Meghan Markle may not have been ‘warmly welcomed’ at Balmoral, says BBC royal correspondent


Meghan Markle may not have travelled to Balmoral with Prince Harry over fears she may not have been ‘warmly welcomed’ by other members of the Royal family, the BBC’s royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said. 

The Duchess of Sussex is thought to be staying in London tonight, after deciding not to travel to Scotland with Harry following what has been described as a late ‘change of plan’.

A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex confirmed earlier on Thursday that the couple would be travelling to ‘Scotland’ together following news of The Queen’s ill health.

But conflicting reports then emerged in the following hours suggesting Meghan would not be going to Balmoral.

While it is not clear what sparked the ‘change of plan’, one royal expert speculated the reason may be due to fears she ‘might not be terribly warmly welcomed’.

The BBC’s royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said on air: ‘She might not be terribly warmly welcomed, to be perfectly candid about it.’

The Queen’s death was then confirmed by the Royal Family at 6.30pm yesterday, with Buckingham Palace saying she had died ‘peacefully’ at Balmoral this afternoon.

Prince Harry is believed to have arrived at the royal estate shortly after the announcement. 

Meghan Markle (picture here with during her and Harry’s recent trip to Dusseldorf) is thought to be staying in London tonight, after deciding not to go to Balmoral with Prince Harry following a late ‘change of plan’

Meghan Markle may not have travelled to Balmoral with Prince Harry over fears she may not have been 'warmly welcomed' by other members of the Royal family, the BBC 's royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell (pictured) said

Conflicting reports emerged in the following hours suggesting Meghan would not be going to Balmoral. One of them came from Omid Scobie (pictured) - a journalist considered 'friendly' towards the couple

Meghan Markle may not have travelled to Balmoral with Prince Harry over fears she may not have been ‘warmly welcomed’ by other members of the Royal family, the BBC ‘s royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell (pictured left) said. Conflicting reports emerged in the following hours suggesting Meghan would not be going to Balmoral. One of them came from Omid Scobie (pictured right) – a journalist considered ‘friendly’ towards the couple

Sombre Prince Harry holds his head as he travels to Balmoral following the announcement of the Queen's death

Sombre Prince Harry holds his head as he travels to Balmoral following the announcement of the Queen’s death

The Queen's death was then confirmed by the Royal Family at 6.30pm on Thursday(pictured: Prince William and Prince Andrew arrive at Balmoral). Prince Harry is believed to have arrived at the royal estate shortly after the announcement

The Queen’s death was then confirmed by the Royal Family at 6.30pm on Thursday(pictured: Prince William and Prince Andrew arrive at Balmoral). Prince Harry is believed to have arrived at the royal estate shortly after the announcement

It comes after it was initially stated by the Duke and Duchess of would be travelling to ‘Scotland’ together following news of The Queen’s ill health.

That announcement came at 1.38pm – around an hour after the Royal Family announced doctors were ‘concerned’ about The Queen’s health.

But around 4.30pm, sources close to the couple told journalists that Meghan would not be travelling with Prince Harry to Balmoral.

This was later confirmed by, Omid Scobie, a journalist who is considered to be ‘friendly’ towards the couple. 

The death of Queen Elizabeth II: A timeline of how yesterday’s events played out

12.35pm: A statement is released by Buckingham Palace, announcing that the Queen is under medical supervision at Balmoral after doctors became ‘concerned for her health’. A Palace spokesperson says: ‘Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision. The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.’

12.47pm: A statement is released by Clarence House, confirming that Prince Charles and his wife Camilla would travel to Balmoral. It says: ‘The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have travelled to Balmoral’. 

12.48pm: A minute later, Kensington Palace announces that Price William will be travelling to Balmoral. The statement reads: ‘The Duke of Cambridge is also travelling to Balmoral.’

1.37pm: It is reported that Prince Andrew is travelling to Balmoral Castle in Scotland following news that doctors were concerned for The Queen’s health.

1.38pm: Sources confirm to the Press Association (PA) that The Princess Royal is at Balmoral, and the Duke of York and the Earl and Countess of Wessex are on their way to the Queen’s Scottish home. 

1.55pm: A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex confirms that the couple will be ‘travelling to Scotland’. While the initial statement mentions ‘Scotland’, it does not make directly make mention of Balmoral.  The Duke and Duchess of Sussex had been due to attend the WellChild Awards ceremony in London on Thursday evening, but changed their plans to travel to see the Queen.

