keeping up with the royals

Will Harry and Meghan Go to the Coronation?

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Photo: WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prince Harry can, and will, tell you lots of things you never thought you’d know: whether or not he is circumcised (he is); the efficacy of certain off-label uses for Elizabeth Arden cream (not for genital frostbite); how to make a cock cushion that will protect a penis even in Arctic temps (“square, supportive … sewn from pieces of the softest fleece”). Harry disclosed all this “todger”-related intel and more in his memoir, Spare, the publication of which has predictably ruffled the royal family. Not only do certain key figures — future king Prince Willy; queen consort Camilla — come off looking bad, but our narrator also does so much oversharing. Amid the considerable fallout, there is one thing even Prince Harry doesn’t seem able to say for sure: whether or not he’ll attend the coronation on May 6 of his father, King Charles III. In a January interview for ITV, Harry told Tom Bradby that the question of his attendance was up in the air. “There’s a lot that can happen between now and then,” he said. “But the door is always open. The ball is in their court.”

Or is it? Two months out from Charles’s big party, Meghan and Harry have confirmed they’re invited. What they haven’t made clear is whether or not they’ll go.

Here’s what we know.

Harry and Meghan are for sure invited?

They say so. “I can confirm the duke has recently received email correspondence from His Majesty’s office regarding the coronation,” one of their spokespeople told the Guardian in March.

Even in spite of the royals’ rumored fury over Spare?

It seems so, though true to form, the royals are not speaking about the book. Publicly, they have been carrying out their duties as if nothing happened; privately, some of them are said to be seething. Prince William — painted by Spare as a jealous hothead who once threw Harry on a dog bowl, allegedly encouraged him to wear a Nazi uniform, and was potentially unsupportive of his relationship with Meghan Markle despite being a massive Suits-head — is said to be “devastated” and “incredibly angry at the level of detail.” He has reportedly “come to terms with the fact that he’s lost his little brother quite possibly for life.” Other sources have claimed that Charles, whom Harry portrays in a mostly sympathetic fashion, is “outraged” over his son’s descriptions of Camilla as a “dangerous” and opportunistic media tactician. Still, another anonymous informant says he has “no appetite at this moment in time to engage,” and so far the strategy seems to be to do nothing and let it pass.

Given Harry’s accusations of story-planting by senior royals, going on the offensive via palace spokespeople would only prove his point. And while he would likely caution readers against accepting information from anonymous “insiders” as necessarily true, it feels fair to assume that many of the people Harry has written about are not happy with how they come off.

So no royal retaliation, say, in the form of lost titles or missed invitations?

Maybe yes, maybe no: Despite some tabloid chatter about Harry and Meghan potentially losing their duke and duchess titles as punishment for the perceived breach of loyalty, that sort of retributive measure was not taken. That makes some sense: Being publicly vindictive would only validate Harry’s narrative and invite yet another critical media cycle — probably not what the new king wants as he ascends his throne. Some sources are also saying that, for Charles, inviting the Sussexes isn’t solely about salvaging royal reputations. “It is his son, after all, and the king really does want a reconciliation in the long term,” Vanity Fair’s royal correspondent, Katie Nicholl, told Entertainment Tonight. “I think he wants to be magnanimous. I think he wants to take a leaf out of the queen’s book. I think he ultimately wants to heal the rift and wants his son at his coronation.”

Unlikely to help in that regard is Charles’s decision to revoke Harry and Meghan’s lease on Frogmore Cottage (formerly their U.K. residence) and — according to recent reports — give it to Prince Andrew, of all people. Charles is said to have handed the couple their eviction notice shortly after Spare’s publication, lending undertones of revenge to the real-estate shuffle. For the Sussexes, it “feels very final and like a cruel punishment,” someone in their camp told the couple’s biographer, Omid Scobie. “It’s like [the family] wants to cut them out of the picture for good.”

So is Harry going to go to the coronation?

“An immediate decision on whether the duke and duchess will attend will not be disclosed by us at this time,” their spokesperson told the Guardian. While the official line is TBD, Harry himself has given us some insight into where his relationship with his family stands. On March 3, for example, when he and Meghan christened their 1-year-old daughter, Princess Lilibet Diana — yes, they did style her as a princess, and yes, they are technically entitled to do so because Harry’s dad is king — in California, none of the senior royals showed up. Charles, Camilla, William, and Kate were reportedly invited but did not attend. Tyler Perry was there, though. Of course he was.

During his Spare press tour, the prince repeatedly stated that he wants his family back, but also said that “they have shown absolutely no willingness to reconcile.” Harry believes his family members should be the ones to bend: “You could argue that some of the stuff I’ve put in there, well, they will never forgive me anyway,” he recently told The Telegraph. “But the way I see it is, I’m willing to forgive you for everything you’ve done, and I wish you’d actually sat down with me, properly, and instead of saying I’m delusional and paranoid, actually sit down and have a proper conversation about this, because what I’d really like is some accountability. And an apology to my wife.”

