What really happened with Prince Harry on the day Queen Elizabeth died

At 12.32, both confirming the rumours and quelling the immediate panic that the worst had happened, Buckingham Palace said: “The Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision.

“The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.”

Not long afterwards, Huw Edwards – anchoring the rolling BBC News – appeared in a black tie, setting the tone for viewers and newsrooms across the country.

The Duke of Cambridge and his uncles Prince Edward (with his wife Sophie) and Prince Andrew were on their way to RAF Northolt, where a jet was waiting for them.

An hour’s delay in take off, scheduled for 1.30pm but not happening until 2.39pm, has not yet been properly explained.

At 3.50pm the Dassault Falcon landed at Aberdeen airport, before the family, looking as grave as one might expect, piled into a waiting car to be driven to Balmoral by Prince William.

The Duchess of Sussex, meanwhile, found herself in the headlines.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be travelling to Scotland,” their spokeswoman said, a little before 2pm.

As it happened, she would not go.

The confusion, The Telegraph understands, was the result not of a pushy Duchess and in-laws who didn’t want her there, but logistics.

Assuming the situation to be not unlike what would have happened had the Queen died while Harry was in California, their team thought she would fly with him for support.

By the time Prince Harry spoke to his father again, it became clear that spouses, including the Duchess of Cambridge, were not going.

“It was just a mistake,” said a source familiar with how the day unfolded. “This wasn’t about causing or taking offence, it was simply the protocol and they [the Sussexes] were always going to respect that.”

“The lie of the land was made clear,” said another, simply.

Their team scrambled to find a way to get Harry to Balmoral, quickly ruling out commercial flights or trains given all eyes were now on him.

Eventually, a private jet was chartered – at an estimated cost of £30,000 – from Luton to fly him to Aberdeen, while Meghan stayed at Frogmore.

By around 3pm, the great and the good were receiving text messages warning them that plans for Operation London Bridge may need to be rolled out imminently.

The Prime Minister was told of the Queen’s death at 4.30pm. It was announced to the public at 6.30pm.

At this point, narratives about what happened behind the scenes in the Royal family diverge.

While Charles and Anne made it to Balmoral in time to see their mother alive, their brothers and Prince William got there only in time to process news of her death together.


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