In his second annual Christmas broadcast, recorded at Buckingham Palace and aired December 25, King Charles III emphasized tolerance and togetherness in the face of a world divided. “I pray that we can also do all in our power to protect each other,” the 75-year-old said, asking his subjects to “imagine ourselves in the shoes of our neighbors and seek their good as we would our own.” Perhaps that’s why the monarch’s disgraced brother, Prince Andrew, was welcomed along on the royal family’s traditional walk to Sandringham’s St Mary Magdalene Church on Christmas morning. And why, after a 30-year absence, Andrew’s once-shunned ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, was also front and center.
The gesture of forgiveness was particularly galling to Charles’ estranged son, Prince Harry, and his wife, Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who didn’t seem to benefit from the king’s evocation of the Golden Rule. “People are seeing it as another slap in the face to the Sussexes, and Harry would have to agree,” an insider exclusively tells In Touch. “They were the only family members who weren’t there.”
Harry wasn’t the only one surprised by Andrew’s presence on the holiday. Though beloved by the late Queen Elizabeth II, her younger son, 63, has repeatedly brought shame on the royal family. Not only did he draw suspicion with multiple sketchy business deals, but in 2021 he settled a sexual assault case for an undisclosed sum, stemming from his friendship with the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. (For her part, among other things, Fergie, 64, was busted trying to sell access to Andrew to a reporter posing as an Indian businessman.)
Deal of the DayThis Bestselling Kimono Is on Sale Right Now for Just $18 View Deal
It’s all a bit much for Harry, who was benched as a royal after moving with Meghan to the U.S. in 2020. “Harry finds it irritating that Andrew and Fergie joined the family at church,” says the insider. “Andrew because of his ties with Jeffrey Epstein, and Fergie because she’s not even part of the royal family and hasn’t been for some time.” Harry’s older brother, Prince William, and his wife, Kate Middleton, are also said to have gritted their teeth over the inclusion. “William has long been the voice of caution, and he has tried to convince Charles to be careful where Andrew is concerned,” says the insider. Despite new documents related to Epstein soon to be released, says the insider, “Andrew doesn’t seem to think he’s done anything wrong.” (Before her death, the queen stripped him of his military titles and royal patronages.)
Shut out from royal festivities for the second year in a row, Harry and Meghan made merry in their adopted home of Montecito, California, with son Archie, 4, and 2-year-old daughter Lilibet. Moving forward, they’re determined to rehab their tarnished reputation after being bashed for repeatedly complaining about royal life. “They’re desperate to make a comeback after a difficult 2023,” says the insider. “They want to project themselves as straightforward and focused on their work.”
Have a tip? Send it to us! Email In Touch at email@example.com.