4.14pm: A news alert by the Press Association (PA) says that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are believed to be travelling to Balmoral ‘separately’ from other royals. 

4.39pm: Less than 30 minutes later, PA issue another news alert, quoting an unnamed source, saying that the Duchess of Sussex will not travel to Balmoral with the Duke of Sussex. The source says that Prince Harry will make the trip by himself. A source says that the Duchess could potentially join Harry in Scotland at a later date, following what PA describes as a ‘change of plan’.

4.44pm: Minutes later, Omid Scobie, a journalist considered ‘friendly’ towards the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and who often quotes unnamed sources close to the couple, writes a post on social media network, Twitter about the situation. He writes: ‘A source has shared an update stating that only Prince Harry has made the trip up to Balmoral. Like the Duchess of Cambridge (who is in Windsor with their three children), the Duchess of Sussex is staying back in England (but still not attending tonight’s WellChild Awards).’ The post mentions Kate, who earlier in the day it was revealed would not travel to Balmoral. She remains in Windsor looking after George, Charlotte and Louis.

6.30pm: The Royal Family announces via social media site Twitter that Queen has died ‘peacefully’ at Balmoral at the age of 96. 

After 6.30pm: Prince Harry is believed to have arrived at Balmoral following the public announcement of the Queen’s death.

In a surprising post on social media site, Twitter, Mr Scobie drew comparisons to the Duchess of Cambridge.

It had earlier been announced Kate would be remaining in Windsor with children George, Charlotte and Louis, who were yesterday attending their first day at their new school.

The Press Association (PA), the UK’s leading national news agency, announced in a news alert at 4.39pm that the Duchess of Sussex would not be travelling with Prince Harry to Balmoral following what it described as a ‘change of plan’.

PA confirmed to MailOnline that they were told the couple were originally travelling together and then it was later clarified that Harry was going to Balmoral alone, but ‘no particular reason was given’.

It is not clear what the ‘change of plan’ involved, and whether the Duchess of Sussex was told to stay away by the Royal Family or had chosen to stay away, like the Duchess of Cambridge.

A royal expert said that Meghan may not have been joining Harry at Balmoral over concerns she may not be ‘welcomed’.

BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell speculated that the Duchess of Sussex may not have travelled to Scotland because she ‘may not be warmly welcomed’ by other members of the Royal family. 

He said: ‘She might not be terribly warmly welcomed, to be perfectly candid about it.’ 

Sources close to the couple say she could potentially join Harry in Scotland at a later date.

The Archewell Foundation has been contacted for a comment. 

Meanwhile, Prince Harry flew to Balmoral this afternoon. It is understood that he arrived at Balmoral shortly after the death of The Queen was announced.

Following the news, Harry and Meghan’s Archewell website homepage has become a blacked-out landing page with the words: ‘In loving memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022.’   

The duke, grieving for his grandmother, will be expected to attend the Queen’s funeral, with Meghan also likely to join him.

She missed Philip’s funeral in 2021 while heavily pregnant with daughter Princess Lilibet. 

Her Majesty’s death was announced in a Twitter by the Royal Family’s official account with a post at 6.30pm yesterday.

It read: ‘The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. 

‘The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.’ 

The heir to the throne Prince Charles, seen carrying a briefcase, took a royal helicopter to Balmoral from Dumfries House with his wife this morning. Princess Anne was already at Balmoral after an engagement this week.

A flight carrying seven members of the Royal household – including Prince William, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex – flew from RAF Northolt in London and landed at Aberdeen at 4pm.

The Duke of Cambridge took to the wheel of his Range Rover with his uncles and aunt on board amid deep concerns about Her Majesty’s health.

Harry and Meghan had not been expected to see any other members of the Royal Family during their visit from California this week. ITV News reported the couple are coordinating plans with other members of the Royal Family amid tensions since they quit as frontline royals – but are ‘travelling separately’.

The last time the Sussexes saw The Queen was in June amid the celebrations for the Platinum Jubilee, when they introduced her to their daughter Lilibet – named in honour of Her Majesty’s childhood nickname – for the first time.

The Duchess of Cambridge is at Windsor with her three children.

A royal spokesman said: ‘Following further evaluation this morning, The Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision. The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.’

