Queen Elizabeth was reportedly left ‘confused’ after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle walked out on her birthday plans for great-granddaughter Princess Lilibet

"They never turned up. That candle was never lit.”

The Queen with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
(Image credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation and Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

A former footman at Buckingham Palace has revealed how Prince Harry and Meghan Markle 'never turned up' to the birthday celebration Queen Elizabeth had planned for her great-granddaughter Princess Lilibet. 


Celebrating children's birthdays is a yearly highlight for all involved. As well as the obvious excitement over receiving presents, there's party games and entertainment to look forward to, birthday cake to eat, and party food and party bags to keep everyone happy. 

First birthdays are even more special and Queen Elizabeth II seemed to know this. In June of 2022, she appeared to be conscious that her Platinum Jubilee celebrations would overshadow her great-granddaughter, Princess Lilibet's, first birthday and she wanted to do something special to mark the occasion. 

According to Paul Burrell, who once served as footman at Buckingham Palace under the late Queen, she planned a sweet get-together and invited Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, along with their children, to Buckingham Palace for a small party to celebrate the milestone, but the couple 'never turned up.'

Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor

(Image credit: Netflix)

According to Burrell, the Queen could not attend the party thrown for Lilibet at Frogmore Cottage on her actual birthday, 4 June, as she was set to attend the Epsom Derby in Surrey that day as part of the jubilee celebrations, but had to cancel due to her mobility issues. She did meet her great-granddaughter the previous week for the first time though as Harry and Meghan had brought their kids to the UK from their home in LA.

However, as she stayed at home, the Queen still planned something special for the family but was left 'confused' when no one turned up, he claims. Burrell told The Mirror, "Even on Lilibet’s first birthday the Queen didn’t see her. She saw her the day before. But on her birthday, the Queen had a birthday cake made with one candle in it. And they never turned up. That candle was never lit.

“The next day she asked if maybe they’d like to come up for tea again and was told they’ve gone. 'What do you mean they’ve gone?’ she said. They’ve gone back to America. ‘Oh no, they never said goodbye’.”

He added that the Queen was 'confused' by the snub, and wondered, “How could you offend our Queen? Well, I don’t understand anyone that could do that. Not her family, why would you want to?

"She was devoid of jealousy, anger, envy ... She was just a very simple soul. I wish the world could have known her the way I knew her.”

Queen Elizabeth II

(Image credit: Getty Images/ Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool)

The party at Frogmore Cottage to mark Lilibet's first birthday was reportedly a small affair, with only close friends in attendance at the Windsor property. A spokesperson for the couple shared at the time that friends had gathered for a 'casual, intimate backyard picnic.' 

For the occasion, Harry and Meghan commissioned a cake from Violet Cakes Bakery in London and the flavour had a sweet nod to the couple's 2018 wedding. On Instagram, the owner of Violet Cakes, Claire Ptak, revealed, "The inside was the Amalfi lemon and elderflower cake I created for the Duke and Duchess's wedding in 2018, but this time we covered it with a strawberry buttercream specially for Lilibet."

Following the birthday celebrations, a spokesperson for the family shared that Harry and Meghan were 'incredibly touched by the countless birthday wishes for their daughter' and were left 'amazed' when told that people across the globe had made donations in her honour of more than £80,000 to the World Central Kitchen, a charity who provides meals in response to humanitarian, climate and community crises. 

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse
Royal News and Entertainment writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is royal news and entertainment writer for Goodto.com. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.