Meghan Markle's Decision To Skip The Coronation Is Truly Admirable (Seriously, Take Notes)

Buckingham Palace finally confirmed the coronation plans of Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex announcing that Harry's going; Meghan's not. Royal biographer Omid Scobie tweeted an explanation: "I understand that Archie's fourth birthday (also on May 6) played a factor in the couple's decision." Not everyone is pleased with this development, of course. 

The Daily Mail's conservative columnist and former "View" panelist Meghan McCain accused her namesake of "chickening out," comparing Meghan to "the whiny distant cousin who constantly criticizes the wedding plans, only to then skip the big day anyway." Other critics suggested the duchess was pouting over King Charles III's decision to leave non-working royals off the traditional Buckingham Palace balcony appearance. Some scoffed at the idea that anyone would snub such a historic event for the sake of a preschooler's birthday. 

Let's be real. No matter what Meghan decided to do, she was going to catch heat for it. Go or stay home, go for an hour or the whole weekend, stay and send Charles a nice Edible Arrangements platter — there was no scenario in which she could expect to come off as the good guy. In the end, the Duchess of Sussex did what she felt was best both for her own sake and the sake of her in-laws, and there are some solid reasons behind it.

She spared herself — and her in-laws — a lot of awkwardness

It's no secret that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are estranged from the royal family. Their decision to break from their official duties was difficult enough, but they followed up with several tell-all TV and magazine interviews, not to mention Harry's memoir. Still, the Sussexes managed to put on a united front at Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee celebrations last June, and even joined William and Catherine, the Prince and Princess of Wales, on a public walkabout after Her Majesty's death.

This is a different situation altogether, though. Harry really had no choice but to attend his father's coronation — he's still fifth in line to the British throne, and it would have been a major middle-finger move if the royal defector had snubbed the invite. Meghan has no such obligations; on the contrary, she did her in-laws a favor. If the duchess had gone, everyone would be watching for the slightest sign of tension or awkwardness. Did Kate just give some side-eye to Meghan? What did Meghan's body language say?

Royal expert Eloise Parker agrees. She told Entertainment Tonight, "I think there's bound to be some relief from William and Kate that Meghan won't be attending the coronation simply because less emphasis is going to be on them, who's looking where, who's lip reading, what's going on between them." As for the king, he's said to be "very disappointed," according to The Sun, but Charles understands the decision.

Meghan is putting her child first

Meghan Markle's reasons for staying home are also admirable. It would have been one thing if she was missing the coronation in favor of a girls' weekend away, but May 6 also happens to be the fourth birthday of her son, Prince Archie. Moms everywhere can relate: A child's birthday is a big deal. Studies even show that birthday parties help build a child's sense of connectedness and self-esteem — so pat yourself on the back for renting that space at Chuck E. Cheese! 

Still, the anti-Meghan faction argued that the family could have had Archie's party in London, as they did for daughter Lilibet's first birthday during the Platinum Jubilee. But the crucial difference here is Archie's age. Four is a huge year, developmentally speaking. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, this is the time when children become more independent, verbal, and emotionally aware. 

You just try reasoning about the coronation with a 4-year-old: "I'm sorry, Archie, but we're going to move your birthday party to next week because we're going to go see your grandpa become king. Yes, he's going to get a crown. No, you can't have a crown. And your cousin George is going to help carry Grandpa's robes! No, you can't help too. Because that's a job for big boys. Yes, I know you're big — oh, sweetheart, don't cry..."

This isn't a reconciliation visit

Other than supporting her husband, the only other reason the Duchess of Sussex would have to attend the coronation would be to try thawing the ice with her in-laws. Meghan Markle once had a close relationship with King Charles — so close, in fact, that he stepped in to escort her down the aisle when Meghan's own father, Thomas Markle, fell ill. She may also be regretting the hard feelings between herself and Kate Middleton, which apparently began during the argument over Princess Charlotte's bridesmaid gown, and haven't been resolved as of yet. 

A private sit-down between the Waleses and the Sussexes could go a long way toward healing the rift. However, as with the queen's jubilee, the focus will rightfully be on the monarch and not the drama behind the scenes. Sources have told the Daily Mail that Charles is hoping his coronation will be a stepping-stone to a possible reconciliation, but a busy weekend of parties and receptions isn't really the time for family meetings. 

Besides, Prince Harry is said to be heading back to California immediately following the Westminster Abbey ceremony. Once the excitement over the new monarch dies down, Meghan and Harry should give some serious thought to finding a way back into the royals' good graces. For now, though, Meghan is making the best decision in a no-win situation.