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Why the Royal Family Did Not Attend Prince Harry’s Invictus Games Service in London

Why the Royal Family Did Not Attend Prince Harry’s Invictus Games Service in London

The Duke of Sussex is in the U.K. for an Invictus Games-focused trip

Prince Harry, King Charles III and Queen Camilla
(Left) Prince Harry arrives for the Invictus Games anniversary service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on May 8, 2024; (Right) King Charles and Queen Camilla at a Buckingham Palace garden party on May 8, 2024.

Prince Harry’s service in London to mark the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games did not bring together members of the royal family.

As the Duke of Sussex, 39, attended a Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral on May 8, family members including King Charles, Prince William and Kate Middleton were not in attendance.

Prince Harry traveled to the U.K. from his California home to mark the 10th anniversary of the international adaptive sports tournament for wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans, which he founded in 2014.

Earlier this week, it was disclosed that Harry wouldn’t be able to meet with his father King Charles during his time in the U.K. due to the monarch’s “full” schedule — which includes the palace garden party hosted by the King at the same time, just a few miles away at Buckingham Palace. Along with Charles and Queen Camilla, the garden party was also attended by royal family members Princess Anne, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex attends The Invictus Games Foundation 10th Anniversary Service at St Paul's Cathedral on May 08, 2024 in London, England
Prince Harry arrives for the Invictus Games anniversary service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on May 8, 2024. 

“In response to the many inquiries and continued speculation on whether or not The Duke will meet with his father while in the U.K. this week, it unfortunately will not be possible due to His Majesty’s full program. The Duke of course is understanding of his father’s diary of commitments and various other priorities and hopes to see him soon,” a spokesperson for the Duke of Sussex said on May 7.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Charles, Prince of Wales and Prince Harry attend the Opening Ceremony of the Invictus Games at Olympic Park on September 10, 2014 in London, England
(From left) Prince William, Queen Camilla, King Charles and Prince Harry at the opening ceremony of the at Olympic Park on Sept. 10, 2014 in London. 

The Duke of Sussex also traveled to the U.K. in February to privately visit his father the King after Buckingham Palace announced the monarch’s cancer diagnosis. King Charles postponed public-facing duties and continued to work behind the scenes after he started receiving treatment, which the palace said coincided with its Feb. 5 announcement about his health. King Charles resumed forward-facing duties on April 30, and Queen Camilla later said she thought her husband was “really thrilled to be out.”

Prince Harry’s February trip to the U.K. did not involve meeting with his brother, Prince William, or his sister-in-law, Princess Kate. A royal source said at the time there were “no plans” for the brothers to get together.

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex waves as he arrives to attend a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games, at St Paul's Cathedral in central London, on May 8, 2024
Prince Harry arrives for the Invictus Games anniversary service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on May 8, 2024. 

In March, the Princess of Wales, 42, announced that she was undergoing treatment for cancer following abdominal surgery in January. PEOPLE understands that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle privately reached out to the Prince and Princess of Wales amid Kate’s diagnosis.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also shared their support by releasing a statement after Princess Kate announced the news about her health.

“We wish health and healing for Kate and the family, and hope they are able to do so privately and in peace,” the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said in a statement shared with PEOPLE on March 22, the day of Princess Kate’s announcement.

Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle
Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on the long Walk at Windsor Castle on Sept. 10, 2022. 

Before the Princess of Wales announced that she had cancer, a family source told PEOPLE that Prince Harry and Meghan were in the dark about her abdominal surgery and recovery.

“They are aware of everything that goes on back in England, but are being left out of any details regarding Kate,” the source told PEOPLE. “There is clearly no trust.”

The itinerary for Prince Harry’s Invictus-focused trip also included a panel discussion, and the Duke of Sussex delivered a reading at St. Paul’s Cathedral during the Service of Thanksgiving.

Homeland actor Damian Lewis recited the poem “Invictus,” which inspired the competition’s motto, and the ceremony was attended by representatives from across the participating nations of the Invictus Games, including members of the wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veteran community. Community members, supporters and beneficiaries also gave readings in the service led by The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of St. Paul’s.

The Duke of Sussex arriving at the annual WellChild Awards 2023, at the Hurlingham Club in London. Picture date: Thursday September 7, 2023
Prince Harry arrives at the WellChild Awards 2023 in London on Sept. 7, 2023. 

Prince Harry’s latest U.K. trip was announced on April 28, and he made the journey without his wife Meghan, 42, though they are soon due to reunite. PEOPLE confirmed that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will travel to Nigeria later this week upon the invitation on behalf of the Chief of Defense Staff, the country’s highest-ranking military official.

During their visit, Prince Harry and Meghan will meet with service members and participate in a variety of cultural activities in a visit highlighting the Invictus Games. Nigeria made its event debut at the sixth cycle of the adaptive sports tournament in Düsseldorf, Germany in September 2023, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent time with the team and fans in the stands.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, watch sitting volleyball between fans from Nigeria and Ukraine at the 6th Invictus Games at the Merkur Spiel Arena
(Center) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Invictus Games in Dusseldorf, Germany on Sept. 14, 2023. 

Prince Harry joked that his wife was rooting for the squad at the opening ceremony after discovering that she has Nigerian heritage, a revelation made on her Archetypes podcast in 2022. Nigerian Minister of Defense Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Badaru also attended the competition in Germany, and has expressed interest in hosting the Invictus Games in the future, should the country be granted the opportunity.

While plans are in motion for the next Invictus Games in Vancouver and Whistler, Canada, in February 2025, the eighth iteration of the Invictus Games might take it back to the United States. On May 1, the Invictus Games Foundation revealed the shortlist of cities hoping to host the 2027 Invictus Games, with just two contenders: Washington, D.C. and Birmingham, U.K.

The 2027 cycle will be the eighth Invictus Games, following the competitions in London (2014), Orlando (2016), Toronto (2017), Sydney (2018), The Hague (2022, bumped from 2020 due to the pandemic) and Düsseldorf in September 2023.

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