The royal family is shrinking. Just 15 members of the monarchy appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony during June 15’s Trooping the Colour, the annual celebration that usually sees dozens of aristocrats in the line of succession and their families waving to the crowds. But that’s how King Charles III wants it, in keeping with his plans for a slimmed-down monarchy — and his heir, Prince William, plans to keep the culling going once he’s wearing the crown. “When the older members of the family retire,” a friend of the Prince of Wales told one news outlet, “His Royal Highness won’t be inviting anyone else to become working royals.”

Or, perhaps, inviting anyone back. And sources exclusively tell In Touch that Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle, who left their roles as senior working royals in 2020 after being told they couldn’t have the half-in, half-out life of duty they desired, are alarmed that the clock is ticking on their chance of reconciling with his family — and regaining their royal status. “At first they were just so relieved to cut ties with The Firm that they were indifferent to Charles’ slimmed-down monarchy plans,” says a source. “They were too busy starting a new life in America.” But now, as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex realize “life on their own is harder than they thought,” says the source, it could already be too late for any reconsiderations. “They’re running out of time if they ever want to reestablish their royal standing.” The door is closing, with the 75-year-old sovereign facing a short reign — as In Touch has previously reported, he was given two years to live after being diagnosed with cancer last winter — and William waiting in the wings.

Prince Harry Struggled With ‘Living in the Real World’

Life outside the palace has been rough-going for Prince Harry — especially without his father’s financial support. “At least Meghan knew what it meant to work and struggle, and she had connections in Hollywood,” says the source. “Harry didn’t know anything about living in the real world, how to run a large household and cost of upkeep, pay for staff and security, or how to start a business. As a royal, everything had been done for him.”

The dad to Archie, 5, and 3-year-old Lilibet has said he wanted independence, but his and the former Suits star’s ventures have had mixed success. Though the Sussexes embarked on a well-received unofficial royal tour of Nigeria in May and still have a deal with Netflix as well as Harry’s beloved Invictus Games, a string of staff have left their production company. Their lucrative podcasting contract with Spotify abruptly ended last year, and their charitable Archewell Foundation hasn’t brought in the same massive donations it initially did. “They’ve had a lot of setbacks and embarrassments,” concedes the source. “They must have felt at one time or another that they were way above their heads financially and creatively.”

Meghan Markle Wants ‘Peace’ With Sister-in-law Kate Middleton

Worried about her husband, Meghan has secretly been reaching out to Kate, the source reveals, and begging for help. “She wants to make peace with Kate. She doesn’t want any bad blood between them,” shares the source. Despite the Sussexes’ public criticisms of the Prince and Princess of Wales in a bombshell-filled 2021 CBS interview, a 2022 Netflix docuseries and Harry’s 2023 memoir, Spare, in which they accused Kate, 42, of making Meghan, 42, cry before her 2018 wedding, William, 42, of physically attacking his brother, 39, and the family of harboring a racist, she wants a truce. “Meghan’s friends say she regrets how things went down and she never meant any harm to Kate,” says the source. “Though she must realize she could’ve done things differently.”

In March, after Kate announced she was undergoing chemotherapy following her own cancer diagnosis, the Sussexes released a public statement wishing “health and healing for Kate and the family.” Privately, says the source, “Meghan’s been going out of her way to show concern for Kate in this difficult time.” The yoga devotee, who prides herself on her clean and healthy lifestyle, has been “sharing advice on wellness and diet,” says the source. But the future queen has remained aloof. “Kate’s response has been polite at best,” says the source. “She hasn’t exactly encouraged or embraced Meghan.”

Harry Meghan Running Out of Time to Establish Royal Standing
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After all, her sister-in-law is Team William. “Kate is 100 percent behind William and supports him in everything he does,” says the source — including his plan for a smaller stable of working royals. Don’t forget, Queen Elizabeth II set the precedent, disinviting Harry and Meghan from the balcony at her Platinum Jubilee. “The cold treatment the Sussexes received from family members was something they hadn’t bargained for,” says the source. “They were relegated to the background and basically shunned. It hurt that they were so publicly ostracized.”

Can Harry and Meghan Make Amends With The Firm?

The harsh reality, says the source, is that it’s likely already too late to make amends. “Harry and Meghan are never coming back to The Firm — and even if they could, it’s unlikely they would be welcomed back as working royals and have the same privileges they used to have,” says the source. Especially once William is king: “The feeling is that Harry and Meghan made their choice and now must live with it.”

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