Harry's Cryptic Comment on Protecting Queen May Allude to Past Tensions

Prince Harry said he wanted to make sure Queen Elizabeth II is "protected" in a new TV interview, a comment that followed several past controversies.

The Duke of Sussex cryptically suggested he wanted to ensure that his grandmother had "got the right people around her," during an interview with NBC News' Today show.

The comments came after he and Meghan stopped in on the queen at Windsor on their way to the Invictus Games, which began in The Hague, The Netherlands, on Saturday, April 16.

Harry told presenter Hoda Kotb: "Being with her, it was great. It was just so nice to see her. She's on great form.

"She's always got a great sense of humor with me and I'm just making sure that she's, you know, protected and got the right people around her."

The comments stirred a backlash in Britain even though their exact meaning wasn't immediately clear.

Harry and Meghan have always been careful not to criticize the queen, but this is not the first time there have been tensions involving their relationship, particularly where others are involved.

Prince Harry's Canceled Meeting With Queen Elizabeth II

The duke told Oprah Winfrey in their March 2021 prime time special how he had arranged to meet the queen with Meghan while they were attempting to negotiate their way out of royal life in January 2020.

He said: "That announcement that we put out on 8 January in 2020 (on stepping aside as working royals)—the contents of that were put into a letter to the institution—to my father, which was then shared at the end of December, when we were in Canada.

"And to then get back on the 6th after my grandmother had said 'the moment you land come up to Sandringham, we'd love to have a chat, come and have tea—why don't you stay for dinner because it's going to be a long drive and you're going to be exhausted.'

"The moment we landed in the UK I got a message from my private secretary, Fiona at the time... cutting and pasting a message from the Queen's private secretary, basically saying 'please pass on to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex that he cannot come to Norfolk. The Queen is busy, she's busy all week... do not come up here.'

"So I rang her from Frogmore that night and said 'I was thinking about coming anyway, but I hear you're now busy.'

"And she said 'yes, there's something in my diary that I didn't know that I had'. And I said 'what about the rest of the week?' and she goes 'oh, that's busy now as well.'

"I didn't want to push because I knew what was going on..."

His account came as the couple stressed their relationship with the queen and Prince Philip was good, despite their criticisms of the wider institution, suggesting Harry may believe another person blocked the meeting.

However, it wasn't clear during the Oprah interview whether he meant a family member or one of the queen's staff.

Harry told Oprah: "My grandmother and I have a really good relationship and an understanding. And I have a deep respect for her."

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Lilibet Name Choice

Harry and Meghan chose to name their daughter Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor in tribute to Elizabeth's family nickname.

However, the move descended into a transatlantic briefing war after a story by the BBC quoting a "palace source" who said the couple hadn't asked for permission to use the name.

A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said in a statement released to Newsweek on June 9: "The Duke spoke with his family in advance of the announcement, in fact his grandmother was the first family member he called.

"During that conversation, he shared their hope of naming their daughter Lilibet in her honor. Had she not been supportive, they would not have used the name."

Tensions got so high that Harry's lawyers at Schillings sent around legal letters to British newspapers describing the story as defamatory, though the BBC didn't remove its article and no legal action followed.

Prince Harry's Police Security Lawsuit

Prince Harry sued the British Government over the decision to remove his police protection, with the first hearing on the case taking place in February 2022.

In January, Harry's legal representative traced the dispute back to a meeting between him and other senior royals including the queen, Prince Charles and Prince William at Sandringham, in January 2020.

The statement, released to Newsweek, said: "The Duke first offered to pay personally for U.K. police protection for himself and his family in January of 2020 at Sandringham. That offer was dismissed. He remains willing to cover the cost of security, as not to impose on the British taxpayer."

There are signs the dispute may have been on Harry's mind during the NBC interview as he said his home "for the time being" is in the states.

The phrasing may allude to his legal representative's suggestion that it is currently unsafe for Harry and Meghan to spend time in Britain without police bodyguards.

Harry told Today: "You know, home—home for me, now, is, you know, for the time being, in the states.

"And it feels that way as well. We've been welcomed with open arms and we have such a great community up in Santa Barbara."

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Prince Andrew's Support for Queen Elizabeth II

However, another possible explanation for Harry's remarks could lie in a backlash that followed Prince Andrew walking the queen into Westminster Abbey for a memorial to Prince Philip.

The Duke of York was expected to make his first public appearance since settling a civil lawsuit in which he was accused of rape by Virginia Giuffre. He denied the allegations and didn't admit liability in the settlement.

However, it came as a surprise that Andrew played a starring role as his mother's chaperone during her arrival and departure as footage was broadcast live on the BBC.

Andrew lives near the queen in Windsor, which is also where Harry's U.K. base at Frogmore Cottage is located.

His comments about protecting the queen could allude to the reputational backlash from Andrew's appearance by his mother's side during the service.

Queen and Harry and Meghan
Queen Elizabet II, seen at Ascot Racecourse on October 16, 2021, had tea with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as they headed to the Invictus Games, where they are pictured April 17, 2022. Harry later told NBC News' 'Today' show he wanted to make sure his grandmother was protected. Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images