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Why Zara Tindall and other royals didn't attend Prince Harry's Invictus service

The Duke of Sussex was in London for the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games

Content Managing Editor
Freelance Writer
9 May 2024
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It was a flying visit to the UK for Prince Harry this week as he attended a service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral for the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games.  

The Duke of Sussex, who gave a touching reading at the event, was supported by members of his family including Princess Diana's siblings Charles Spencer and Lady Jane Fellowes. Harry warmly greeted his uncle and aunt with a hug at the start of the service. 

Other extended relatives who were there to show their support included Harry's cousins George McCorquodale, Ned Spencer, and Louis Spencer, Viscount Althorp. 

Prince Harry shaking hands© Getty
Prince Harry greeted well-wishers after the Invictus ceremony

Harry's cousin Zara Tindall

But members of the royal family were noticeably absent from the high-profile event. 

Harry's cousin, Zara Tindall, who he is incredibly close to, was busy competing at the Badminton Horse Trials, miles away in south Gloucestershire. She was seen running with her horse Class Affair during the inspection on day one of the trials. 

Wearing a white top and trousers combo paired with a navy blazer, and accessorizing with sunglasses, the Olympic medallist looked in her element. 

Class Affair and Zara Tindall during the first horse inspection on day one of the Badminton Horse Trials 2024© Getty
Zara was at the Badminton Horse Trials in Gloucestershire while Harry was in London

King Charles' 'full programme'

Ahead of Harry's trip, there was much speculation about a potential meeting between him and his father King Charles, but this time around, schedules did not align.

Harry's spokesperson confirmed that the King, who has only just returned to public-facing duties amid his cancer battle, was too busy to see his California-based son.

The spokesperson said: "In response to the many inquiries and continued speculation on whether or not the Duke will meet with his father while in the UK this week, it unfortunately will not be possible due to His Majesty's full programme. The Duke of course is understanding of his father's diary of commitments and various other priorities and hopes to see him soon."

King Charles III at a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace© Getty
King Charles was down the road from Harry hosting a garden party at Buckingham Palace

While Harry was attending the Invictus Games service, just a few miles down the road, the King, 75, was hosting his first garden party of the year at Buckingham Palace. Charles appeared in good spirits, laughing and making jokes with guests and telling one well-wisher: "I'm not doing badly."

Dozens of people asked after his health and told him how good it was to see him back in public again.

Prince Harry and Prince Charles attend the 'International Year of The Reef' 2018 meeting at Fishmongers Hall © Getty
Father and son did not get a chance to meet on this UK trip

On his last visit to the UK, Harry met with King Charles for only 45 minutes, having rushed to fly over following his father's cancer diagnosis. Harry went straight to Clarence House, the monarch having delayed his journey to Sandringham in order to see his youngest son.

What other royals were doing during Harry's fleeting visit

Members of the royal family were out in force to support the King at the garden party. As well as his wife Queen Camilla, the Princess Royal, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester were also in attendance.

Duchess Sophie looked pretty in pink, while Princess Anne was her typically stylish self in a floral-printed blue ensemble.

Princess Anne, Prince Edward and Duchess Sophie attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace© Getty
Princess Anne, Prince Edward and Duchess Sophie also attended the garden party

Prince William's relationship with Harry

Prince William and Prince Harry did not meet either, as the brothers are sadly estranged following the publication of Prince Harry's memoir Spare, and a reconciliation is unlikely at the present time. 

The next-in-line was busy giving out investitures at Windsor Castle on the day that Harry was in London for the Invictus Games event, and the following day on Thursday, he travelled to Nansleden, Newquay to visit the site where the Duchy of Cornwall's first homeless housing project will be built.

William also stopped by Fistral beach, where he met organisations who take care of it. 

prince harry and prince william 100th anniversary of vimy ridge© Getty Images
Harry and William have had a strained relationship for years

Where were Meghan Markle and the children?

Meghan stayed behind in the couple's Montecito home with Prince Archie, four, and Princess Lillibet, two. 

On the latest episode of HELLO!'s A Right Royal Podcast, The Telegraph's Royal Editor Hannah Furness spoke about why Meghan is unlikely to return to the UK anytime soon. 

"There is quite a heavy narrative that Meghan and the children won't be coming back until they can resolve this security issue to their liking," she said. "But he [Harry] will certainly be coming and going." 

Meghan was last in the UK in September 2022© Getty
Meghan was last in the UK in September 2022

However, the Duchess of Sussex will join her husband on the couple's upcoming trip to Nigeria

It's a trip that also has connections to the Invictus Games, with the couple being invited by the Chief of Defence Staff, the highest-ranking military official in Nigeria who met Prince Harry at the event in Dusseldorf last year.  

Harry and Meghan pose with the Nigeria team at the Invictus Games© Getty
Harry and Meghan pose with the Nigeria team at the Invictus Games

The African country also has personal connections for Meghan. In her former podcast, Archetypes, she said: "I just had my genealogy done a couple years ago… [and I'm] Forty-three percent Nigerian." 

No doubt Meghan is looking forward to the trip, especially since she got on so well with the Nigerian team at the 2023 Invictus Games. 


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