Among the many revelations in Prince Harry‘s upcoming memoir Spare, the Duke of Sussex recounts when he asked Queen Elizabeth II for permission to marry Meghan Markle. The book, which is due to be released on January 10 but has hit shelves early in Spain, sees the British royal open up about his state of mind before he spoke to his grandmother. Prince Harry writes that he feared he was “doomed to be the next Margaret,” referring to his great-aunt Princess Margaret, who was not allowed to marry Peter Townsend.
Prince Harry shares that when he discussed his plans to propose with his aides Ed Lane Fox and Jason Knauf, he was told that there were “strict rules” and that he would have to ask the Queen first. Taken aback by this, the royal asked if that was a “real rule,” and writes that a “grown man” asking his grandmother for permission to marry “didn’t make any sense.” He however does recall the “absurdity” of his father, who was then 56 and had to ask permission to marry Camilla, Queen Consort.
On the day Prince Harry chose to ask the late Queen, he watched her drive a Range Rover to the field to look for dead birds. She had been alone and without security. “I tried to engage her in some light chat to loosen her up,” the Duke of Sussex writes. “The full seriousness of all this was finally starting to sink in.”
“This moment was either the start of my life or the end,” he says. “It would all come down to the words I chose, how I delivered them and how granny heard them. I needed to get to it without one more second of hesitation. I saw her waiting for me to speak, and not waiting patiently. Her expression screamed: ‘Out with it.'” Finally, the Duke of Sussex said, “Granny, you already know that I love Meg a lot, and I have decided that I’d like to ask her to marry me, and they’ve told me that… Well…. I have to get your authorization before asking for her hand.” The Queen replied, “You have to do that?” “Yes,” Prince Harry said, “That’s what your people have said and mine too.” After what the royal describes as an “agonizingly long pause,” the Queen replied, “Well then I suppose I have to say yes.”
“She felt she had to say yes? Did that mean that she was saying yes, but wanted to say no?” writes the royal. “I didn’t understand. Was she being sarcastic? Ironic? Deliberately cryptic? Was she allowing herself a bit of wordplay? I don’t remember my grandmother being a fan of wordplay and this would have been the strangest time to start being one (without mentioning tremendously inappropriate).”
Prince Harry recalls that after he realized that the Queen had given him permission to propose, he “spluttered” a thank you, and despite wanting to hug her, he helped his grandmother into the car and made their way back.