King Charles ‘told’ Prince Harry not to bring wife Meghan Markle to Balmoral Castle as he and other senior royals rushed to the bedside of the dying Queen, it was reported last night.

Amid the personal family tragedy on Thursday, when the Queen died at the age of 96, a small domestic drama was playing out involving the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

It was a fortunate coincidence of sorts that Harry and Meghan were in the country when the prince’s grandmother passed away, sparing him an emotional and undoubtedly traumatic transatlantic dash as the Queen’s health failed.

Despite the rancour of the past few years, no one would begrudge him the chance to mourn his beloved ‘Granny’, with whom he had always enjoyed a warm and fun-loving relationship.

But as the royal households were consumed in concern for the ailing monarch, the Sussexes prompted an unprecedented flurry behind the scenes by announcing that Harry and Meghan would both be traveling to Balmoral.

According to The Sun, Prince Harry was at Frogmore Cottage when he received a call from his father asking him not to bring Meghan.

‘Charles told Harry that it wasn’t right or appropriate for Meghan to be in Balmoral at such a deeply sad time,’ a source told the newspaper.

It was pointed out to him that Kate was not going and that the numbers really should be limited to the very closest family.

‘Charles made it very, very clear Meghan would not be welcome.’

Meanwhile The Telegraph reported that Harry was not initially summoned when senior royals made their way up to Balmoral, like his brother Prince William was, due to constitutional reasons.

A royal insider also said that ‘it’s quite hard to spend too much time with someone you know is about to publish a tell-all book about you.’

Another added: ‘I think the general reaction to Harry and Meghan’s behavior has been one of incredulity to be honest.’

News of their plans came via the small group of media the Sussexes deem it appropriate to deal with and tweeted out by journalists at 1.53pm. The statement read: ‘From a spokesperson: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be traveling to Scotland.’

This was, of course, news to the Palace and it did not go down well. Many behind royal walls, frankly, were incredulous.

There was half an hour on Thursday following the Sussexes’ initial announcement during which matters quickly came to a head.

It is still unclear how much pressure was brought to bear by the Palace itself – or whether senior royals were involved – but a spokesperson for the couple frantically began to ‘clarify’ their position, informing those same journalists that ‘only the duke was traveling at the moment’.

Exactly what happened is open to speculation. Some say that Harry and Meghan hadn’t considered that William’s wife wouldn’t be there, with Kate staying in London instead, and when it was pointed out that she wouldn’t be, they realized how bad it looked.

Others believe Meghan was effectively banned, using the argument that Kate – now the Princess of Wales – was staying at home.
Either way, their hurried announcement that only Harry would be making the trip north from the capital prompted a sigh of relief among aides.

Putting aside the anguish of the past few years, the initial decision in itself, that both Sussexes would travel, was seen as wholly inappropriate, according to palace insiders, for one very simple reason: this was a private, family moment.

Only the two oldest children of the elderly monarch – Charles and Anne – were present when the Queen passed away.

Her other children, Andrew and Edward, arrived as soon as they could afterwards on a plane with Prince William, who is now first in line to the throne.

Edward was accompanied by his wife, Sophie, but she is adored by the Queen, who views her as a second daughter, and is likely to have been there at her request.

Although most have assumed that Kate stayed behind because it was her children’s first day at school, which is in part true, she instinctively knew this was an occasion for the Queen’s blood family.

It is impossible to forget that events are taking place against a backdrop of unimaginable bitterness.

So deep is the rift between the two brothers that even though Harry and William have been temporarily living just a few minutes’ walk from each other at Windsor this week, there has been no attempt at contact from either party.

Relations are little better with any other members of the family either – King Charles, in particular, has been left bewildered and deeply hurt by his younger son’s incessant attacks.

While no one wants an all-out war, few are in a hurry to forgive or forget Meghan’s series of laser-guided and deeply harmful accusations against family members, as well as the institution of the monarchy itself.

It was noticeable that there was no invitation for Harry to join the family party that headed north on Thursday, taking off from RAF Northolt bound for Aberdeen.