In the afternoon of Thursday, September 8, Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully at Balmoral Castle surrounded by her four children and their respective wives and grandchildren Prince William and Prince Harry. Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle were not by Her Majesty's side.

It was a close family gathering to pay final respects to the British monarch, who died at the age of 96. While Camilla and Sophie of Wessex were around to support their spouses at an emotional time, the Duchess of Sussex and Duchess of Cambridge were absent.

Despite an initial announcement that the former "Suits" star would join her husband in Scotland, she has chosen to stay in London. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were supposed to attend the WellChild Awards but they cancelled their appearance following the sad news about Queen Elizabeth II.

Royal author Omid Scobie on Twitter revealed, "A source has shared an update stating that only Prince Harry has made the trip up to Balmoral." Meanwhile, Kate Middleton also did not join Prince William at Balmoral to see Her Majesty. She stayed with their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis at Adelaide Cottage in Windsor.

"Like the Duchess of Cambridge (who is in Windsor with their three children), the Duchess of Sussex is staying back in England (but still not attending tonight's WellChild Awards)," the biographer added.

Scobie did not say the exact reason why Meghan Markle did not go with Prince Harry to Balmoral but there was a late "change of plan," according to the Daily Mail. It is unclear what sparked the change but BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell candidly said on air that "she might not be terribly warmly welcomed."

Meanwhile, royal author Duncan Larcombe defended the Duchess of Sussex's decision to stay behind. While he acknowledged that "it's not clear why she didn't come," he told The Daily Beast that she "may have made a very sensible decision not to intrude on the family's grief." He added that there is also the "possibility that [Prince] Charles asked her not to" come to Balmoral with Prince Harry.

Royal expert Katie Nicholl also told OK! magazine that Meghan Markle "was not invited to join the family." Instead, she "will go to Balmoral another time."

The last time Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visited Queen Elizabeth II, was in June during the Platinum Jubilee. They also saw her at Windsor Castle in April ahead of their trip to The Hague for the Invictus Games.

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth II
"Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members," Queen Elizabeth stressed in her statement Photo: POOL / John Stillwell