How A Photo Of Prince George Sent A Subtle Message About Meghan And Harry

Prince Charles is already making plans for when he inevitably takes over the throne from his mother, Queen Elizabeth. In May 2021, the Mirror reported that Charles had begun making plans to downsize the British monarchy. The British royal family is currently comprised of the 22 highest-ranking members, including Prince William and his children, Prince Harry and his children, and Prince Andrew and his children, among others, per the royal family's website.

Charles has plans to reduce the monarchy to eight senior working royals. As royal commentator Kinsey Schofield told Insider, these members are said to be Queen Elizabeth; Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex; William and Kate Middleton; Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall; and Princess Anne.

Since stepping away from their royal duties, Harry, Meghan Markle, and their children, Archie and Lilibet, have not been included in this group of senior working royals. However, in the past, royal commentators have stated that Markle is not happy about the fact that Archie will not be a prince in Charles' new plan.

"In pursuing his own cause of the slimmed-down monarchy, Prince Charles had been making noises about limiting the number of HRHs ... thus cutting out Archie from his future prince-ship — and Meghan took that personally," historian Robert Lacey said in his book "Battle of Brothers," per Express.

A photo of Prince George may be proof the monarchy is moving on from Harry and Meghan

While the press began circulating stories about Prince Charles' plans to slim down the British monarchy in 2021, it turns out that he had begun carrying out this plan as early as 2019. 

Royal historian and author Robert Lacey alleged in his book, "Battle of Brothers," that a 2019 photo — which shows Prince William and Kate Middleton's son, Prince George, alongside William, Prince Charles, and Queen Elizabeth — was a deliberate message sent by Charles and William about whom the heir to the throne considers the most important members of the royal family. And it does not include Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, or their children, per Express.

"What a fascinating and historic image to remind us of the essence of the royal system!" Lacey wrote in his book. "According to insiders, this formal photograph, taken in the Buckingham Palace Throne Room a week before Christmas 2019, was the idea of Prince Charles, anxious to promote his cause of the 'slimmed-down monarchy.'" Lacey added: "Palace sources have also let it be known that the plan of depicting the direct line of royal succession was enthusiastically supported by Prince William, which might be seen as sending his younger brother a message."

According to BBC, George is third in line to the British throne, right behind his grandfather, Charles, and father, William.

Prince Charles wants to focus on the direct line of succession moving forward

The 2019 photo showing Prince George with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Prince William, serves as a reminder of the British royal family's direct line of succession. As author Robert Lacey succinctly put it, the photo was meant to show "the current monarch with three future monarchs. All the living heirs — and not a suggestion of a 'spare'" (via Express). Prince Harry, often referred to as the "spare" due to his original position behind Prince William in line for the throne, is essentially snubbed through this indirect commentary (via Marie Claire).

Prior to Prince William's marriage to Kate Middleton and the birth of their three children, Harry was set to inherit the throne after his older brother. Now, Harry is currently sixth in line, with his two children, Archie and Lilibet, occupying the seventh and eighth spaces in the British Line of Succession (via Town & Country). With Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, stepping down as senior members of the royal family, the pair and their children feel even further removed from the line of succession.

Apparently, Prince Charles wants to keep it this way. Charles continues to lay plans for the future of the monarchy, even though his reign won't begin until the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth. According to Insider, Prince Charles wants to move forward with a sole focus placed on the most important senior royals for financial purposes, and to better manage the royal family's publicity.

The British royal family may be taking cues from the King of Sweden

Following Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's departure from the British royal family, Prince Charles has made it known that he'd like to focus solely on the direct line of succession moving forward. According to Kinsey Schofield, a Royal commentator, "I think Charles will try to draw attention to himself, Camilla, and the Cambridge family as the future of the monarchy," (via Insider). Prince William and Kate Middleton's three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis are third, fourth, and fifth in the line for the throne and currently hold HRH status.

The HRH title — standing for His Royal Highness or Her Royal Highness — is deeply important to the British royal family, per CNN. Which is why it's even more telling that Harry and Meghan's children, Archie and Lilibet, do not currently hold HRH status.

As Schofield explained to Insider, the decision to not bestow the HRH status upon Prince Harry's children may be inspired by the King of Sweden. King Carl Gustaf stripped almost all of his grandchildren of their HRH titles in 2019, except for the direct heir to the throne and the "spare" (via People). Since Prince Charles wants to move forward with his "slimmed down" monarchy moving forward, he may choose to keep the HRH titles solely within the Cambridge family.