King Charles ‘very disappointed’ that he won’t get to see Meghan Markle or his grandchildren at his Coronation but is ‘happy’ his ‘darling boy’ Prince Harry is jetting over from California to attend
- Prince Harry to attend King’s Coronation service at Westminster Abbey on May 6
- Duchess of Sussex will stay in California with their children Archie and Lilibet
- Follow all the latest news and updates about the coronation on our live blog
King Charles is ‘very disappointed’ that he won’t see the Duchess of Sussex or his grandchildren at his coronation next month, but is ‘happy’ that Prince Harry has decided to attend, royal sources said last night.
Buckingham Palace announced the dramatic news in a statement on Wednesday, saying it was ‘pleased to confirm’ the Duke of Sussex will be at Westminster Abbey on May 6.
But the Duchess will stay home at the couple’s residence in Montecito with one-year-old Lilibet and Archie, whose fourth birthday is on the same day as the ceremony, which will take place in just over three weeks time.
The news follows the enduring row between the Sussexes and the rest of the royals, which has become more heated in recent months following the release of Prince Harry’s memoir Spare.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on June 3 last year
The King is said to be ‘very disappointed’ that he will not see Meghan or his two young grandchildren at the coronation
The coronation of the King and Queen is now just a little over three weeks away
A royal source told the Sun last night: ‘The King is happy that Harry, his son, who he calls his “darling boy” will be at the Abbey.
‘He wanted him there. It is sad, he is very disappointed that he won’t see Meghan or his grandchildren but understands the situation.’
Harry’s decision to attend the Westminster Abbey Coronation service is viewed as a potential olive branch by royal insiders, following an earlier demand that his family should apologise to him and Meghan if they were to consider coming.
But plans seen by The Times apparently show no intention of giving Harry a role in the ceremony or procession from the Abbey to Buckingham Palace afterwards.
The couple had delayed answering their invitation for weeks, causing difficulties for organisers tasked with complex seating plans, transport and security for senior members of the Royal Family, world leaders and other dignitaries.
Sources described the negotiations as a game of ‘transatlantic ping pong’, and Harry was said to have wanted numerous assurances about arrangements.
But one source said it seemed ‘genuine’ of Harry to want to attend the coronation.
‘It is important for Harry as the King’s son to show up for his father. That seems quite genuine,’ they said.
Another added: ‘It is ab out showing up, showing support and being there for his father.’
The day will see him come face-to-face with his father and brother in public for the first time since the release of his controversial memoir, in which he described a physical fallout with William and heavily criticised stepmother Camilla.
Such is the sensitivity at Buckingham Palace over anything to do with Harry and Meghan, only a tiny group of senior officials were party to the conversations between the Royal Family and the Sussexes.
Courtiers have been treading on eggshells for fear of being accused by the couple of ‘leaking’ information about their presence and sparking another round of attacks on the King in the run up to his historic day.
And, while many in the royal household contest much of what the couple have alleged, all are keen not to make things more difficult for the 74-year-old monarch.
Sources said the decision by Meghan to remain in California with the couple’s two young children had come as a relief in some circles, following fears her presence could have heightened family tensions.
It is also understood there was real concern in the Sussex camp about the public reception the couple would have received if they attended the Coronation together.
In the event, the news was specifically timed for a dual announcement on both sides of the Atlantic at 3pm British time to minimise any inflaming of tensions.
A statement in London said: ‘Buckingham Palace is pleased to confirm that the Duke of Sussex will attend the Coronation Service at Westminster Abbey on 6th May. The Duchess of Sussex will remain in California with Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.’
One royal observer commented after the news was announced: ‘Charles will be pleased. The rest of the family will be relieved that Meghan won’t be there – it would have been particularly uncomfortable for Kate.’
Harry is only planning on a flying visit, with sources close to the Sussexes indicating yesterday that he won’t even return to Buckingham Palace to gather with the rest of the family or take part in any further events over the Coronation weekend.
