For coronation spectators, the decision by Harry to attend the event without Meghan is a blow. What fun we could have had watching the body language between the frosty Duchess and her royal relatives, what endless entertainment in the seating plan snubs and curtseying protocol.

But the family is said to be relieved that only one Sussex will be at the Abbey on May 6, minimising the awkward optics and the potential distractions.

Only Charles is “very disappointed” that his daughter-in-law and two grandchildren won’t be there. The King is happy that Harry, who he still calls his “darling boy”, will see him crowned, but is “sad” the whole family can’t make it, a royal source told the Sun.

In most clans, a betrayal on the scale of Harry’s memoir Spare would create an unbridgeable chasm. Apart from the slurs on his brother William’s character – including tales of a punch-up in Nottingham Cottage, then the Sussex home, in 2019, he described his stepmother Camilla as “dangerous”.

But, within two months of the book’s publication, and Harry’s salt in the wound publicity tour, his and his wife’s coronation invitations were issued.

How forgiving Charles is, or how wise to try to rise above petty squabbles for the good of the monarchy.

On the day, with Harry not expected to be part of the procession or appear on the palace balcony after the ceremony, we may get mere fleeting glimpses. 

It will be difficult to interpret much about his state of mind or his feelings towards his fellow royals, just as it is difficult now to gauge what the Sussexes mean by their half in, half out ploy.

But speculate we must. What we know is that the pair’s delay in replying to the world’s most coveted invite involved tense negotiations between the palace and the Sussexes.

Meghan’s no-show, for which she has given no reason, has been excused by her son Archie’s birthday also falling on May 6.

However, is it plausible that the limelight-loving former actress would forego a stage the size of Westminster Abbey on coronation day for a mother’s obligation? She could, of course, have accommodated both duties by bringing the little prince to London with her.

The more likely explanation for her discourtesy to Charles – the man who walked her down the aisle and has been relentlessly gracious, in public at least, towards her – is that she continues to smart in her Montecito retreat.

Rightly or wrongly, she feels she was hard-done-by as a royal bride and her attempts subsequently to best the Windsors have not gone according to plan. No-one is apologising for the slights she perceived and her stock in Britain is higher only than Prince Andrew’s.

Even in the US, where she retains some star quality, she is now being mocked, most hilariously by the satirical show South Park, with its Worldwide Privacy Tour skit on the Sussexes.

The author Deepak Chopra, who has had dealings with Meghan, said the Duke and Duchess were “struggling right now”. Struggling with their loss of status? Or declining popularity? Or, could it be, with each other? 

Did the couple, normally so joined at the hip but rarely seen out together this year, agree amicably to the coronation compromise or did Harry have to put his foot down?

There has been no evidence of trouble in paradise but the bitter royal rift and Harry’s estrangement, not just from his family but also from old friends and his way of life, must be taking its toll.

In coming to London next month, he will be reminded graphically of what he forfeited in fleeing to California. The pomp and circumstance, even in a toned down coronation, will be overwhelming and the Duke, while seething behind William’s and Catherine’s backs, will perhaps regret his diminished, walk-on role.

His family will probably be too preoccupied to engage in any healing talks and, besides, Harry has shown no remorse for his tell-all treachery. His visit, though an olive branch, is unlikely to achieve a significant rapprochement, particularly with William.

What will bring him back to these shores thereafter, other than the odd court case against the press? As for Meghan, if she won’t come to the coronation there is surely nothing to tempt her here again.

Out of sight, out of mind. We will milk Harry’s presence for column inches but once the coronation is over, the future of royal reportage may be Sussex free.

He, fifth in line to the throne, will always be of interest, but his marriage, his Californian life, his wife, not so much.

It may seem wishful thinking, given the past week’s headlines, but this moment could well mark the beginning of the end of the Meghan era. 

Henceforth, she will fade into the relative B-list obscurity from which she sprang, a footnote in British history. The actress has written herself out of the script.

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