William Will Accept Harry’s Presence at Coronation—for Charles’ Sake

Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero / The Daily Beast / Reuters
Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero / The Daily Beast / Reuters

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Prince William will “of course” abide by his father King Charles’ decision concerning the attendance of Prince Harry at his coronation, a friend of the prince has told The Daily Beast, but William would “much rather Harry wasn’t there.”

William’s office did not respond to a request for comment. However, the personal friend told The Daily Beast: “The relationship between Harry and William is now non-existent. They haven’t spoken since the book came out, and William has no intention of picking up the phone any time soon.

“If it was William’s coronation, Harry wouldn’t be on the list. It’s no secret that, personally, he would much rather Harry wasn’t there after everything he has said and done.”

Prince Harry Suggests He Won’t Attend Coronation Unless Family ‘Sit Down and Talk’

It was reported in the Mail on Sunday that Britain’s most senior churchman, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, has been asked to consult with Harry and Meghan in an effort to “broker a deal” between Harry and William on the matter, suggesting that William’s objections to Harry attending might be the real issue.

William, for example, is said to fear Harry might stage a “stunt” which could overshadow the celebrations.

Asked whether William felt he was being portrayed as the “villain” who was obstructing Charles’ wishes, the friend of William said: “William is strong-minded, determined and unafraid to voice his opinion. But he is also utterly respectful of the hierarchy and of course he will do what his father wants. They have never been closer.”

The fascinating insight into William’s state of mind comes as the question of whether or not Harry should attend the coronation becomes an increasingly fraught one in the United Kingdom, where public opinion has turned sharply against Harry for perceived disloyalty after the publication of his memoir, Spare.

A friend of King Charles reiterated to The Daily Beast that it was still his hope that Harry would attend the coronation. “It’s the biggest day of his life and he wants both his sons, who he loves very much, to be there,” the friend said. (King Charles’ office did not comment.)

However the friend said that Charles is unlikely to offer any sort of formal “apology” to Harry and Meghan of the kind that Harry has called for in a series of interviews to promote his memoir Spare. Harry has suggested that “accountability” from the royal family is necessary for him and Meghan to attend the event in early May.

This could be a key sticking point, although many observers suspect that Harry will attend even if the apology to his wife that he said he wanted in an interview with the Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon is not delivered. However given Harry and Meghan’s capacity for confounding expectations, nothing should be taken for granted.

The differing views of commentariat and public were amply illustrated by the response to an opinion piece by the journalist Melanie Phillips in the London Times, which, despite describing Harry and Meghan’s behavior as “odious and outrageous,” argued that it would strike a “deeply sour note” for the king “to be consecrated in this sacred rite having banished his own troubled and needy son from his presence.”

The paper later published a selection of letters it had received in response to the column, a sure sign that editors consider the issue is engaging the minds of the newspaper’s readers.

Phillips’ piece supporting Charles’ apparent wish to have Harry present is, in fact, a journalistic outlier. Considerably more journalists and commentators have urged the king, in increasingly hysterical terms, not to invite Harry, arguing it would be a distraction and show weakness. Allison Pearson of the Telegraph said she would be among “thousands” to boo the couple if they were to attend the ceremony.

However, the most recent polling on the matter, by IPSOS, showed that Charles’ instincts towards de-escalation, and in believing that the family should put their quarrels aside for the day and present a united front, are actually in tune with the nation. A sweeping majority of 60 percent are in favor of Harry attending, despite his overall unpopularity.

It is undeniable that William was deeply upset by the attacks on him and his family made by Harry in his memoir, Netflix show, and interviews.

At the time of the Netflix show a source told The Daily Beast that it was “hard to imagine how devastating the last three years have been for William,” and added, “The bond is gone, completely gone …William really, really, really hates both of them now.”

The rift between the brothers certainly feels insoluble: William considers Harry’s violation of his privacy a hitherto unimaginable betrayal and Harry has made it clear that he feels he and Meghan were treated appallingly by the family, also claiming that he has tried to reconcile with his family but been rebuffed.

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