Prince Harry flew to London to avoid being seen for the first time since his father’s cancer diagnosis at ‘glitzy Super Bowl festivities’ in Las Vegas, royal observers have claimed.
The Duke of Sussex, 39, flew more than 5,000 miles from his home in California to London on Tuesday for what ended up being a 30-minute meeting with his father.
But he jetted back to his Montecito home after just one day in the UK – after it is believed he spent the night in a luxury hotel rather than a royal residence.
Royal commentator Robert Jobson previously told Mail+ that Prince Harry’s trip was unplanned and ‘unbidden’, with critics now questioning whether it was a purposeful decision to be seen to have rushed to the King’s side.
Harry last night appeared at an official event for the first time since his father’s diagnosis to make a gag-filled speech at the NFL awards in Las Vegas.
Prince Harry has returned to the United States to hand out an NFL award just a day after leaving the UK following a short meeting with his cancer-stricken father King Charles III – making a gag-filled speech
Prince Harry flew into London on a ten-hour flight from Los Angeles on Tuesday and arrived at the royal residence at 2.42pm before spending around 45 minutes with Charles
After meeting with his son, King Charles left Clarence House with Queen Camilla on Tuesday
Questions are now being asked over whether his sudden rush to the UK was fuelled by the knowledge he would be seen to be ‘enjoying’ the glitzy festivities at the Las Vegas event just 24 hours later.
One critic posted on X: ‘If Prince Harry hadn’t jetted to London for that 30 minutes with his father, then the first images of him after the King’s cancer diagnosis would have been of him enjoying glitzy Super Bowl festivities.’
Mr Jobson said that although Charles would have been touched by his ‘darling boy’s’ gesture in reality it has caused ‘some disquiet’ as the Duke ‘took it upon himself’ to fly over ‘unbidden’.
Harry was not expected to be seen again until he travels with Meghan to Canada next week for an Invictus Games event, but shocked royal fans by appearing to hand out the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward, who scooped the award, was just as surprised to see him, hugging the duke, before he exclaimed: ‘Prince freakin Harry, I’m just shocked, that’s Prince Harry’.
The Duke gave a very British speech poking fun at the differences between rugby and American football – such as the fact the NFL season is only 18 weeks long and that players get a ‘break every 15 seconds’.
But there was no mention of his father, his trip to London or the rest of his family.
Prince Harry flew into London on a ten-hour flight from Los Angeles on Tuesday and arrived at Clarence House before spending around 45 minutes with Charles after the King’s surprise cancer disclosure.
It has since been claimed King Charles had been ready to depart Clarence House for Sandringham, where he will spend most of his time during treatment recuperating, but was forced to wait after his son cleared his diary and hopped on the first available flight from LA.
Prince Harry arrives back at LAX after a short trip to London to briefly see his father
An animated Cameron Hayward of the Pittsburgh Steelers poses for a portrait after winning the Walter Payton Man of the year with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
Robert Jobson said: ‘Put bluntly, the King was unhappy about what amounted to a fait accompli served up by an emotional but well-meaning son.’
He added: ‘Thanks to Harry’s intervention, their Majesties were left kicking their heels at Clarence House, their main London home, while they waited for the errant younger son to appear.
‘It is striking that Harry was not invited to stay at Clarence House or, indeed, at any other royal residence. So last-minute was the decision to fly, that he had to book a hotel room for the night.
‘And if the Prince had expected to spend some ‘quality time’ at Sandringham House talking about the good old days, perhaps, or rebuilding the paternal bond, he will have been disappointed.’
He and Harry had a ‘brief meeting’ before the King and Camilla were driven to Buckingham Palace where a helicopter was waiting to take them back to their Norfolk retreat.
The Duke is not believed to have seen his brother William or sister-in-law Kate Middleton, who is recovering from her abdominal surgery and on extended leave.
Royal experts have said this is a sign of just how deep the rift between the brothers has become.
‘William has shown today that he has disowned Harry, he doesn’t want to know him, and he probably doesn’t even like him anymore. Harry is just not part of his life,’ Jennie Bond said.
‘That rift is so deep now, and that has been shown by Harry being here and them not meeting, so deep that I really do wonder if it can ever, ever be mended.’
Doctors discovered the King’s cancer during surgery to treat a benign enlarged prostate just over a week prior, according to the Palace.
The type and stage of cancer has not been released, but Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told the BBC it had been caught ‘early’.
The choice to disclose the diagnosis is a marked difference from monarchs of the past, who have always kept their health battles extremely private.
According to the Palace, the King hopes that announcing it will encourage others to have their concerns checked out by a medical professional.
Representatives for Prince Harry have been contacted for comment.