A portrait capturing a ‘slimmed-down’ version of the Royal Family released to mark the new decade may have been the final straw for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
The photograph of the Queen, 93, alongside the Prince of Wales, Duke of Cambridge and six-year-old Prince George was taken in Buckingham Palace’s throne room on December 18, while the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were away in Canada.
ITV royal correspondent Chris Ship described how the portrait may have been received badly by the Sussexes, after a year in which the once inseparable brothers continued to drift apart, and Meghan admitted she was struggling with life as a royal.
He said: ‘The portrait that Buckingham Palace released to mark the start of the decade. It was the Queen and the three future kings – and there was also a bit of video of them stirring the Christmas pudding.
‘I’m not saying they were cutting Harry and Meghan out because it was a brutal fact that Harry was never part of that line of succession but start of a decade it felt like the royal family was very much focusing on the future – the Queen and her three heirs.’
The photograph shows the Queen standing at the front in a white dress with a blue brooch, clutching her trusted Launer handbag; George in Black Watch tartan long trousers and a white shirt by British designer Rachel Riley; Charles in a navy pinstripe suit and William standing behind his father, son and grandmother, smiling in a dark suit and navy blue tie.
The photograph was only the second time that a portrait of Her Majesty and her three heirs has been issued.
The first was released in April 2016 to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday, with the picture then printed on commemorative stamps.
A similarly ‘slimmed-down’ image of the royal family was presented during the Queen’s Christmas speech last year following reports that Charles, 71, wanted to cut down on the number of working royals.
Last year saw the Duke of York stepping back from public life following November’s ‘car crash’ BBC interview that say him try to explain his friendship with convicted US padeophile Jeffrey Epstein.
The new snap came just two weeks after the royals marked the festive season with another series of photos.
The Queen, Charles, William and George made Christmas puddings in Buckingham Palace pictured in front of a Christmas tree adorned with regal corgi and crown decorations.
In footage that was played during the Queen’s Christmas message, George was seen repeatedly stabbing the thick pudding mixture with a wooden spoon, making his grandfather chuckle.