Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Send a Message With New Portraits

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are sending a "bold" new message to the royal family and royal watchers. Just days after the couple was excluded from new royal portraits released by Buckingham Palace featuring King Charles III, his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, Prince William, and Princess Kate Middleton, the Sussexes released two new portraits that, according to royal experts, were meant to remind people that "there is this alternative royal court across the pond."

On Monday, photographer Misan Harriman released two photos of the couple, both of which were taken during their trip to the United Kingdom just days before Queen Elizabeth II's death. In the first image, Markle wore a red jumpsuit as she stood slightly in front of her husband, the pair holding hands. A second black-and-white photo showed a side profile of the couple. The two portraits were released just two days after the Palace shared a portrait of the highest-ranking members of the royal family, snapped just before the reception the Palace held for Heads of State and Official Overseas Guests on Sept. 18. Notably missing from that image were Harry and Markle, and it seems their recently-released portraits were meant to send a message.

"It's all in the timing, isn't it? It does sort of have a sense of 'anything you can do we can do too," royal expert Katie Nicholl told Entertainment Tonight. "It was quite polarizing, because you had, just two days before, that incredible image of the king and the Queen consort, and the new Prince and Princess of Wales."

According to Nicholl, the Sussexes' portraits sent a stark message. Nicholl noted that the official Palace portraits "said, 'This is the future of the monarchy.' Of course, so notable by their absence, was Harry and Meghan," adding that it "didn't surprise" her when Harry and his wife released their own portraits. Nicholl said the images were "a pretty bold move," suggesting that served "as sort of a reminder that actually there is this alternative royal court across the pond."

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The couple's status within the British royal family has come under question in recent days following the death of the late Queen and King Charles III's ascension as monarch. Although the couple officially retired as senior royals back in January 2021, it seems that even more distance may be occurring, and a possible severance in the works, as the royals adjust to the shifting line of ascension and change in titles. Despite the ongoing reports of tensions between the Sussexes and the rest of the royals, nobody within the royal family has publicly commented on the matter, and Charles even gave a nod to his youngest son and Markle during his first official address as king, sharing, "I want also to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas."