’s birthday party. But there was no formal entertainment. The idea was for it to be very relaxed and casual, with people free to pop in and out as they wished. It was a nice opportunity for the other royal children to meet Lilibet for the first time. And as her first birthday is such a milestone, there was lots of discussion ahead of time about the presents that she would be given on the day. One idea that proved very popular was a £75 pink Volkswagen Beetle ride-on toy, which had been spotted in Selfridges.”

Lovely. And excellent product placement too!

Kate’s kids get cooking for Sunday’s pageantry

Sunday will see the finale event of the Jubilee take place, the Jubilee Pageant. This is a procession of floats, musicians, corgi puppets (we are not joking) and circus acts through central London’s ceremonial streets.

6,000 performers will line the two-mile route which follows that of the the 1953 coronation procession. Despite dire warnings of inclement weather, the rain has held off in London so far, and it looks like the organizers might get luckier than they did in 2012 when a three hour procession down the Thames in chilly and soaking wet conditions resulted in Prince Philip being hospitalized.

Sunday is also community party day in the U.K., and Charles and Camilla arrived shortly before noon local time at one such event at a London cricket ground, taking their places at a 20ft tea table, while Edward and Sophie were due to sit down at a table at The Long Walk in Windsor Great Park, where royal stans are attempting “to break the world record for the longest dinner table by assembling 488 tables,” the Daily Mail reports.

However, stealing the show are new images posted by Kate showing her three children baking in Cardiff yesterday.

Tweets by KensingtonRoyal

Question: Why did the palace bother inviting Harry and Meghan at all?

Amidst all the glitz, glamor and Paddington Bear-based jubilation of yesterday’s pop concert at the palace, it was hard not to notice the absence of Harry and Meghan. The Daily Beast does not know whether they were “NFI” as the old British saying goes (Not F*****g Invited) or made a decision not to attend themselves. Lending credence to the second version of events is a rumor circulating that they were invited to the Guildhall reception after the St Paul’s Cathedral service Friday, but chose not to go of their own volition.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge watch Paddington Bear and HM The Queen on screen during the Platinum Party at the Palace in front of Buckingham Palace.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Chris Jackson/Getty Images</div>

Are they are being invited to these occasions, and choosing not to go. Maybe. If you are being made to feel as unwelcome as the royals seem to be making them, why would you play nice for the cameras?

Instead, Harry and Meghan maybe watched the event on TV at their Frogmore Cottage home (or maybe not). Let’s hope they got pizza and beer, and resisted the temptation of throwing the crusts at William and Charles when they made their speeches on screen.

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The “Platty Jub” so far, in case you missed it

The Platinum Jubilee weekend draws to a close Sunday afternoon, and as royal planners review events so far, they are likely reasonably satisfied how things have gone after all the years of planning.

Day 1, Thursday was an out and out hit. Sunshine, blue skies and a miraculously healthy monarch appearing not once, not twice but three times to receive the gratitude of her people. The first two appearances were on the balcony at Buckingham Palace during and after the Trooping the Color ceremony which celebrates the queen’s official birthday and went like clockwork.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Louis of Cambridge look out on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Trooping the Colour parade on June 02, 2022 in London, England.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Chris Jackson/Getty Images</div>

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Louis of Cambridge look out on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Trooping the Colour parade on June 02, 2022 in London, England.

Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The third, which was allegedly to trigger the Beacon Lighting ceremonies around the U.K., was perhaps a slight dud; the queen emerged from the Sovereign’s Entrance at Windsor Castle, leaning heavily on a stick, and pressed a button presented as an orb, which lit a row of Christmas lights arranged, we think, like a scepter. These somehow were then supposed to link up with Prince William doing the same thing at Buckingham Palace. A certain amount of magical thinking was required.

The effect wasn’t helped by the fact that many communities in the U.K. lit their beacons long before the queen hit the button.

Thursday also saw day one of Operation Hide Meghan and Harry swing into effect. After making a big deal of the fact they had been invited to the celebrations, and would be watching ‘Trooping’ with other members of the royal family in a ceremonial room overlooking the parade ground, Harry and Meghan were very much not invited to wave to photographers from the windows. A few grainy shots ultimately did emerge of them jocularly shushing the Tindall kids.

Thursday ended with a bit of a downer; the news that the queen had found the day rather uncomfortable and would not be making appearance at a service of Thanksgiving for her reign at St Paul’s Cathedral the next day. That service was a fascinating pictorial representation of royal dysfunction as Harry and Meghan were brutally booted out of the inner circle of the royal family, seated miles away from William, Kate and Charles in the cathedral. Amazingly, the brothers did not even acknowledge each others’ existence.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall during the Platinum Party at the Palace in front of Buckingham Palace on June 04, 2022 in London, England.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images</div>

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall during the Platinum Party at the Palace in front of Buckingham Palace on June 04, 2022 in London, England.

Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images

After the service, Harry and Meghan did not attend a reception, although a rumor is circulating that they were invited—instead hightailing it back to Frogmore Cottage. Saturday’s daytime event—the Derby horse race—was dominated by the ongoing absence of the queen; however, she made a pre-recorded appearance at the evening Party at the Palace thanks to her Paddington Bear skit, which was charming and funny.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Britain's Sophie, Countess of Wessex (L), James, Viscount Severn (C) and Britain's Lady Louise Windsor (R) take their seats for the Platinum Party at Buckingham Palace on June 4, 2022 as part of Queen Elizabeth II's platinum jubilee celebrations.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images</div>

Again, there was no sign of Harry and Meghan. Perhaps the last chance to rectify the omission will come Sunday evening when, according to the worst-kept secret in Britain, there will be another balcony appearance at the end of the Jubilee pageant. If the queen makes it, and Harry and Meghan are not included, it’s hard to see when the family will ever take the opportunity to publicly reconcile.

This week in royal history

The first weekend in June is always when Elizabeth celebrates her “official birthday,” the real one being 21 April. It is Edward VII who is to blame for all this two-birthdays business. His birthday was on 9 November, but in 1908 he moved the ceremony to summer in the hope of less inclement weather.

Were he alive Prince Philip would have turned 101 on June 10. He was born on that day, 1921, at Villa Mon Repos, in Corfu, Greece.

Unanswered questions

CHEEZ, SO MANY. Who is responsible for the low, low, low profile of Harry and Meghan over this weekend, and are the palace aware it looks like the Californians are being snubbed all over again? Why did Harry and Meghan bother coming to the U.K., knowing they would be so universally blanked by the fam? Was it for that one audience with the queen, knowing it might be the only time she meets the great grand-daughter who bears her pet name, Lilibet? Whatever, one supposes it’s been a rough and strange few days for them.

And have the celebrations served a necessary double purpose: a loud hosannah for the queen’s 70 years on the throne, while also being an optimistic effort by the palace to sell the new players in the royal soap opera, major and bit parts, to the public? If so, has it worked, or merely shown the royal family to be an anachronistic bunch of mega-toffs into pageantry and dress-up, which the public will ultimately tire of paying for?

Has the Platinum Jubilee been a four-day party of praise and joy for royal fans, and an excuse to drink, take time off work, let your hair down, or hide in a dark corner wishing it would all be over, for everyone else?

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