Royal-watchers left wondering after Meghan Markle missing from birthday messages to Prince Harry

There was only one thing on some fans' minds – where was a picture of the Duchess of Sussex?

As the Duke of Sussex celebrated his 36th birthday on Tuesday, he may have reflected on how much has changed in the past year.

But even though he is now in his new home in California, it seems controversy is still not far away. 

For as the Royal Family wished him a happy birthday on social media, there was only one thing on some superfans' minds – where was a picture of the Duchess?

Fans of the Sussexes accused Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace of slighting Meghan Markle after they posted pictures of Prince Harry to mark his birthday.

The Royal Family social media accounts shared an image of Prince Harry laughing with his grandmother, the Queen, at a reception in 2017:

Clarence House, meanwhile, offered a solo smiling portrait of the prince and a second image of him enjoying an Invictus Games event with his father, the Prince of Wales:

Kensington Palace shared a photo of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry racing on an athletics track to publicise their 2017 Heads Together launch, with Harry narrowly beating his older brother.

"Wishing a very happy birthday to Prince Harry today!" the caption read, along with emojis of a cake and a balloon:

Some fans responded to the birthday messages with accusations of a "shady" and "not very classy" choice of photograph, with one noting: "Of course they chose a photo where Harry's wife and son are not present in it."

Another accused the palace of being "immature and petty", while a further posting said it was an "actual photo of Harry running away from the monarchy". 

In fact, it is common for royal social media pages – which are run by staff – to mark birthdays with photographs of the family member celebrating.

On the Duchess of Sussex's birthday in August, Kensington Palace posted an image of her beaming and talking to a small child, with a near-identical message of good wishes and emojis.

Clarence House also posted a close-up portrait of her smiling, while the main Royal Family account included a photo of her on an away-day with the Queen. None included Prince Harry.

A source said the Duke was celebrating his birthday privately with his family.

In honour of both his and Meghan's birthdays, fans have raised $129,000 for African girls' education charity Camfed. 

Announcing they have matched that donations with $130,000 of their own, the couple said: "No better way to celebrate what really matters. Thank you to everyone who donated – Harry and Meghan."