Buckingham Palace is reportedly weighing up its options for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s future accommodation in the UK after it was revealed the King’s youngest son was left with nowhere to stay during his brief stopover earlier this month.
Over the weekend, it emerged that Harry’s request to use royal lodgings while in London for the annual WellChild Awards on September 7 had been denied, and that he’d subsequently rejected an invitation to stay with his father at Balmoral on the anniversary of the Queen’s death.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, Harry’s office contacted the palace some time ago and suggested he’d love to see his father and stay with him, but was told by aides he’d need to put in a formal request. It’s unclear whether Charles knew about the correspondence.
Harry was then invited to join the King and Camilla in Scotland, but after the logistics became too challenging, he reportedly wound up staying at a hotel for the night.
The situation isn’t simply an awkward new chapter for Harry and his family amid their ongoing rift: the UK’s SundayTimesreports that Charles’ decision to keep his son as a counsellor of state when the Queen passed away has complicated matters much further.
In this role, the Duke of Sussex – one of seven members of the royal family who can deputise for the King in the event he is overseas or unwell – is required by law to have a UK base.
Charles famously evicted the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from their Frogmore Cottage home in Windsor earlier this year following the release of their explosive Netflix docu-series and Harry’s memoir, Spare.
“We are really in uncharted waters here: the Prince Harry situation is not something the law easily allows for,” constitutional law expert Dr Craig Prescott told The Times.
“The idea of the second son of the King choosing a life away from royal duties is not something the law has thought about, and I can imagine that Buckingham Palace would be concerned by that.
“The King had the chance to remove him with the counsellor of state legislation last year, but chose not to.”
On Sunday, it was widely reported that palace aides are now considering the possibility of Harry and Meghan leasing rooms at Kensington Palace during any future visits to Britain.
“The King can see that to remove Harry as a counsellor of state would be seen as an act of antagonism and he does not want to do that,” a source close to the King told The Times.
“If, as a consequence of that, somewhere on the royal estate needs to be earmarked as a pied-à-terre for his son, that seems a reasonable thing to do.”
However, Buckingham Palace quickly shot down the suggestion, telling the publication simply: “These claims are not true.”
Instead, sources suggested its more likely they will be granted temporary use of royal property on an ad hoc basis – but only with formal, advanced warning.
Harry is expected to next return to his home country early next year when his claim against News Group Newspapers for alleged unlawful information gathering is due to be heard in court.
The latest chapter in the royal dilemma comes after eyebrows were raised in November when the King, rather than remove non-working royals Prince Andrew and Prince Harry as counsellors of state, instead added his sister, Princess Anne and his youngest brother, Prince Edward.
The Counsellor of State position typically belongs to the sovereign’s partner, followed by the first four people in the line of succession who are over the age of 21.
It’s been widely reported that Charles made the decision regarding Harry and Andrew following his ascension to the throne in a bid not to worsen an already-tense family situation.
It’s understood the King has barely had contact with his son in months and the pair hasn’t been in the same room as each other since the coronation in May.
The Sun reports that when Harry asked to stay at one of Charles’ properties before the Invictus Games, he was informed by a senior aide that none of the family’s London or Windsor homes were available as most staff were in Scotland with the King and Queen Camilla.
On the anniversary of the Queen’s death, the duke was spotted exiting St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where the late monarch was laid to rest, after holding a short solo vigil.
Meanwhile, just 800 kilometres away, Charles and Camilla held a private reflection at the small Crathie Kirk church in Scotland.