The Sunday Telegraph
Doctors’ orders mean pregnant Duchess must stay in US as Harry flies back
Duke could arrive in UK as early as today to be with his family, but must take Covid tests and may have to isolate
THE HEAVILY pregnant Duchess of Sussex will not attend the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral on the advice of her doctors, a Buckingham Palace spokesman confirmed yesterday, although the Duke of Sussex is hoping to arrive back in the UK as early as today.
Prince Harry scrambled to arrange a flight as soon as he was informed of the death of his grandfather, anxious to be alongside his family as they mourn their patriarch, though he must obey Covid travel rules that mean he will have to self-isolate on arrival.
The Duchess, 39, is due to begin maternity leave in around four weeks, with the couple’s second child, a daughter, thought to be due in June.
With tensions in the family remaining high after the couple’s explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey, there had already been speculation that the Duchess would decide to remain in California rather than risk overshadowing the sombre occasion.
The prospect that the Duke might not have flown back to London for the funeral was never on the cards, sources insisted, stressing that he had remained in close contact with his relatives.
“He has spoken to everyone over the last 24 hours,” one said. “They are his family.”
He was hoping to board a flight in Los Angeles as early as last night, in the hope that he could be back in time to quarantine and mourn with his grandmother, the Queen, his father, the Prince of Wales and his brother, the Duke of Cambridge.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “The Duke of Sussex is planning to attend. The Duchess of Sussex has been advised by her physician not to travel.”
Staying in California will also mean the Duchess can look after the couple’s son, Archie, who would otherwise have had to travel with them or be left with a nanny or family member.
The Duke of Sussex’s return has caused some anxiety behind palace gates at a time when the family will not welcome distractions.
The Sussexes’ decision to publish a statement on their Archewell Foundation website shortly after 5pm on Friday, is understood to have raised eyebrows in some quarters as it was done without consultation and preceded official tributes from the Prince of Wales and senior members of the Royal family.
The post, for which the rest of the website was cleared of content, read: “Thank you for your service … You will be greatly missed.”
The Cambridges, meanwhile, had simply posted the official Buckingham Palace statement, released on behalf of all family members, including the Sussexes, on their own social media channels.
In the Sussexes’ television interview with Oprah Winfrey, they accused a member of the Royal family of raising “concerns” about the colour of their unborn child’s skin.
The Duke later told Ms Winfrey that it had not been the Queen or the Duke of Edinburgh, which only served to create more speculation about who it could have been.
Meghan revealed she had been suicidal but claimed she had received no help from the institution, despite repeated pleas.
There was upset among many family members that the interview had been broadcast at a time when the Duke was ill in hospital.
The Duchess told Ms Winfrey that as soon as she had heard the Duke had been admitted to hospital on Feb 16 she “picked up the phone and called the Queen just to check in”.
If the Duchess’s baby is due at the start of June, it would mean she is around 33 weeks pregnant. After 28 weeks of pregnancy, some airlines refuse to allow women to travel unless they have a letter from their doctor or midwife confirming that they are not at risk of complications.
NHS guidelines warn pregnant women that flights of more than four hours carry a small risk of blood clots through deep vein thrombosis, meaning that they should wear compression stockings and move about every 30 minutes, as well as drinking plenty of water.
The flight from Los Angeles to London takes around 11 hours.
Most US airlines allow women to fly domestically up to their 36th week of pregnancy, but some require medical certificates after 28 weeks, particularly with multiple pregnancies.
The Duke and Duchess no longer have their own home in the UK, having given up Frogmore Cottage, their former home near Windsor Castle. It means the Duke will either have to stay at Windsor Castle or another royal residence during a period of self-isolation when he arrives in the country.
The Duke will have to take a coronavirus test before he travels, which must be negative before he can board an aircraft. He will also have to take another test within two days of arriving, and if that is negative he can pay for a private test five days after he arrives that would allow him to end his self-isolation earlier than the statutory 10-day period if it is negative.