Omid Scobie, who is a trusted contact of the Sussexes, tweeted the news of Harry’s forthcoming attendance and then added: ‘I understand that Archie’s fourth birthday (also on May 6) played a factor in the couple’s decision.
Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle have had issues in the past, detailed in Harry’s memoir Spare
King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla are pictured in Malton, North Yorkshire, on April 5
Meghan Markle walks down the aisle with Prince Charles for her wedding ceremony at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle in 2018
‘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.’
Sussex supporters said the Duke understood that it was the biggest day of his father’s life and felt it was right to be present, despite his attacks on the family.
But Rob Jobson, author of upcoming book Our King: The Man and the Monarch Revealed, said it calls into question whether Meghan will ever play a role in the royal family again.
He said: ‘It is good news that Harry has accepted the invite and will be there to support his father.
‘It is the most pragmatic move in a difficult situation and Harry has got it right. He would deeply regret it if he didn’t attend the biggest day of his father’s life.
‘But 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.’
Harry has publicly called on his family to apologise to himself and Meghan for what they see as slights. He also demanded that his father and brother sit down with him before May 6 to thrash their issues out.
But insiders have told the Mail that Charles and William are both hurt and angry at Harry’s behaviour – and neither man has been inclined to pander to him.
The Mail has reported that while William would never have stopped his brother from attending the Coronation, he had no plans to speak to him. It is understood that his opinion hasn’t changed, although no-one is ruling out the possibility – however unlikely – that there could be a gesture of goodwill for their father.
Even those who had once hoped William and Harry could be reconciled feel this is unlikely now. William had no contact with his brother when he came over with Meghan and the children for Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations last year.
And the brothers barely spoke at her funeral later in the year, meeting briefly when William invited him and Meghan to join him and Kate to meet the public and view the flowers outside Windsor Castle.
Since then Harry and Meghan’s Netflix series has aired, which was littered with attacks on the family, and Harry’s memoir Spare was published.
ANALYSIS: Decision is an ‘ideal compromise’ with any reconciliation now ‘highly unlikely’
By RICHARD FITZWILLIAMS
King Charles will undoubtedly be pleased that both his sons will be represented at his Coronation. It is, after all, quite literally the crowning moment of his life.
He had the longest period as Prince of Wales in our history and he used it wonderfully well for the benefit of others. Camilla is wonderfully supportive and also is doing important charitable work.
Meghan will be with Archie on his fourth birthday. This is probably an ideal compromise. For months I hoped for reconciliation but after Spare, the interviews promoting it and the Netflix docuseries it is obvious that this is highly unlikely to happen and that the Sussexes’ rift with the royal family is very serious.
The Sussexes are unpredictable. Their endless attacks on the royal family have been extremely damaging. They have affected its popularity especially among the young. This has become something of a circus. They should find constructive roles in which to employ such talents as they have.
Harry is unlikely to have a role in the ceremony or appear on the balcony. He may well appear in the procession after the ceremony. However, it would have been impossible for the Sussexes to not be represented at this unique event and expect to be taken seriously as members of the Royal Family in the future.
Sources have suggested that other family members – with the possible exception of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie – have no interest in talking with Harry beyond the most basic of greetings, suggesting the event will be even more awkward than Harry clearly feared.
One source told the Mail that Meghan’s non-attendance was definitely not being seen as a ‘snub’, not least because May 6 is Archie’s birthday. ‘That’s just a ridiculous suggestion,’ the source said.
Another said there was a ‘palpable sense of relief in some quarters at the way things have panned out’.
A friend of the King said it would be ‘no doubt comforting’ for him that his younger son was ‘making the effort to come’ even though his ‘love and patience had been tested to its limits in recent months’.
Prince Harry is not expected to take part in the procession after the service or join other members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, or for other celebrations.
Reacting to the announcement, royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told MailOnline: ‘King Charles will undoubtedly be pleased that both his sons will be represented at his Coronation. It is, after all, quite literally the crowning moment of his life.
‘He had the longest period as Prince of Wales in our history and he used it wonderfully well for the benefit of others. Camilla is wonderfully supportive and also is doing important charitable work.
