PRINCE Harry was forced to deny his Remembrance Sunday photo shoot with wife Meghan Markle was a “publicity stunt” following backlash.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were pictured laying flowers at the Los Angeles National Cemetery after The Times reported Buckingham Palace refused Harry’s request because he no longer represents the monarchy.
The Queen was reportedly not told about her grandson’s request.
Harry, who now lives in California with his wife Meghan Markle, was believed to be very upset at the decision to reject his wish, The Times reported, as he has close links with the military.
Instead his wreath lay forgotten at the Royal British Legion’s Kent HQ.
He was later pictured with his wife in LA, laying flowers picked from their garden at the graves of two Commonwealth soldiers – one from the Royal Australian Airforce and one from the Royals Canadian Artillery.
The couple laid an all-green poppyless wreath during their visit to the cemetery.
The images were captured by Lee Morgan, a celebrity fashion photographer who has worked with Kanye West and Vogue.
The couple quickly came under fire for the move, with Piers Morgan accusing them of using it as a “PR opportunity.”
The Good Morning Britain host wrote on Twitter: “Just outrageous – treating Remembrance Sunday like a PR opportunity, & trying to steal headlines from the real royals doing their duty back home.”
Responding to another post on social media, he added: “If they wanted to be’ ‘left alone’, they wouldn’t do PR stunts every day to get media attention.”
Others echoed his comments online, with one person writing: “They aren’t royal. This should not be a photo op.”
Those close to Harry defended the photos, claiming the Duke of Sussex’s military family will always be one of the most important things to him.
They also denied accusations the visit to the cemetery was a publicity stunt.
“If you listen to the podcast that he did at the weekend, he talks about wearing the poppy and wanting to recognise Remembrance Sunday, not only for all those people historically, but also for the people he knew that he lost,” someone close to Harry said.
“I don’t think that’s someone who does something like Remembrance Sunday as a publicity stunt.”
They added: “It’s probably not surprising that having served on the front line, having done tours of duty, having been in the military for 10 years, having created [the] Invictus [Games], supported Walking with the Wounded and all others, that the military community, the military family is probably one of the most important things to the duke, and will always be so.”
Harry also laid a wreath on Remembrance Sunday, on which he is said to have written: “To all of those who have served and are serving. Thank you.”
The Duke served for more than 10 years and has been involved in promoting causes for veterans including the Invictus Games.
He stepped down from royal duties in March, but was reportedly hoping to soon resume some of his military activities.
The decision not to allow a wreath to be laid on his behalf means those hopes have suffered a serious setback.
Harry first laid a wreath at the Cenotaph 11 years ago.
In a podcast that aired yesterday, Harry said: “I wear the poppy to recognise all those who have served; the soldiers I knew, as well as those I didn’t.
“The soldiers who were by my side in Afghanistan, those who had their lives changed forever, and those that didn’t come home.
“I wear it to celebrate the bravery and determination of all our veterans, and their loved ones, especially those in our Invictus family.
“These are the people and moments I remember when I salute, when I stand at attention and when I lay a wreath at the Cenotaph.”
During his time with the military, Harry rose to the rank of Captain and undertook two tours of Afghanistan during his service.
On the podcast, the Duke also spoke about his own service which included two tours of Afghanistan.
He said: “When I get asked about this period of my life I draw from memories, I draw from what I remember and who I remember.
“Like the first time we were shot at and who I was with, the casualties we saw, and those we saved. And the first medivac we escorted out of contact in a race against time.
“Once served always serving, no matter what.
Prince Andrew did not attend the service amid controversy surrounding his friendship with disgraced paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
Buckingham Palace refused to comment on the claims regarding Harry’s wish to have a wreath laid.
HOAR Online has contacted Prince Harry’s representatives for comment.