Prince Harry Allegedly Found Out About the Queen’s Death from News Reports

Upsetting if true.

Prince Harry
(Image credit: Getty)

When Prince Harry woke up on the morning of Thursday, September 8, he likely thought the day would be a good one—the culmination of he and wife Meghan Markle’s European mini-tour, which saw them in Manchester, England, Dusseldorf, Germany, and, that night, London, taking part in charity engagements. That evening, Harry and Meghan had plans to attend the WellChild Awards in London, the last planned event before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were due to return home to California and their two children, Archie and Lili.

Then the call came from his father, Prince Charles, that morning: the Queen was not well, and he needed to get to Scotland, where she had taken a turn at Balmoral Castle, her summer retreat there.

What happened next remains murky, but Harry was not on the flight with older brother Prince William, uncles Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, and aunt Sophie, Countess of Wessex that took them to Scotland to rush to be by the Queen’s side before the end. (They ultimately didn’t make it in time, and Harry’s father King Charles III and aunt Princess Anne were the only family members present at her passing.) Harry was on a separate flight to Scotland, and, according to a source speaking to Page Six, “no one from the royal family, or any courtiers, actually called Harry to tell him of the monarch’s death—leaving him to find out from news reports when he landed late in the afternoon.”

The death of the Queen was announced at 6:30 p.m. local time, just moments before Harry landed at Aberdeen airport from London, having taken a private plane alone after not boarding the flight with his family. Photos of Harry taken as he was driven to Balmoral show “the strain and agony” on Harry’s face, Page Six reports; he arrived at Balmoral just before 8 p.m., the first time he had been in a room with the full family since his and Meghan’s departure from being working members of the royal family in 2020. (Meghan stayed behind in Windsor, as did William’s wife Kate Middleton, who was overseeing her three children’s first day of school that Thursday.)

But “after much criticism—on news sites as well as populist social media—about Harry being excluded from the family’s flights to and from Balmoral, it seemed they were making an effort to include him,” the outlet reports. The day after the Queen’s death, in his first speech as the new monarch, King Charles III seemingly offered an olive branch to his son and daughter-in-law, saying “I also want to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas.” The next day, Saturday—in an unprecedented show of unity—William texted Harry last minute and invited him and Meghan to join him and Kate on a walkabout outside of Windsor Castle. “Insiders understood that this was William’s bid at rapprochement,” Page Six writes.

Hope was high, but then dashed with drama—“protocol got in the way,” the outlet reports, specifically surrounding the uniform debacle (despite serving 10 years in the military, including two tours of duty in Afghanistan, Harry was not allowed to wear his military uniform as the Queen’s coffin processed from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall on Wednesday, September 14; he was ultimately allowed to wear it to a vigil on Saturday, September 17, but, again, not to the Queen’s funeral on Monday, September 19). Though Harry was allowed to wear his uniform Saturday, he was not allowed to wear the ER (for Elizabeth Regina, Regina being Latin for queen) insignia on his shoulder, though Andrew (also no longer a working royal) was allowed to wear his, despite allegations of sexual assault. Even Piers Morgan—no fan of Harry and Meghan’s—said “I thought that was churlish. If you’re going to let Prince Andrew have ER on his shoulder, then why wouldn’t you let Harry have it on his? I’ve got no truck for Harry’s behavior in recent years, but this was his grandmother [and] he did serve his country with great valor.”

Adding to the tension, awkwardly, Harry and Meghan’s invitation to a state reception with global leaders and royals around the world on Sunday, September 18 was rescinded, citing the fact that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were no longer working royals.

Harry and Meghan reportedly flew home to California on Wednesday, September 21, two days after the funeral. They had flown to the U.K. the weekend of September 3 only expecting to be away for a week, and ultimately stayed for 18 days. Despite ongoing tension, an insider told Page Six “I think that how Harry and Meghan showed up in the past few days shows they were only hoping to do the right thing and right by everyone.” The outlet cites Palace sources as confirming that William and Harry did talk at family dinners and gatherings, but that Harry’s forthcoming memoir—and its unknown contents—is “hanging over the royal family.”

Gayle King, a friend of the Sussexes who was in London covering the funeral, told CBS Mornings “there have been efforts on both sides…to sort of make this right.” She added “big families always go through drama, always go through turmoil. It remains to be seen—are they going to be drawn closer together or are they going to be drawn apart?...I have no inside information on that, but I will tell you this: it was good to see Harry standing with his family.” 

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.