‘Meghan will be with Archie on his fourth birthday. This is probably an ideal compromise.
‘For months I hoped for reconciliation but after Spare, the interviews promoting it and the Netflix docuseries it is obvious that this is highly unlikely to happen and that the Sussexes’ rift with the royal family is very serious.
‘The Sussexes are unpredictable. Their endless attacks on the royal family have been extremely damaging.
‘They have affected its popularity especially among the young. This has become something of a circus. They should find constructive roles in which to employ such talents as they have.
‘Harry is unlikely to have a role in the ceremony or appear on the balcony. He may well appear in the procession after the ceremony. However, it would have been impossible for the Sussexes to not be represented at this unique event and expect to be taken seriously as members of the Royal Family in the future.’
And BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said today: ‘So Harry is coming to the coronation but Meghan is not. It means that the Palace planners can complete the seating plan. They are overdue in delivering their answer.’
He pointed out that Harry had not seen his father Charles or his brother William since the Queen’s state funeral last September, adding: ‘An awful lot of course has happened since then, not least the publication of his book and the bad feeling that has undoubtedly caused within the Royal Family towards him.
‘A strong sense of betrayal within the family towards Harry. But at this moment, a moment perhaps of some reconciliation, he will be there to see his father crowned.’
Harry and Meghan had controversially delayed their decision over whether they would fly in for the ceremony, despite the RSVP date of April 3 having passed.
The uncertainty over the Sussexes’ attendance was thought to have left royal officials unable to sign off arrangements for seating plans, transport and security.
Royal experts have suggested that an appearance by Meghan would have made the Princess of Wales (right) ‘uncomfortable’
It will be the first time Prince Harry will be seen publicly with his family since the Queen’s funeral
The Duchess of Sussex leaves Gracias Madre restaurant in West Hollywood on March 8
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ITV News royal editor Chris Ship said: ‘Given everything that been said/alleged – in six Netflix episodes and one book – this is a big development.
‘But Harry coming alone does mean less pressure on the Royal Family – and fewer of those awkward photographs together.’
Harry’s attendance comes despite the rift within the Royal Family prompted by the Duke’s decision to reveal family secrets in his bestselling book.
The revelations, including details of private conversations with his father – and his brother, Prince William – fanned tensions between Harry and his family that became public when he and his wife moved to North America in 2020.
But Harry, who laid bare his troubled relationship with the Royal Family in his Netflix documentary and autobiography Spare, will be there to witness his father Charles and stepmother the Queen Consort be crowned next month.
Archewell, Harry and Meghan’s charitable foundation, then issued a near identical statement to the Press Association news agency confirming the Duke will attend.
A spokesman said: ‘The Duke of Sussex will attend the coronation service at Westminster Abbey on May 6th. The Duchess of Sussex will remain in California with Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.’
Charles will be crowned in a ceremony full of pomp, pageantry and traditions that date back 1,000 years, following the 70-year reign of his mother Queen Elizabeth II who died last September.
The long-awaited confirmation of Prince Harry’s plans for the coronation mean that concerns over security can now be fully addressed.
It is unclear what the arrangements will be for Harry’s security while he is in London. The duke is taking legal action against the Home Office over his security arrangements in the UK.
The RSVP save the date deadline last Monday April 3 came and went without public confirmation of the Sussexes’ decision.
But the announcement now means the Earl Marshal and others planning Operation Golden Orb can finalise the seating plans and other travel arrangements, with just over three weeks to go.
Asked in one interview in January whether he would attend the coronation if given an invitation, Harry said: ‘There’s a lot that can happen between now and then. But the door is always open.’
Queen Consort Camilla and King Charles, pictured at the State Opening of Parliament in 2013
Harry’s attendance will see him appear in a public setting with Charles, Camilla, his brother the Prince of Wales, sister in law the Princess of Wales and the rest of his family for the first time since he lambasted the royals in his memoirs.
It will also be the first time he has been pictured with the Windsors since the funeral of his grandmother the late Queen.