If he were to test positive at any stage, he would miss the funeral because he would have to remain in self-isolation for 10 days after arrival.
His ‘difficult’ relationship with his father had long become an outdated caricature which nobody had ‘bothered to update’
miserable childhood spent largely at odds with parents who did not seem to fully understand him.
As Philip tried to explain to his biographer Gyles Brandreth in 2016: “Charles is a romantic – and I am a pragmatist. That means we do see things differently and because I don’t see things as a romantic would, I am unfeeling.”
Yet beyond the oft-repeated sound bites, the relationship was more nuanced than that and the pair came to enjoy a special kinship that only grew deeper over recent years.
While true to say that Philip largely blamed Charles for the breakdown of his marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales, writing frequent letters to his daughter-in-law in the paternal spirit of marriage guidance counsellor, he came to understand why his son had grown so deeply unhappy having been denied the chance to be with the love of his life, Camilla Parker Bowles.
According to the royal author Penny Junor, Philip was “incensed” by Charles’s decision to admit to adultery during a 1994 interview with Jonathan Dimbleby – a move that many at the time regarded as the worst mistake of the Prince’s life. Yet once Charles’s mistress became a permanent fixture in his life following their 2005 marriage, both the Queen and her husband soon recognised a change of mood in their son as he finally felt he had the support he had hitherto lacked. As the monarch put it during her speech at the couple’s wedding reception, when she drew parallels to the Grand National steeplechase race and their 35-year love affair: “Despite Becher’s Brook and The Chair and all kinds of other terrible obstacles, my son has come through and I’m very proud and wish them well.
“The couple have finally arrived in the winners’ enclosure.”
While friends do not deny that Philip could be difficult company at times, with Charles telling Friday night’s BBC’s obituary programme: “He didn’t suffer fools gladly”, there is a sense that both men mellowed as time went on.
The heir to the throne appeared to have a newfound appreciation for his father’s eagerness to challenge the status quo, saying: “So if you said anything that was in any way ambiguous, he’d go: ‘Make up your mind,’ so perhaps it made you choose your words carefully. He was very good at showing you how to do things and instructing you how to do things.”
Sources close to Charles have always been keen to stress that his “difficult” relationship with his father had long become an outdated caricature which nobody had “bothered to update”.
They say the Prince took “great comfort” in being in regular contact with his father in recent weeks – as well as being the only member of the Royal family to visit him during his four-week spell in two London hospitals earlier this year.
Since the Duke retired from public life in 2017, there has been much talk of “transition”, although behind palace gates little has changed when it comes to the Queen’s workload as she fast approaches her 95th birthday.
Having taken her Coronation oath before God, talk of abdication or the throne skipping a generation have long seemed preposterous.
Charles may now be the more senior travelling royal after his mother stopped taking long-haul flights in 2010, and in recent years has laid the wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday, but no other duties have been devolved despite the Queen’s advancing years.
Might that change now she is a widow? Echoing her late husband’s attitude throughout his life, the sovereign will insist that the show must go on and will continue doing her job for as long as she can manage.
Yet as a seasoned avoider of family conflicts, it will be the domestic duties that she will be most keen to delegate in the absence of the Royals family’s long-standing patriarch.
If the handling of recent crises is anything to go by, both Charles and the Duke of Cambridge will take joint responsibility for managing the sometimes tricky internal politics of the House of Windsor.
Charles acted as the de facto head of the family when he insisted Prince Andrew should step down from public duties following his disastrous Newsnight interview about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, while William flexed his own familial muscles when it came to managing the fallout from Megxit, including the terms agreed at the so-called Sandringham summit.
While the Queen will continue to be “the boss”, reading her red boxes and presiding over affairs of state and weekly meetings with the Prime Minister, there is no doubt that she will be looking to the next two generations of monarchy to help fill the void left by the man she famously described as her “strength and stay all these years”.