The nation’s hearts dropped when it emerged that the 95-year-old Queen had tested positive with Covid last week, the first time she’s contracted it since the pandemic began.
Reports claimed that despite catching the virus, the monarch was only suffering with “mild symptoms” and would “carry on with light duties” but cancelled two events she had previously hoped to go ahead with.
World leaders – including Boris Johnson, the Australian Prime Minister and the US President – sent good wishes to the Queen, and her son Prince Charles thanked members of the public for a flood of get well cards she’d received.
Her grandson Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton also stepped up to support the Queen. While Prince William stood in for her royal duties – such as handing out honours at Windsor Castle last Tuesday in her absence – Kate went on a solo royal trip to Denmark to represent the Queen and met with researchers for her Early Years Foundation children’s charity.
But there was seemingly no word from the Queen’s grandson Prince Harry, who left the royal fold for a new life in California in 2020 and hasn’t publicly sent a message to his grandmother.
Since leaving the UK, Harry and wife Meghan, 40, have launched a series of scathing attacks on his family, accusing them of mental health neglect and racism during an explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey, and later criticising the “trapped” nature of the royal family on a podcast.
But Harry, 37, has maintained that he and Meghan have a strong and loving relationship with the Queen, with the couple naming their daughter “Lilibet” after her childhood pet name, and reportedly keeping in touch with her through regular FaceTime chats.
Harry has only returned twice, and only for a few days at a time, since he left for the US two years ago – once for his grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral, and again for the unveiling of his late mother Princess Diana’s statue in July. Meghan has not returned.
But despite Harry describing spending time in the UK as a “trigger” for him, there’s speculation that he’ll return home this year. Not only has his family not yet met Lilibet, nine months, but this year sees the celebration of 70 years on the throne for the Queen in her Platinum Jubilee in June, set to be four days of festivities. There’s also been talk that he’ll return for Prince Philip’s memorial service next month.
A visit seemed even more likely for Prince Harry and his family when it was reported he was embroiled in a legal battle against the Government over his security over his demand to be able to pay for Met Police protection, should he return.
But last month, royal biographer Tom Bower – who is writing Meghan’s biography, due out in the autumn – says he believes Meghan “has no intention whatsoever to return to the UK”, saying she views it as “a lost cause”.
Now Tom tells Closer he believes this year will present Harry with the “ultimate test” – as he’ll be forced to choose between his grandmother and his new life in LA.
Check out: 35 celebrity couples you definitely forgot about 🤯
1. Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
Jennifer and Owen dated for a short time in 2008 after filming Marley & Me together.
Tom says, “The next few months will be the ultimate test for Harry, the ultimate dilemma. He insists he adores his grandmother, so will he come back to support her at Prince Philip’s memorial service, and will he come back to support her and celebrate her reign in the Platinum Jubilee? These are milestone moments and, sadly, time is running out.
“If he doesn’t come back, it’s a clear statement of where lies his loyalty and his own interest. He’s had many opportunities to return home and spend time with his family – and hasn’t – but this really will show where his and Meghan’s mindsets are. And if they don’t come back soon, and Lilibet doesn’t meet the Queen and Harry doesn’t celebrate her life and reign with her, it could be something he comes to regret forever.”
Jaws dropped when, last autumn, it emerged that following Harry and Meghan’s bombshell interviews last year, Harry would be writing a tell-all memoir out later this year, which he’s said will be “wholly truthful” and “written as the man I have become”.
The book deal was signed with Penguin Random House, which is said to have paid Harry around £14m in advance.
WATCH: Chloe Brockett on her secret row with Yaz, feuding with the Sims sisters and Mark Wright returning
And Tom now says that he believes it will be so explosive, it’s part of the reason Harry is reluctant to come home to the UK and face his family.
Tom says, “I personally think he won’t come back this year. I think the notion that he’s worried about his own security and needs the Met Police is an excuse, and that, sadly, we won’t see him or Meghan back in the UK anytime soon. And I think Harry won’t come back because he knows he cannot face his family, and be pleasant with them, knowing what he’s written about them in that book.
“That book will have a lot of casualties and cause a lot of hurt. It will really deliver, as Harry knows it has to, to justify the money he’s been paid to do it. How can Harry come back and pretend it’s all fine? The worst of what he will say is yet to come.”