Queen Elizabeth's Special Yet Stern Relationship with Prince Harry: He Had 'His Own Rapport' with Grandmother

Prince Harry's rift with the royal family feels wider than ever a year after Queen Elizabeth's death.

Queen Elizabeth's Special Yet Stern Relationship with Prince Harry: He Had 'His Own Rapport' with Grandmother
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After Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped back from their royal roles in 2020 and relocated to California, they continued to support his grandmother Queen Elizabeth at certain events. They traveled to the U.K. in June 2022 to mark the late monarch's Platinum Jubilee, and they were present at her funeral events a few months later in September.

Queen Elizabeth — despite being someone with whom Prince Harry had "his own rapport," as royal biographer and Queen of Our Times author Robert Hardman put it in PEOPLE's new cover story —was tough with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex when she felt she had to be. When the couple announced their plans to step back from their working roles within the royal family, the Queen decided they couldn’t be half in, half out of the royal family as they'd hoped.

After Prince Harry, 38, and Meghan, 42, confirmed they would not return to their royal roles, the palace said in a statement, "Following conversations with The Duke, The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of The Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service."

"While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family," the Buckingham Palace announcement said.

In response, Prince Harry and Meghan pushed back with a statement that pointedly referenced the Queen's: "We can all live a life of service. Service is universal."

Queen Elizabeth applied the same tactics when her son Prince Andrew, 63, was removed from public duty amid his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

When it comes to the royal way of doing things, “There’s no [hemming] and hawing,” says Hardman. "It’s like, ‘Here are your options, and can we have an answer by Friday?' "

Despite Queen Elizabeth being the matriarch who often brought her family together, there is some hope for an eventual reconciliation between Prince Harry and the royal family. The most recent sign was when the Duke of Sussex traveled to the U.K. for his father's coronation in May (although Meghan stayed in California).

King Charles “leans toward the compassionate rather than the disciplinarian style of family leadership,” adds Hardman, implying hope for the future.