Why were pictures of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle missing during Queen's Christmas speech?

The pictures on the Queen's desk included those of Prince Philip, King George VI, Prince William and his family, Prince Charles and Camilla

During her Christmas speech, when Queen Elizabeth termed 2019 as 'quite bumpy' for the monarchs, royal watchers couldn't help but notice the missing pictures of Prince Harry, his wife Meghan Markle and their son Archie, from the sovereign's desk.

Apart from the missing portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, disgraced Prince Andrew also could not find a spot on the desk as the Queen addressed the nation dressed in a regal blue outfit.

The 'lucky ones' to be placed on the Queen's desk

Queen Elizabeth
The Royal Family/ Instagram

In a photo released of the Queen while sitting on her desk in the Green Drawing Room of Windsor Castle, a set of photographs could be seen placed right next to her. One of the photographs featured Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. The photo was taken during the 50th-anniversary celebration of Charles' installation as Prince of Wales.

The other picture is a family portrait of Prince William featuring his wife and Kate and their three children: George, Charlotte and Louis. A photograph taken in 1944 of King George VI, father of the Queen, was also placed on her desk. The Duke of Edinburgh's picture taken from his wife's private collection was also there.

During her Christmas address last year, the Queen had displayed two photographs of Harry and Markle, including their wedding portrait and a family photo of the pair celebrating Prince Charles' 70th birthday.

Is the Queen sending a message through the missing pictures?

If 2019 was a 'quite bumpy' for the Queen, it was bumpier for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who courted a lot of controversies this year including Harry's fallout with his elder brother William and a public spat with a media house.

It was rumoured that in October this year, the Queen, perturbed over the actions of the couple, had allegedly ordered the removal of their photographs from her audience room in Buckingham Palace.

Earlier during an interview with ITV for a documentary, Markle was reduced to tears as she spoke about finding it difficult to lead a life as a royal.

Prince Harry too had admitted to his rift with elder brother Prince William. "Part of this role and part of this job and this family being under the pressure that it's under ­inevitably, you know, stuff happens. But look, we're brothers. We'll always be brothers. We're certainly on different paths at the moment but I will always be there for him and as I know he'll always be there for me. You know, we don't see each other as much as we, as much as we used to because we're so busy," he said during an interview.

The couple is currently in Canada, spending their six-week royal break away from their family.

Prince Andrew scandal: A major bump

The biggest blow to the British royals was the sex scandal involving Prince Andrew. Virginia Roberts, an American woman and "sex slave" of alleged paedophile Jeffery Epstein, claimed that the Prince had sex with her when she was 17 years old.

The BBC interview backfired after Andrew revealed the extent of his friendship with Epstein and the ties shared by them. Though he denied having any knowledge about Virginia or any other woman who was employed as a "sex slave" by Epstein, Andrew showed no remorse or empathy for the victims.

Immediately after the interview was aired, Prince Andrew was sacked from his royal duties on the order of the Queen. This year, the disgraced Prince has been banned from attending Christmas festivities at Sandringham Palace.