When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement last November, many royal watchers wondered why the prince was in such a hurry to walk down the aisle after dating his fiancée for a mere 16 months—especially given that his previous serious relationships had gone on for years.
The one important reason, according to several royal insiders, was because Harry very much wants to make sure his grandparents can be part of his wedding, and he’s increasingly concerned about the health of his 96 year-old grandfather, Prince Philip, who officially retired from his royal duties last summer. “Harry did not want to risk not having his grandfather there to see him get married,” one royal source told me.
New concerns over for the Prince Philip’s health have emerged since he was absent from the Royals’ Easter Sunday church service at St. George’s Chapel. (Harry and Meghan also skipped the service opting to celebrate the holiday “privately” and most likely save their first appearance at the Chapel for their wedding day.) The family event is the third the Duke has missed in ten days, which raises questions over whether his recently confirmed hip condition is more serious than has been reported.
“Harry is very close to his grandfather and very much wants him there when he marries Meghan,” one source told me. “The Duke’s current health is of great concern to the couple.”
Philip was also absent at the Maundy Money religious service on Thursday, where the Queen symbolically distributes silver coins as almsgiving to the elderly, and he could not be present for Prince Andrew’s introduction to the role of Colonel of the Grenadier Guards the week before.
The “Iron Duke”—as he is affectionately known—has been seen less and less in public since his official retirement, but still attends some official engagements with the Queen Elizabeth II. But one source close to the Palace said there is a simple explanation for Philip’s absences: “The Duke of Edinburgh has an issue with his hip, which is affecting his mobility. He’s a proud man and doesn’t want to appear disabled in public.”
Harry and Meghan selected St. George’s Chapel near Windsor Castle for the May 19th wedding in part because the prince knew that it would be most convenient for his grandparents. The insider explained Harry’s special bond with his grandfather, saying, “Both Harry and the Duke share a lot of the same interests—both loved being in the military and both have been very competitive on the field. They are very fond of each other.”
It was the Duke who came to the rescue at Princess Diana’s funeral when her grieving young sons were unsure if they could walk behind their mother’s coffin. “If I walk, will you walk with me?” the Duke reportedly asked William and Harry. Both boys famously accompanied their grandfather, father and uncle, Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer on the long walk to Westminster Abbey in the funeral procession.
“It would be devastating not to have the Duke at the wedding,” said the insider. “Everyone is praying he will be well enough to attend.”
And for more coverage of Harry and Meghan’s upcoming nuptials, check out the 10 Signs Harry and Meghan Will Break All the Royal Rules.
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