Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have told their aides that they intend to invite former first-couple, Barack and Michelle Obama, to their upcoming royal wedding in May but sources inside the government revealed that this could create a political rift they prefer to avoid.
Michelle and I are delighted to congratulate Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their engagement. We wish you a lifetime of joy and happiness together.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 27, 2017
Prince Harry and Obama have been friends for several years, making occasional public appearances together. Their friendship was apparently cemented at the Invictus Games, a parasport event for wounded and injured armed services personnel that was held in Toronto in September. The two sat together and surprised spectators when they made an unscheduled appearance at the basketball event.
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) May 27, 2017
Though Prince Harry has not made any statements about Donald Trump, his fiancee, an American, is no fan of her country’s new president. During President Trump’s campaign last year, Markle made disparaging comments about him on social media.
A senior government source said to the media, “Harry has made it clear he wants the Obamas at the wedding, so it’s causing a lot of nervousness. Trump could react very badly if the Obamas get to a Royal wedding before he has had a chance to meet the Queen.”
The royal wedding is not an official state event so the government the will only have a consulting role in its planning and heads of state will not be invited. The guest list is instead being drawn up by the royal family rather than the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport which presides over national events such as state funerals.
Relations between England and the US are shaky. Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, publicly condemned Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
There may be another reason for choosing to invite a former president and not a sitting president. In 2011, then-President Obama did not attend the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The couple chose not to invite the Obamas because of the prohibitively expensive security arrangements required for a presidential visit. One month later, Obama came to England on a diplomatic visit. Former presidents require simpler security arrangements.