Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wanted to fly back to the US on Air Force One after the Queen’s funeral – but the White House turned down the request after it caused ‘uproar’, sources have revealed to Newstimesuk.com.
A few months ago, First Lady Jill Biden was also invited to attend Harry’s Invictus Games – but the idea died amid concerns her presence might upset the royal family.
Both failed ventures are understood to have been part of a campaign by Sussex to gain political influence in the United States as he began living in California. Meghan has publicly advocated for paid family leave for lawmakers on Capitol Hill and worked behind the scenes to connect with the Bidens, Newstimesuk.com has discovered by speaking with many current and former officials in the Biden administration and the British government.
The couple have tried various approaches, sources have outlined to Newstimesuk.com – as well as wanting Jill Biden to attend the Invictus Games and return to the US on Air Force One on that journey, the first lady also received an attractive gift in support of Meghan following her controversial TV interview. Thank him for what was seen as a gesture.
Harry and Meghan requested to fly back to the US on Air Force One after Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, Newstimesuk.com can reveal
Joe and Jill Biden wave as they board the presidential plane at London’s Stansted Airport after the Queen’s memorial in September 2022
Biden’s staff did not immediately receive one, admitting the request was a bad idea. ‘It will strain relations with the palace and the new king,’ a source told Newstimesuk.com
The couple, who criticized members of the royal family during their interviews with Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry’s memoir Spare, had a strained relationship with the royal family when the Queen died.
Harry and Meghan were touring the UK for charity engagements when the Queen left on September 8, 2022, and remained in the country through her funeral on September 19.
Ahead of the memorial service, Harry and Meghan were separated from a pre-funeral reception at Buckingham Palace, where King Charles and Queen Camilla welcomed foreign royals and world leaders, including Joe and Jill Biden.
The palace described the reception as ‘for working members of the royal family’. Harry and Meghan are said to be ‘confused’ by the decision.
In the midst of it all, their staff reached out to the White House to ask if the couple could fly back to the United States on Air Force One.
This could be a great photo-op: Harry and Meghan swinging up the steps of the famous blue-and-white 747 next to the President and First Lady of the United States.
But it was not immediate from the Americans. Sources with knowledge of the decision said there was barely any discussion on the matter, just a general agreement that the request was a ‘non-starter’.
‘It caused such a stir. This will strain relations with the palace and the new king,’ another source told Newstimesuk.com.
Both the White House and Buckingham Palace declined to comment for this story. A spokesman for the Duke and Duchess did not respond to a request for comment.
The Bidens can invite anyone they want to ride on Air Force One. But there were questions about who would pay for the Duke and Duchess to be passengers on the plane.
The US government pays for official trips, such as the Bidens’ trip to London, but Harry and Meghan are not American officials. President Biden pays for his children and grandchildren to fly, the Democratic Party pays for any travel to campaign events, and news organizations pay for journalists who travel on board to cover the president’s activities.
Joe and Jill Biden attended the 2017 Invictus Games with Barack Obama and Harry. The Sussexes have tried various methods to gain access to political figures, including sending gifts and inviting Jill Biden to the Invictus Games.
Harry is pictured with Jill Biden at the 2016 Invictus Games. The first lady wanted to attend the 2022 Games, but British officials told National Security Council staff they thought the idea would go down badly, according to a source close to her.
There were other attempts by the Sussexes to join forces with the Bidens.
A central point of their promotion was the Invictus Games in April 2022 in The Hague, Netherlands. It was the couple’s first game since stepping out of the royal family. Prince Harry created the games to honor wounded warriors, and the event has already been a bonding point between Harry and Biden.
Both Bidens attended the Games when they were held in Canada in 2017. And Jill Biden attended the 2016 games in Florida.
The first lady wanted to attend the 2022 Games, according to a source close to her. She was the mother of a veteran and a huge supporter of the military and their families through her Joining Forces Initiative. And she shared her love of the armed forces with Harry, an Afghanistan veteran.
However, British officials, in working-level conversations, told National Security Council staff they thought the idea would go down badly, a source said.
“She wanted to go,” a person familiar with the event told Newstimesuk.com of the first lady, but noted that the East Wing was concerned the palace might suffer if she attended.
Instead, the US delegation was led by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chastain.
At that point, the duke and duchess were seen as independent and held no official state positions due to their departure from the royal family.
