Royal Expert Says Prince Harry Turned Down King Charles’ Invitation to Join Him at Balmoral

“For Harry, this was a missed opportunity.”

Prince Harry at an engagement
(Image credit: Getty Images)

For weeks, many royal followers wondered where Prince Harry would spend the one-year anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s passing on September 8. His diary indicated that he would be in the U.K., as he was due to be at the WellChild Awards (a patronage he has held for 15 years) on September 7; the Invictus Games began in Dusseldorf, Germany on September 9. That left the day open on September 8—potentially, hopefully, an opportunity to reconnect with his family over the shared experience of grief over the loss of Her late Majesty.

Prince Harry at the Invictus Games Opening Ceremony

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In truth, we’ll never fully know what happened here and the particulars of the situation, but royal expert Ingrid Seward said that King Charles invited Harry out to Balmoral in Scotland—where the King was staying at the time, and where the late Queen died last year—but the Duke of Sussex turned him down. “For Harry, this was a missed opportunity,” said Seward, who is editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine. “He should have braved it out and gone to see them. If the King invites you to Balmoral, then most people would cancel all of their travel plans. He could have easily rearranged things slightly to allow himself the time.”

Instead, Harry visited St. George’s Chapel at Windsor, where his grandmother is buried, to pay his respects. Though many reports say he visited the site alone, it is believed he was accompanied by his cousins, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.

Prince Harry leaving Windsor yesterday

(Image credit: amygiles0188 on X/Twitter)

“Any attempts for a rapprochement must be on the King’s terms,” Seward said. “I’m glad he is showing some backbone and offering this olive branch. But Harry must have known that not only the King but the whole of the royal camp decamp to Balmoral for the summer, and that was the only place he could go.”

Seward continued “I am not sure if Harry has realized how hurt his father was, especially about the things he said about Camilla [in Spare, his memoir released last January]. But of course, Charles will always welcome him, as he is a forgiving man, and it’s his son. But it has to be on his terms, and Harry has to apologize, not the other way ‘round. If he wants security and somewhere to stay, palaces which are dust sheeted and thoroughly cleaned when royals are not in residence during summer are not going to be opened for Harry.” (Seward appears to address reports that Harry asked to stay at Windsor or in other royal properties around London during his brief stay there; it’s unclear where he ended up staying while there.) 

King Charles and Prince Harry at a royal engagement

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Despite this, Harry is, according to OK, always eager for his family to contact him, with a source telling the outlet that “He misses home and is forever hoping for calls from his dad and brother that never come.”

King Charles and Prince Harry at a royal engagement

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The outlet reports that, while thankfully there isn’t any new drama between Harry and older brother Prince William, there doesn’t seem to be much forward motion, either, with the lines of communication—telephone calls, Zoom, FaceTime—appearing to be dead. “The damage, the wounds, are so deep that it’s going to take an awful lot and an awful long time to heal those wounds,” royal expert Sarah Hewson said. “At this stage, I just don’t see any evidence that there’s a desire on either side yet to put an end to this.”

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.