In the three years since the Sussexes stepped down as senior working royals, the couple have been critical of the monarchy, telling their story in their Netflix documentary and in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Harry and Meghan were asked earlier this year to vacate their UK home Frogmore Cottage, in a move sanctioned by the King.
The Duke’s appearance in the UK could be the last time he visits or stays in the cottage.
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and then-Prince Charles at Westminster Abbey in March 2019
King Charles will be the oldest monarch to be crowned at the time of the coronation, which will also see Camilla crowned as Queen
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The Abbey will be filled with 2,000 people for the service – down from a potential guestlist of 7,000 – including leaders from the likes of France, Spain and Japan.
US President Joe Biden called Charles to let him know he will not be attending the service in central London, sending his wife Jill instead, in what some commentators have viewed as a snub.
Charles will be the 40th monarch to be crowned in the Abbey and at 74 at the time of the ceremony, the oldest to ever be crowned.
The service is expected to be watched by hundreds of millions across the globe in what will be a masterclass in pomp and pageantry, despite the King’s decision to ‘slim down’ the occasion.
The service itself will start at 11am and be ‘solemn and religious’ while also offering ‘celebration and pageantry’, according to the Royal Family website.
It will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and ‘will reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions.’
Among those will be the role of the Page of Honour, carried out by Prince George and seven other boys.
The historic ceremonial position will see the eight youngsters – four for each monarch – carry the King and Queen’s robes into the Abbey.
Harry will not take part in the Coronation procession afterwards nor join senior royals on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, it is believed.
The Gold State Coach during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant in London in June 2022
Prince William will be the only royal liege man at the ceremony, and only he will kneel to ‘pay homage’ to the King, before touching the crown and kissing his father’s cheek.
READ MORE: New details about Prince George’s birth are revealed by Kate’s gynaecologist
The action is usually performed by all the royal dukes, but Charles scrapped the traditional obligation, effectively absolving Harry of any ceremonial duties.
Harry and Meghan’s children, Archie and Lilibet, are seen to be too young to perform roles in the ceremony.
Over the weekend, glittering ceremonial celebrations for the Coronation were unveiled, detailing the procession route, the carriages and the priceless Crown Jewels chosen to play a starring role.
Charles and the Queen Consort will travel in a shorter procession route than the late Elizabeth II and break with tradition by only using the elaborate 260-year-old Gold State Coach one way – on their return.
The monarch and Camilla have personally decided to make the 1.3-mile outward journey – known as the King’s Procession – from Buckingham Palace in the more modern, comfortable Diamond Jubilee State Coach, which has shock absorbers, heating and air conditioning.
They will travel, accompanied by The Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry, down The Mall via Admiralty Arch, along the south side of Trafalgar Square, along Whitehall and Parliament Street, around the east and south sides of Parliament Square to Broad Sanctuary to arrive at the Abbey.
The priceless array of Coronation regalia from the Crown Jewels which will be used during the religious service in the Abbey has also been confirmed.
READ MORE: King’s comfortable carriage to the Coronation – and a ‘horrible’ one back
It will include the Sovereign’s Orb, the Golden Spurs, bracelets known as Armills, two maces, five symbolic swords, the Sovereign’s Ring, the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross and the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Dove.
Camilla will be crowned, as previously announced, with the modified Queen Mary’s Crown, but she will also hold the Queen Consort’s Rod with Dove – despite the controversial rod being made from ivory.
The piece is said to symbolise equity and mercy, and the dove, with its folded wings, represents the Holy Ghost.
Camilla will also hold the Queen Consort’s Sceptre with Cross, which originally made for the Coronation of Mary of Modena, Queen Consort of James II, in 1685 and is inlaid with rock crystals.
As part of the proceedings, she will receive the Queen Consort’s Ring – a ruby in a gold setting made for the Coronation of King William IV and Queen Adelaide in 1831, and used by three further Queens Consort – Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, and the Queen Mother.
As previously announced, Charles will be crowned with the 17th-Century St Edward’s Crown which has been resized to fit his head. He will switch it for the lighter Imperial State Crown at the end of the ceremony as is the custom.
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