Prince Harry Switched Flights to Get Home from the U.K. to California Sooner, Reports Say

Harry flew 11,000 miles to see his father, King Charles, for about 30 minutes.

Prince Harry walking into High Court today for his phone hacking trial
(Image credit: Getty)

After flying approximately 11,000 miles for just a 25-hour visit in the U.K., Prince Harry returned home to California last night, landing at LAX at 6:16 p.m. local time. After agreeing to wait for news of King Charles’ cancer diagnosis to break on Monday before flying out, Harry departed LAX that day, landed at Heathrow on Tuesday, and then departed on Wednesday to return back home to his wife, Meghan Markle, and their children Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.

Prince Harry Court Case

Prince Harry was in the U.K. for about 25 hours visiting his father, King Charles

(Image credit: Getty)

The Mirror reports that Harry was apparently so eager to get home to his family that he switched flights to bump his departure time up. The outlet reports that Harry landed at 6:16 p.m. on a Delta flight, and “it is believed the prince caught the Delta flight because the British Airways flight he was expected to take was delayed by two hours,” the outlet writes.

Harry’s return to the U.S. comes after he “reportedly spent just half an hour with his father after making the journey to visit him following his health news,” The Mirror writes. Buckingham Palace announced on Monday that King Charles had been diagnosed with cancer and was in outpatient treatment for it, though the Palace declined to specify what type of cancer specifically or what stage the cancer is in.

The visit was said to have, per The Mirror, “caused some disquiet” by Harry “taking it upon himself” to fly to the U.K. “without an invite and at such short notice,” the outlet reports. 

King Charles, Prince Harry walking

King Charles' cancer diagnosis was announced earlier this week

(Image credit: Getty)

According to The Daily Mail, Harry’s surprise arrival in the U.K. reportedly halted plans for Charles to fly to Sandringham with Queen Camilla. Instead, Charles remained at his London residence, Clarence House, to meet his younger son, “although an invitation for Harry to stay was not extended,” The Mirror reports. Harry didn’t end up staying at a royal residence at all, opting for a luxury hotel instead.

Harry arrived at Clarence House around 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, accompanied by a police escort. Just 30 minutes later, at 3:45 p.m., the King and Queen were seen waving to crowds as they left Clarence House, “signifying that the meeting between father and son was over and didn’t last long,” The Mirror continues. 

King Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry

Though Prince Harry saw his father, King Charles, he did not meet up with his brother, Prince William, while in the U.K.

(Image credit: Getty)

“It is striking that Harry was not invited to stay at Clarence House or, indeed, at any other royal residence,” royal expert Robert Jobson wrote in The Daily Mail. “So last minute was the decision to fly that he had to book a hotel room for the night.” Jobson added that "This impromptu visit, while well-intentioned, has served as a sad reminder of the continuing rift within the family, a burden Charles can ill afford in his current state when all his energy must be focused on the challenge of his health.”

The Daily Express clocked Harry’s trip as approximately 11,000 miles; this is believed to have been Charles and Harry’s first face-to-face meetup since the Queen’s funeral in September 2022. Harry did return to the U.K. two other times since then (for Charles’ Coronation in May of last year and for an engagement last September) but isn’t believed to have interacted with his father for any significant period of time. 

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.