Prince Harry is marking his 39th birthday in Germany at the 2023 Invictus Games with Meghan Markle — but his big day went without social media tributes from the royal family.
In the past, the Duke of Sussex’s birthday was traditionally celebrated online by the royal family’s official accounts. However, neither @RoyalFamily (the page that monitors King Charles, Queen Camilla and other royals’ work) nor @KensingtonPalace (Prince William and Kate Middleton’s joint account) marked the occasion this year.
After King Charles acceded to the throne last year, birthday tributes on social media have been reserved for working members of the royal family and some of their children. Prince Harry and Meghan, 42, stepped back from their senior royal roles in 2020, relocating to her home state of California later that year. When Meghan turned 42 in August, the royals did not publicly mark the day as they had in previous years by sharing a photo and a short message.
Another royal birthday tradition that changed in recent years is the ringing of Westminster Abbey’s bells. Although the historic site in London was known for ringing its bells to celebrate the birthdays of numerous members of the royal family, that changed amid financial issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before 2020, the bells marked the birthdays of 12 royals. Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and their four children — then now-King Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward— all received the honor, as did Charles’ wife, Camilla. Prince William, Kate and their kids — Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis — completed the list.
However, when Westminster Abbey announced their bell-ringing schedule for 2022, it was revealed that the bells would only mark the birthdays of Queen Elizabeth and Charles.
Following Queen Elizabeth’s death in Sept. 2022, Westminster Abbey again changed whose birthdays would be marked with the bells. This year, King Charles, Queen Camilla, Prince William and Princess Kate received the honor.
Prince Harry and Meghan recently traveled to Germany, where they’re taking in the action at the Invictus Games. The Duke of Sussex created the adaptive sports competition for veterans and service personnel, and the event in Düsseldorf marks the sixth edition of the contest.
On Friday, Harry’s birthday was marked by the crowd singing “Happy Birthday” to him as the couple attended a sitting volleyball game between Poland and Germany.
Invictus Games organizers also sent Prince Harry some online well wishes.
Captioning a recent photo of Harry wearing sunglasses, “From all of us at the @InvictusGamesDE, a heartfelt HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the founder and patron of @WeAreInvictus, Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex. You’ve given hope, inspired millions and never stop putting a smile on people’s faces.”
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Prince Harry’s birthday is being spent very differently than last year. He turned 38 just a week after the death of his grandmother Queen Elizabeth. Harry and Meghan were in the U.K. at the time, attending events leading up to the monarch’s state funeral and committal service held on Sept. 19.
It marked the second time in Harry’s life that his birthday fell near the funeral of a beloved family member. His mother, Princess Diana, died on August 31, 1997, and her funeral took place one week later — nine days before Harry’s 13th birthday.