The Queen revealed a new slimmed-down version of the royal family this week, which — no surprise — doesn’t include Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It also won’t be weighed down by a roster of minor royals or anyone, such as Prince Andrew, who has been mired in scandal.
The “New Firm” was on display at Tuesday night’s socially-distanced outdoor gathering at Windsor Castle, where Elizabeth II has been mostly living since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Mirror and The Express reported.
The eight frontline family members present were: The queen and Prince Charles, the future king, and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall; Prince William and Kate Middleton; Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex; and Princess Anne.
The family members make up an arrangement reportedly devised by Prince Charles, who wanted to streamline operations and the number of people designated to officially represent the monarchy, The Mirror said. The Express also reported that courtiers were excited by the prospect of these senior royals supporting one another’s causes, coordinating their philanthropic work and possibly appearing at joint events.
Some of the pictures from last night’s family gathering at Windsor Castle (outside and socially distant). The closest the Queen will get to a big family Christmas this year after announcing she and Prince Philip will have a “quiet” Covid-secure one this year 🎄 pic.twitter.com/Os0AOueAiA
— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) December 9, 2020
Not surprisingly, Elizabeth’s 99-year-old husband, Prince Philip, is not included in this new plan because he retired from royal duties in 2017.
Harry and Meghan also are not included because they left the U.K. more than a year ago and have since settled in Montecito, Santa Barbara County.
At one point, future king Charles reportedly expected his second son and his American wife to be key players in “The Firm,” but Harry and Meghan felt that their global celebrity wasn’t fully appreciated. Also tired of the intense scrutiny by the U.K. tabloid media, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced last January that they wanted to step away from being full-time working royals and seek to become financially independent.
The absence of Prince Andrew from the Windsor Castle gathering also was striking, given that all of Elizabeth’s other children — Charles, Edward and Anne — have been included in the new plan.
Last year, Andrew, reportedly at the insistence of the queen and Charles, resigned from all public roles as a result of his association with the late pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein, and Epstein’s sex trafficking scandal.
Even before Andrew’s resignation, his daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, had also been sidelined from royal duties, which Andrew reportedly wasn’t too happy about.
It’s likely that Tuesday night’s gathering will be the royal family’s only large gathering this holiday season because the queen and Prince Philip decided to have a COVID-secure Christmas and to forego their traditional extended family festivities at their Sandringham country estate, The Mirror reported.
The gathering also marked the end of William and Kate’s three-day train tour of England, Scotland and Wales to honor frontline workers during the pandemic. The photo of the gathering was the “money shot” at the tour’s final event — allowing the royal family to put on a display of unity this holiday season, wrote Elaine Lui of Lainey Gossip.
“There will be no royal Christmas traditions this year because of the pandemic,” Lui wrote. “And the monarchy must maintain — continuity, stability, succession. It’s all here in this picture, the British senior royals all represented. The Queen, her heir, and his heir in a photo at the castle to assure Britain that no matter what, royals are gonna royal.”
As if to highlight the idea of succession, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge brought their three heirs, George, Charlotte and Louis, out for a photo-op on Friday. The Cambridges attended a special pantomime performance at the London Paladium.