Could Prince Philip’s Funeral Heal the Royal Family Rift?

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After a year marked by division, the royal family will be united in their grief next Saturday, walking together behind the funeral procession for Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. It was one of Philip’s wishes to be taken to St. George’s Chapel a Windsor Castle in a Land Rover he helped to modify, and Prince Charles will lead the procession behind it, joined by his sons Prince Harry and Prince William.

Other senior royals are also expected to join the short procession from the state entrance of Windsor Castle to the chapel, but sources confirmed that the Queen will not walk behind her husband’s coffin.

It will be the first time Prince Harry has been seen in public with his family since the Commonwealth Day service in March 2020, which was his and Meghan Markle’s final public engagement before stepping down as senior royals. At the time the press was full of reports that William and Harry were no longer on speaking terms, and there seemed to be visible tension between the Cambridges and the Sussexes during the service.

Although Harry and William are understood to have spoken after the so-called “Sandringham Summit,” where the Sussexes’ future plans were thrashed out with the Queen, Harry left the UK under a cloud. As he told Oprah Winfrey during his and Meghan’s bombshell interview, the relationship that defined his relationship with his brother at that time was “space.” After the interview, in which they made a series of claims about racism within the royal family, William was said to have accused his brother of putting fame over family. Though the brothers were in touch after the interview aired, the conversations were reportedly “not productive.”

William and Harry have been in touch in the days since their grandfather’s death, and members of the family are hoping that Philip’s funeral will be an opportunity for the brothers to come together in private and start to heal their relationship.

“Harry has been in touch with his father, and his brother, and his grandmother,” a source told Vanity Fair. “He was told about his grandfather’s death at the same time as the rest of the family and he is grieving just like the rest of them.”

The journey home will be an emotional and painful one for Prince Harry. Yesterday Buckingham Palace confirmed that Meghan, who is due to give birth this summer, will not fly over for the funeral on the advice of her doctor. A source close to the Sussexes told Vanity Fair that the Duchess had made “every effort” to join her husband on the trip, but decided not to fly to the UK for medical reasons.

While Harry will be tested on arrival into the UK he will also be required to quarantine for five days. He was said to be keen to return home as soon as possible after learning of his grandfather’s death so that he could be reunited with his family. It is understood he will be staying at Frogmore House in Windsor, the couple’s UK home, which is in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

The first person Harry will see will likely be his grandmother. The two have been in regular contact ever since Harry left the UK and often speak on the phone and on Zoom. During a recent interview with James Corden Harry had also revealed that he had participated in video calls with Philip, who tended to end calls by slamming the computer shut.

It is not known when Harry last spoke to his grandfather but Philip, who was apparently briefed about the Oprah interview after he was discharged from hospital last month was said to be deeply disappointed by what the couple and said and how much it had upset the Queen and the rest of the family.

While they have always been close, largely because of their joint love and bond with the military, Harry’s relationship with his grandfather came under strain over the past year. According to the Duke of Edinburgh’s biographer Ingrid Seward, Philip was so upset with his grandson’s decision to stand down from royal duties that he did not meet with Harry when he visited Sandringham.

“Philip simply cannot understand how Harry has behaved the way he has done,” Seward told Vanity Fair last year. “His grandson’s behavior is completely alien to him so not unnaturally the relationship has suffered. Don’t forget this is a man about to turn 100 who has devoted 68 years of his adult life to supporting the monarchy, and this has been a great shock. The Queen would not want him to worry at his age, but Philip’s absence from the Sandringham Summit spoke volumes. The fact that he was driven away from the big house at Sandringham before everyone even arrived signaled he didn’t want to be part of it.”

Now family members are hoping that this will be a chance for Harry to build bridges with his family, particularly with his brother, sister-in-law, and father, who is desperately said to want a family reunion.

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