LONDON — Queen Elizabeth turned 96 on Thursday, but in the British press that milestone was overshadowed by Prince Harry’s interview with NBC, where he made some controversial comments about their relationship.
During an interview from the Netherlands, the prince told NBC’s Today program that he has a “really special relationship” with his grandmother, and that they discuss things that she “can’t talk about with anybody else.”
Speaking to Hoda Kotb on the sidelines of the Invictus Games, which he founded in 2014, Harry talked about the Queen’s “great sense of humor,” and said he visited her last week partly to ensure “that she’s protected, and got the right people around her.”
The tabloids and broadsheets didn’t take his words lightly, with the comments dominating Thursday’s front pages, and feeding the opinion columns and editorials.
“Palace Shock at Harry, Duke of Delusion,” said the Daily Mail, which also carried a new image of the Queen with her horses to mark her birthday.
“On the day the Queen released serene birthday portrait, guess who spoiled her joy once again…,” said another headline in the Mail, which accused Harry of “breathtaking arrogance” and added that Buckingham Palace was left “reeling” following the prince’s comments.
The Mirror led with stock photos of the Queen and Harry and a headline that read, “Prince’s Jubilee Dither: Are You Coming or Not Then?” referring to Harry’s indecision about attending the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, which run from June 2 to 5.
Quoting royal sources, newspapers reported earlier this week that the Queen has asked Harry and his family to stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with the rest of the royals during the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony on June 2.
Trooping the Colour is a ceremonial military parade that marks the British monarch’s “official” birthday and takes place each year in early June. The Queen and her family usually appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
With lockdown restrictions lifted, this year will be the first time since 2019 that the event will take place in public, with the family in attendance, once again.
The Daily Express attempted to balance its front-page coverage with the new picture of the Queen, and a headline that declared: “Happy 96th birthday Ma’am…Here’s to your glorious rei(g)n!”
A second front-page headline read: “Prince Harry’s Ultimate Royal Snub,” referring to Harry’s failure, during the NBC interview, to say whether he missed his father Prince Charles and his brother Prince William now that he no longer lives in England.
The headline also referred to Harry’s refusal to confirm whether he plans to attend the Jubilee.
The prince, who no longer carries out official royal duties, is in the process of suing the U.K. Government’s Home Office over its decision not to allow him to pay for police protection for himself and his family while visiting the U.K.
Harry did not attend his grandfather Prince Philip’s memorial service on March 29 because he said he feared for his and his family’s safety.
The Daily Star ran with the headline “The Ego Has Landed,” and a story based around Harry’s comments, saying: “The world’s shyest egomaniac says he is personally looking after the Queen and ensuring the ‘right people’ are around her. Chas and Wills must be thrilled.”
The Times of London, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian all published the new picture of the Queen on their front pages.
The Times ran a front-page headline saying, “Harry Snubs Charles in TV interview,” while The Telegraph ran a small cover story saying “Jubilee security fears may mean no Harry.”
The Guardian didn’t sensationalize or even try to parse Harry’s comments. Instead, it published a straight news story based on the NBC interview.
The new picture of the Queen was taken last month on the grounds of Windsor Castle. She’s wearing a long, olive green coat with a cape and is shown standing between her two fell ponies, Bybeck Katie and Bybeck Nightingale.
On Thursday, Buckingham Palace also released a black-and-white picture of Queen Elizabeth at two years old on Twitter. It’s part of a series of 70 images of the monarch that have been released daily in the run-up to the June celebrations.
The British press will be gearing up for more royal headlines next week when Tina Brown’s new Penguin book, “The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor, the Truth and the Turmoil,” is released on April 26.
The book looks at the tension between Princes William and Harry, and between Harry and his stepmother Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. It also examines the relationship between Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein, and Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to move to California and distance themselves from the royal family.