Prince Harry has returned to the UK several times in the past year, but the Duke of Sussex likely considered his most recent trip to be of special importance.
Today marks one year since the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, and Harry marked the occasion in a fashion that would certainly make his grandmother proud.
The queen firmly believed that there was no higher pursuit than public service, so it’s fitting that Harry made an appearance at the UK’s annual WellChild Awards on Thursday night.
The event honors workers who provide care and support to sick children throughout the nation.
Much has been made of the fact that Harry’s wife, Meghan Markle did not join him in London for Thursday’s ceremony.
Witnesses say Harry briefly addressed her absence during conversations with the evening’s honorees, saying that Meghan was “very upset that she couldn’t be here” before their “busy week.”
Harry and Meghan are due in Dusseldorf on Saturday for the Invictus Games, the athletic competition for wounded veterans that Harry co-founded.
Again, it’s the sort of commitment to service that the Queen would have applauded, but it means that Harry will likely be unable to visit Charles at Balmoral Castle, where the King will mark the anniversary of his mother’s passing.
And just as they did with Meghan’s absence at the WellChild Awards, royal journalists are making a big to-do out of Harry’s decision to skip this solemn occasion.
In fact, some are taking it as an indication that the Duke of Sussex has given up on the idea of ever repairing his relationships with his father and brother.
“Events of the past 12 months have seen relations appear to deteriorate so much that even shows of unity have become a thing of the past,” Victoria Murphy wrote for Town & Country.
“Harry’s blink-and-you-miss-it solo appearance at the coronation, with no noticeable interaction with his father or brother, said much about his position within the new era,” she continued.
“The fact that the Sussexes were not invited to the first Trooping the Colour of Charles’s reign—ostensibly due to not being working royals—was another indicator of just how hostile personal relations have become.”
Of course, Meghan had ample reason to steer clear of the UK this week, not the least of which was a bizarre court case in which five retired British police officers admitted to exchanging racist social media messages about the duchess.
The former officers came clean under oath on Thursday, and that’s not the sort of development that would be likely to make Meghan feel very welcome in the UK.
One would think that the tabloid press would ease up on their criticism in light of such a shocking revelation, but instead, the Sussexes’ harshest critics appear to be doubling down.
But for all of the condemnation, Harry is receiving widespread praise for his appearance at the WellChild Awards and his years of involvement with the charity.
“This was the first time in four years that he has been able to take part in this way. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for his support,” said WellChild chief executive Matt James.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without the work the duke has done to help us fundraise, attract supporters and providing a platform to shine a light on the issues being faced by families up and down the country,” James continued.
“But also for the hundreds of smiles he has put on faces of WellChild Award winners over the years. It’s such a boost for us.”
So Harry and Meghan are both traveling thousands of miles this week in order to perform various good deeds for humanitarian organizations, but they’re still being portrayed as irredeemable monsters by the UK tabloid press.
Thankfully, by now, the Sussesxes have likely come to accept that the seething fury of certain media trolls is sure to remain a constant in their lives no matter what they do.