Per Us Weekly’s sources, he hasn’t gotten it. “No apology to Meghan has been made by the Palace, which frustrates Harry,” this person told the magazine nearly a month after Spare’s publication. “Nor has he received a personal apology.” A second unnamed person added, “At this point, the royals can only move forward and come to some form of truce with Harry if everyone sits down and talks through their issues privately.”

At the same time, the Duke hasn’t yet acknowledged that some in his family might see Spare’s disclosures as hurtful or even as a flat-out betrayal. “I’m not sure how honesty is burning bridges,” Harry told Bradby when the interviewer pointed out that the book could complicate reconciliation. “You know, silence only allows the abuser to abuse. Right? So I don’t know how staying silent is ever gonna make things better.”

Some might argue that there is a difference between staying silent — which Harry was not doing before Spare’s publication (see also his six-part Netflix docuseries and his Oprah interview special) — and cataloguing decades of grievances, both legitimate and petty, in microscopic detail. If Harry does genuinely want to rebuild his relationships with his father and brother, he might consider some accountability, too.

If he does go: Would Harry participate or would he just be a guest?

Presently unclear, though Harry relinquished his public duties when he stepped back as a senior royal, so it wouldn’t be surprising not to see him and Meghan on the Buckingham Palace balcony after the ceremony. That was procedure at the queen’s Platinum Jubilee, too: Only working royals got to stand on the balcony with her at the Trooping of the Colour. And Charles — who has previously expressed a desire not only to slim down the ranks of the senior royals but also to streamline the coronation itself — may skip the bit where he makes all the dukes kneel to him in the ceremony, Vanity Fair’s Nicholl told ET. That would potentially absolve both him and Harry of one uncomfortable moment.

Will the king respond with a tell-all of his own?

A Daily Mirror report has dangled the possibility, saying that the BBC — as part of its coronation coverage — wants to run a sit-down interview with the king, in which he would doubtless be asked about Meghan and Harry. The Mirror also said Jonathan Dimbleby, who conducted the 1994 interview in which Charles publicly admitted to cheating on Princess Diana, might do this one, too. But that special didn’t go well for Charles, and while it makes sense that the BBC (or any media outlet) would be eager to air an exclusive with the monarch, it’s hard to envision him issuing a response to Harry via a TV profile. “A lack of candor is the royal way; candor is seen dolorously, even if the only truly discreet royal — Queen Elizabeth — is now dead,” the Daily Beast points out. “She never divulged anything” and generally met even the biggest family crises with outward-facing silence.

Charles has historically been a more outspoken figure than his mother, but a king sitting down for a prime-time tell-all to retaliate against his son? I’m skeptical! That just doesn’t seem like something a reigning monarch would do. As the Mirror itself notes, “Even one small comment on Harry and Meghan would make worldwide news. It could also prompt a response from Harry, which would be unpredictable, like so much. Everything is very delicate.”

Which activities will be available to Harry over coronation weekend?

Given that Charles has reportedly set the coronation as the deadline for Harry and Meghan to move their belongings out of Frogmore, it’s possible they will have some packing to do — if they decide to go. Another potential consideration is that Archie’s grandfather rudely scheduled his big day to coincide with the little prince’s fourth birthday but didn’t even invite Archie (or Lilibet) because both are “very young,” a palace source told The Telegraph. It probably isn’t worth reading too much into that one; even Prince Louis, who is almost 5, isn’t confirmed attending, and he’s the son of the heir to the throne, and presumably both Sussex children are still allowed to enter the U.K. Will the weekend include another “kid’s birthday party as royal proxy” war, as we saw during the queen’s Platinum Jubbly? According to The Telegraph, “The couple were told that the potential inclusion of the young prince and princess will be discussed if and when they confirm their own attendance.”

Otherwise, the Sussexes may consult the official coronation website for an overview of the agenda — May 6: Big Day; May 7: “a spectacular Coronation Concert” at Windsor Castle at which apparently no one wants to play, plus light shows and drone displays across the country; May 6-8: Big Lunches; May 8: Big Help Out and a bank holiday, which Brits are encouraged to spend volunteering — as well as a small menu of coronation appetizers (literal and figurative). The preparation toolkit includes three coronation recipes for things like Coronation Roast and Coronation Aubergine, as well as a Spotify playlist that is truly all over the gaff. Ed Sheeran, Grace Jones, Queen, Michael Bublé … did the king make this himself? Is it a preview of chaos to come?

Stay tuned to find out.

This article has been updated.

Will Harry and Meghan Go to the Coronation?