Prince Harry and King Charles Have Had 'Positive Conversations' Leading Up to Coronation, Says Source

The father and son have spoken ahead of King Charles' crowning ceremony on May 6, which Prince Harry will attend without Meghan Markle

Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage King Charles and Prince Harry
Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage King Charles and Prince Harry

Prince Harry and King Charles have directly connected ahead of the monarch's May 6 coronation.

In this week's cover story, a source tells PEOPLE the estranged father and son have had "positive conversations" — although not in person.

The recent connection came after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were invited to the coronation via email from King Charles' office and not by Harry's father himself. "They didn't hear from Charles. Harry wanted to hear from his father directly — it's always through somebody," a close friend says.

But with the coronation quickly approaching, Buckingham Palace announced last week that Prince Harry, 38, will attend the crowning ceremony while Meghan Markle stays in California with their children, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.

Related:King Charles' Coronation Program Includes a Family Photo Featuring Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Chris Jackson/Getty King Charles and Queen Camilla
Chris Jackson/Getty King Charles and Queen Camilla

The King, 74, is said to be "pleased" his younger son will be there, but a wider reconciliation hasn't happened.

"At this point, it's become so personal," the friend tells PEOPLE. "Maybe what they wanted wasn't achieved, but at the end of the day, he's going there to support his dad."

The ongoing rift between Prince Harry and his family was evident in late March, when the Duke of Sussex was in London for a court hearing in his claim against Associated Newspapers but didn't see King Charles or his brother, Prince William.

"Things are strained," says a palace insider.

Related:Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Roles Within the Royal Family Since Their Exit Explained

King Charles was deeply saddened by the accusations of disloyalty and media manipulation that Prince Harry made against the royal family in Spare, published in January. But it would be Charles's "first wish" for Harry to join them at the coronation, says a source who knows the royals.

"Despite the wounds, it's his son, and I can't imagine he wouldn't want him to be there regardless of the hurtful things that have been said," royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith tells PEOPLE.

Karwai Tang/WireImage
Karwai Tang/WireImage

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For Prince Harry, his solo appearance at the coronation has everything to do with his desire to have, as he has stated, a "family, not an institution."

"This is about a son showing up for his father rather than the optics of the institution," the close friend says.

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