Royal retreat? Prince Harry will not return to the U.K. for an upcoming event in honor of his late grandfather Prince Philip. The news came as Queen Elizabeth II decided to skip the approaching Commonwealth Day Service following her COVID-19 battle.
A spokesperson for the Sussexes confirmed to Us Weekly on Friday, March 11, that Harry, 37, will not travel to his native country for the Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Philip, which is set to take place on March 29. However, the prince hopes to visit the queen, 95, as soon as possible.
Earlier on Friday, Buckingham Palace announced that the monarch will not attend the Commonwealth Day Service on Monday, March 14. “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,” a statement to Us read. “The queen will continue with other planned engagements, including in person audiences, in the week ahead.”
The statement noted that Prince Charles, Duchess Camilla, Prince William and Duchess Kate will be present at the Commonwealth Day Service in the queen’s absence. The sovereign’s Commonwealth Day message will also “be distributed in the usual way.”
The service honoring Philip will take place nearly one year after his death in April 2021 at age 99. While his funeral was scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Thanksgiving event will allow representatives from charities and organizations that the Duke of Edinburgh worked with during his life to pay tribute to him.
Harry moved to California with wife Meghan Markle — with whom he shares son Archie, 2, and daughter Lilibet, 9 months — in 2020 following the couple’s royal exit. He previously returned to the U.K. for Philip’s funeral in April 2021 and the Princess Diana statue unveiling in July 2021.
However, Harry applied in January for judicial review of a Home Office decision that he could not personally fund police protection for his family while in England. His legal spokesperson said in a statement at the time that the Sussexes “are unable to return to his home” without proper security.
As for the queen, she has reduced her duties since testing positive for COVID-19 in February. She held her first in-person meeting since her diagnosis on Monday, March 7.
The monarch’s battle with coronavirus followed a series of health issues. She was briefly hospitalized in October 2021 and encouraged by her doctor to rest for several weeks. She later skipped the November 2021 Remembrance Day Service after spraining her back.