Give him credit: Despite ongoing familial rifts, Prince Harry did fly into the U.K. for his father King Charles’ Coronation last month—albeit a quick trip. Harry arrived in his home country on Friday and departed not long after the King’s 11 a.m. ceremony at Westminster Abbey, headed back home to California and his son Prince Archie’s fourth birthday. (He made it home in time to tuck him into bed, likely resulting in endless jet lag and one of the longest days of Harry’s life—but fulfilling his duty to both his father and his son.)
In leaving the U.K. so soon, Harry missed out on a post-ceremony reception at Buckingham Palace that could have given him ample face time with his father, his brother, Prince William, and other members of the royal family. Royal expert Richard Kay, speaking on the Channel 5 documentary Harry & Meghan: Is America Turning Against Them? (and per The Sun) said of Harry’s quick exit “that was unwise. It looked petulant. [It inferred] ‘I’m only here because I got to be here, because I’m the King’s son, but I can’t wait to be away.’”
On the same program, royal correspondent Tom Quinn added “the royal family will be deeply upset by the fact they have this loose cannon, someone William was [once] close to.”
While at the Abbey, Harry was spotted interacting with his cousins Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, and their husbands, as well as his cousin Zara Tindall, the daughter of Princess Anne (who Harry interacted with, as well). Marie Claire reported that Harry interacted with his father the night before the ceremony, and that Charles hoped Harry would stick around afterwards—instead, he was only in the U.K. for about 28 hours total.
“My understanding is he [Harry] didn’t have any interactions with the Prince or Princess of Wales, but that he did have a conversation with his father the night before,” Nick Bullen, editor-in-chief of True Royalty TV, told Us Weekly. “Until the morning, nobody really knew what Harry’s plans were going to be for that afternoon. I think everybody knew he had a plane to catch. Everybody knew he was intending to get home, but there was a hope, I think, that he might be part of some of the family celebrations back at the Palace. So I think that there was a sadness that he wasn’t part of the fuller day but, you know, they all knew he was going to get [on] that plane.”