It was the briefest of appearances but after much deliberation and creating a headache for organizers over whether he would attend, Prince Harry flew to Britain for King Charles's coronation after all.
On Monday, the Telegraph reported that Harry even visited Buckingham Palace during his time in London, “slipping in and out of the monarchy’s headquarters briefly without seeing the royal family.” However, there was no meeting with his father, and he didn’t exchange a single word with his brother Prince William during the fleeting trip.
According to one family friend, Harry’s 28 hours in the country has left his family “wondering why Harry bothered to come at all.”
“One makes one’s choices,” said a source close to the royal family. “To be honest there wasn’t much talk of Harry at all. The focus was very much on the occasion.”
The Duke of Sussex flew to England to witness the most important moment of his father’s life and arrived on Friday night. Meghan Markle, who was seen hiking over the weekend, stayed behind in Los Angeles with the couple's children Archie and Lilibet and celebrated Archie’s fourth birthday with a small gathering at their Montecito home.
Harry was determined to get back to the United States in time to see Archie and declined an invitation to join the king and his family for an informal lunch after the coronation. The duke was on his way to the airport before the official photographs (released Monday afternoon along with a message from King Charles) were even taken.
His fleeting visit has left the family underwhelmed, according to the family friend, and his father “saddened.”
There was hope Harry might make a brief appearance, but while he is reported to have stopped at the palace so that he could take a breather before heading to the airport, the duke did not see any of his family.
The king reportedly gave a toast to Archie and to Lilibet, grandchildren he barely knows. Vanity Fair understands there was no contact at all between Harry and William during Harry’s brief visit.
It is the first time Harry has visited Britain since the publication of his bombshell memoir, Spare. Harry made his own way to the Coronation service from Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, via a police escort, and he was relegated to the third row in the Abbey alongside his cousins Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie and a few seats away from Prince Andrew. Harry was seen congratulating Eugenie on her pregnancy – she is due to give birth to her second child this summer – and deep in conversation with her husband, Jack Brooksbank.
“Beatrice and Eugenie are the only ones who really speak to Harry. He’s actually very close to Eugenie and Jack, but there’s very little if any contact with the rest of his family who are still reeling from what he has said and done,” according to the source.
Harry was literally left out in the cold and was seen waiting on the pavement outside the Abbey while he waited for his official car to take him to the palace. “All the other royals and VIPs were taken off in official cars, but Harry was left on his own, waiting for his car. It was actually really sad to see him all by himself,’ an eye-witness told Vanity Fair.
While he missed out on a weekend of celebrations, which have apparently delighted the king, Harry was back in LA in time to see his son on his birthday. He is expected in the UK next month for a court case against a tabloid newspaper over alleged phone hacking.
He will also be in Germany this summer for the Invictus Games, which might be an opportunity for him to spend some time with his father.