King’s coronation: does Prince Harry’s return signal end of royal rift?

Duke of Sussex will not be accompanied by Meghan Markle when he attends coronation of King Charles III

Prince Harry, King Charles and Princess Anne during the Queen’s state funeral in September 2022
Prince Harry during the Queen’s state funeral last year
(Image credit: Sarah Meyssonnier/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Prince Harry has confirmed that he will attend the King’s coronation next month, albeit without his wife Meghan Markle, amid growing hopes that father and son will be reconciled.

After weeks of “delicate negotiations”, described by the Daily Mail as a game of “transatlantic ping pong”, Prince Harry will attend the coronation on 6 May, but Meghan and their children Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet will remain at their home in California.

Harry’s trip to the UK will be little more than a flying visit, with the Duke of Sussex expected to attend just the Westminster Abbey coronation service and spend little personal time with the royal family.

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But his decision to attend the service “is viewed as a potential olive branch by royal insiders”, said the paper, and the day will see him come face-to-face with his father and brother, Prince William, for the first time in public since the release of his controversial memoir, Spare.

What did the papers say?

The duke’s attendance at the coronation will be seen by many as a sign of “growing hopes of a reconciliation with his father”, said The Telegraph. Royal sources told the paper that his decision to attend has “pleased” the King, who is “keen to have the support of both his sons at the ceremony”.

The paper added that there had been “growing speculation that the pair may even have spoken in recent weeks”. But Prince Harry’s relationship with his brother William is still said to be “fraught”, with the heir to the throne understood to feel “deeply betrayed by the many personal family revelations the Duke has made in his memoir” and other media interviews.

Harry had been said to be holding out for “peace talks” with his family over the royal rift, but has decided to attend the coronation “regardless”. His decision is said to have “prompted positive conversations that both sides hope will pave the way, in the longer term, for reconciliation between father and son”.

One source told The Telegraph: “It is about showing up, showing support and being there for his father. It was a very personal decision, not a PR one.”

A source told The Sun that the King “is happy that Harry, his son, who he calls his ‘darling boy’ will be at the Abbey”. The King is “very disappointed that he won’t see Meghan or his grandchildren but understands the situation”.

“The ‘Will they? Won’t they?’ question of whether the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would attend has hung over King Charles’s coronation for months,” said Caroline Davies in The Guardian. Organisers have been “increasingly impatient” with the pair, who were formally invited by email a month ago and missed the deadline for a response, which passed last week.

But the announcement that Harry will attend the ceremony, without Meghan, is just as likely to “fuel the narrative that difficulties between the couple and the palace remain very real, with some undoubtedly interpreting Meghan’s decision to stay away as a snub”.

Harry’s solo trip could be down to a failure in negotiations, suggested royal historian and author Robert Lacey to the paper. With the invitation going out a month ago, “it seems the result of the best part of a month’s discussions and negotiations have not worked”.

Ingrid Seward, editor of Majesty magazine, suggested that Meghan’s non-attendance at the coronation is a “double insult” to her father-in-law who “walked her down the aisle in her hour of need” after her father, Thomas Markle, was too ill to attend her 2018 wedding. “I don’t think Meghan wanted to risk being sat in the hinterland at the Abbey,” she added.

Omid Scobie, the royal commentator and author who is thought to be close to the couple and co-authored their biography Finding Freedom, tweeted: “I understand that Archie’s fourth birthday (also on May 6) played a factor in the couple’s decision. Expect it to be a fairly quick trip to the UK for Prince Harry, who will only be attending the coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey.”

What next?

Yesterday’s announcement has finally put an end to months of speculation surrounding the highly anticipated event, allowing organisers to move forward with finalising arrangements. The Sun said it understood the seating plan had already been prepared and is now ready to be signed off.

But commentator Rob Jobson, author of the upcoming book Our King: Charles II – The Man and the Monarch Revealed, expressed doubt that Meghan will ever attend another official palace event.

Praising Harry’s decision to attend the coronation as “the most pragmatic move in a difficult situation”, he also added that “the fact his wife is not attending means it is now highly unlikely we will ever see her attend an official or Palace event again – apart from maybe the King’s funeral”.

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