‘Beastly’: Moment Harry turned on Queen
The sun was shining because how dare it not? On May 19, 2018 the world watched a beaming Prince Harry descend into the sparkling spring sunshine from St George's Chapel proudly bearing aloft the hand of his new wife, the newly-minted Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.
Cue every fairytale cliche possible and a collective, giddy wave of global goodwill. It was the happy ending the world had been hoping for since the heart-rending sight of a 12-year-old Harry being forced to walk in the wake of his mother's coffin.
Yet less than two years later, Meghan has absconded from Britain for the privacy of a borrowed mansion in Canada while leaving Harry in the UK to eke out some sort of palatable divorce deal from the royal family after the couple announced their intention to quit as "senior" representatives of the creaking institution.
It is the bitter culmination of months, if not years, of growing resentment and frustration behind palace doors, according to reports, as the Sussexes have waged a futile struggle to settle into their new life. Now, two new reports have pointed to one very specific moment in time as the point at which things started to go so terribly wrong.
And it all comes down to the wedding.
While Meghan might have personified modern elegance as she walked down the aisle in her exquisite six-figure Givenchy gown, there are now new claims about how "damaging" the lead up to the big day had been.
Journalist Tom Bradby has long been a friend of both Prince William and Prince Harry, and it was to him that Harry and Meghan turned to create a documentary about their official visit to Southern Africa last year. During the one-hour special which aired in October last year, the duo both admitted the personal toll royal life was taking on them. Now Bradby, who many view as a mouthpiece for the Sussexes, has penned a bombshell story for the Times entitled "Harry and Meghan's escape from the poisonous palace".
In it he writes: "Harry and Meghan, on the other hand, find some other members of the family (with the exception of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh) jealous and, at times, unfriendly.
"The fallout began at the time of the wedding in 2018. Really damaging things were said and done. The atmosphere soured hard and early, but few meaningful attempts were made by anyone to heal the wounds."
It is the closest that anyone has come to officially confirming the reports that have swirled for years about the allegedly tense and fraught run up to the big day. Quite what the "damaging things" that were allegedly "said and done" will no doubt cause much feverish speculation.
"(Harry) didn't want to use the Queen's staff for the wedding," Nicholl quotes a source close to the Queen as saying. "He and Meghan brought in their own florist and cake makers, and Harry apparently asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to marry them before consulting the Queen and the Dean of Windsor, which wasn't the correct way to do things.
"I think she was dismayed by his attitude in general and I remember speaking to her and her being rather upset by how beastly Harry was being. Their relationship was quite badly damaged by it all."
Claims that the preparations for the Sussexes' 2018 nuptials were deeply fraught have circulated for more than a year.
The first inkling that things might have been rocky behind-the-scenes when it was first reported in late 2018 that there had been a ruckus over the tiara that Meghan wore to wed Harry. Per Nicholl's in Harry: Life, Loss and Love, the Queen offered Meghan "a short list of five or six (tiaras) from her private collection," surely the apotheosis of any woman with a lingering Princess fantasy's dream. However, the former actress had another sparkly number in mind, namely an emerald and diamond tiara. Given that, reportedly, the provenance of that piece was unknown and she was asked to go with her second favourite.
Veteran royal correspondent Robert Jobson, writing in Charles at 70: Thoughts, Hopes & Dreams, alleged that Harry had told staff "What Meghan wants, Meghan gets" and that members of staff found the Prince "petulant and short-tempered."
Her Majesty was allegedly nonplussed.
"There was a very heated exchange that prompted the Queen to speak to Harry," the royal insider told the Sun. "She said, 'Meghan cannot have whatever she wants. She gets what tiara she's given by me.'"
Soon, other alleged pre-wedding contretemps hit the headlines. It was alleged that Kate, Duchess of Cambridge had been left in tears during the flower girl dress fitting for her daughter Princess Charlotte.
Writing in Harry: Life, Loss and Love, Nicholl recounts another quarrel. "Meghan was at the castle to taste some of the dishes, and told one of the caterers she could taste egg. She got quite upset, saying that the dish was meant to be vegan and macrobiotic, when suddenly the Queen walked in and said, 'Meghan, in this family we don't speak to people like that.'"
As the clock counts down to the start of Tuesday's high-stakes family meeting (Australian time), it remains to be seen whether negotiations can go some way to hashing out a workable, appealing road map for what quasi royal-life might look like for the Sussexes. Perhaps the bigger question is whether a literal ocean between Harry and his family might make it easier - or harder- "to heal the wounds."
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with 15 years' experience working with a number of Australia's media titles.