How Harry can repair his relationship with King Charles, royal insider reveals

Royal insider Robert Hardman was speaking about King Charles III and his relationship with Prince Harry  (PA/Getty)
Royal insider Robert Hardman was speaking about King Charles III and his relationship with Prince Harry (PA/Getty)

King Charles won’t heal the rift with Harry and Meghan “anytime soon”, says a royal insider – but there is a way forward for the father and son.

Robert Hardman is the author of Charles III: New King, New Court, The Inside Story, which was published in January this year and gave an insight into the first year of the King’s reign.

Speaking at Hay Festival, Hardman suggested that Harry’s explosive memoir Spare is still casting a long shadow over family relations. “The problem that exists is, at the moment, there is still a trust issue. People are still very wounded, particularly Prince William, that these intimate private childhood family moments all spilled out in Harry’s book,” Hardman said.

“It’s not what Harry said, it’s the fact that he said it, and he gave away so many secrets. And he was, effectively, at the time of the Queen’s death, you know, he was taking notes.”

Hardman also suggested that Harry hadn’t told the full story – but there might be a cynical reason for that. “If you do read that book, and as I said it’s amazing, but if you get to the bit about his wedding to Meghan, it boils down really to about four or five pages. Now, as an author, that says to me one thing and one thing only: part two might be on its way.”

Asked how the row was affecting King Charles as a parent, Hardman said that “he definitely finds it unsettling, it makes him unhappy”.

“There he is, he’s got two sons, one he hardly sees, and two grandchildren he’s barely ever seen, and yes, I think he would like some sort of modus vivendi. Clearly they can’t come back to royal life, I don’t think they want to. And, after all that’s happened, it wouldn’t work,” the biographer said.

Hardman, who has authored numerous royal books, including 2022’s bestselling Queen of Our Times, said the first step to repairing the relationship would be “normalising” it.

“I thought it was telling that when the cancer diagnosis came through back in February, Prince Harry came straight over. People said why didn’t he stay longer, why didn’t he talk to his father? I mean, there is so much to be worked through, but this was absolutely not the moment to have some sort of summit with Harry about all of Harry’s grievances.

“But I think the fact he came was important, the fact he was received was important, I think what encouraged people at the palace and encouraged the king was the fact that afterwards, we didn’t then read about it or hear about it. It remained private.

Prince Harry (EPA)
Prince Harry (EPA)

The author suggested a first step to “normalising” things would be if Harry could “come over with Meghan, with the children, privately, for a few days maybe in the summer”.

“Once that happens it’s not such big news when it happens again. Then you start to get somewhere.”

Speaking about recent developments regarding the King’s health, after his cancer diagnosis was announced earlier this year, Hardman said the monarch’s routine had gone mostly back to normal – “albeit with a few caveats from doctors”.

The King will attend an event to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings next month, something he “wouldn’t miss for anything”, and is looking forward to the Trooping the Colour parade for his birthday.

“I understand the palace at the moment is persuading him not to ride a horse,” Hardman quipped.

King Charles (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
King Charles (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

King Charles’s reign has been marked by a “tonal shift”, he said, citing a “greater degree of transparency, instead of rubbing up against the government, there’s actually more interconnectivity with the government”. This month, Buckingham Palace conducted its first garden party in conjunction with a government department, in celebration of the creative industries. Tracey Emin, Louis Theroux, Kate Moss and Love Island presenter Maya Jama were among the guests.

Hay Festival continues until 2 June;