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Sorry, Harry – perhaps the last thing the King needed was to see you

For the Duke of Sussex, flying back to LA after seeing his estranged father for half an hour might seem the right thing to have done – but, says Paul Clements (who spent two weeks in a coma), the King could have done without the added emotional burden

Thursday 08 February 2024 05:31 GMT
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Whistle-stop: Harry took an 11-hour flight to spend around half an hour with his father following the news of the King’s cancer diagnosis
Whistle-stop: Harry took an 11-hour flight to spend around half an hour with his father following the news of the King’s cancer diagnosis (AFP via Getty)

When you’re unwell, having an estranged family member show up to offer support – no matter how briefly – only adds to your stress.

I dare say, to Prince Harry, flying in to be with his father who has just been given a cancer diagnosis is the act of a concerned and dutiful son. But after some 17 months spent on mostly non-speaking terms with his papa, would it be uncharitable to say that to the rest of us it all looked rather… performative?

What makes someone take an 11-hour flight – a 5,000-mile journey – just to spend around half an hour with the man about whom he could barely summon a good word in his memoir a year ago? And then to stay overnight in a hotel, rather than at one of the family’s many ancestral homes, before flying home 24 hours later?

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