Q&A: What part will Harry play at the coronation and why won’t Meghan be there?

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With the Duke of Sussex attending the King’s coronation and the Duchess of Sussex staying away, here are all the questions raised about Harry and Meghan, and Charles’s big day:

– Why did it take so long for the Sussexes to decide whether to attend?

The RSVP save the date passed nine days ago, but there was no public confirmation of Harry and Meghan’s decision, leaving planners unable to finalise the arrangements for Operation Golden Orb, until Wednesday.

Harry has a notoriously fraught relationship with the King and the Prince of Wales after repeatedly criticising the pair, most notably in his controversial memoir Spare at the start of the year.

Harry and Meghan call daughter Princess Lilibet
Harry’s autobiography Spare was published in January (James Manning/PA)

The matter was also complicated by the coronation being held on Prince Archie’s fourth birthday.

– Why won’t Meghan be there and is her absence a snub?

With May 6 being Archie’s birthday, Meghan is staying in California with her son and Princess Lilibet.

By missing the ceremony, she also avoids a huge media circus and a potentially uncomfortable appearance alongside the royal family.

Royal tour of New Zealand – Day One
The Duchess of Sussex will not be at the coronation (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

Political activist Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu called it “empowering” for Meghan to say no to Britain’s “most powerful family”, adding: “I’m here for Meghan not giving a damn what anyone thinks.”

– Is Harry’s appearance at the coronation going to be tricky?

The royal family is well versed at putting on a united front in public.

Duke of Sussex autobiography – Spare
The Sussexes and the Waleses on a joint walkabout after the Queen’s death (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

– What role will Harry perform on the day?

It is likely he will just be a guest, but Buckingham Palace has yet to confirm.

Blood princes traditionally pay homage to the monarch and the ritual involves placing their hands between the King’s and swearing allegiance, touching the crown and kissing the King’s left cheek.

Royalty – Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II – London
The Duke of Edinburgh paying homage to Elizabeth II during her Coronation (PA)

– Where will the duke sit in Westminster Abbey?

Harry is expected to be sat alongside other members of the royal family, but it is not yet known whether the King’s second son will have a front row seat.

Queen Elizabeth II funeral
The Duke of Sussex at the Queen’s funeral (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Seating arrangements usually have a different format at coronations to weddings and funerals.

– Will Harry join the grand royal procession back to the Palace?

It has not yet been confirmed.

Charles and Camilla are travelling back from the Abbey in the opulent horse-drawn Gold State Coach, taking a slow 1.3 mile route to the Palace as part of a huge military parade.

King Charles III coronation
The Gold State Coach will be the centrepiece of the Coronation Procession (Yui Mok/PA)

– And will Harry appear on the Palace balcony to wave at the crowds?

Who knows? For the Platinum Jubilee, the late Queen dictated that only working members of the royal family would appear on the famous balcony, ruling out Harry and Meghan.

Platinum Jubilee
One of the Platinum Jubilee balcony appearances (Jonathan Brady/PA)

– What will Harry wear to the coronation?

The Gentlemen’s dress code is morning dress, lounge suit or uniform.

Harry served in the Armed Forces for more than a decade, but at most official events following the death of the late Queen, he was in civilian dress including at her state funeral because he is not a working royal.

Queen Elizabeth II funeral
The State Gun Carriage carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II (Peter Byrne/PA)

Harry is permitted to wear his decorations, which would include his Afghanistan war medals and his Jubilee medals.

May 6 is also a Collar Day on which insignia of certain members of British orders of knighthood may be worn.

Harry is a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.

– Will Harry attend any other coronation festivities?

No. Harry will make a quick exit.

He is expected to fly back to the US to be with Meghan and the children – in particular Archie for his birthday weekend.

Archetypes podcast
The Sussexes with Archie as a baby (Toby Melville/PA)

– Will Meghan watch the coronation on television?

She may be busy with Archie’s birthday celebrations.

But if she does, she will emulate the Duchess of Windsor – the last American divorcee to marry a senior royal and become involved in a royal crisis.

Royalty – Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor watch the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II television screen from Paris in 1953 (PA)

Edward VIII plunged the monarchy into despair in 1936 when he abdicated over his love for the former Wallis Simpson.

– What about Harry’s security?

It is unclear what the arrangements will be for Harry’s protection while he is in London.

The duke is taking legal action against the Home Office over his security arrangements in the UK.

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