Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wanted to ride back to the United States on Air Force One after the Queen’s funeral – but the request was denied by the White House in case it caused a ‘commotion,’ sources have revealed to DailyMail.com.
Months earlier, First Lady Jill Biden was also invited to attend Harry’s Invictus Games – but the idea was killed amid concerns that the Royal Family may have been offended by her presence there.
Both the failed initiatives are understood to have been part of a campaign by the Sussexes to gain political influence in the US as they settled into life in California. Meghan publicly advocated for paid family leave to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and worked behind the scenes to connect with the Bidens, DailyMail.com discovered from speaking to many current and former officials in the Biden administration and in the British government.
The couple tried a variety of methods, sources outlined to DailyMail.com – as well as wanting Jill Biden to attend the Invictus Games, and getting that ride back to the United States on Air Force One, the First Lady also received an intriguing gift to thank her for what was seen as a supportive gesture towards Meghan following her controversial TV interview.
DailyMail.com can reveal Harry and Meghan requested a ride back to the US on Air Force One after Queen Elizabeth’s funeral
Joe and Jill Biden wave as they board the presidential plane at London’s Stansted Airport after the Queen’s memorial service in September 2022
The request received an immediate no with Biden’s staff recognizing it was a bad idea. ‘It would have strained relations with the palace and the new King,’ a source told DailyMail.com
The couple, who had been critical of members of the Royal Family during their interview with Oprah Winfrey and in Prince Harry’s memoir Spare, had tense relations with the Royal Family when the Queen died.
Harry and Meghan were visiting the United Kingdom for charity engagements when the Queen passed on September 8, 2022, and stayed in the country through her funeral on September 19.
In the lead-up to the memorial service, Harry and Meghan were disinvited from a pre-funeral reception at Buckingham Palace, where King Charles and Queen Camilla welcomed foreign royals and world leaders, including Joe and Jill Biden.
The palace described the reception as ‘for working members of the royal family.’ Harry and Meghan were said to have been left ‘baffled’ by that decision.
Amid all of this, their staff reached out to the White House to ask if the couple could get a ride back to the United States on Air Force One.
It would have been a grand photo-op: Harry and Meghan climbing the steps of the famous blue-and-white 747 to wave alongside the President and First Lady of the United States.
But it was an immediate no from the Americans. Sources with knowledge of the decision said there was barely any discussion on the issue, just a general agreement that the request was a ‘non-starter.’
‘It would have caused such a commotion. It would have strained relations with the Palace and the new King,’ another source told DailyMail.com.
The White House and Buckingham Palace both declined to comment for this story. A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess did not respond to a request for comment.
The Bidens can invite whoever they want to ride on Air Force One. But there would have been questions on who would pay for the Duke and Duchess to be passengers on the plane.
The US government pays for official trips, like the Bidens’ travel to London, but Harry and Meghan aren’t American officials. President Biden pays for his children and grandchildren to ride the plane, the Democratic Party pays for any travel to campaign events, and news organizations pay for journalists who travel on board to cover the president’s activities.
Joe and Jill Biden attended the 2017 Invictus Games with Barack Obama and Harry. The Sussexes have tried a variety of methods to gain access to political figures, including sending gifts and inviting Jill Biden to the Invictus Games
Harry is pictured with Jill Biden at the 2016 Invictus Games. The First Lady wanted to attend the 2022 games, per a source close to her, but British officials conveyed to National Security Council staff that they thought the idea would land badly
There had been other attempts by the Sussexes to join forces with the Bidens.
A central point of their outreach was the Invictus Games, held in The Hague in the Netherlands in April 2022. It was the first games since the couple had exited the Royal Family. Prince Harry created the games to honor wounded warriors and the event already had been a bonding point between Harry and the Bidens.
Both Bidens attended the games when they were held in Canada in 2017. And Jill Biden attended the 2016 games in Florida.
The First Lady wanted to attend the 2022 games, per a source close to her. She was the mother of a veteran and, through her Joining Forces Initiative, was a huge supporter of the military and their families. And she shared her love of the armed forces with Harry, a veteran of Afghanistan.
However, British officials, in a working level conversation, conveyed to National Security Council staff that they thought the idea would land badly, a source said.
‘She wanted to go,’ a person familiar with the event told DailyMail.com of the First Lady, but noted the East Wing was concerned the Palace could be hurt if she attended.
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten led the US delegation instead.
At that point, the Duke and Duchess were seen as individuals and not holding any official state standing, given their exit from the Royal Family.
