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If, to use the vernacular Britishism, it pisses with rain on Saturday for the coronation of King Charles III, as forecast, expect plenty of patriotic commentary that it did the very same for the crowning of Elizabeth II in 1953. The wet weather, loyalists will argue, is a joyous portent for the new monarch.
It might not be so easy, however, to dismiss the impact of Hurricane Harry, a system that is even harder to predict than the notoriously changeable British weather and is understood to have made landfall Friday morning.
When raising the issue of Harry with the king’s friends this week, the Royalist has been urged to focus on the coronation. One said the king and queen would not be “distracted” by the Harry “circus.” Indeed, the man sometimes said to be Charles’ best friend, Sir Nicholas Soames, said in an interview with Times Radio: “This day is about the king and the queen, not about Prince Harry.”
The problem is, however, that all eyes will be on Harry, and how he interacts with his dad and brother Prince William.
Where Harry will stay while he is in the U.K., who he will walk into Westminster Abbey with, where he will sit, who he will sit with, how furious he will look at the moment the crown is hoisted onto Charles’ head and how soon after the no-fly zone around London is lifted he will be back in the air to California to Archie’s birthday party may not be matters of historical record, but are likely to be driving a significant portion of the day’s online and mainstream news coverage.
Answers to several of these questions are informed speculation at best, but here goes: Harry is thought to have arrived in the U.K. today, Friday, on a private jet and to have headed direct to Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, the home on the Windsor estate that he and Meghan were given by the queen but has been reclaimed by the king following their fall from royal grace and into disfavor.
He is likely to be seated, according to The Daily Beast’s sources, “prominently” within the royal family group. There has been speculation that he will be seated with his cousins Beatrice and Eugenie with whom he has maintained good relations (but will they then forego sitting near their disgraced dad, Prince Andrew, whom they continue to loyally support?)
It is not expected that there will be much interaction between Harry and William. Countless sources have said their relationship lies in tatters, with William furious at how Harry portrayed him and Kate in his blockbuster memoir Spare—including the anecdote that William had physically pushed him in one confrontation, leading to the destruction of a dog bowl.
TV and photographers’ cameras tomorrow will capture any and all signals of détente, or dead-set ice, between Harry and his family.
Harry will not stay long. His de facto spokesperson Omid Scobie previously tweeted: “Expect it to be a fairly quick trip to the U.K. for Prince Harry, who will only be attending the coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey.” There have been reports that Harry could be back in the air within two hours of the end of the ceremony, using the time difference to make it home the same day and blow out the candles on Archie’s birthday cake.
Scobie addressed the question of where Harry will sit, and the message that will telegraph, in an interview with the British TV show This Morning this week, saying, “People are wondering where Harry will be. Will he be with the civvies or will he be with his family members, and if he is what row will he be in? I think people will be watching to see that almost as a reflection of where he stands with his family today.”
At least part of the answer to the question of what Harry’s family really think of his behavior in recent months was provided by an astonishing interview given to Times Radio by Soames.
Soames, who had likely been authorized to speak by the king’s office, said, “In respect of Prince Harry, I just think it’s the most tragic. I mean, I can’t put myself in the position where my own son, if he did something like that to me, it would just be the cruelest.”
He added, appearing to speak generally of Harry’s public attacks on the family: “It was a terrible blow… of course it was hurtful, you could see it, written all over his face. Put oneself in his position. It was just painful beyond words.”
For sure, tomorrow Harry is being invited to a celebration of Charles and Camilla after spending most of January delivering deeply wounding and personal attacks on, er, Charles, Camilla, and brother Prince William.
Indeed, we have it on the authority of Scobie that Harry himself didn’t even know for a long time whether he was going to be invited.
“From what I understand the Sussexes had to wait for some time to really get the confirmation whether they were 100 percent welcome at this event.”
— Omid Scobie
Scobie, who is known to have excellent contacts within the Sussex camp, told This Morning, “There was never any question on whether he would want to come or not, it was a question at one point on whether he would be invited, I think. From what I understand the Sussexes had to wait for some time to really get the confirmation whether they were 100 percent welcome at this event.”
(So muddied are the waters at this stage that it barely matters that this insider account runs completely counter to Harry’s tough talk in the run-up to the coronation, where he suggested a family sit down or getting an “apology to my wife” would be a necessary condition of his attendance.)
There are many within the British establishment who think Charles has been far too soft on Harry and that he should never have been invited to Saturday’s ceremony. If a grimace from Harry does hijack the coverage of the day’s events, they will be only too ready to say they told us so.
The reality is that if Meghan were to post a picture from California of her doing literally anything, it would have the potential to derail the narrative of the day. Although that almost certainly won’t happen, it is a brutal illustration of just how much soft power and hard influence the couple still hold that Meghan popping out for a cup of coffee on Saturday could blow up a quarter century’s careful planning.
The truth is the whole coronation is sitting on a fault line, and the fault line is named Harry and Meghan.