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Sir John Major said yesterday that the “friction” between the Royal family and the Duke of Sussex was “better ended as speedily as possible”.
The former prime minister spoke about the rift after Buckingham Palace confirmed that Prince Harry would fly back from the US to attend the Duke’s funeral.
Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Sir John was asked whether he agreed with comments made by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who said: “Many a family gather and get over tension and broken relationships at the time of a funeral. Something very profound unites them all again – that would be true of this family, I am sure.”
Sir John, who was appointed special guardian to Princes William and Harry after the death of their mother Diana, Princess of Wales, said: “I’m sure he is right, I believe he is right and I certainly hope so.
“The friction that we are told has arisen is a friction better ended as speedily as possible, and a shared emotion, a shared grief, at the present time because of the death of their father, their grandfather, I think is an ideal opportunity.
“I hope very much that it is possible to mend any rifts that may exist.”
The Duke, 36, is thought to have landed in London on Sunday, in order to begin the requisite period of quarantine before meeting with his family. Under current travel restrictions, those who test negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours of arriving in the UK must quarantine for 10 days but can end isolation after five days if a second test is negative.
The Covid-19 guidelines allow a person to temporarily leave their place of quarantine on compassionate grounds, which includes funerals.
Guidance published on the Government’s website states: “You can leave your place of self-isolation in limited circumstances, including on compassionate grounds.
“This includes attending a funeral of a household member, a close family member or a friend (if neither household member or close family member can attend the funeral).”
There were unconfirmed reports that the Duke boarded an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Heathrow, landing at lunchtime on Sunday.
The heavily pregnant Duchess, who is due to begin maternity leave in around four weeks, has been advised by her doctor not to travel.
With tensions in the family remaining high after the couple’s explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey, there had already been speculation that the Duchess would decide to remain in California rather than risk overshadowing the sombre occasion.
It will be the first time the Duke has set foot on British soil since the couple flew to Canada last March, after stepping back from their roles as working members of the family.
While many will be focused on his interactions with both his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, and his father, the Prince of Wales, sources close to the family have insisted that any differences will be put aside out of respect for the Duke of Edinburgh.
It is thought Prince Harry will stay at either Windsor Castle, or Frogmore Cottage, on the Windsor estate, whilst self-isolating.
He is understood to be keen to see his grandmother, the Queen, with whom he is thought to have remained in close contact.
It was Her Majesty who took charge of the Royal family’s response to the crisis that engulfed them following the Sussexes’ interview with Winfrey, and who has insisted the couple remain “much-loved” members of the family.
The monarch is understood to have personally contacted her grandson to talk through the series of damaging allegations they made concerning race and mental health.
The Sussexes’ decision to publish a statement about Prince Philip on their Archewell Foundation website shortly after 5pm on Friday is understood to have raised eyebrows in some quarters, as it was done without consultation with the Royal Family and preceded official tributes from the Prince of Wales and the Duke’s other children.
The post, for which the rest of the website was cleared of content, read: “Thank you for your service ... You will be greatly missed.”