Prince Harry’s Opportunity To Heal Royal Rift With King Charles

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Prince Harry may be hours away from touching down in Britain after learning of King Charles III’s cancer diagnosis, with British newspapers full of speculation they will mend their fractured relationship.

A source close to the Duke of Sussex indicated Monday that he would fly to Britain to see his father in the coming days after Buckingham Palace announced the king had begun treatment.

Pictures emerged of two cars with blacked-out windows at LAX Airport in Los Angeles that were reported by The Sun and the Daily Mail to have been taking the prince to his flight back to Britain, though that is not confirmed.

Composite image of King Charles III (center) alongside Prince Harry (left) and Prince William. Charles has been diagnosed with cancer, Buckingham Palace announced on Monday, February 5, 2024.

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images/Karwai Tang/WireImage/Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Harry’s arrival in the U.K. always triggers hope the family will patch up their differences after years of trans-Atlantic strife, but this trip is particularly significant.

While Charles is feeling positive about his diagnosis he—and his family alike—would be forgiven for also being reminded of his mortality.

And for Harry and Prince William, that inevitably must mean remembering the moment in 1997 when Charles told them their mother, Princess Diana, had died in a car crash.

Harry clearly wasted no time making the decision to come to Britain, with a source releasing the news within around 25 minutes of the palace announcement.

That suggests the prince is taking the issue seriously and knows where he needs to be during a sobering moment for his family.

In April 2022, Harry was asked whether he missed his father and brother by Hoda Kotb on Today and swerved the question, stating his focus was instead on the Invictus Games, taking place in the Netherlands at the time.

“And when I leave here,” he added, “I go back, and my focus is my family, who I miss massively. Of course I do. They’re two little people.”

Those two little people, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet, will be without their father for a period of time as he returns to his other home, the country of his birth.

He does, however, have no permanent house to stay in, having vacated Frogmore Cottage, where Archie was born, last year, a decision announced shortly after the release of his controversial autobiography Spare.

It is just one of innumerable historic flash points that Harry will have to put to one side if a rapprochement is to take place.

However, there was hope in November when Harry and Charles spoke around the time of the king’s 75th birthday—and Charles’ biographer Robert Hardman recently told Newsweek he believed they would patch things up, even before this week’s announcement of the diagnosis.

“Yes, in some way I do,” Hardman said. “I don’t know how and when. Certainly, on this side of the Atlantic, the door is always open, and there’s so much other stuff going on.

“For Harry, it’s a different order of magnitude, because does he want to reengage with his family?” Hardman said. “Charles would love to have him back in the fold, not being royal again—I think that ship has sailed, and I’m sure Harry would not want to do that.”

Kristina Kyriacou, Charles’ former communications secretary, echoed that sentiment when she told Good Morning Britain on Tuesday: “He adores his sons and he will want to see his grandchildren. He didn’t want any of this estrangement and everyone thought it was right to allow Harry and Meghan to go and live their life in the States as they wanted to. No one expected all of this.

“So if out of bad news some good news comes and Harry and the king and the queen and his brother are reunited, how wonderful is that?”

“Knowing the king as I do,” she continued, “I would say his forgiveness and his empathy for everybody beggars belief.”

However, the other issue to navigate is William, who endured profoundly personal information being published through Spare, including Harry’s account of a physical altercation in which the older brother pushed the younger brother to the floor.

Kate Middleton was also painted as being difficult in the run-up to Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, while Princess Charlotte, now 8, was said by the duke to have cried because her flower girl dress was too baggy.

While a thawing of relations between Harry and Charles may be relatively likely at a time like this, the real test will perhaps be whether Harry and William see each other at all and, if so, whether they can put their differences behind them.

A Buckingham Palace statement on Monday read: “During the king’s recent hospital procedure for benign prostate enlargement, a separate issue of concern was noted. Subsequent diagnostic tests have identified a form of cancer.

“His majesty has today commenced a schedule of regular treatments, during which time he has been advised by doctors to postpone public-facing duties.

“Throughout this period, His majesty will continue to undertake state business and official paperwork as usual.

“The king is grateful to his medical team for their swift intervention, which was made possible thanks to his recent hospital procedure. He remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible.

“His majesty has chosen to share his diagnosis to prevent speculation and in the hope it may assist public understanding for all those around the world who are affected by cancer.”

Jack Royston is Newsweek‘s chief royal correspondent based in London. You can find him on X, formerly Twitter, at @jack_royston and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.

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