Prince Harry to Miss Prince Philip’s Memorial; Queen to Miss Commonwealth Day Service

Across the board, royals are missing events this month they’d normally otherwise be attending.

Prince Harry Prince Philip
(Image credit: Getty Images)

On March 29, Westminster Abbey will host a Service of Thanksgiving honoring the life of Prince Philip, who died at 99 last April. Because of COVID restrictions at the time, his funeral was limited to just 30 people—this service will 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.

Prince Harry was in attendance at Philip’s funeral, but, it has been confirmed by a spokesperson for the Duke of Sussex, he will not return to the U.K. for the upcoming memorial. The spokesperson also said that he hopes to see his grandmother Queen Elizabeth “as soon as possible,” per PEOPLE.

Harry’s decision not to return to the U.K. likely boils down to the loss of his taxpayer funded police protection when he and wife Meghan Markle stepped back as working members of the royal family. Marie Claire reported previously that Harry “does not feel safe” returning to his home country under current security arrangements.

This week it was also announced that Her Majesty will not attend the Commonwealth Day Service set for this upcoming Monday, also at Westminster Abbey, and is instead sending son Prince Charles to represent her.

“After discussing the arrangements with the Royal Household, The Queen has asked The Prince of Wales to represent Her Majesty at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on Monday,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement. “The Queen will continue with other planned engagements, including in-person audiences, in the week ahead.”

The Commonwealth Day Service is typically a benchmark of the yearly royal calendar, an event the Queen rarely misses. (The last time she missed the event was in 2013, due to illness; the 2021 service was cancelled because of the pandemic.) PEOPLE reports that the Queen’s absence is not COVID-related (she recently recovered from the virus after testing positive on February 20) but is most likely related to mobility issues. Her Majesty has used a walking cane since October, missed the Remembrance Day ceremony due to a sprained back in November, and as recently as last month acknowledged to visiting military officials at Windsor Castle “As you can see, I can’t move.”

Royal expert and editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine Ingrid Seward said that Her Majesty is “determined” to make the ceremony honoring late husband Philip later this month and is choosing her engagements wisely so as to not miss the event.

“It would have been a huge wrench to miss the Commonwealth Day Service, but she is facing a dilemma these days where she must choose her engagements wisely,” Seward said, per the Mirror. “She will be very determined to make the Duke of Edinburgh’s Thanksgiving service later this month, which will be of incredible importance to her considering his funeral was so scaled back. Her Majesty, I believe, is very like her mother, who was reluctant to use a wheelchair, so in her advancing years it’s about projecting [sic] herself as much as possible for the big occasions.”

For their part, Prince William and Kate Middleton will also miss an event they typically attend annually—the BAFTAs, set for tomorrow. The Cambridges’ nights out at the BAFTAs—similar to the Oscars in the U.S.—have become a royal tradition recently, as William has served as president of the organization since 2010. PEOPLE reports that the couple won’t be able to make the awards ceremony because of scheduling conflicts, not because of Spencer, the Princess Diana biopic starring Kristen Stewart—for the record, the film, though nominated widely at other awards shows, was not nominated for a BAFTA. 

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.