Since news of his father King Charles’ cancer diagnosis broke, Prince Harry has certainly had a dramatic week, flying all the way to the UK from California to be at his dad’s side before leaving just 24 hours and then appearing at a glitzy Las Vegas awards ceremony
It has been one of the most testing weeks in recent history for the Royal Family – and it’s certainly proved to be a whirlwind for Prince Harry.
Since the shock news about King Charles’ cancer diagnosis broke on Monday, his estranged younger son has crisscrossed the Atlantic in order to have a brief reunion with his dad before dashing back to his home in California – all in the space of just a few days. And the surprises didn’t stop there as last night he made an unexpected appearance at an awards show in Las Vegas to present the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award at the NFL Honours ceremony. Here’s how Harry’s whirlwind week unfolded…
The first sign this wasn’t going to be a normal week for the Duke of Sussex came at 6pm on Monday. A statement was released from Buckingham Palace revealing that King Charles had been diagnosed with a form of cancer.
It also confirmed that he had started a schedule of regular treatments, but has been advised to postpone his public-facing duties. The Palace declined to confirm the type of cancer. Charles personally told both of his sons Prince William and Harry, with whom he has a rocky relationship, the news of his diagnosis.
And just minutes after the initial palace announcement, a source close to Harry revealed: “The duke did speak with his father about his diagnosis. He will be travelling to the UK to see His Majesty in the coming days.”
It raised eyebrows among some as Harry and Charles have had an especially strained relationship in recent years with sources saying he was left ‘furious’ and ‘wearied’ by the claims his youngest son made in his bombshell book, Spare, which included Charles not hugging Harry when he was told Princess Diana had died in 1997.
Later that day, Harry was spotted at LAX to begin his journey to London without wife Meghan Markle or their children Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet. He then boarded a British Airways flight that eventually touched down 11 hours later at Heathrow on Tuesday lunchtime.
Once in the UK, Harry was then whisked from Heathrow to Central London to visit his father at Clarence House. Pictures showed a sombre-looking Harry dressed in a black T-shirt and black blazer sitting in a car being driven into the royal residence at 3.15pm with a police escort.
But only 30 minutes later, at 3.45pm, the King and Queen Camilla were seen waving to crowds as they left Clarence House to head to Buckingham Palace to catch a helicopter to Sandringham, signifying that the meeting between father and son didn’t last very long at all.
It’s not yet known what happened in the meeting, and if it was just Charles or if Camilla also joined them. The King looked emotional as he left Clarence House, with seemingly teary eyes as he waved and smiled to well-wishers.
That night, Harry opted to stay in a London hotel instead. He did the same thing when he was in London for the Well Child Awards back in September. Harry is effectively homeless when he visits the UK, following his eviction from Frogmore Cottage last year. It is not known where Harry spent Tuesday night, but many royal watchers have guessed he may have stayed at The Goring – a royal favourite where he has stayed before.
But despite the albeit brief reunion with Charles, Harry did not meet with his older brother Prince William. The pair have had a fractured relationship for a number of years, exacerbated after Harry and Meghan stepped down as working royals, moved to America and aired a string of grievances against the Royal Family.
After just one night in a hotel, a smiling Harry was back at Heathrow, just over 24 hours after the first arrived to catch a flight back to Los Angeles. The Duke of Sussex appeared happy and relaxed as he arrived at Heathrow’s Windsor Suite ahead of his flight back to Los Angeles following his whirlwind trip to the UK.
Dressed down in jeans, a light-coloured top and a black jacket, Harry was greeted by a doorman in a top hat before entering the exclusive suit. He walked with his hands in his pockets. And according to body language expert Judi James, it appeared Harry left the UK with a “sense of reassurance”.
She told the Mirror: “Harry’s relieved-looking body language here will hopefully provide some positive clues about his father’s current condition. His shoulders and body look relaxed and the way he thrusts his hands into his pockets as he walks suggests more of a casual ‘mooch’ than any sign of tension or anxiety.
“His eye expression looks animated, with an eye smile, and he appears to be enjoying a joke or sharing laughter with the people accompanying him. The suggestion here is that he is hopefully leaving the UK with some sense of reassurance, having seen his father for their brief meeting.” Later on Wednesday, Harry arrived back in Los Angeles following his whirlwind trip back to the UK.
But rather than rest after several long days of travelling, Harry then made the journey to Las Vegas, where he made a surprise appearance at the NFL Honours event. There he presented Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Cam Heyward with the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. And Heyward was just as shocked as everyone to see Harry as he received the award and he hugged the duke, before he said: “Prince freakin’ Harry, I’m just shocked, that’s Prince Harry.”
During Harry’s first public appearance since meeting his father, he didn’t mention him but did crack a series of jokes about how the United States “stole rugby from us and you made it your own”. He said: “Instead of passing it backwards, just pass it forwards. Why not wear pads and a helmet?”
“All kidding aside, what you guys do on and off the field is truly remarkable. You are role models for millions in the way you carry yourselves and the way you give back. This final award, the highest honour, is all about serving your community, and there is one special man we’d like to pay tribute to now.”
Harry is now likely to have a quiet weekend but the travelling won’t stop there for him. That’s because next week, he and Meghan are due in Canada for an Invictus Games event in Vancouver and Whistler.