After their January 2020 public departure from the Royal Family, the Sussexes settled in Canada before eventually moving to California.
However, they appeared to struggle to find their footing in their post-Palace life and tried on many hats as they searched for a new role that would suit their desire to make a difference while becoming financially independent.
In addition to their political pursuits, they signed a $100 million deal with Netflix to produce content – although their Harry & Meghan documentary failed to receive any Emmy nominations.
They signed and lost a $20 million deal with Spotify that saw Meghan’s Archetypes podcast cancelled after one season. And Bill Simmons, head of Spotify’s international sports content, publicly blasted the duo.
‘I wish I had been involved in the “Meghan and Harry leave Spotify” negotiation. “The F***ing Grifters,” that’s the podcast we should have launched with them,’ Simmons said on his Bill Simmons podcast.
‘I have got to get drunk one night and tell the story of the Zoom I had with Harry to try and help him with a podcast idea. It’s one of my best stories … F*** them. The grifters.’
Harry and Meghan, meanwhile, are said to blame their situation on bad luck, world events and unfortunate timing, including the onset of the Covid pandemic and the fact their interview with Oprah was shortly followed by the death of Queen Elizabeth’s husband Prince Philip.
‘The word is that they think they’ve been really unlucky,’ a source in Los Angeles had told DailyMail.com.
But it’s believed the Sussexes saw the Bidens as an ally in their attempt to establish their brand post-Megxit and as they sought to find footing in the United States.
At the Queen’s funeral services in September, 2022, Harry and Meghan were disinvited from a pre-funeral reception at Buckingham Palace, where King Charles and Queen Camilla welcomed foreign royals and world leaders, including Joe and Jill Biden
Meghan and Kate put on a united front outside Westminster Abbey after the Queen’s State Funeral
Jill wore an Oscar de la Renta which was suggested showed support for the Duchess of Sussex
They also hired staff with political connections: their spokesperson Miranda Barbot worked on President Obama’s re-election campaign and Katie McCormick Lelyveld, who was brought on a consultant to the Archewell charity, was a former spokesperson for former First Lady Michelle Obama.
And, after the Sussexes’ now-infamous Oprah interview, their fans seemed to agree that the Bidens were sympathetic to Meghan and Harry.
The day after the interview aired, Jill Biden wore an Oscar de la Renta dress with a lemon pattern to the State Department’s International Women of Courage Awards. It was similar to an Oscar de la Renta dress Meghan had worn a month before.
Twitter saw Jill’s outfit as a subtle nod of support to Team Sussex.
Meghan even sent the First Lady a basket of lemons in thanks.
Harry did manage to connect with Jill Biden for one solo event. He and the first lady hosted a Zoom event with wounded warrior athletes in September 2021, when the in-person Warrior Games had to be canceled due to the pandemic.
The two had been scheduled to attend the games together but, because of the pandemic, made it an online gathering instead.
During the talk, Harry and Jill praised each other.
‘Thank you for your service and your continued support over all these years,’ Harry told her. ‘It’s been fantastic to see you in action in various parts of the world giving everything that you’ve got to so many people to not just those who wear the uniform but to the families as well. A lot of them wouldn’t be here without you so, thank you.’
Biden, in returned, thanked the Duke for dedicating himself to ‘lifting up service members from around the globe.’
It was one of the Sussexes successful connections and outcomes.
Other efforts proved less successful, including a personal lobbying effort from the Duchess.
Meghan, in November 2021, reached out to Republican Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Susan Collins to advocate for paid family leave to be included in the Democrats’ social spending bill. She got their private phone numbers from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
The Duchess also wrote a letter to the then-Congressional leaders, Senator Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which she sent as an ‘engaged citizen and a parent and as a mom.’
She wrote: ‘If we’re going to create a new era of family-first policies, let’s make sure that includes a strong paid leave program for every American that’s guaranteed, accessible, and encouraged without stigma or penalty.’
‘This is about putting families above politics. And for a refreshing change, it’s something we all seem to agree on. At a point when everything feels so divisive, let this be a shared goal that unites us,’ she added.
But she was criticized for using her British royal title and the names of her family in her lobbying effort.
‘On behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry, I thank you for considering this letter, and on behalf of all families, I ask you to ensure this consequential moment is not lost,’ Meghan concluded.
Ultimately, the family leave plan wasn’t included in the final draft of Democrats’ massive social program.
But New York Senator Gillibrand plans to reintroduce the Family Act, a bill that would guarantee 12 weeks of paid family leave. Her office didn’t respond to inquiries if the Duchess of Sussex would be involved.