Sources close to the couple have said relations between Harry and wife Meghan and the rest of the royal family are ‘near rock bottom’ and they could decline an invitation to spend the festive period with Harry’s family.
The reports come as King Charles was today announced as the new ceremonial head of the Royal Marines, a role previously held by his son, Prince Harry.
In a sign of the sensitivity of the situation, the Mail revealed last night that Harry was informed of his father’s decision to take on the role himself before it was made public.
The prince had been appointed Captain General by his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, in 2017 following the Duke of Edinburgh‘s decision to retire from public life.
Today’s developments come just a day after new details were revealed about Prince Harry’s ‘nuclear’ memoir.
Billed as a work of ‘raw, unflinching honesty’, the controversial book will be called Spare – a ‘loaded’ reference to his position as the younger brother of the heir to the throne.
Prince Harry has ‘no plans’ to return to the UK for Christmas, despite the recent death of his grandmother, sources close to the couple have said
Harry’s father is now King Charles III, but his new book has continued to heighten tensions across the pond
Prince Harry played a prominent role in the Queen’s funeral procession, as well as accompanying her coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster for the lying-in-state (pictured)
A source told The Mirror the book could spell ‘the end’ for any reconciliation efforts between the Sussexes and the royals
Family members were not informed of the title in advance of the announcement yesterday, while the Spanish language version is even more pointed, having been given the subtitle En La Sombra, or ‘in the shadow’.
It had been hoped that relations would thaw somewhat after the Queen’s death, but sources told The Mirror that the couple have ‘no plans’ to travel to the UK for Christmas.
The rest of the royal family were reportedly surprised at the memoir’s title.
Another source told The Mirror the book could spell ‘the end’ for any reconciliation efforts between the Sussexes and the royals: ‘This book could spell the end for any relationship Harry wants to have with his family, it’s desperately sad.’
An initial release date had been pencilled in for ‘late 2022’ to capitalise on the lucrative Christmas market, but the book will not be on the shelves until January 10 – said to be as a mark of respect following the death of the Queen, and, it is rumoured, due to last-minute alterations requested by the duke.
A spokesman for the King declined to comment on the book last night. But it is understood that the Royal Household has already been warned that the 416-page, £28 book is ‘critical of everyone and everything’ and they are ‘dreading’ it.
Among the grievances Harry may air is the decision to ‘ban’ him from wearing military uniform during the Queen’s funeral.
Following a series of reports about the issue, the Duke of Sussex’s spokesman issued a pointed statement, which read: ‘[Prince Harry] will wear a morning suit throughout events honouring his grandmother.
‘His decade of military service is not determined by the uniform he wears and we respectfully ask that focus remain on the life and legacy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.’
Only working royals – which Harry and his uncle Andrew are not – are being permitted to dress in uniform at five ceremonial occasions.
Harry’s military titles were stripped after he and Meghan moved permanently to America, including the Captain General role which has now been taken on by King Charles himself.
The Queen‘s husband had held the title with huge distinction for more than 64 years and his grandson cherished the opportunity to follow in his footsteps.
He was photographed with his late grandfather as he carried out his last official duty as Captain General before inheriting the position.
Following his acrimonious decision to quit royal duties and move to the US in 2019, Harry had hoped to still hold on to the position, as well as his other honorary military roles.
But after his grandmother made clear that it would be impossible for himself and Meghan to pursue commercial careers while undertaking royal duties, he was stripped of the office.
In a statement in February 2021, Buckingham Palace said: ‘Following conversations with The Duke, The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of The Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service.
‘The honorary military appointments and Royal patronages held by The Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of The Royal Family.
‘While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family.’
The Sussexes retaliated with a statement of their own, which many saw as a direct and intensely disrespectful response to the Queen’s comment on their inability to dedicate themselves to ‘a life of public service’ while pursuing their fortunes in the States.
‘We can all live a life of service. Service is universal,’ the couple said.
King Charles, pictured speaking with Marines after attending a memorial service in London when he was Prince of Wales, has taken over as Captain General it was announced today
Prince Harry, who served during the war in Afghanistan in the British Army (pictured), was told that his role would revert to his father before the announcement was made public
Harry (pictured left at an event at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in 2019) was said to be saddened to be stripped of the position as ceremonial head of the Commando regiment following Megxit in 2020. Pictured right: Charles – then Prince of Wales – at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, last year
The Duke of Sussex was appointed Captain General by the Queen in December 2017, succeeding Prince Philip, pictured
The Duke of Sussex’s autobiography, which has the pointed title Spare, was unveiled yesterday. It is just one of a series of commercial ventures the couple have engaged in
Their spokesman added that they would ‘remain committed to their duty and service to the UK and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organisations they have represented regardless of official role’.
