Friends of Prince Harry and the royal family have always spoken of the warmth of his relationship with his grandfather, and today a source told The Daily Beast it was unimaginable that he would not make it back from America to attend the funeral of his 99-year-old grandfather who died Friday morning.
One friend of the family told The Daily Beast that they thought there was “no way” Harry would not be at the funeral, despite the rupture between Harry, Meghan, and the rest of the royals.
“Harry will want to be there, not just for Philip but also for his grandmother,” the friend said. “That will be just as important to him right now.”
Harry and Meghan posted a short message on their Archewell website paying tribute to Philip Friday. The message read, “In loving memory of His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, 1921-2021. Thank you for your service…you will be greatly missed.”
However official palace sources and the Sussex’s press office declined to make any comment on Harry’s travel plans, either on the record or on background, and asked for space to mourn their loss privately.
The New York Post quoted an unnamed British source as saying, “He will, of course, be there, no matter how difficult relations are between the Sussexes and the family.”
And a source described as close to the family told Dailymail.com, “Harry will absolutely do his utmost to get back to the U.K. and be with his family. He will want nothing more than to be there for his family, and particularly his grandmother, during this awful time. Meghan is obviously pregnant so she will need to take advice from her doctors about whether it is safe for her to travel, but I think Harry will definitely go.”
Plans for the funeral, which have been extant for decades, will now have to be changed because of COVID. Although precise details will likely not be released immediately for fear of distracting from today’s tributes to Philip, the palace did say that “modified” arrangements were being considered due to the pandemic. They also asked the public not to gather at royal residences and to donate money to charity rather than leaving flowers.
Meghan is due to give birth within the next two months, and there is little doubt that she would be a target for press sniping if she did attend the funeral. With just 30 mourners permitted to attend the ceremony, it may be that the most diplomatic option is for her to cite her pregnancy as a reason not to travel.
The royal family has now declared a strict 8-day period of “court mourning” with all public engagements canceled.
Philip’s funeral is expected to take place in St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle within the next week. If Harry does return to the U.K., he would be expected to quarantine for five days after arrival before taking a COVID test.
He is understood to have been largely isolating at home in recent weeks in case he needed to head home at short notice. Although, as a Prince of the United Kingdom, he could cite diplomatic immunity to avoid the regulations, to do so might give ammunition to the British press, which has violently turned against him since the Oprah interview, with which to attack him.
Meghan spoke about Philip’s illness on the Oprah interview, saying, “This morning, I woke up earlier than H, and saw a note from someone on our team in the U.K. saying that the Duke of Edinburgh had gone to the hospital. But I just picked up the phone and I called the queen just to check-in. That’s what we do, being able to default to not having to every moment go, ‘Is that appropriate?’”