Prince Harry Reportedly Turned Down a Stay at a Royal Residence—and, Ergo, a Chance to Meet with His Father, King Charles—Because of Security Concerns

“Had the invitation been accepted, it may have provided an opportunity to spend some time together outside of their hectic schedules.”

Prince Harry grimaces as he leaves a U.K. courtroom
(Image credit: Getty)

In today’s iteration of “Who snubbed who?” we find ourselves re-examining Prince Harry’s recent trip to the U.K., where, via a spokesperson, he made clear that his father, King Charles, had turned down the opportunity to meet with him while he was back in his home country celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Invictus Games: “In response to the many inquiries and continued speculation on whether or not the Duke will meet with his father while in the U.K. this week it, unfortunately, will not be possible due to His Majesty’s full program,” the spokesperson said. “The Duke, of course, is understanding of his father’s diary of commitments and various other priorities and hopes to see him soon.”

Prince Harry

Harry was in the U.K. earlier this month to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of his beloved Invictus Games.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Well, there’s two sides to every story, and usually the truth is somewhere in between them. Now, per The Daily Mail, the other side is coming out, this one claiming that it was Harry that turned down a meeting with Charles in London because it didn’t come with the security provisions Harry was seeking. It is also being re-upped, after first getting traction soon after Harry was in the U.K., that Harry chose to stay in a hotel after reportedly being offered to stay at a royal residence.

Let’s unpack this: according to The Daily Mail, Harry “is said to have declined his father’s offer [to stay in a royal property] because it did not come with any taxpayer-funded personal security provision, which would leave him staying in a ‘visible location with public entrance and exit points and no police protection,’” the outlet reports. According to The Telegraph, “Instead, he chose to stay at a hotel—presumably with members of the public—because it meant he ‘could come and go unseen.’” 

Prince Harry

His spokesperson said that the King didn't have time in his busy schedule to meet with Harry, but Harry reportedly also turned down a stay at a royal residence because of security concerns.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Telegraph maintained that Harry “remains devastated” about the withdrawal of his automatic right to police protection, which he is still battling the Home Office over through the British courts. He now has to give the Metropolitan Police 28 days’ notice before coming to the U.K. if he wishes to apply for security provision, The Daily Mail reports, “with each request assessed on an individual basis by RAVEC, the committee which oversees the protection of royalty and public figures,” the outlet continues.

While it remains unclear exactly where the King offered Harry a room, “St. James’ Palace is a strong possibility,” The Daily Mail writes. “Princess Beatrice has a permanent apartment there, while Princess Anne has a suite of rooms—and a parking place—she uses while staying in London. Other members of the royal family use it on an ad hoc basis.”

Perhaps most importantly, it is situated directly adjacent to Clarence House, the King and Queen’s London home. To the meeting aspect, Harry staying at St. James’ “would have allowed father and son a place to meet in relative privacy and is guarded round-the-clock by a ‘ring of steel,’” according to The Daily Mail. “In fact all royal residences—whichever one Harry was offered—feature armed guards at entry and exit points, unlike any London hotel, and boast the most sophisticated security systems in the country to protect working members of the family.” 

Prince Harry and King Charles in top hats

Staying at a royal residence, particularly St. James' Palace, may have allowed father and son the opportunity to meet, reports say.

(Image credit: Getty)

While Buckingham Palace isn’t commenting on this directly, The Daily Mail writes of Harry’s spokesperson’s statement that it “strongly suggested that, while Harry was keen to meet his father, the King was effectively ‘too busy’ to see him. However, it has since become clear that, while His Majesty did indeed have a packed program of engagements that week, the King had made conciliatory overtures that would have enabled him to see his son.”

As The Telegraph put it, “had the invitation [for Harry to stay at the royal residence] been accepted, it may have provided an opportunity to spend some time together outside of their hectic schedules.” 

Prince Harry

Harry, seen here arriving at St. Paul's for the Invictus Games Service of Thanksgiving, isn't thought to have seen any royal family members while in London; the siblings of his mother, Princess Diana, did turn up to the May 8 event, however.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Charles and Harry last saw one another in person back in February, when, upon learning of his father’s cancer diagnosis, Harry flew from his home base of L.A. to London to just spend 30 minutes with his father on February 6, who was leaving for Sandringham that very day with Camilla. Harry was back in the U.K. from May 7 until he and wife Meghan Markle arrived in Nigeria on May 10, during which time he took part in a Service of Thanksgiving honoring 10 years of the Invictus Games at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, just a few miles away from where the King was hosting a garden party at the same time. It is as of yet unknown when Harry will return to his home country for another visit.

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.