Why Prince Harry Didn't Attend King Charles' Accession Ceremony

The death of Queen Elizabeth II has set into motion protocols that have not been seen for more than 70 years.

She died Sept. 8, making her son and heir the new monarch, King Charles III. One of the required protocols to officially install him as the new monarch is the Accession Council, or when Queen Elizabeth's death is formally announced and her heir officially takes the throne, according to the official royal website.

Taking place on Sept. 10, the Accession Council was the first event in a 10-day period of dually mourning the former queen while also installing the new king. There are two parts of the traditional ceremony and only members of the Privy Council and "certain others invited" are allowed to attend the first part. The second part is the new monarch's first meeting with the council, during which he makes a declaration and signs a document, and is only open to council members.

Prince Harry did not attend the ceremony, though Prince William did, along with a host of politicians and advisers who served the queen.

Why Prince Harry didn't attend the ceremony

The short answer is Prince Harry is not a member of the council and it is unknown whether he ever received an invitation.

The Privy Council is comprised of all the cabinet ministers and a number of junior ministers who advise the monarch, according to the official royal website. Those positions are appointed by the reigning monarch and being a member of the council comes with the title of "Right Honourable."

The current members were all appointed by Queen Elizabeth. There are more than 700 members on the list.

Kim Hjelmgaard, a world affairs correspondent at USA TODAY, said in an interview with TODAY that it is possible Prince Harry was once on the list, but has since been removed.

“It could be that he was taken off for one reason or another,” he said, alluding to when the queen stripped Prince Harry of his honorary titles but allowed him and his wife to keep their titles of Prince, Duke of Sussex and Duchess of Sussex, respectively.

Notable names on the list are Prince William, who joined in 2017, and Elizabeth Truss, the new prime minister of the United Kingdom, who joined in 2014 when she was appointed secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs. Queen Elizabeth was photographed meeting Truss on Tuesday, just two days before her death.

Harry wasn't the only person missing missing the ceremony: NBC News contributor Wilfred Frost said that the room that the council will meet in has limited room, so there's been some debate about who will attend.

"There’s currently about 700-plus members of the privy council ... There’s only room for about 150 to 200 so it’s actually been kind of debate behind the scenes amongst those echelons … fighting to get a seat there today," he said on Friday morning.

Hjelmgaard said the subtext of Prince Harry not attending the accession ceremony is that he and his wife have been distancing themselves from the royal family in recent years.

"Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and his wife Meghan Markle ... have obviously retreated from royal life over the last number of years for a number of different reasons. They, themselves, seem to feel that they did not want to be part of the royal family as much," Hjelmgaard said. "I mean, they still have the royal titles, but there was claims of mistreatment against them by the Sussexes. Allegations of casual racism to do with the Sussexes' child, Archie, the firstborn anyway, and they've moved to California ... So there is this kind of like withdrawal from the royal family that obviously plays into it."

Charles will be the head of state for the U.K. and 14 other countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.


This article was originally published on TODAY.com