Despite being disappointed with Prince Harry's decision to step down from his royal duties, on a personal level, Queen Elizabeth is able to empathize with his desire for freedom. In fact, it may seem like history is repeating itself for the 93-year-old monarch, whose younger sister Princess Margaret experienced similar struggles as a spare heir decades ago.
According to royal historian Robert Lacey, the Queen has a "particular sensitivity" to Harry's situation because it reminds her of Margaret's unhappiness. “She has a particular sensitivity to what Harry has been going through because of her closeness to Margaret and seeing the same dramas and tensions played out two generations ago,” Lacey told to People. "The younger-sibling syndrome is an enduring problem. The system has not found a way of giving them the recognition that they need."
As evidenced on Netflix's The Crown (and IRL), Margaret had trouble finding her place in the shadow of her sister. And, when Queen Elizabeth had her own children, the problem got worse. “Until Elizabeth produced heirs, Margaret was a possible future Queen,” adds Lacey. “It is a family situation of conflict that goes back over generations.”
While she may be understanding of Harry's choice, Queen Elizabeth's main objective is to make sure the monarchy endures beyond her legacy. That's why she may have implemented a 12-month expiration date on Harry and Meghan's new arrangement. Next year, the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William, and Harry will meet again to discuss his future in the family, before making anything final.
No matter the outcome, Queen Elizabeth will always be there for her grandson. “She won’t dwell on the exit,” royal biographer Ingrid Seward said while also speaking with People. “She is very pragmatic. She has left the door open for Harry especially."