Why Prince William Was Asked to Have Dinner with King Charles the Night Queen Elizabeth Died, But Prince Harry Was Not

A fiery new book also claims that William spent that night at Charles' home on the Balmoral estate, but Harry stayed elsewhere.

King Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry
(Image credit: Getty)

The revelations continue to emerge from royal biographer Robert Hardman’s latest book, The Making of a King: King Charles III and the Modern Monarchy, which is out on January 18. The book is especially rich in detail about what happened in the immediate aftermath of Queen Elizabeth’s death at 96 years old on September 8, 2022. Her late Majesty died at her beloved Balmoral in Scotland; King Charles was already in the vicinity, and both of his sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, quickly flew to the royal family’s Scottish retreat, albeit separately.

King Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry

(Image credit: Getty)

Per The Mirror, upon Harry’s arrival at Balmoral—after receiving word that his grandmother had died via an alert from the BBC News app on his phone—he was greeted by his aunt, Princess Anne, the only daughter of the late Queen and Prince Philip. He didn’t see his father, Charles, or his brother, William, until he was in London the next day. (Harry and Meghan Markle happened to be in the U.K. when the Queen died, as they were taking part in pre-planned engagements there.)

Now, in his new book, Hardman writes that Harry was outright snubbed by Charles and William while at Balmoral, as they met in secret sans Harry about dealing with the fallout from the Queen’s death. Hardman writes that the new King had dinner with William, who, in the blink of an eye, had suddenly become the next in line to the throne. Charles and William ate alongside the new Queen Camilla (then referred to as Queen Consort Camilla) at Charles and Camilla’s private home on the Balmoral estate, Birkhall. “The King needed to have vital but discreet discussions with his elder son,” Hardman writes. “In years gone by, such a moment would automatically have included his younger son, too. But not anymore.”

Hardman writes that Harry was left out of the dinner for fear he was “taking notes for his forthcoming book” (Spare would be released four months later, on January 10, 2023) and Charles needed “a clear head and no distractions.”

That night, William stayed at Charles’ house; Harry stayed with the rest of the senior royals elsewhere on the estate. “You have to remember, losing a second parent is a big thing, becoming the senior generation is a big thing, and there he was, expected to console the whole country,” a staffer said of the moment, per The Telegraph.

As for Harry, upon arriving at Balmoral, he wrote in Spare that he went to see Queen Elizabeth to pay his respects, called Meghan, and then had dinner with Anne and his cousins, including Anne’s daughter Zara Tindall. 

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.