Speculation ran rife earlier this month after The Times claimed the Duke of Sussex was willing to return to a ‘temporary royal role’ to support his father during his illness. But claims that Prince Harry could return to the royal fold were dismissed last week. Sources say His Majesty is ‘firmly of the opinion’ there is no way back for the Duke of Sussex as a working royal ‘in any way, shape or form’. Insiders stress this does not mean Charles isn’t open to repairing his relationship with his estranged younger son in the future. But this is seen as very different from Harry being invited to support the King professionally during his cancer battle.

Prince William is also understood to share this opinion – although Kensington Palace has made it clear that his focus is on returning to work after taking a break to care for his wife following her operation last month. Harry has been encouraged by ‘warm exchanges’ between himself and the King since his father’s cancer diagnosis was revealed earlier this month, The Times had suggested. The prince had told friends he would be happy to ‘step into a royal role while his father is unwell’, it was said. A ‘royal insider’ said ‘on all practical levels it makes perfect sense for the family to come together to support the King while he’s sick’, adding: ‘The feeling is that this arrangement could work.’ But well-placed sources have dismissed this completely, saying it is erroneous to suggest any discussions about the issue have taken place, even at a casual level. Sources say Charles, the Prince of Wales and the rest of the royal family are in ‘solid agreement’ that the terms of the so-called ‘Sandringham Summit’ stand. During this meeting, in January 2020, the late Queen made it clear her grandson’s desired ‘half-in, half-out’ approach was unworkable.

She insisted Harry must give up his royal affiliations and undertake not to trade on his royal connections if he insisted on pursuing business deals abroad. A source said: ‘The terms of the accord were very clear and nothing that has happened recently, including the King’s illness, has changed that.’ Another source added: ‘Have the King and Harry been speaking? Yes. Does this mean a return to the fold even on a temporary basis? No.’ Aside from a small number of investitures, the King does not plan to offload a great number of duties on other family members while he undergoes treatment, another source said. If he does need his family to step in, any extra duties can easily be covered by William.

His Majesty looked in good spirits as he went to church on the Sandringham Estate with Queen Camilla, waving to well-wishers on Sunday. He has spent the last few weeks at his Norfolk estate, returning to London briefly during the week for medical treatment and meetings. Over the weekend, it was also claimed that royal aides ‘blocked’ Harry from joining the King at Sandringham when he made a 25-hour visit to the UK in early February to see his father. Staff feared ‘they’d never get rid of him’, the Sun reported, and invited him to a 45-minute meeting at Clarence House instead. But a source pointed out that Harry had an engagement in Las Vegas a day after returning to the US. In an interview with Good Morning America, Harry said he was pleased to have visited the UK to see his father. The prince, who headed to Vancouver, Canada, last week with his wife Meghan for an Invictus Games celebration, said he would return to see him again as he has other trips to the UK planned and did not discount the suggestion that his family rift could be healed by the crisis.

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