PRINCE Charles was excited about his daughter-in-law being the star guest at his exhibition opening.
After walking her down the aisle, the future king had developed a special bond with Meghan and thought he had helped ease her introduction into such a difficult public role.
But at the last minute word got around that the Duchess of Sussex had decided not to attend. What led to such a snub?
The Sussexes had learned the Prince of Wales team might have television cameras present for the filming of an upcoming TV special about Charles work.
As we now know, Meghan and Harry were already planning their own bombshell documentary for ITV and Team Sussex was not prepared to allow the Duchess a starring role in a rival show.
It might appear petty but such a decision shows the very real tensions behind the scenes between Harry and the Royal Family, including dad Charles and brother Prince William.
As I revealed yesterday, the Queen, now 93, is quite rightly deferring to Charles, 70, when it comes to the deeply complicated interpersonal dynamics currently dividing senior members of the Royal Family. So how on earth did we end up here?
While Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, are most certainly not to blame each side is equally competitive their union provided the early spark for the division.
While previously incredibly tight, strains started to show between William and Harry soon after the relationship started. There were a few key moments.
In November 2018 I was the first to reveal Kate and Meghan had a falling out over the way the new American princess had spoken to staff. That was quickly followed by news Meghan had left Kate in tears over her demands for Princess Charlottes bridesmaid dress.
It would later emerge that around the same time, William had warned Harry he was rushing into marriage. A distancing of the two brothers personally would have real implications for the future shape of the monarchy.
Dreams of a modernising Fab Four made up of Kate, William, Meghan and Harry were quickly dashed. Meghan and Harry would leave their residence and office they shared with William and Kate, both 37, at Kensington Palace and set up house at Windsor.
Harry and Meghan were also to quit the incredibly successful charity foundation responsible for the mental health initiative Heads Up and the Invictus Games.
The Sussexes wanted their own court, which would allow them total freedom. But Prince Charles and his team at Clarence House were not having it.
Given his place in the pecking order, Harry would have to sit with other more minor royals like Prince Andrew and Princess Anne under the Queens court at Buckingham Palace.
Crucially, that allowed Charles a degree of power over funding for the couple. But the culture clash was near immediate.
Harry and Meghan, and their millennial staff who do not give a damn about royal traditions, have felt the old-timers at Buckingham Palace were out to get them blaming them for leaking various stories to the Press about everything from the location of their new offices to private jet travel arrangements.
The splits in the royal households were exacerbated by the departure of the Queens respected former private secretary Christopher Geidt, who resigned in 2017 after ten years.
A royal source said: Charles and Prince Andrew engineered his removal in order to have more power but it has backfired because Christopher acted as a central authority and he brought people together. Nobody does that any more.
At the same time, Wills and Kate went through a total overhaul at Kensington Palace to position the Queens oldest grandson very much as a king in waiting.
As the lives of Harry and Meghan dominated the media on both sides of the Atlantic, Charles felt like the forgotten man. And as we revealed yesterday he is absolutely furious that he has, yet again, been undermined by Harry and Meghans bombshell ITV documentary on Sunday night.
His trip to Japan and own ITV series, which started last night, have been virtually ignored. But royal sources say it is still Charles who holds the key to being able to bring the Sussexes back in line.
‘DISRUPTIVE & DISREPUTABLE’
And right now many in the royal household are pushing him to take action after the couples outlandish briefing to CNN that claimed they had single-handedly modernised the monarchy.
A senior insider tells me: Harry and Meghan are partly funded by the sovereign grant and partly by Charles. He could threaten to pull funding. Meghan doesnt have much of her own wealth. Harry has got about 20million in the bank. If they behave in a disruptive and disreputable manner, that tap will be turned off.
However, Harry and Meghan feel very differently about the situation, believing the royal institution had not been there to support the new American entrant.
That is why ex-Suits actress Meghans decision to damn the British stiff upper lip mentality as damaging during her dramatic and emotional interview with Tom Bradby on Sunday was so telling this week.
No longer were the couple going after their various enemies in the media, but it appeared to be a direct attack on the monarchy itself, reminiscent of criticism by Princess Diana in her bombshell 1995 Panorama interview.
In a further escalation of the rhetoric, a source close to Harry and Meghan told me this week: Harry is back at Frogmore Cottage and has never been stronger. This is an institution full of people panicked they may potentially look out of touch and ultimately to blame for a lack of support.
There is no other way to take such a comment than as a direct attack on an institution run by Harrys grandmother and father. Charles in particular feels echoes of his concern for Diana, someone he feared for right up until her death but never felt he could help.
Harry has most certainly inherited his mums ability to feel emotion and pain deeply traits not celebrated in the Royal Family.
Some say he also shares her tendency to have a victim complex and be deeply paranoid about those who actually are trying to help him. A senior royal source said: Charles concern is being driven out of his love for Prince Harry.
This carefree young guy who used to be the best thing the Royal Family had messing about with the Obamas, making the Queen laugh he seems to be sad and to have lost his way. If they seem fragile in public, its worse in private. Meghan is in tears regularly and this brings out Harrys protective instincts.
For now, royal sources hope Harry and Meghan will recharge away from the spotlight during six weeks of holiday, expected to start imminently in the US. Certainly, nobody expects them to be around on December 3 when the Queen plays host to Nato leaders including US President Donald Trump, to mark its 70th anniversary.
A royal source said: Meghan missed Trump during the State visit and Harry acted like a sulky teen around him.
Harry and Meghan have both been urged to cut down on political pronouncements but they have ignored the advice so far. Tomorrow, for example, the Duchess will attend a roundtable discussion on gender equality at Windsor Castle.
Another royal insider explained: They dont take advice well and shut out opposing views. Its not wise but who can tell them otherwise? Harrys war on the tabloid Press is of a piece with that. Who thinks thats a good idea? Almost nobody in the royal household.
Tensions are never far from the surface. There is a plan for William to go to the Rugby World Cup final if Wales get there, while Harry will join him if England beat New Zealand. But lets see if he can get permission from his wife, sniped one royal staff member. So what happens next?
One ally of Charles said: Everyone needs to stand back, take a deep breath, stop sniping and work out what is the best long-term strategy to make this work. Harry and Meghan clearly need a break. If it doesnt calm down, I could see them moving abroad and scaling back their royal duties.
Many within the Royal Family are desperate for The Queen to step in, bang some heads together and sort the whole situation out. Especially given the series of damaging headlines the monarchy is already facing over Prince Andrews close connections with disgraced child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in prison earlier this year.
But a senior royal source told me this week: The Queen obviously doesnt like this type of drama playing out in public. Her entire success as monarch has been rising above situations like this. That would be a good lesson for some of her relatives to learn from.
But she adores all her grandchildren. She lives on the royal estate at Windsor close to Harry and Meghan. Its very likely she will pop in for tea and to see her great-grandson because thats something that is very nice for her.
One would love to see what advice the monarch would offer to her very restless relatives that have plunged her beloved institution into one of their biggest crises in recent years.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said last night: Whilst this story contains a significant number of factual inaccuracies and falsehoods, we will not provide a running commentary on every piece of conjecture and gossip except to restate that family matters will always remain private.