Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex have quietly departed the UK and returned home to the US after spending 17 days away from their children, four-year-old Archie and one-year-old Lillibet.
The pair touched down in the UK on September 3 to attend several engagements linked to their philanthropy work. As we all know, things didn’t go to plan.
On September 8, the day that the Sussexes were due to attend the annual Wellchild Awards, Queen Elizabeth II died aged 96. It immediately sparked a 10 day mourning period where the royals made frequent public appearances at memorial services and and special engagements as a mark of respect to Her Majesty.
On Monday, the sombre events came to a head with the Queen’s state funeral. Harry and Meghan were visibly emotional throughout the service, and they later joined the royal family for a private burial back at Windsor Castle.
Now, Hello! reports that the couple departed the UK on Tuesday, flying from London Heathrow airport to Montecito, California where they reunited with their two children.
According to reports, the children remained in the US for the duration of the official mourning period due to their young age.
It’s possible that the Sussexes were also being cautious for their children’s safety—when the couple stepped back from their roles as senior royal family members, they lost publicly funded U.K. police protection. Harry has since had to fight for the same level of personal protection while in the UK (even on his own dime) after his security team was was refused important national data that would help to inform their movements.
According to US Weekly, the 17 day stint was the longest they’ve ever been apart from their children.
“Meghan and Harry are preparing to return to Montecito almost immediately after the funeral, where they’ll be reunited with Archie and Lilibet after being separated for over two weeks,” a source told the publication over the weekend.
Before they departed for the UK, Meghan also reportedly sought out a meeting with the new King Charles III.
The meeting was allegedly to “clear the air”, per royal reporter Neil Sean who said he heard it from a “very good source”.
“She’d now like [to], before they return back to California, to have a one-to-one audience with King Charles III,” he said in a video.
“That’s right, Meghan one-to-one with King Charles III. You heard correct. And what’s interesting here is, according to that good source, this was made in a formal letter, this is how you write to the King. Now you have to admire Meghan’s self-belief, whatever you think.”
It’s unclear if any meeting did take place before they left, and it would certainly have been a squeeze given Charles has been busy undertaking various audiences and engagements (and spilling ink) in his new role.
Either way, it’s no wonder the Sussexes were keen to get back to the children after such a long time apart, and perhaps Meghan and Charles happily settled on a Zoom meeting instead.