Prince Harry is returning to Britain a day before the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s death for an event at which he was previously followed by photographers.
The Duke of Sussex will attend the WellChild Awards in London on September 7, two days before the start of his Invictus Games tournament for injured forces veterans in Dusseldorf, Germany. Meghan will reportedly not be joining him in London but will in Germany.
Harry’s attendance at last year’s event was canceled after his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, was taken ill at Balmoral, in Scotland, on September 8.
The monarch died later that day, though Harry was not told by family members and found out from the BBC News, he said in his memoir.
The prince’s grief for his grandmother may not be the only difficult memory tied to the event as he also had a difficult experience the year before, in 2021, when he was reportedly chased by photographers after leaving.
The moment was a milestone on his path to suing the British Government over the removal of his Metropolitan Police bodyguards.
Harry went to Britain in June and July that year for the WellChild Awards and to join Prince William for the unveiling of a statue of his mother, Princess Diana, on what would have been her 60th birthday.
However, he was not given Metropolitan Police protection, in contrast to a previous visit that April for Prince Philip’s funeral.
Photographers then followed the prince as he left the WellChild event and by September, his lawyers had applied for a judicial review lawsuit challenging the decision to deny him guaranteed police protection.
Had he been accompanied to WellChild by police, they could have sped him through red traffic lights and tailbacks with sirens wailing, leaving the paparazzi in their dust.
Harry filed two judicial review cases relating to his security but lost the second, while the original case has been allowed to proceed to a full hearing.
This year, he will be hoping to avoid another run in with the paparazzi while also grappling with memories of the queen’s death.
There will also inevitably be speculation about whether he will see family during the visit, which would be logistically difficult but not impossible, as his father will be in Scotland.
Beyond grief for his grandmother, he may well be reminded of the chaotic hours before and after she died, during which Prince William, Prince Edward, Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, and Prince Andrew all got on a plane to Balmoral together while he was expected to arrange his own transport.
By the time his plane took off, Elizabeth had already died, though no one had told him, and by the time he touched down in Scotland, Buckingham Palace had already announced her death to the world.
Harry said he found out from the BBC website in his book, Spare, which also described a difficult conversation with his father in earlier that day before Elizabeth’s death: “The press started phoning; we couldn’t delay a decision any longer. We told our team to confirm: We’d be missing the WellChild Awards and hurrying up to Scotland.
“Then came another call from Pa. He said I was welcome at Balmoral, but he didn’t want…her. He started to lay out his reason, which was nonsensical, and disrespectful, and I wasn’t having it.
“‘Don’t ever speak about my wife that way.’ He stammered, apologetic, saying he simply didn’t want a lot of people around. No other wives were coming, Kate wasn’t coming, he said, therefore Meg shouldn’t. ‘Then that’s all you needed to say.’”
WellChild is a U.K. charity that supports seriously ill children to live at home with their families rather than at hospital.
Announcing his presence at this year’s awards, Prince Harry said in a statement: “For nearly 20 years, WellChild has been transforming the lives of children and young people across the UK, providing critical care that prioritizes the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of these individuals and their families.
“The courage and strength embodied by these young people—and the tireless devotion of those who support them—never cease to inspire me.
“I’m honored to attend this year’s awards ceremony and celebrate their incredible work.”
Jack Royston is chief royal correspondent for Newsweek, based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jack_royston and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.
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