Royal sources have insisted to The Daily Beast that King Charles did speak to Prince Harry and inform him personally of his grandmother’s death before a public announcement was made, after fresh reports surfaced claiming that the a call the king attempted to place to Harry while he was flying to Scotland did not go through, and that Harry learned of his grandmother’s death from online breaking news alerts.
The Daily Telegraph’s royal editor Hannah Furness claimed in an article published Saturday that “the phone call did not go through,” adding that although Harry “knew his father was trying to get in touch with him” he “read a breaking news announcement online before they could work the technology to speak.”
The Telegraph previously reported that Harry only found out that his grandmother had died “five minutes” before landing, but the new account of events on the fateful day suggest he did not receive even this briefest of heads-ups.
However, a royal source pushed back strongly to The Daily Beast Saturday, telling The Daily Beast in no uncertain terms that the Telegraph’s account of the chaotic day of the queen’s death was “incorrect,” adding, that “all members of the family including [Harry]” were told about the death of the queen before the announcement was made.
The source said that it was of course entirely possible that Harry may have seen unofficial online “rumor and speculation” before the call got through, but added, “it would have been just that.”
The palace declined to comment to The Daily Beast. Prince Harry’s office has been approached for comment.
The palace is keen to quash any suggestion that Harry was treated any differently to his brothers or uncles (although The Daily Beast exclusively reported this week on plans by Charles to “exile” his wayward son) however The Daily Beast was told by a reliable source that the queen was dead shortly after 5pm. It has been widely reported that the prime minister Liz Truss was told of the death at 4:30 p.m.
The official announcement was made at 6:30 p.m.
Harry’s plane from London to Scotland—privately chartered at an estimated cost of £30,000, the Telegraph says, without specifying who footed the bill—landed at Aberdeen airport at 6:46pm.
There has been widespread speculation that Harry’s arrival was delayed because he wanted to bring Meghan with him to Scotland but was called by Charles and asked not to do so.
The Sussexes themselves sowed much of the confusion on this issue by rushing out a statement shortly after 2:00 p.m. saying that they would both be traveling to Balmoral before subsequently “clarifying” that Meghan would not be making the trip.
The Telegraph quotes a source saying “It was just a mistake…This wasn’t about causing or taking offense, it was simply the protocol and they [the Sussexes] were always going to respect that.”
What seems in little doubt is that while the queen was known to be frail, her death on Thursday 8 September was unexpected.
A source told the Telegraph: “No one knows when someone is going to die...It’s one thing the royals have in common with any other family.
“The queen certainly was gravely ill, yes, but they didn’t know how long she had left. Knowing how seriously to take it is tricky.”
One of the most compelling accounts of the chaos on the morning of the day of the queen’s death has come from Jenna Bush Hager, the daughter of former President George W. Bush, who happened to be in Scotland, at Charles’ Dumfries House, to conduct an interview for NBC with Camilla, which was subsequently abandoned.
Bush Hager said her dinner with Charles on the eve of the queen’s death was “joyful” and led her to conclude the death was a “surprise.”
She said: “The next morning [Thursday] we were setting up the interview, we were at their house…We were there at 8:30 a.m., the interview was supposed to start around 2:00 p.m. or 2:30 p.m., I was supposed to meet with the now-queen consort around 1:30 p.m.
“At 12:30 p.m., we heard sort of running up and down the halls and it was her team and his team... they came in and said can you please be quiet there’s a call. We were right by then-Prince Charles’s, now-King Charles III’s, office... And then all of a sudden, we heard a helicopter. They said the queen is ill and they have gone and rushed off to be with her.”
This account has fueled speculation that the queen suffered a sudden and catastrophic decline in the hours before her death, catching the family unawares.