Prince Harry was notably the only senior member of the Royal Family absent from HRH Prince Philip’s memorial service yesterday.
For many, the ceremony marked the end of an era, with some Royal experts suggesting it may have been one of the last public appearances by Queen Elizabeth, who looked elegantly poised but frail and sad as she formerly said goodbye to her husband of 70 years.
The Queen, 95, appeared to have tears in her eyes as family and friends paid tribute to Prince Philip’s life and years of selfless public service.
Her Majesty has reportedly suffered with an array of recent health issues including a bout of Covid-19 and problems with her mobility, prompting palace staff to fit chairlifts in some of her residences – although determined to maintain her dignity, the Queen has never used a wheelchair in public.
Harry’s absence was frowned upon the world over as he opted to stay in his Californian mansion with his wife Meghan and their two children rather than attend his grandfather’s service.
It comes after Harry, 37, has been embattled in a bitter row with the UK Home Office about its decision to remove the ‘same level’ of security other Royal Family members are given after his decision to step down from Royal duties and pursue a very private life in Hollywood with his actress wife.
The Sussex’s are reportedly pursuing a legal case against the British Home Office following its decision and this appears to have promoted Harry’s decision not to travel to the UK – although the Duke will travel to the Netherlands in two weeks to attend the Invicta Games.
The decision was highly criticised by Richard Griffin, a Royal Protection officer who provided security for Prince Philip for 14 years.
“It [Harry not being here] was a big disappointment for everybody. People were talking about it. Certainly around where I was people were saying he should have been here”, he said after attending the ceremony.
“All this nonsense about how he couldn’t get protection, as far as I’m concerned that was a pathetic excuse. He should’ve been here to honour his grandfather.
“At the end of the day, if he was that worried about security, he could’ve stuck with his brother and father who have got wonderful security and he would have been more than safe.”
Social media was awash with criticism for Harry, with political commentators and Royal experts all expressing their disgust.
Veteran Royal photographer Arthur Edwards said:
“Prince Harry does nothing but sit there feeding his chickens in California. He should get on a plane and pay his respects to his grandfather”.
Fans took to Twitter to voice their view about Harry’s absence. One Royal fan said it was “disrespectful” that the Duke had not attended the ceremony of Thanksgiving, branding his excuses as “pathetic”.
How disrespectful that Harry wasn't at the Thanksgiving for Prince Philip. He said it was because of security but there would have been Charles and Williams security. Pathetic excuses, he knows the UK wouldn't welcome him and Meghan because of how they've treated the Royals.
— Irene 🏴🇬🇧🇺🇦♥️🤍💙👑🎉 (@HakunaMatata26C) March 29, 2022
Others excused Harry’s behavior, reasoning that he had attended the funeral and berated the Queen for allowing her son Prince Andrew to support and escort her through the ceremony despite the accusations made against him by Virginia Giuffre.