Royal Biographers Claim King Charles Wasn’t Interested in the “Media Circus” or “PR Opportunity” Surrounding a Meetup with Prince Harry

Even the Archbishop of Canterbury has weighed in on this culturally pervasive matter, which has captivated attention this week.

King Charles and Prince Harry at a royal engagement
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lest we forget, while many of us obsessively follow the royal family (guilty as charged), we don’t know these people, and we only know slivers of the full story. After all, what’s that saying? There are three sides to every story—his side, her side (well, in the case of King Charles and Prince Harry’s drama this week, another his side), and the truth. And while we turn to trusted royal commentators to give us insight, only those involved really know what’s going on—something to keep in mind as we unpack what seems to be a pretty catastrophic setback in the relationship between Charles and Harry, father and son.

Prince Harry kisses King Charles on the cheek

Maybe one day...

(Image credit: Getty)

In case you’ve somehow missed the drama this week, here’s a brief recap: a spokesperson for Harry confirmed earlier this week that, while Harry was briefly in the U.K. celebrating 10 years since the founding of the Invictus Games, his father the King wouldn’t have time to see him. But that’s not all: that same day, Charles gave Harry’s brother, Prince William, an appointment as Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps, the regiment in which Harry served in Afghanistan. This news would probably have been a tough pill to swallow anyway—after all, had Harry stayed on as a working royal, the role would have likely gone to him—but the timing was extremely suspect, on the day he flew into the U.K. This news reportedly left Harry in tears.

Prince Harry

Harry is next headed to Nigeria, where he will reunite with Meghan after what has certainly been a tough week.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Last night, as Harry attended the Invictus Games Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral, his father was just a few miles away at a Buckingham Palace garden party, along with the other working royals. No members of the royal family came out to support Harry on what was an important night for him and the Invictus Games—but thankfully, his late mother Princess Diana’s siblings were there on site so that Harry would have some family present. (His wife, Meghan Markle, didn’t join him in the U.K.) Relations continue to be frosty between not just Charles and Harry but also between Harry and William, and Harry and Queen Camilla. It’s a mess, and if we’re this exhausted, the royal family must be unbelievably so.

King Charles

The King and Queen hosted the first garden party of the season at Buckingham Palace yesterday.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Royal biographer Robert Jobson weighed in on it all to The Sun: “People think if Harry rolls into town there’s going to be some sort of reconciliation,” he said. “But you’re going to realize there’s been a lot of water under the bridge, a lot of portrayal [sic] of trust. That takes time to rebuild, and I don’t think we’re anywhere near the stage of rebuilding trust.”

This trip to the U.K. was Harry’s first in three months, after he flew back to his native country in February after Charles announced his cancer diagnosis publicly on February 5; he got about a 30-minute audience with his dad. Jobson added “Harry effectively took it by himself to come see his dad when he said that he had been diagnosed with cancer. That would be seen by many as a good thing. But at the time, I think the King didn’t want all the media circus that would accompany Harry’s arrival.”

Prince Harry

Harry spent his time in the U.K. immersed in the work of the Invictus Games.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Fellow royal biographer Ingrid Seward (who is also editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine) echoed similar sentiments, saying that Charles “snubbed” Harry for fear he’d be used as a tool to boost Harry’s image. “He’s the father of Harry,” she said. “It would look nice if they met. He probably doesn’t want it to be used as a PR opportunity. Or maybe Harry’s being the one being difficult, and we just don’t know.”

That’s it, really—we just don’t know. It all remains terribly sad, and the feud has become so ubiquitous in the news and in culture that even Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, spoke out about the father and son rift on ITV’s Good Morning Britain this morning. 

“We must not judge them,” he said, per People. “They’re human beings. They must not be judged. They need to be prayed for and supported.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby


(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Archbishop has long had a close relationship with the royal family, marrying Harry and Meghan six years ago this month and playing a prominent role in Charles’ coronation, which just marked its one year anniversary on May 6. In regards to the health of Charles—who, as previously mentioned, is battling cancer—and the Princess of Wales, who is also receiving treatment for the disease, Welby encouraged people to “pray” for the royals, saying “I’ll just say to everyone, if you’re someone who prays, pray for them, because that’s—can’t go wrong, I mean,” he said. “And if you’re someone who doesn’t pray, pray for them, because it can’t do any harm, and it might do some good.”

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.