Why Prince Harry Didn't Attend Prince Philip's Memorial Service

The duke's team has stated that he is "unable to return home."

the royal family at Prince Philip's memorial service
(Image credit: Getty)

On Tuesday, the royal family and hundreds of mourners gathered for a memorial service for Prince Philip, the Queen's beloved husband, who passed away last April at the age of 99. Absent from the service was Prince Harry, Philip's grandson, and his wife, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex. The Duke and Duchess are embroiled in a legal battle over security to protect them when they're visiting the U.K., and Prince Harry has stated that he is "unable to return home" until it is resolved.

The Home Office—a branch of the British government that oversees security and immigration—had previously ruled that Prince Harry and his family were not able to self-fund their own security while they're in the U.K. 

In a January statement, Prince Harry's team noted: "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." It went on to explain that in the States, Harry and his family are able to self-fund their own security—but are not able to do so in the U.K., thanks to the Home Office's ruling. “That security cannot replicate the necessary police protection needed whilst in the UK," the statement explained. "In absence of such protection, Prince Harry and his family are unable to return home.”

These risks are not theoretical. Last time Prince Harry was in the U.K., attending an event to unveil a statue dedicated to his late mother, Princess Diana, he suffered a security breach and was at risk, according to the January statement: "His security was compromised due to the absence of police protection, whilst leaving a charity event." 

It's possible that if the security issue is resolved in a timely manner, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle—and potentially their two young children, Archie and Lilibet—would be able to return to the U.K. this summer to see their family for the Queen's Jubilee, an unprecedented event that marks 70 years of the Queen's reign.