Funeral could help royals heal ‘tension and broken relationships’, says cardinal

Aine Fox, PA
·3-min read

Coming together for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral could help heal any tensions between the royal family and the Duke of Sussex, a religious leader has said.

Harry laid bare his rift with members of his family during an interview in the United States with Oprah Winfrey last month.

He is likely to fly in from his California home to attend his grandfather’s funeral, but it is not known if he will be joined by the Duchess of Sussex as she is pregnant.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, said gathering for Philip’s funeral could allow the family to have “a comparative bit of privacy” together.

He told Times Radio: “I think there might be a bit of consolation in it for the royal family actually because it just gives them a chance to be close and to have a comparative bit of privacy.

“Obviously the whole ceremony will be watched by everybody but you think of the complexities of the dynamics in that family and we have to think of Harry, so far away. I’m sure he’ll come but not being, the whole time, in the public eye might just help.

“Many a family gather and get over tension and broken relationships at the time of a funeral. Something very profound unites them all again. And that would be true for this family, I’m sure.”

Royals attends Christmas Day Church service
Meghan and Harry joined the Duke of Edinburgh and other family members for Christmas in Sandringham before they married (PA)

Meghan accused the royal family of racism, while speaking to Winfrey during the bombshell broadcast in March, and also said the institution failed to help her when she had suicidal thoughts.

Harry, who has not returned to the UK since stepping down as a senior royal just over a year ago, told the chat show host he felt let down by his father, the Prince of Wales, and wanted to heal the relationship but “there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened”.

He described his relationship with the Duke of Cambridge as “space” but said he loved him and “time heals all things, hopefully”.

The brothers’ rift stretches back to before the Sussexes’ wedding, apparently when Harry was said to be angered by what he perceived as his brother’s “snobbish” attitude to Meghan, after William questioned whether he should rush into things with the ex-Suits actress.

Following the Winfrey interview, the Queen issued a statement saying “while some recollections may vary”, the issues raised would be taken “very seriously”, but dealt with privately as a family.

William, in a rare move on a royal engagement, later spoke out publicly saying: “We’re very much not a racist family”.

Duke of Edinburgh death
Screen grab from (PA)

Speaking about a week after the Winfrey interview was broadcast, US presenter Gayle King – a friend of Meghan’s – said initial talks between Harry and his father and William were “not productive”.

She also said that at that point no-one from the royal family had talked to Meghan.

Harry and Meghan paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh on their Archewell website, with a memorial page reading: “In loving memory of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh 1921-2021

“Thank you for your service…You will be greatly missed.”