Then, at 6.30pm, the Royal Family released a statement on Twitter, announcing the death of The Queen. It read: ‘The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.’

Royal biographer Nigel Cawthorne said: ‘It leads us to believe the situation is much more serious than we’ve been told’.

Any statement about the Queen’s health is deemed to be rare and suggests the situation is serious. It is also significant that all of her immediate family are with her or en route. 

Worried Britons have already gathered outside the gates of Balmoral to pray for Her Majesty and pay their respects. 

In London, around 100 people braved torrential rain to stand at the gates of Buckingham Palace as fears grow for the Queen’s health.

Members of the Royal Family and their aides board a RAF jet for Aberdeen to get to the Queen's side amid concerns for her health

Members of the Royal Family and their aides board a RAF jet for Aberdeen to get to the Queen’s side amid concerns for her health

Catherine, Duchess Of Cambridge, leaves Windsor Castle as she stayed behind in England where her three children are having their first day at school

Catherine, Duchess Of Cambridge, leaves Windsor Castle as she stayed behind in England with her three children 

A Royal flight taking family members including Prince Harry and Prince Andrew to Balmoral takes off from RAF Northolt in London this afternoon

A Royal flight taking family members including Prince Harry and Prince Andrew to Balmoral takes off from RAF Northolt in London this afternoon

Prince Charles pictured at a roundtable with attendees of the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation yesterday. Charles was at Balmoral yesterday

Prince Charles pictured at a roundtable with attendees of the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation yesterday. Charles was at Balmoral yesterday 

Crowds start to gather at the gates of Buckingham Palace yesterday as fears grew for the Queen's health

Crowds start to gather at the gates of Buckingham Palace yesterday as fears grew for the Queen’s health

People are still standing at the gates of Buckingham Palace through torrential rain as the nation awaits updates about The Queen's condition

People are still standing at the gates of Buckingham Palace through torrential rain as the nation awaits updates about The Queen’s condition

PM: ‘The whole country will be deeply concerned about Her Majesty’

Prime Minister Liz Truss said: ‘The whole country will be deeply concerned by the news from Buckingham Palace this lunchtime.

‘My thoughts – and the thoughts of people across our United Kingdom – are with Her Majesty The Queen and her family at this time.’

Britons were forced to face up to the reality that her reign was in her twilight years, when her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, died in April 2021, just weeks shy of his 100th birthday.

‘She is just part of our lives… She’s been the queen for all our lives really. She’s so calm and measured,’ said Maureen Barnett, 66, outside Buckingham Palace as news filtered through.

‘I’ve been concerned since yesterday when I heard she couldn’t do the Privy Council meeting,’ added Elizabeth Jackson, also 66.

‘I was hoping the Scottish air might do her good. The issues have accelerated this year. It is quite worrying.’

Minutes before the statement, the new Prime Minister Liz Truss was handed a note in the Commons informing her of the development as she was revealing her plans to cap energy bills for the next two years.

The Prime Minister, who was sworn in by The Queen at Balmoral on Tuesday, tweeted: ‘The whole country will be deeply concerned by the news from Buckingham Palace this lunchtime. 

‘My thoughts – and the thoughts of people across our United Kingdom – are with Her Majesty The Queen and her family at this time.’

Labour leader Keir Starmer posted: ‘Along with the rest of the country, I am deeply worried by the news from Buckingham Palace this afternoon. My thoughts are with Her Majesty The Queen and her family at this time, and I join everyone across the United Kingdom in hoping for her recovery.’

US President Joe Biden told the Prime Minister that he and his wife Jill are thinking of the Queen amid deep concerns over her health, the White House said.

Biden is receiving regular updates on the queen’s situation and raised the issue in a conference call on Ukraine with allied leaders, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said during a press conference.

‘His and the first lady’s thoughts are solidly and squarely with the queen today, and her family,’ said Kirby.

‘The president has been briefed this morning and will be updated throughout the day concerning news out of the United Kingdom.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen hailed Britain’s The Queen as a symbol of Europe’s shared history and offered ‘thoughts and prayers’ for the monarch.

‘My thoughts and my prayers are with her. And she represents the whole history of the Europe that is our common home, with our British friends,’ von der Leyen told a news conference in Rotterdam.

‘She has given to all of us in all these years – always – stability, confidence. She has shown an immense amount of courage. She is a legend in my eyes.’

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