Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle could ‘regret’ not attending the memorial service for his grandfather Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey tomorrow – and the Queen is likely to be ‘very upset’ but cannot change his mind, royal experts say.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expected to remain at home in Montecito, California, while the rest of the Royal Family gather in London for the poignant event.
It comes as the 37-year-old Duke pursues a legal challenge against the Home Office after being told he would no longer be given the ‘same degree’ of personal protective security when visiting from the US, despite offering to pay for it himself.
The service will be shown on BBC One between 10.30am and 12.15pm tomorrow in the UK – but this will be 2.30am to 4.15am local time for the Sussexes. MailOnline has asked a spokesman for the couple whether they will be watching on TV overnight.
Harry last returned to the UK eight months ago to unveil the statue of his late mother Diana, Princess of Wales in London on July 1 with his brother Prince William.
The Duke – one of the Queen and Philip’s eight grandchildren – is the only top-level royal not attending tomorrow’s service which was organised by the monarch.
Royal author Phil Dampier told MailOnline today: ‘It’s very sad that Harry and Meghan won’t be at Prince Philip’s memorial service and I think one day Harry might regret it.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Global Citizen Live in New York on September 25, 2021
‘He has said that he doesn’t feel safe without Scotland Yard security but to me that sounds like an excuse not to come back to the UK and indicates the rift with his blood family is still bad.
‘Harry was always very fond of his grandfather and was deeply honoured when he took over from him as Captain General of the Royal Marines, but sadly that didn’t last long.
‘The pair attended some Remembrance Day events together and there was always a rapport between them, both being serving military men who had seen active service.’
Mr Dampier said that Harry ‘loved’ Philip’s sense of humour and praised him in interviews, adding that this makes his non-attendance ‘all the more mystifying and strange’.
He continued: ‘You get the impression he is still very hurt by what has happened between him and his father and brother, and I’m sure they feel the same, but to miss a memorial for his beloved grandfather is tragic.
‘Harry did fly over for his funeral and for the unveiling of the Diana statue, but hasn’t been back since.
Prince Harry and Prince Philip at the Rugby World Cup at Twickenham on October 31, 2015
‘He will be at the Invictus Games in The Hague, but there must now be great doubts about whether he will attend any of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
‘I’m sure the Queen is very upset he’s not coming tomorrow but she realises she can’t make Harry alter his mindset at the moment.’
Royal commentator Victoria Arbiter also said Harry could ‘regret’ not attending the service, and that Royal Family members ‘very rarely say no’ to events such as these.
She told Nine.com.au: ‘There’s likely to be a strong turnout from extended members of the family, each of whom will be keen to provide the Queen a sense of unity as she publicly mourns her husband once again.
‘Though she’s never been one to hold a grudge, surely it would be better for Prince Harry to make his peace now as opposed to living with a lifetime filled with potential regret. There are no second chances for occasions such as these.’
And royal expert Ingrid Seward told the Mirror: ‘She (the Queen) is determined to be at her late husband’s memorial on Tuesday however hard it is for her to get there.
The Queen and Prince Philip in June 2014. The Duke of Edinburgh died in April 2021 aged 99
‘She knows he would expect it as much as she knows he (Philip) would be angry and disappointed Prince Harry has chosen not to go.’
Royal commentator Kinsey Schofield told Express.co.uk that the memorial is an event ‘where he would have that security that he’s asking for, so it feels like this is just him trying to make a statement’.
In addition, royal author Robert Jobson told US Weekly: ‘It’s disappointing (because there) doesn’t appear to be any serious reason why he (Harry) can’t be there. He’s going to Holland for the Invictus Games shortly afterwards.’
Harry does plan to fly to The Hague in the Netherlands in three weeks’ time to attend the Invictus Games for injured military service that he set up.
The Games run from April 16 to 22, which means Harry would have the opportunity to visit his grandmother for her 96th birthday on the 21st.
On March 11, a spokesman for the Duke confirmed that he would not return to the UK for the service – but added that he hopes to visit his grandmother soon.
In April 2021, Harry flew back from California, without Meghan who was heavily pregnant at the time, to attend Philip’s funeral at St George’s Chapel in Windsor.
Harry sits alone at Philip’s funeral at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021
The guest list was trimmed from 800 to only 30 guests amid Covid restrictions, and the Queen sat alone in mourning for her husband of 73 years.
Harry quit as a senior working royal in 2020 and moved to the US with Meghan as they aimed to create a new life of personal and financial freedom.
The Sussexes’ controversial Oprah Winfrey television interview left the monarchy facing a crisis in March 2021 amid the lingering fallout from Megxit.
The couple accused an unnamed royal of racism against their son Archie before he was born and the family of failing to help Meghan when she was suicidal.
Since then, the duke has pursued a legal challenge against the Home Office amid the personal protective security row.
Harry wants to bring his son Archie and baby daughter Lilibet to visit from the US, but he and his family are ‘unable to return to his home’ because it is too dangerous, a legal representative previously said.
Last week, his lawyer was lambasted by a judge for an ‘entirely unacceptable’ breach of court rules after a High Court judgment was leaked. Harry is suing the Home Office over police protection, saying he does not feel safe visiting Britain without it.
Members of the Royal Family will be among the congregation at Westminster Abbey tomorrow
As part of the ongoing court case, Mr Justice Swift made a preliminary ruling last week. He shared it with Harry’s lawyers under embargo, before formally handing it down in court last week.
But, in open court, the judge admonished the duke’s lawyer for breaking the embargo, saying his ruling had been emailed – against court rules – to someone who was not a lawyer, former Army Major General Tim Robinson.
Mr Robinson is a troubleshooter who helps clients ‘protect their reputations’. He is a partner at Schillings, the law firm representing Harry, but he is not a qualified lawyer.
The judge said it was ‘entirely unacceptable’ that his draft judgment had been provided to Mr Robinson, and he told the prince’s barrister Shaheed Fatima QC: ‘It is also unacceptable you have come here without an apology.’
It comes a few months after Meghan apologised to High Court judges for ‘forgetting’ her role in helping the authors of gushing royal biography Finding Freedom, having previously denied co-operating with them.
The Duchess told the High Court last November: ‘I had absolutely no wish or intention to mislead.’