Prince Harry’s Absence at Prince Philip’s Memorial This Week Could Worsen Royal Family Rift

A royal expert says Harry’s decision not to attend is “disappointing.”

Prince Harry
(Image credit: Getty Images)

At this Tuesday’s Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Prince Philip—who died last April at 99 years old after 73 years of marriage to the Queen—one familiar face to the late Duke of Edinburgh will notably be absent: Prince Harry, one of Philip’s grandsons.

As Marie Claire has previously reported, though Harry was in attendance at his grandfather’s funeral last year, he will not return to the U.K. for Philip’s memorial service, likely because of the loss of his taxpayer funded police protection, which ended when he and wife Meghan Markle stepped back as working members of the royal family in January 2020.

And this decision to skip Philip’s service could possibly worsen the Duke of Sussex’s relationship with the royal family, royal expert Robert Jobson told Us Weekly.

“It’s disappointing [because there] doesn’t appear to be any serious reason why he can’t be there,” Jobson said. “He’s going to Holland for the Invictus Games shortly afterwards.”

The memorial is taking place to allow those outside of Philip’s family, including representatives from many charities and organizations that the Duke of Edinburgh worked with throughout his long life, to honor and pay tribute to him. Because of COVID restrictions at the time, Philip’s funeral last April was limited to just 30 people.

In January 2022, Harry applied for judicial review of a Home Office decision that he could not personally fund police protection for his family—wife Meghan, son Archie, and daughter Lili—while in England. In the U.S., where the Sussex family now lives, Harry and Meghan pay for a protection team privately.

In a statement released by Harry’s legal spokesperson at the time of the Home Office filing, Harry’s team argued that “while his role within the Institution has changed, his profile as a member of the royal family has not. Nor has the threat to him and his family.” Subsequently, Harry’s private protection team “cannot replicate the necessary police protection needed whilst in the U.K. In absence of such protection, Prince Harry and his family are unable to return home.”

And, despite security concerns, Jobson—author of Prince Philip’s Century: The Extraordinary Life of the Duke of Edinburgh—said it’s “disrespectful” for Harry to skip the service, especially since Harry shared such a close relationship with his grandfather throughout his life.

“I think any young man, particularly the one who was guided so well by the Duke of Edinburgh [should be there],” Jobson said. He added Harry’s presence would also have shown “deference” to the Queen on the loss of the love of her life, but “I’m sure [Queen Elizabeth] knows that Philip and Harry had a great relationship,” Jobson said.

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.