Following their public departure from the royal family in January 2020, the Sussexes settled in Canada before eventually moving to California.
However, they have been seen struggling to find their footing in their post-palace lives and have tried many hats as they search for a new role that will suit their desire to transition as they become financially independent.
In addition to their political pursuits, they signed a $100 million deal with Netflix to produce content – although their Harry and Meghan documentary failed to receive an Emmy nomination.
They signed and lost a $20 million deal with Spotify which saw Meghan’s Archetypes podcast canceled after one season. And Bill Simmons, Spotify’s head of international sports content, publicly blasted the two.
‘I wish I had been involved in the “Meghan and Harry leaving Spotify” discussion. Simmons said on his Bill Simmons podcast, “The F***ing Grifters,” which is the podcast we started with them.
‘I got to get drunk one night and tell Harry the Zoom story I had to help him with a podcast idea. This is one of my best stories ever … F*** them. Grifter.’
Harry and Meghan, meanwhile, have blamed bad luck, world events and unfortunate timing for their situation, including the start of the Covid pandemic and their interview with Oprah shortly after the death of Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip.
A source in Los Angeles told Newstimesuk.com: ‘The word is they think they’ve been really unlucky.
But it is believed that the Sussexes saw the Bidens as allies in their efforts to establish their brand post-Megxit, as they sought to gain a foothold in the US.
At the Queen’s funeral service in September 2022, Harry and Meghan were denied a pre-funeral reception at Buckingham Palace, where King Charles and Queen Camilla welcomed foreign royals and world leaders, including Joe and Jill Biden.
Meghan and Kate step out in a united front outside Westminster Abbey after the Queen’s state funeral
Jill wore an Oscar de la Renta that was tipped to support the Duchess of Sussex
They also hired staff with political connections: their spokeswoman Miranda Barbot worked on President Obama’s re-election campaign, and Katie McCormick Lelyveld, who was brought in as a consultant to the charity Archwell, was a former spokeswoman for former First Lady Michelle Obama.
And, following the Sussexes’ now-infamous Oprah interview, their fans seemed to agree that the Bidens were sympathetic to Meghan and Harry.
The day after the interview aired, Jill Biden wore an Oscar de la Renta dress with a lemon pattern to the State Department’s International Women of Courage Awards. It was similar to an Oscar de la Renta dress Meghan wore a month ago.
Twitter saw Jill’s outfit as a subtle nod to support for Team Sussex.
Meghan even sent the first lady a basket of lemons as a thank you.
Harry managed to hook up with Jill Biden for a solo event. She and the first lady hosted a Zoom event with Wounded Warrior athletes in September 2021, when individual Warrior Games had to be canceled due to the pandemic.
The two were scheduled to attend the games together but the pandemic made it an online gathering instead.
Harry and Jill compliment each other during the conversation.
‘Thank you for your service and your continued support over all these years,’ Harry told her. ‘It’s great to see you in action in different parts of the world that you’ve got so many people not only wearing the uniform but also giving to families. Many of them wouldn’t be here without you, thank you.’
Biden, in return, thanked Duke for his dedication to ‘lifting service members from around the world’.
This was one of Sussex’s successful connections and results.
Other efforts, including personal lobbying efforts by the Duchess, proved less successful.
Megan, in November 2021, contacted Republican Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Susan Collins to advocate for paid family leave to be included in the Democrats’ social spending bill. He got their personal phone numbers from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
The Duchess also wrote a letter to the then Congress leader, Senator Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which she sent as an ‘engaged citizen and a parent and a mother’.
He wrote: ‘If we’re going to create a new era of family-first policies, let’s make sure that every American includes a strong paid leave program that’s guaranteed, accessible and encouraged without stigma or punishment.’
‘It’s about putting family above politics. And for a refreshing change, this is something we all seem to agree on. At a time when everything seems so divided, let it be a shared goal that unites us,’ he added.
But she has been criticized for using her British royal title and her family name in her lobbying efforts.
“On behalf of my family, Archie and Lily and Harry, I thank you for considering this letter, and on behalf of all the families, I am asking you to ensure that this defining moment is not lost,” Meghan concluded.
In the end, the family leave plan was not included in the final draft of the Democrats’ massive social program.
But Senator Gillibrand of New York plans to reintroduce the Family Act, a bill that would guarantee 12 weeks of paid family leave. His office did not respond to inquiries about whether the Duchess of Sussex was involved.
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