Weeks after an explosive interview that exposed deep rifts in the royal family, Prince Harry has reportedly returned to London on his own for Prince Philip’s funeral.
It will be his first face-to-face meeting with his family after the Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan Markle revealed their estrangement from the family, particularly from Harry’s father, Prince Charles.
The Duchess of Sussex has decided not to attend after doctors warned her of the medical risks to her pregnancy if she travelled with Harry – although it is thought she wanted to attend.
Harry will face a frosty reception. His brother William contested the royal couple’s suggestion in the interview with Oprah Winfrey that the family was racist.
The US-based prince will also see his father for the first time in over a year, during which Harry has said he barely received a text message.
Harry told Winfrey that he felt let down by the Prince of Wales and that “there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened” between them.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have already copped flack for their tribute to Prince Philip, Harry’s grandfather. Critics have described it as “unbelievably cold”.
In a short message on their Archewell website, Prince Harry and Meghan wrote: “In loving memory of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, 1921-2021. Thank you for your service … You will be greatly missed.”
Former newspaper editor Kelvin MacKenzie slammed the 10-word message as “ice cold”, adding it signalled “a detachment from his [Prince Harry’s] family”.
“He wasn’t a distant relative they hadn’t seen in years,” he said.
“Philip was his grandfather, for God’s sake. Where’s the love?”
‘Use the funeral to heal the division’: Former PM
Former British prime minister John Major said the shared grief over the death of Philip was an “ideal opportunity” to mend rifts within the royal family.
Prince Harry laid bare the tension with members of his family during an interview alongside Meghan with Winfrey in March.
“The friction that we are told has arisen is a friction better ended as speedily as possible,” Mr Major told the BBC.
“A shared emotion, a shared grief, at the present time because of the death of their father, their grandfather, I think is an ideal opportunity.”
Andrew says Queen describes ‘huge void’ in her life
Meanwhile, Prince Andrew described the depth of the grief for his mother the Queen after by the death of Philip.
The Duke of York revealed his mother’s personal feelings after attending a church service in Windsor on Sunday (British time), where members of the royal family said prayers for Philip.
“The Queen, as you would expect, is an incredibly stoic person,” he said.
“She described it as having left a huge void in her life.
“But we, the family, the ones that are close, are rallying round to make sure that we’re there to support her.”
Andrew described his father as a “remarkable man” and said his death had resonated with people across Britain.
“We’ve lost almost the grandfather of the nation,” he said.
Andrew, who stepped down from royal duties over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in 2019, said Philip was someone who would always listen.
“I loved him as a father. He was so calm. If you had a problem, he would think about it,” he said.
Philip’s coffin to travel in special Land Rover
For his funeral on Saturday, the Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin will be transported from Windsor Castle to St George’s chapel in a modified Land Rover he helped to design.
It will be followed on foot by Prince Charles and other senior royals.
The funeral’s tight guest list is expected to include the late prince’s children, grandchildren and other close family.
Under normal circumstances, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson would have attended, but he has stepped aside to make room for as many family members as possible under pandemic rules.
Other attendees include Charles and wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Anne and husband Sir Timothy Laurence, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward and wife Sophie, the Countess of Wessex.
As well as princes William and Harry, it’s expected the Queen and the duke’s other grandchildren will be at the service.
That includes Peter Phillips, Zara Tindall, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.
All public elements of the funeral have been cancelled amid fears of drawing crowds in London and Windsor.
Instead, it will be televised for mourners to watch from home.
- The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral will be held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on April 17. It will be preceded by a national minute’s silence across Britain at 3pm.