Well, well, well. The rien ne va plus ultra velvet blazer – and its owner Prince William the Prince of Wales – are back. Well, briefly at least.
After having taken a leave of absence from royal duties for just shy of four weeks to care for wife Kate the Princess of Wales after undergoing surgery, the prince got out his best bib and tuck on Wednesday night, UK time, for a charity dinner in London.
William, and the blazer, were out on a school night and took the opportunity to do some cheery grinning next to Top Gun star and latest egregious filler casualty, Tom Cruise.
Oh William, you naughty boy, you. You scamp. His Kensington Palace social media accounts wasted no time throwing up posts to toot about the meeting, a meeting that came on the same day his brother Prince Harry the Duke of Sussex had also been in town.
Subtext: With Harry still somewhere over the Atlantic and regretting having ordered the fish, here was Team William busy demonstrating that the Prince of Wales could make time for one anointed Living Legend of Aviation but not the most recent addition to this august list, i.e. Hazza.
Poor old Harry – He has undertaken a 47-hour round trip, has flown 16,000 kilometres and had to traverse eight time zones to only get to see the King for a mingy 30 minutes and to be blanked by his big brother who was too busy lint-rolling his favourite bit of velvet.
Early on Thursday morning, AEDT, the Duke of Sussex flew out of London, only 25 hours after arriving, a trip so brief he would barely have needed more than a fresh pair of undies and a folding toothbrush.
It was a mixed bag of a reception that the 39-year-old received however.
In the plus column, we have the fact that Charles made the highly unusual move of delaying his helicopter flight to Sandringham for over an hour so he could see his son, a gesture that the Talmudic scholars of the Sun have termed “significant” given that, according to an insider, His Majesty is “very fastidious about time-keeping”.
Elsewhere, someone from Buckingham Palace has briefed the Telegraph that Harry flying over to see his Pa was a “gesture” that was “warmly welcomed by the King.”
However, let’s not get too excited here. The King just made as much time in his day for his son as he devotes every single day to seeing his private secretary Sir Clive Alderton. On what planet can the half an hour he gave Harry be read as some sort of thrilling leap forward or warming in London/Montecito relations? (If the ocean was only warming this fast they could disband the next climate COP right now.)
Meanwhile, over in the negative column, the hits just keep adding up.
There hasn’t been any suggestion that Charles invited Harry to join him and Camilla at Sandringham, an option that would have presented a plum opportunity for father and son to reconnect and to spend time with one another in private and with a whole lotta space around them. (You never know when you might need to stand in the middle of a yew maze and do some cathartic yelling into the void.)
This would not appear to have been something that was even remotely put on the table by the King.
Then there is the fact that Harry was left to stay in a hotel. A hotel, I ask you.
Kensington, St James’s Palace and Clarence House, all in London, have close to, at best guess, a hundred bedrooms between them, while highly-convenient-for-Heathrow Windsor Castle has 52 royal and guest bedrooms. Yet none was found for the duke and he was left to fend for himself.
Next, let us consider the duration of Charles and Harry’s confab, a whole 30 minutes, according to the Times. This was the first time that they had seen one another face-to-face and in private since September 2022 – and since the publication of Spare – and yet the only window His Majesty could find was only marginally longer than the 20 minutes he grants absolute strangers for official Palace audiences?
How much meaningful ground could the King and the duke have really covered in such a brief allotment?
I’d bet that a good 17 minutes was spent discussing the trial and tribulations of making it out of Heathrow’s A4, 11 minutes were given over to the near-apocalyptic weather that has hit California with those remaining four minutes devoted to some awkward personal feelings being shared while His Majesty twiddling his signet ring.
Nor is it known how close on hand Camilla or any of His Majesty’s trusted aides were as Harry and his authentic self did some downstairs drawing room emoting.
As one former courtier has told the Daily Beast: “He did get to meet the king which is something, but they hardly rolled out the red carpet for him … I am sure the king was delighted to see him but I think what you are seeing is that great care being taken to insulate the king and queen from Harry.
That same former courtier has also told the Beast’s Tom Sykes that the brief meeting was a “a partial snub because [Harry] has clearly been told there is nothing to stop him being on his way [back to the US].”
If Charles offered his son a halfer of a welcome/brush-off, William went the whole icy hog, entirely blanking his brother.
Earlier this week, “sources close to the duke” told the Mirror’s Russell Myers that that Harry would ‘gladly accept’ “the opportunity” to meet William, “if the opportunity were to arise”.
Those Montecito smoke signals were entirely ignored by William.
The vast, vast breach that exists between The Brothers Grim isn’t going to be mended anytime soon given that William, as one of the prince’s mates has told the Beast, views him as having “betrayed the monarchy. He can’t be trusted, he is out.”
“It’s simply not possible to exaggerate how bad and how damaged the relationship is, and how angry William is at Harry for betraying him for money.”
Then there’s that – the dosh it would have cost Harry to make this international flit. A last minute British Airways first class flight from Los Angeles to London cost $34,000 – per person. It is unknown how many security personnel were travelling with him. If he was travelling with even two bodyguards this week it would have cost the duke into the six figures.
Royal “gestures” really don’t come cheap do they?
So, this weekend Charles is at Sandringham recovering from his first cancer treatment, Camilla is on the hunt for a lemon wedge and her favourite soda siphon and Harry is long gone to de-gunge his gutters after the storms.
At least William and his blazer seem happy together.
Daniela Elser is a writer, editor and a royal commentator with more than 15 years’ experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.
Read related topics:Prince HarryPrince William