Prince Harry‘s decision to skip Prince Philip‘s memorial service could possibly worsen his relationship with the royal family — according to one royal expert.
“It’s disappointing [because there] doesn’t appear to be any serious reason why he can’t be there,” Robert Jobson exclusively told Us Weekly after a spokesperson confirmed that Harry, 37, will not attend a Service of Thanksgiving in honor of his late grandfather. “He’s going to Holland for the Invictus Games shortly afterwards.”
The memorial service will take place on March 29, nearly one year after Philip’s death in April 2021 at age 99. Harry — who moved to California with wife Meghan Markle and children Archie, 2, and Lilibet, 9 months, in 2020 — traveled to England to attend the funeral, which was scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic. He also returned to the U.K. in July 2021, for the unveiling of a statue honoring his late mother, Princess Diana, in July 2021.
However, in January, Harry applied for judicial review of a Home Office decision that he could not personally fund police protection for his family while in England. After stepping down as a senior member of the royal family in January 2020, the Duke of Sussex offered to personally pay for U.K. police protection, but was dismissed. Once he moved to California with his family, Harry was able to pay for a private protection team using the inheritance left from Princess Diana.
“I had to afford security for us,” Harry said during a CBS tell-all interview with Markle, 39, in March 2021. “[I was cut off] in the first quarter of 2020. But I’ve got what my mom left me and without that, we would not have been able to do this.”
In a statement released by his legal spokesperson at the time of filing for the Home Office to reverse their decision, the prince argued that “while his role within the Institution has changed, his profile as a member of the royal family has not. Nor has the threat to him and his family.” As a result, his private team “cannot replicate the necessary police protection needed whilst in the UK. In absence of such protection, Prince Harry and his family are unable to return home.”
Despite the question of security, Jobson says it’s “disrespectful” for Harry to skip the service, especially as he had a very close relationship with Philip during his life. “I think any young man, particularly the one who was guided so well by the Duke of Edinburgh [should be there],” the Prince Philip’s Century: The Extraordinary Life of the Duke of Edinburgh author stated.
“I’m sure [Queen Elizabeth II] knows that that Philip and Harry had a great relationship,” he added, explaining that it also shows “deference” to the 96-year-old monarch to celebrate her husband.
The memorial service may also mark the queen’s return to public events following her battle with COVID-19. After testing positive for the virus in February, the sovereign has continued to carry out “light duties,” but has been forced to cancel several obligations due to her health. Queen Elizabeth did not attend the annual Commonwealth Day Service, but asked that Prince Charles and Prince William attend in her absence.
“She’s recovered from COVID and that’s a great thing, but I think that you must accept that 96, there will be occasions where she hopes to be at events and she can’t be at them even if she really wants to be,” Jobson told Us. “I’m sure that she would desperately want to attend [the memorial] … but if she can’t, she can’t and she’ll be well represented by her eldest son, the Prince of Wales.”
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