Prince Harry desperately tried to make it to his grandmother’s bedside to say farewell — but only found out that she had died by reading online reports.
The strain and agony was etched on Harry’s face as he was driven to Balmoral, the Queen’s Scottish residence, hours after she had already passed away on Sept. 8.
One highly-placed Buckingham Palace insider told Page Six that Harry had been called to Scotland by his father, the new King Charles III, in the morning. However, another palace source confirmed that no one from the royal family, nor any courtiers, actually called Harry to tell him of the monarch’s death — leading him to find out from news reports when he landed late in the afternoon.
As the royal family grieved the late Queen, Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, spent more time with relatives than they had since quitting their royal roles in January 2020. It all begs the question: What will happen with those damaged relationships now?
Harry and Markle reportedly returned to their home in Montecito, Calif., on Wednesday to be reunited with their children, three-year-old Archie, and Lilibet, 1. One insider told Page Six: “I think that how Harry and Meghan showed up in the past few days shows they were only hoping to do the right thing and right by everyone.”
Asked whether Harry and his brother Prince William have truly mended fences, palace sources confirmed the two did talk at family dinners and gatherings.
Gayle King, a friend of the Sussexes who was in London to cover the funeral, told “CBS Mornings” this week: “There have been efforts on both sides … to sort of make this right.”
Adding that there had been no real rapprochement despite these “efforts,” King added: “Big families always go through drama, always go through turmoil. It remains to be seen — are they going to be drawn closer together or are they going to be drawn apart? … I have no inside information on that, but I will tell you this: It was good to see Harry standing with his family.”
With the shadow of the prince’s planned memoir — and the news that it will be pushed back to 2023 — still hanging over the family, another well-placed royal source denied a recent report that Markle had asked for a “one on one” chat with Charles before the Sussexes headed home, calling it an “outright lie.”
The Queen’s passing has led to an attempt by family members to thaw the hurt between Harry and his family — particularly, Charles and William — but there were moments over the past two weeks where the palace’s decision to stick to protocol showed how awkward things remain.
The death was announced at 6:30 p.m. local time, minutes before Harry landed at Aberdeen airport from London — having taken a private plane on his own after he was excluded from the one carrying his brother, Prince William, their uncles Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, and Edward’s wife, Sophie Wessex. In the end, only Charles and his sister Anne, the Princess Royal, were there when the Queen died in the early afternoon.
Harry, 38, arrived at Balmoral just before 8 p.m. to face the others, including his stepmother, Camilla, now Queen Consort — who he would have been expected to bow to, per protocol.
It was the first time Harry had been in a room with the full family since his and Markle’s departure from royal life in March 2020, and their move to the United States.
The couple hit the headlines on Sept. 8, as soon as news broke that Harry was flying alone to his grandmother’s home. Markle was initially going to join her husband, but opted not to after learning that her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, was staying at home with her children, who had just had their first day at a new school.
After much criticism — on news sites as well as populist social media — about Harry being excluded from the family’s flights to and from Balmoral, it seemed they were making an effort to include him.
Charles showed a valiant attempt to publicly quell tensions ahead of the pomp and ceremony, decades in the planning, leading up to the Queen’s state funeral on Monday.
In his first formal address to the world as king, on Sept. 9, Charles announced that William and wife Kate were the new Prince and Princess of Wales, adding: “I also want to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas.”
On Saturday, Sept. 10, William texted Harry last minute, inviting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to join him and Kate in visiting mourners near Windsor Castle. It was the first time the group — once known as the Fab Four — been together since March 2020 at the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey. Insiders understood that this was William’s bid at rapprochement.
But protocol got in the way.
Despite having served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, Harry was forbidden from wearing his military uniform in the parade escorting the Queen’s casket from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey on Wed., Sept. 14. The reason? He had been stripped of his military titles when he stepped down from the family.
His uncle Prince Andrew — who had duties and titles taken away in the wake of a sexual-abuse scandal — was likewise not allowed to wear his.
Then it was announced that Andrew would be allowed to wear a uniform to a 15-minute vigil on Fri., Sept. 23, when family members stood by the coffin as the public paid their respects.
Again, public criticism bubbled up. What about Harry? And, again, the royal family seemed to respond: Harry could wear his to the grandchildren’s vigil on Saturday, Sept. 24.
But several things marred the show of goodwill.
For one, it was reported on Saturday afternoon that Harry and Meghan’s invitation to a state reception with world leaders has been rescinded. The reason once again for being left out of the Sunday event at Buckingham Palace? It was for working royals only.
And then at the vigil, it was noticed that Harry’s military uniform had been stripped of its “ER” — for Elizabeth Regina, which is Latin for “queen” — insignia on the shoulder. Worse, scandalized Andrew has sported the initials at the children’s vigil the day before.
“I thought that was churlish. If you’re going to let Prince Andrew have ER on his shoulder, then why wouldn’t you let Harry have it on his?” Post columnist Piers Morgan, who is no great fan of Harry or Markle, said of the palace.
“I’ve got no truck for Harry’s behavior in recent years, but this was his grandmother [and] he did serve his country with great valor.
“But then to remove the ER and have it sent to him without the initials of his own grandmother, I just thought, don’t be churlish — and, actually, don’t fuel [Harry’s] own innate sense of victimhood!”
Ahead of the state funeral on Monday, it was once again made clear that neither Harry nor Andrew would be allowed to wear their uniform to the ceremony.
At the time, a royal source told Page Six that, although Harry, who served in the British army for 10 years, was “saddened,” he would do whatever his grandmother had planned.
The prince showed up in a morning suit with his medals pinned to the chest — and took his seat in the second row of Westminster Abbey, while Prince William, as the heir to the throne, sat front and center with Middleton and two of their three children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
Asked about the seating arrangements, a senior palace aide told Page Six it was ordered by grandchildren’s ages but “without splitting up any families.” This was not exactly true, as Lady Louise, 17, and James, Viscount Severn, just 14, were not seated with their parents, Prince Edward and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex.
“Harry was, of course, right behind the King,” the aide added, pointing out that the Sussexes were also in the front row at the later, more intimate ceremony in Windsor.
For now, there is a thaw in the air as the family move on without the Queen, but the hurt is still there — on both sides — royal sources said.
“I honestly think [Harry’s upcoming] book is the big problem. This is hanging over the royal family, and I’m not sure they can move on without knowing what is in it,” said one insider.
As Max Foster, CNN’s royal correspondent, said following Prince Philip’s funeral last year: “Both sides of the family have said to me the rift is there, frankly. They aren’t in control of it. Only [William and Harry] can bring it together. I’ve spoken to close friends of them and they said it’s down to these two guys now.”