The role of Captain General of the Royal Marines – as well as Harry’s appointments with RAF Honington and the Royal Navy Small Ships and Diving – reverted to the Queen.
Although some had speculated that Princess Anne would subsequently become the first woman to hold the role, no new appointment was made until today.
Until Philip was given the role by his wife in 1953, the position was held by a succession of sovereigns: King George V, King Edward VIII and King George VI, Charles’ great-grandfather, great uncle and grandfather.
The Queen had, however, been keen to pay tribute to her husband’s own proud military career – which he was forced to give up when they married – and he proved to be a much loved and popular ceremonial head.
He remained in the post for 64 years and 201 days.
His funeral last year, which he planned himself, involved a strong presence from the force.
A Royal Marine Bearer Party carried his coffin from his Land Rover Hearse into St George’s Chapel, while the Last Post was played by one of their buglers.
Although today’s announcement came just a day after Prince Harry’s publishers announced his controversial memoir, Spare, would be published in January, there was no co-relation between the two events.
Buckingham Palace hadn’t been expecting the announcement and had long planned to reveal the king’s new role on the 358th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Marines, formed on October 28 1664 during King Charles II’s reign.
The new king today praised them for their ‘courage, determination, self-discipline and a remarkable capacity to endure in the most extreme environments’.
Widely acknowledged as one of the world’s elite fighting forces, the Royal Marine Commandos are the amphibious troops of the Royal Navy.
They are deployed across the globe as specialists in combat in extreme climates, serving on the most dangerous operations under the most challenging conditions.
In a personal message to the Royal Marines, Charles said: ‘It is the greatest possible pleasure to assume the role of your Captain General.
‘I am exceptionally proud to follow in the footsteps of so many members of my family over the last three and a half centuries, all of whom held the role with a deep sense of admiration.
‘The Royal Marines have a distinguished and unparalleled history, both on land and at sea.
‘I draw immense inspiration from your courage, determination, self-discipline and a remarkable capacity to endure in the most extreme environments.
‘I feel greatly honoured to become part of the Corps Family and very much look forward to meeting many of you in the near future.
‘In the meantime, this comes with my heartfelt and special wishes for a very happy 358th birthday.’
He concluded with their motto Per Mare, Per Terram – By Land, By Sea.
As Prince of Wales, the King embarked on a career in the Royal Navy, undergoing training at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) in Devon in order to qualify as a helicopter pilot in 1972.
His Majesty later served alongside Royal Marines on board HMS Hermes, as part of 845 Naval Air Squadron, completing military exercises in the Western Atlantic and the West Indies.
Since their founding, the Royal Marines have taken part in more battles on land and sea around the world than any other branch of the UK Armed Forces.
They are currently operating in the Mediterranean, forging closer bonds with NATO allies and partners.
Commandos are also deployed in the Middle East to disrupt the global drugs trade, and will soon be operating in Oman.
Harry was said to be saddened when his prestigious title was removed by the Queen in 2020 after he and Meghan announced they would step down as working royals and move to California.
The Duke of Sussex was appointed Captain General by the Queen in December 2017, succeeding Prince Philip. Today’s announcement comes just a day after Harry unveiled his ‘provocative’ new memoir Spare – a ‘loaded’ reference to his position as the younger brother of the heir to the throne.
In a personal message to the Royal Marines as they mark their 358th birthday today, the King said: ‘It is the greatest possible pleasure to assume the role of your Captain General. I am exceptionally proud to follow in the footsteps of so many members of my family over the last three-and-a-half centuries, all of whom held the role with a deep sense of admiration.
The duke also lost his other formal roles with the military including Honorary Air Force Commandant of the Royal Air Force Base Honington, and Honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Naval Commands’ Small Ships and Diving.
Harry, a former Army officer with a passion for the military family, had been eager to hold onto his formal links with the UK’s Armed Forces.
As Prince of Wales, the King embarked on a career in the Royal Navy, undergoing training at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) in Lympstone, Devon, in order to qualify as a helicopter pilot
His Majesty later served alongside Royal Marines on board HMS Hermes, as part of 845 Naval Air Squadron, completing military exercises in the Western Atlantic and the West Indies
The King holds the honorary rank of Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Navy. In this old photo, he is seen meeting servicemen
Alongside his new role, he will continue to hold the rank of Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Navy.
Prince William had initially been expected to succeed his brother as Captain General after a Buckingham Palace statement insisted they would be handed to ‘working members of the Royal Family’.
However, growing tensions between the pair following Megxit meant making such a move would be seen as unnecessarily provocative, reports suggested.
Instead, Princess Anne was mooted as the most likely candidate due to her being the ‘least controversial choice’.
The King is a Royal Navy veteran, and served alongside the Royal Marines on board HMS Hermes, as part of 845 Naval Air Squadron, completing military exercises in the Western Atlantic and the West Indies.