The King raised a glass to toast Prince Harry’s son Archie’s fourth birthday at Buckingham Palace yesterday as a tribute to the grandson he barely saw.
Despite the ongoing bitterness with Harry, who was on a plane back to the US within hours of his father’s crowning, the emotional Charles made it a point to mention both his absent grandchildren and those in attendance on his big day.
The poignant moment came during a private family gathering at the palace following his coronation at Westminster Abbey and his balcony appearance with Queen Camilla.
Reportedly, Harry was politely invited to join the family luncheon, but decided to return to California to celebrate Archie’s big day.
His wife Meghan stayed behind with their son and daughter Lilibet and would host a small party for family and friends.
A well-placed source said that while most members of the royal family “breathed a sigh of relief” that Harry wasn’t joining them, the king, 74, “looked genuinely quite disappointed he didn’t stay.”
King Charles III and Queen Camilla on the balcony of Buckingham Palace yesterday. It is revealed that afterwards Charles made a toast to Archie on his birthday over a casual lunch
The Duke of Sussex, 38, was pictured beaming at London Heathrow as he hurried to board his flight home. His father would be “genuinely disappointed” that Harry did not return to the palace
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with Lilibet and Archie in a Christmas card in December 2021
Archie with his mother in the Netflix documentary. Archie was four yesterday and would have had a party at home
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Charles at Westminster Abbey in London in March 2019. Meghan decided to stay home
Before they started eating, Prince William, 40, stood up and congratulated his father on such a memorable day.
Charles replied and thanked everyone who had worked hard to make this day so special.
The king raised a glass to his three grandchildren, Prince George – who also served as page of honor – Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, who were among the stars of the show and performed their public appearances with aplomb.
But he also toasted “those who weren’t there” and wished his other grandson a very happy birthday “wherever he was.”
“It was apparently a really sweet moment,” the source said.
It is understood that in addition to the King, Queen and members of the Royal Family, other attendees included Camilla’s immediate family – her sister Annabel, best friend, Lady Landsdowne, both of whom served as her servants on that day, as well as her children, Tom Parker Bowles and Laura Lopes, and grandchildren, Lola, Freddy, Eliza, Louis, and Gus.
The Princess of Wales’ family was also invited, with her parents Michael and Carole Middleton and siblings Pippa and James in attendance.
The staff provided a ‘walking buffet’ in the palace while the official photos of the coronation were taken by photographer Hugo Burnand.
The family was offered glasses of bubbly and canapés, including mini broad bean and tarragon quiches – the official dish of the coronation weekend.
There was also a ‘modern take’ on coronation chicken appetizers, as neither the King nor the Queen are big fans of the famous mayonnaise and curry dish created in Queen Elizabeth’s honor in 1953.
Then most of the family left for Windsor Castle, where they held a private family get-together. There was also a private family gathering after the official reception on the eve of the coronation at Buckingham Palace.
But on both occasions very little alcohol was served because everyone had to ‘keep their heads clear’.
No one was inclined to hang out at the palace, the monarch’s official London residence, after yesterday’s ceremony, as it continues to undergo extensive renovations.
The staff even had to put down temporary floorboards so the family could go to the balcony to wave to the crowd.
Prince Harry arrives yesterday for the coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey
Prince William, Kate, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis at Westminster Abbey yesterday
Crowds gathered outside Buckingham Palace yesterday to watch the Royal Air Force flypast
Charles and Camilla travel back to Buckingham Palace in the Gold State Coach yesterday
Meghan made a cake with strawberries and whipped cream while Prince Harry decorated their home with balloons to celebrate his first birthday (pictured), a source told People magazine at the time.
Archie is pictured with his parents and grandmother, Doria Ragland, living at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor
The King traveled to Highgrove, his beloved Gloucestershire country home, for some ‘R&R’ (rest and relaxation) after such a physically and emotionally draining day. It is not known whether Queen Camilla traveled with him, but she also left London.
She enjoys spending time at Ray Mill, her Wiltshire home that she bought after divorcing her first husband, Andrew Parker Bowles.
The couple would normally have stayed in Windsor, but the palace was “exceptionally noisy” as last minute preparations and rehearsals were made for tonight’s coronation concert.
The King and Queen are expected to attend a VIP after-party tonight at Windsor Castle for family, friends and some of the concert’s star performers, including Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Take That.
It meant the 1,000-year-old royal residence will rock into the wee hours tomorrow morning.