Why Didn’t Prince Harry Return to the U.K. to Visit Prince Philip In His Final Days?

Prince Harry and Prince Philip have always been close. The royal family announced on April 9 that Philip had died at age 99. Back in January 2020, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, announced that they were stepping back from their roles as senior royals. Since then, Harry and Meghan have been living in North America; they settled down in Montecito, California, last year.

Harry and Meghan haven’t made a trip back to the U.K. since officially ending their royal duties in March. But Prince Philip had shown signs of failing health more than a month ago — why didn’t Harry return to the U.K.?

Prince Harry shares a laugh with Prince Philip in 2015
Prince Harry shares a laugh with Prince Philip in 2015 | Phil Walter/Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle always had a good relationship with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

Growing up, Harry and his grandparents were always close. The queen and Philip were often busy handling royal life, but they always made time for their grandchildren.

When Meghan joined the family, Philip and the queen immediately took a liking to her. She reportedly bonded with the queen over her dogs, and Meghan’s interest in Philip’s side of the family led him to greatly respect her early on.

When Harry and Meghan spoke during their groundbreaking interview with Oprah Winfrey in early March, the two had nothing but positive words to say about the queen. Though they didn’t speak directly about Prince Philip, Harry did make a point to later say that neither the queen nor Philip were the ones who made alleged racist comments about Archie’s skin tone.

Prince Philip walks ahead of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Christmas in 2017
Prince Philip walks ahead of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Christmas in 2017 | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

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Why didn’t Prince Harry visit Prince Philip after he was hospitalized?

In February 2021, nine months after Harry and Meghan last visited the United Kingdom, Prince Philip was hospitalized. There were signs of failing health from that point, as Philip spent a full month in the hospital and underwent a heart procedure. However, Harry and Meghan did not return to the U.K. to visit him.

It’s unclear exactly why Harry, at the very least, did not make a trip home before his grandfather passed. However, there are several plausible reasons. Travel restrictions and a lengthy quarantine time are the most obvious, since the global pandemic has been going on for more than a year. The U.K. requires a 10-day quarantine upon arrival. It’s possible Harry and the queen decided it wasn’t worth the lengthy quarantine.

Harry also has a troubling relationship with much of his family, specifically his father, Prince Charles, and his brother, Prince William. It’s possible that Harry wasn’t prepared to face his father and brother after leaving the family. It remains unknown whether the queen wanted Harry to visit Philip during that time or not. There is also a chance the queen insisted on Harry not making the trip.

Prince Philip, Prince Harry, and Princess Anne stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2006
Prince Philip, Prince Harry, and Princess Anne stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2006 | Anwar Hussein/WireImage

One royal commentator is on the fence about whether Harry will attend Philip’s funeral

Now, the question remains about whether Harry and Meghan will attend Philip’s funeral. Louisa James, a royal reporter for Good Morning Britain, believes the jury is still out.

“[Harry] has always had a great relationship with Prince Philip … It was clear in that interview that they did with Oprah,” James told Fox News on April 9. “No doubt he will want to be here.” But James added that “it’s going to be difficult” for Harry to return to the U.K. due to the travel and quarantine rules. Plus, James said Meghan is “heavily pregnant” (though her due date remains unknown). This could impact Meghan’s ability to attend the funeral. “We can only speculate that she will want to be by his side,” James said.