Headlines around the world reported Monday that “Prince Harry heard about his father King Charles’ illness, and returned to the UK,' after Buckingham Palace revealed the King had been diagnosed with cancer.
Analysts rushed to speculate that after years of unresolved conflict between Harry and his father, this would be an opportunity for the Duke of Sussex to set aside past grievances - and it seems that was indeed Harry's intention, as his close associates announced he would stay by his father's side for the near future.
Harry landed in London on Tuesday and promptly met with King Charles. The last time the two saw each other was in May 2023, when Harry attended his father's coronation ceremony and left on the same day.
The two’s meeting lasted 45 minutes, and at its conclusion, the king and his wife, Queen Camilla, left London for Sandringham Estate - while Harry spent the night in London and flew back to the United States on Wednesday.
Despite the expectation that all would end well and the hope that Charles's illness would lead to reconciliation within the royal family, it seems that the meeting between the two didn’t go smoothly, and the fact that Harry didn’t meet his older brother Prince William or his sister-in-law Princess Kate Middleton, who also underwent surgery and is currently recovering, only proves the family’s rift is far from over.
“William has shown that he has disowned Harry, he doesn’t want to know him, and he probably doesn’t even like him anymore,” royal expert Jennie Bond said. “Harry is just not part of his life. That rift is so deep now, so deep that I really do wonder if it can ever be mended.”
British journalist Robert Jobson told the UK-based outlet Daily Mail that "Charles was widely reported to have been ‘touched’ by the gesture. Perhaps he was. Yet I am told that the reality is both more complex and more troubling – that Harry caused some disquiet by ‘taking it upon himself’ to fly over unbidden and at such short notice.”
Sources from the palace said Charles wasn’t pleased that he had to postpone his trip to Sandringham by several hours because he had to wait for Harry's arrival from the United States. " I cannot blame Harry for flying over," said Jobson.
"Whatever soothing noises might come from Palace courtiers, his father’s diagnosis is a serious matter. However, the Prince should also spend some time reflecting on the stress he has caused the King. Who could be surprised if Harry were welcomed with something short of open arms?” He added.
One royal expert maintaining optimism is Richard Fitzwilliams, who argued that Harry's immediate arrival in London upon learning of the diagnosis indicates hope for reconciliation. "The whole situation has changed with cancer. The fact the King has been diagnosed with something that millions know is life threatening has changed the whole relationship between the Royal Family and the Sussexes. The only way for a family to fight cancer is to come together.”
Fitzwilliams added, "A lot has been made of the length of Harry’s visit and how quickly he left but that isn't the point. The point is that Harry came – and Charles shared the diagnosis with him. What he wanted was to express support."
Talking on the short meeting between the King and his son, Fitzwilliams explained Charles had started treatments, which made him tired. “I hope this could be the beginning of some form of reconciliation," he concluded.
On Wednesday, Prince William arrived at a public event for the first time since his father's diagnosis was announced, where actor Tom Cruise was also present, and addressed his father's condition by saying that he "really appreciates everyone's kindness,” for their concern for the King.
It should be noted that Buckingham Palace has experienced a series of medical incidents which unsettled the British Public. The first was Kate Middleton - Kensington Palace announced that the Duchess underwent abdominal surgery and will return to her duties only after Thanksgiving.
Hours later, it was announced that King Charles would also undergo a medical procedure due to an enlarged prostate diagnosis. Two weeks later, both were discharged.
While Kensington Palace reported that Kate's condition is improving and she’s recovering well, a Spanish journalist claimed the Princess of Wales was sedated following complications that arose after her release.
A few days later, Buckingham Palace reported that while King Charles underwent surgery for his prostate examination, the medical team diagnosed him with another form of cancer.