Prince Harry will attend the King’s Coronation service in London next month alone – with Meghan Markle remaining in California with their children Archie and Lilibet.
Buckingham Palace confirmed the dramatic news in a statement today, saying it was ‘pleased to confirm’ the Duke of Sussex will be at Westminster Abbey on May 6.
But the Duchess will stay home at the couple’s residence in Montecito with one-year-old Lilibet and Archie, whose fourth birthday is on the same day as the ceremony.
The couple’s friend Omid Scobie confirmed Archie’s birthday ‘played a factor in the couple’s decision’ and he expected it would be a ‘fairly quick trip to the UK’ for Harry. The Duke will only attend the ceremony itself, which is likely to last a few hours.
The announcement comes just over three weeks until the event, and a royal observer told MailOnline: ‘Charles will be pleased. The rest of the family will be relieved that Meghan won’t be there – it would have been particularly uncomfortable for Kate.’
Harry and Meghan had controversially delayed their decision over whether they would fly in for the ceremony, despite the RSVP date of April 3 having passed.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on June 3 last year
King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla are pictured in Malton, North Yorkshire, on April 5
The late Queen Elizabeth II, Charles, Camilla, William, Kate, Harry and Meghan attend the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on March 9, 2020
The uncertainty over the Sussexes’ attendance was thought to have left royal officials unable to sign off arrangements for seating plans, transport and security.
ANALYSIS: Decision is an ‘ideal compromise’ with any reconciliation now ‘highly unlikely’
By RICHARD FITZWILLIAMS
King Charles will undoubtedly be pleased that both his sons will be represented at his Coronation. It is, after all, quite literally the crowning moment of his life.
He had the longest period as Prince of Wales in our history and he used it wonderfully well for the benefit of others. Camilla is wonderfully supportive and also is doing important charitable work.
Meghan will be with Archie on his fourth birthday. This is probably an ideal compromise. For months I hoped for reconciliation but after Spare, the interviews promoting it and the Netflix docuseries it is obvious that this is highly unlikely to happen and that the Sussexes’ rift with the royal family is very serious.
The Sussexes are unpredictable. Their endless attacks on the royal family have been extremely damaging. They have affected its popularity especially among the young. This has become something of a circus. They should find constructive roles in which to employ such talents as they have.
Harry is unlikely to have a role in the ceremony or appear on the balcony. He may well appear in the procession after the ceremony. However, it would have been impossible for the Sussexes to not be represented at this unique event and expect to be taken seriously as members of the Royal Family in the future.
Harry, who laid bare his troubled relationship with the Royal Family in his Netflix documentary and autobiography Spare, will be there to witness his father Charles and stepmother the Queen Consort be crowned next month.
The news ends months of speculation about whether the couple would show up to the King’s big day, but will likely see Meghan accused of snubbing the monarch and the royal family.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said in a statement issued at 3pm today: ‘Buckingham Palace is pleased to confirm that The Duke of Sussex will attend the Coronation Service at Westminster Abbey on 6th May. The Duchess of Sussex will remain in California with Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.’
Archewell, Harry and Meghan’s charitable foundation, then issued a near identical statement to the Press Association news agency confirming the Duke will attend.
A spokesman said: ‘The Duke of Sussex will attend the coronation service at Westminster Abbey on May 6th. The Duchess of Sussex will remain in California with Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.’
Charles will be crowned in a ceremony full of pomp, pageantry and traditions that date back 1,000 years, following the 70-year reign of his mother Queen Elizabeth II who died last September.
Mr Scobie, who is a trusted contact of the Sussexes, tweeted the news of Harry’s forthcoming attendance and then added: ‘I understand that Archie’s fourth birthday (also on May 6) played a factor in the couple’s decision.
‘Expect it to be a fairly quick trip to the UK for Prince Harry, who will only be attending the coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey.’
And ITV News royal editor Chris Ship said: ‘Given everything that been said/alleged – in six Netflix episodes and one book – this is a big development.
‘But Harry coming alone does mean less pressure on the Royal Family – and fewer of those awkward photographs together.’
Harry’s attendance comes despite the rift within the Royal Family prompted by the Duke’s decision to reveal family secrets in his bestselling book.
The revelations, including details of private conversations with his father – and his brother, Prince William – fanned tensions between Harry and his family that became public when he and his wife moved to North America in 2020.
The Duchess of Sussex leaves Gracias Madre restaurant in West Hollywood on March 8
The book also included allegations that members of the royal family regularly feed the press unflattering information about other members of the House of Windsor in exchange for positive coverage of themselves.
Asked in one interview in January whether he would attend the coronation if given an invitation, Harry said: ‘There’s a lot that can happen between now and then. But the door is always open.’
Reacting to today’s announcement, royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told MailOnline: ‘Meghan will be with Archie on his fourth birthday. This is probably an ideal compromise.
‘For months I hoped for reconciliation but after Spare, the interviews promoting it and the Netflix docuseries it is obvious that this is highly unlikely to happen and that the Sussexes’ rift with the royal family is very serious.
‘The Sussexes are unpredictable. Their endless attacks on the royal family have been extremely damaging. They have affected its popularity especially among the young. This has become something of a circus. They should find constructive roles in which to employ such talents as they have.
‘Harry is unlikely to have a role in the ceremony or appear on the balcony. He may well appear in the procession after the ceremony. However, it would have been impossible for the Sussexes to not be represented at this unique event and expect to be taken seriously as members of the Royal Family in the future.’
And BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said today: ‘So Harry is coming to the coronation but Meghan is not. It means that the Palace planners can complete the seating plan. They are overdue in delivering their answer.’
Queen Consort Camilla and King Charles, pictured at the State Opening of Parliament in 2013
He pointed out that Harry had not seen his father Charles or his brother William since the Queen’s state funeral last September, adding: ‘An awful lot of course has happened since then, not least the publication of his book and the bad feeling that has undoubtedly caused within the Royal Family towards him.
‘A strong sense of betrayal within the family towards Harry. But at this moment, a moment perhaps of some reconciliation, he will be there to see his father crowned.’
Harry’s attendance will see him appear in a public setting with Charles, Camilla, his brother the Prince of Wales, sister in law the Princess of Wales and the rest of his family for the first time since he lambasted the royals in his memoirs.
It will also be the first time he has been pictured with the Windsors since the funeral of his grandmother the late Queen.
Harry criticised Charles’s parenting, said the King was jealous of Meghan and Kate, and accused William of physically attacking him in his tell-all book, which was published in January.
He also branded Camilla ‘dangerous’ and accused her of sacrificing him on her own ‘personal PR altar’.
The duke went on to allege it was William and Kate who encouraged him to notoriously dress up as a Nazi at a fancy dress party.
Harry’s inflammatory claims were seen as damaging his fragile relationship with his brother, a future king, beyond repair, and further troubling his dealings with the King and the rest of the family
In the three years since the Sussexes stepped down as senior working royals, the couple have been critical of the monarchy, telling their story in their Netflix documentary and in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Harry and Meghan were asked earlier this year to vacate their UK home Frogmore Cottage, in a move sanctioned by the King.
It is unclear what the arrangements will be for Harry’s security while he is in London.
The duke is taking legal action against the Home Office over his security arrangements in the UK.
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and then-Prince Charles at Westminster Abbey in March 2019
It has not been confirmed whether or not Harry will play any particular role in the coronation ceremony, whether he will join the carriage procession or appear on the Palace balcony with the royal family in the celebrations afterwards.
The Abbey will be filled with 2,000 people for the service – down from a potential guestlist of 7,000 – including leaders from the likes of France, Spain and Japan.
US President Joe Biden called Charles to let him know he will not be attending the service in central London, sending his wife Jill instead, in what some commentators have viewed as a snub.
Charles will be the 40th monarch to be crowned in the Abbey and at 74 at the time of the ceremony, the oldest to ever be crowned.
The service is expected to be watched by hundreds of millions across the globe in what will be a masterclass in pomp and pageantry, despite the King’s decision to ‘slim down’ the occasion.
The service itself will start at 11am and be ‘solemn and religious’ while also offering ‘celebration and pageantry’, according to the Royal Family website.
It will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and ‘will reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions.’
Among those will be the role of the Page of Honour, carried out by Prince George and seven other boys.
The historic ceremonial position will see the eight youngsters – four for each monarch – carry the King and Queen’s robes into the Abbey.
Harry will not take part in the Coronation procession afterwards nor join senior royals on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, it is believed.
The Gold State Coach during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant in London in June 2022
Prince William will be the only royal liege man at the ceremony, and only he will kneel to ‘pay homage’ to the King, before touching the crown and kissing his father’s cheek.
The action is usually performed by all the royal dukes, but Charles scrapped the traditional obligation, effectively absolving Harry of any ceremonial duties.
Harry and Meghan’s children, Archie and Lilibet, are seen to be too young to perform roles in the ceremony.
Over the weekend, glittering ceremonial celebrations for the Coronation were unveiled, detailing the procession route, the carriages and the priceless Crown Jewels chosen to play a starring role.
Charles and the Queen Consort will travel in a shorter procession route than the late Elizabeth II and break with tradition by only using the elaborate 260-year-old Gold State Coach one way – on their return.
The monarch and Camilla have personally decided to make the 1.3-mile outward journey – known as the King’s Procession – from Buckingham Palace in the more modern, comfortable Diamond Jubilee State Coach, which has shock absorbers, heating and air conditioning.
They will travel, accompanied by The Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry, down The Mall via Admiralty Arch, along the south side of Trafalgar Square, along Whitehall and Parliament Street, around the east and south sides of Parliament Square to Broad Sanctuary to arrive at the Abbey.
The priceless array of Coronation regalia from the Crown Jewels which will be used during the religious service in the Abbey has also been confirmed.
It will include the Sovereign’s Orb, the Golden Spurs, bracelets known as Armills, two maces, five symbolic swords, the Sovereign’s Ring, the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross and the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Dove.
Camilla will be crowned, as previously announced, with the modified Queen Mary’s Crown, but she will also hold the Queen Consort’s Rod with Dove – despite the controversial rod being made from ivory.
The piece is said to symbolise equity and mercy, and the dove, with its folded wings, represents the Holy Ghost.
Camilla will also hold the Queen Consort’s Sceptre with Cross, which originally made for the Coronation of Mary of Modena, Queen Consort of James II, in 1685 and is inlaid with rock crystals.
As part of the proceedings, she will receive the Queen Consort’s Ring – a ruby in a gold setting made for the Coronation of King William IV and Queen Adelaide in 1831, and used by three further Queens Consort – Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, and the Queen Mother.
As previously announced, Charles will be crowned with the 17th-Century St Edward’s Crown which has been resized to fit his head. He will switch it for the lighter Imperial State Crown at the end of the ceremony as is the custom.