Yet despite the disquiet over recent events, there is a genuine sense that the family do want to use their former patriarch’s passing as a catalyst for reconciliation. It comes after Sir John Major, the former prime minister, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that “the friction that we are told has arisen is a friction better ended as speedily as possible”.
According to one royal source: “The funeral will be a unifying moment because it’s about the loss of a beloved father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
“And on top of all that, there’s a real, clear-eyed focus on support for the Queen. It’s all about HM right now. That’s the universal feeling right across all branches of the family.”
Or as another put it: “They know the world will be watching. There will be no outward signs of any tensions whatsoever. The entire focus will be on the Queen, no exceptions. A family unified.”
With the funeral procession and ceremony due to be broadcast live from Windsor Castle, some have even suggested that the Royal family will be able to better hide their emotions because they will be wearing facemasks inside in accordance with coronavirus guidelines.
Much was made of the body language between the Sussexes and the Cambridges during their last royal engagement together at Westminster Abbey on March 9 2020, with some media outlets even employing lip readers to decipher their stilted conversations.
But with the royals expected to walk in silence behind the Duke’s coffin, which will be transported from the State Entrance to St George’s Chapel in a specially adapted Land Rover hearse, little is likely to be given away as they put on brave faces.
Although Mr Scobie insisted that Meghan “had made every effort to travel but unfortunately she did not receive medical clearance,” it is thought the American former actress was highly unlikely to attend for fear of proving too much of a distraction. Thought to be due to give birth to their second child, a girl, as early as next month, the Duchess will remain in Montecito with their son Archie, 23 months. With the guest list limited to 30 under the current covid rules, none of Philip’s great-grandchildren will be attending.
Since he is flying solo, and exempt from the 10-day quarantine for UK arrivals on compassionate grounds, it is thought Harry will stay at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, still his UK home. It is not known whether he will share the Grade II listed, five-bedroom property with his cousin Princess Eugenie, her husband Jack Brooksbank and their two-month-old son August, to whom it has been sublet, or require them to temporarily move in with Eugenie’s parents, the Duke and Duchess of York, at nearby Royal Lodge.
A large black Cadillac Escalade, known to be used by the Sussexes, left his Californian home shortly after 3.30pm local time (11.30pm GMT) on Saturday, amid rumours it was taking Harry to Los Angeles International Airport. There were a number of scheduled flights to London from LA due to land at Heathrow on Sunday and Monday.
There were unconfirmed rumours he landed in London at around noon on Sunday after an air steward, thought to be from American Airlines, tweeted: “Prince Harry arriving on my Flight from LAX. Not your everyday arrival passenger.”
The Prince is expected to take a coronavirus test before leaving the US and on the second and fifth day after returning to Britain.
The pandemic prevented Harry from returning to his homeland to see his beloved grandfather before his death. The soon-to-be father-of-two will no doubt be keen to ensure that problems that have plagued the patrimonial ties Philip held so dear do not end up becoming endemic.