It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will reportedly attend Sunday’s Super Bowl, given that Harry was in Las Vegas Thursday night, surprising the crowd at the NFL Honors by turning up on stage to present the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
It makes sense that Harry would stay on in Vegas to go to some Super Bowl parties and then attend the big game, watching the San Francisco 49ers battle the Kansas City Chiefs, as the Daily Mail reported, citing Fox News. It’s expected that Meghan would fly in and join him at some point during the weekend, the report said.
But Harry’s evidently pre-scheduled appearance at the NFL Honors Thursday night raises new questions about his very quick trip to London two days before to visit King Charles III, who has been diagnosed with cancer. Though somewhat estranged from his father, Harry traveled all away across the Atlantic and back, 5,000 miles each way, to have what turned out to be a 30-minute audience with his father.
Since it was learned that the renegade Duke of Sussex spent barely any time with the king and didn’t see any other members of his family during his visit, especially his brother Prince William, people began to wonder why the environmentally conscious royal felt the need to rush over on a C02-spewing airplane and stay only 25 hours in London. After all, Harry probably should have surmised that there was no need to rush to see his father in person this week, because he would have been told that the cancer was caught early and was said to be “eminently treatable,” the Daily Beast’s royal reporter Tom Skye said.
Suspicious minds began to ponder the possibility that Harry made the trip to gain some positive P.R., according to the Daily Beast and another report in the Daily Mail. Indeed, the duke’s representatives let the media know he was on his way to the U.K., shortly after Buckingham Palace publicly announced the king’s diagnosis on Monday evening. By hopping on a plane and racing to the U.K., Harry could “cast himself as the dutiful, concerned son,” despite openly criticizing his father and other family members in his book, “Spare,” the Daily Beast said.
The P.R. stunt theory gained traction, according to the Daily Mail, after Harry turned up at the NFL Honors Thursday night. He donned a dapper black tuxedo and cracked jokes about Americans stealing rugby from the English, before presenting the service-oriented award to Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, who was both shocked but delighted to see the duke.
If nothing else, Harry’s appearance at the NFL Honors shows that he was on an extremely tight schedule all week and couldn’t have spent much time with his father in any case — even if the king had asked him to stay on for a few days, in the interest of healing their relationship.
According to one theory, It’s also possible that Harry wanted to make sure to be seen as caring son, before he turned up in Las Vegas, cracking jokes at the NFL Honors and possibly going to parties. One critic wrote on X, the Daily Mail reported: “If Prince Harry hadn’t jetted to London for that 30 minutes with his father, then the first images of him after the King’s cancer diagnosis would have been of him enjoying glitzy Super Bowl festivities.”
If the trip wasn’t an explicit P.R. move, the Daily Beast also quoted royal family friends who accused Harry of acting like an impulsive “teenager in a reality show,” or of “creating unnecessary drama” and “making it all about himself.” The announcement Monday that Harry was rushing to get to London raised public concerns that Charles’ cancer might be advanced and that he was “at deaths door,” a long-time friend of the family told the Daily Beast.The friend also said, “It created panic at the worst possible moment.”
While royal author Robert Jobson wrote that Harry’s trip could have been “well-meaning,” he said the duke also didn’t appear to ask anyone whether it would be convenient for his father to receive his visit at this early stage of his cancer treatment.
Etiquette experts actually say that friends and family should call ahead and make sure that a seriously ill or hospitalized loved feels emotionally or physically up to receive visitors. Perhaps Charles was genuinely “touched” by his son’s announcement that he was coming to London, and was eager to see him, Jobson said. Or, the king also may have felt that he couldn’t say no given the distance his son traveled, even though such a visit could be emotionally charged for both of them, given their strained relationship.
Fueling the idea that Harry rushed to London “unbidden” were reports that the renegade royal kept Charles and his wife, Queen Camilla, waiting, as Jobson wrote. Charles and Camilla were packed and ready to get on a helicopter to fly to the royal family’s Sandringham country estate, where the king was expected to rest after undergoing a hospital procedure the day before.
But “their majesties were left kicking their heels at Clarence House, their main London home, while they waited for the errant younger son to appear,” Jobson wrote. The Times of London quoted courtiers who also said that the king was tired from his previous day’s hospital procedure. Yet, he took an audience with his son, who reportedly arrived under police escort after arriving at Heathrow Airport.
That night, Harry didn’t stay with any relatives or friends, but at a hotel, a sign that he has become estranged from most in his family and even old friends in the U.K., according to royal observers.
“The trenchant criticisms” and suspicions of Harry’s motives “reveal the persistent depth of mistrust” when it comes to the duke among some of the inner circle of British society, Sykes, of the Daily Beast, wrote.
While Jobson said he cannot blame Harry for rushing to the U.K., because his father’s diagnosis is “a serious matter,” he still said that the prince should “also spend some time reflecting on the stress he has caused the king” — with his public criticisms of the monarchy, while his father was grieving the deaths of his parents, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II, and stepping into his new job as king.
A former courtier offered another take on Harry’s quick trip, telling the Daily Beast that it could be beneficial in the long run. “Overall, I think the situation has turned out pretty well for everyone. Getting those two in a room together for half an hour is actually a remarkable achievement, and it sends all the right messages of forgiveness and reconciliation without rolling out the red carpet.”
Prince William, though, isn’t expected to be so forgiving, given that he and his wife, Kate Middleton were heavily criticized in Harry’s “Spare” and in interviews he gave to promote the memoir. But the former courtier also said that Harry’s visit this would could make it easier for him to return and see his father again.