The Duke of Sussex will miss his grandfather Prince Philip’s memorial service, a spokesperson for the royal has confirmed.
It follows weeks of speculation that Prince Harry would not attend the high-profile occasion at Westminster Abbey due to an ongoing legal battle with the Home Office over his UK security detail.
Earlier this year, Harry brought a court challenge against the government after being told he would not be given the “same degree” of personal protective security when visiting the UK from the US – where he now lives – despite him offering to pay for it himself .
The change to his police protection prompted the Duke’s lawyers to tell a court in February he would not “feel safe” in Britain without the protection of Scotland Yard officers, who Harry reportedly believes offer superior protection to privately hired bodyguards.
Members of the Royal Family were said to have taken the prince’s remarks as an indication that he would not attend the Thanksgiving service, as it is officially called, for the Duke of Edinburgh.
He was last in London in the summer of 2021, and a legal representative has since said his security was compromised after his car was chased by paparazzi photographers as he left a charity event.
While Harry, who lives in California with his wife, Meghan Markle, and their two children, will not return to London to join his family for the memorial on March 29, he hopes to visit his grandmother the Queen soon, the spokesperson added in a statement on Friday.
Harry and Meghan’s complicated relationship with the British press has been well-documented, with the Duke and Duchess citing it as one of the main reasons for their decision to step back from royal duties and, eventually, leave the UK altogether.
The prince briefly returned to the UK last July for the unveiling of a statue dedicated to his mother, Princess Diana, and reportedly hoped to do the same for the memorial service this year alongside his children, Archie and Lilibet, but feared it could be too dangerous.
Also on Friday, the Queen, 95, who contracted Covid more than two weeks ago, pulled out of attending the Commonwealth Day service at the Abbey on Monday.
Her eldest son and heir Prince Charles will attend in her place, Buckingham Palace said.
“After discussing the arrangements with the Royal Household, the Queen has asked the Prince of Wales to represent Her Majesty at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on Monday,” the Palace said, adding that Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, will also attend the service, alongside Prince William and Kate Middleton.
The Palace added “the Queen’s Commonwealth Day message will be distributed in the usual way”.