Larger weddings, funerals and christenings are on the cards again this year, allowing us to reunite with our loved ones at last. This is welcome news for most, but it does mean that those who find large family gatherings awkward have fewer excuses to avoid them. With that in mind we turn to Prince Harry’s return to the UK this week to attend his beloved grandfather’s funeral.
This is the first time Harry will be on British soil since he moved to California last year. Rather more pertinently, it is the first time he will see his family in the wake of that explosive Oprah interview, in which an unspecified member of the firm was accused of racism towards his wife Meghan.
But there are reports the prince has reunited with at least one member of the family, Princess Eugenie. That she is the first to extend the olive branch may come as little surprise. After all, Harry is isolating at Frogmore cottage, a residence in the grounds of Windsor Castle where Eugenie has been living for the past few months. Eugenie has a son, born in February and bearing the middle name Philip after his late great grandfather, who will no doubt help thaw any frost between them. Then, too, Eugenie has been a friend of Meghan’s since before she married Harry.
But what about the rest of the family? Harry’s isolation at Frogmore means he is unlikely to see any of the rest of them, including his brother, until the morning of the funeral. The big question for royal watchers will be whether William and Harry can unite in grief, or whether the rift runs deeper than that.
It is hard to imagine there will not be at least some awkwardness between Harry and the family whose traditional way of operating he has so firmly and publicly rejected, and for whom he caused a major PR crisis.
Yet funerals are one of the times families put aside their differences and remember that life is short and that the love and forgiveness you show to those closest to you is what really matters in the end. The affection between Harry and his grandfather was clearly strong, and like any bereaved grandson he will want to share his grief with others who loved him. This is as good a moment to heal the rift as any.