Prince Harry will attend the coronation in London of his father King Charles III but without his wife Meghan, Buckingham Palace said on Wednesday. The announcement follows weeks of uncertainty over the presence of Harry and Meghan, who have launched a barrage of criticism of the British royal family since announcing they were quitting royal duties in early 2020.
“Buckingham Palace is pleased to confirm that the Duke of Sussex will attend the coronation service at Westminster Abbey on 6th May,” a palace statement said, using Harry’s official title. “The Duchess of Sussex will remain in California with Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.” The day of the coronation, which formally sees Charles crowned king, falls on Archie’s fourth birthday. Harry’s trip to the UK will be brief and he will not be attending any other coronation-related events, sources told the domestic PA news agency.
The delay by Harry and Meghan in replying to the invitation had reportedly caused difficulties for organisers given the security considerations for an event due to be attended by numerous foreign dignitaries and heads of state. Harry’s attendance is seen as particularly sensitive since the publication of his blockbuster memoir “Spare” in January. In the explosive autobiography, the 38-year-old prince claimed his elder brother Prince William attacked him during an argument about Meghan, an American former television actress.
It followed a string of high-profile interviews and a six-hour Netflix docu-series in which the couple repeatedly criticised the royals. In comments that were widely seen as damaging to the monarchy, Meghan, who is mixed race, also told US chat show queen Oprah Winfrey in 2021 there had been comments made before Archie’s birth about the colour of his skin. The claim prompted William to furiously respond that the royals were “very much not a racist family”.
Despite the tensions, Charles had reportedly been keen for his younger son to be at the coronation. The couple have made infrequent visits to the UK since relocating to the United States, including for the funeral of Harry’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth II in September. But tensions were visible when Harry and Meghan joined William and his wife Kate on a joint walkabout at Windsor Castle to review floral tributes for the late monarch.
Charles, who ascended to the throne upon his mother’s death, will be formally crowned king in a pomp-filled ceremony attended by 2,000 people and watched by a worldwide television audience. The celebrations for the first coronation since 1953 will feature a star-studded concert with Kylie Minogue and Lionel Richie reportedly set to perform. A nationwide “Big Lunch” and volunteering initiative, as well as the traditional ceremony and royal processions, are also planned. — AFP