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Inside Prince Harry’s 26-hour flying visit to see Charles that lasted less than an hour

Duke of Sussex flew more than 10 hours from LA to see his father after shock cancer diagnosis

Athena Stavrou,Tara Cobham
Friday 09 February 2024 09:36 GMT
Reason why King Charles and Harry’s meeting was so short revealed

Prince Harry has flown home to LA following a 26-hour visit to the UK that saw him reunite with his father for less than an hour after his shock cancer diagnosis.

The Duke of Sussex spent almost as much time in the air as he did in England, on what was his first visit to his homeland since September.

The long journey from the US took Harry more than 10 hours, but his meeting with King Charles at Clarence House in London reportedly lasted less than an hour. Differing newspaper reports say the get-together at the royal residence was either just 30 or 45 minutes long.

King Charles and Queen Camilla were spotted leaving Clarence House less than an hour after Harry arrived (AFP via Getty Images)

There were hopes the 39-year-old’s visit from California would help repair damaged relationships between himself, his father, and his brother the Prince of Wales – but these hopes were soon dashed when it became clear he would not be seeing William during the trip.

Charles had personally called both Harry and William, as well as his siblings Anne, the Duke of York and the Duke of Edinburgh, to share his health news before it was publicly announced to the nation by the Palace at 6pm on Monday.

Less than a day after the news broke, Harry was spotted arriving at a private terminal at LAX in his black Range Rover on Monday evening LA time.

His wife Meghan Markle and their two children, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet, remained in California, where they have lived since stepping down as working royals in 2020.

Harry’s flight took off just before 7pm LA time and the Duke flew more than 5,000 miles over the Atlantic before touching down at Heathrow Airport at around 12:30pm on Tuesday. He was driven directly to see his father at his London Residence, arriving at Clarence House at 2:45pm where the pair had a brief meeting.

A car believed to be transporting Prince Harry enters Clarence House, the home of King Charles (REUTERS)

Clarence House is the much-loved London base of Charles and Camilla after the pair moved there in 2003. The residence, built between 1825 and 1827 to the designs of John Nash, is the former home of the King’s grandmother the Queen Mother.

But it would appear there was nowhere there for Harry to stay, with reports that the King’s youngest son was booked into an undisclosed hotel in London instead of a royal residence.

Less than an hour after Harry arrived at Clarence House, Charles and Queen Camilla were pictured being driven to Buckingham Palace, where a helicopter believed to be carrying the couple took off from the roof and took them to their Sandringham home in Norfolk, without Harry.

Prince Harry came to the UK to see his father but his wife Meghan once again stayed behind in the US (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Harry’s next sighting came when he was spotted at Heathrow Airport at around 1.30pm on Wednesday, little more than a day after he landed.

While it has not been confirmed which flight he boarded, but British Airways flight 269 was due to take off at roughly 3.05pm and arrived at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) at around 6.30pm local time the same day.

In total, the duke will have spent around 21 hours in the air over the course of his whistlestop transatlantic trip. A first-class direct return flight from LAX to Heathrow currently costs around £8,250, and according to a carbon footprint calculator, his emissions for his journey would have amounted to around 14 tonnes. ,

Clarence House is the much-loved London base of Charles and Camilla after the pair moved there in 2003 (REUTERS)
King Charles and Queen Camilla flew to their home in Sandringham on Tuesday by helicopter (REUTERS)

Harry has not made any public statements or appearances since his father’s diagnosis was announced.

He last came to the UK five months ago, when he attended a WellChild awards event, but was not believed to have spent any time with his father or brother and again stayed in a hotel. The last time he came face-to-face with the King was during the Coronation last May, although he made a speedy exit to return to the US to celebrate his son Archie’s fourth birthday.

Harry’s reported stay at a London hotel during this most recent trip, rather than any of the many royal residences available, suggests the relationship between the duke and his UK-based family continues to be strained.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex vacated Frogmore Cottage in Windsor last year leaving them without a base in the UK and now reportedly need a formal invitation to be able to stay with the royals on “protected property”.

The warring brothers did not meet during Harry’s trip (Getty Images)
Prince William returned to his royal duties on Wednesday (PA Wire)

The prince has been very vocal in his criticism of his family since he left for the US, both in interviews and his autobiography Spare.

However, it has been suggested the reason behind the brevity of the reunion between father and son may be more practical, given Charles’ condition.

Appearing on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday, Sunday Times Royal Editor Roya Nikkhah said: “The King was very tired after the procedure he had had the day before.

“I’m sure Harry would have loved to have spent more time with him, but he’s probably quite respectful of his dad going through his treatment.”

Charles’ cancer announcement came shortly after Kate underwent surgery for undisclosed reasons (2023 Getty Images)

Harry’s brother William returned to his royal duties on Wednesday, while his brother was still in the country. The Prince of Wales carried out an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle in the morning and then in the evening, once Harry had flown home, he attended a gala event alongside Tom Cruise.

Insiders close to Harry claim he would have welcomed the chance to meet with his brother, with one telling the Mail Online: “The Duke’s primary reason to travel to the UK is to visit his father. If the opportunity were to arise to see the Prince of Wales then the Duke would have gladly accepted it.”

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