Just Now a Palace Insider Revealed The Reasons Behind Charles and William delight crowds in rare joint engagement as King hands Prince of Wales command of Harry’s old regiment but doesn’t mention him.

King Charles and Prince William

 

King Charles today held his first joint engagement with Prince William since 2022 and gave him command of Prince Harry’s former Army regiment just as the Sussexes landed in the UK from Nigeria.

 

King Charles and Prince William

His Majesty has made his eldest son and heir Colonel-in-Chief of The Army Air Corps – the combat aviation arm of the British Army – at a ceremony at the Army Aviation Centre in Hampshire this afternoon.

Father and son laughed as Charles handed William an Army Air Corps beret and belt as the Prince of Wales took on his younger brother’s former unit – the 662 Squadron – on the day Harry left Nigeria after a three-day pseudo-royal tour with his wife Meghan.

The Duke of Sussex served with 662 Sqn as an Apache helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, and it was widely thought he would have taken the role until he made the decision to step back from royal life in 2020 and emigrate to the US.

But in a speech in front of an Apache helicopter today, Charles did not mention Harry, who flew the same aircraft in Afghanistan during two tours of duty. Instead he said William was a ‘very good pilot indeed’ – before sparking laughter by saying: ‘So that’s encouraging’.

The King said: ‘I do hope you’ll go from strength to strength with the Prince of Wales as your new Colonel-in-Chief. I can’t tell you how proud it has made me to have been involved with you all this time’.

William then donned his new uniform and blue beret before being handed an Army Air Corp tartan wrap for the Princess of Wales, a scarf for himself and three wooden helicopters for George, Charlotte and Louis. He later left in an Apache.

The event was happening as the Sussexes landed at London Heathrow this afternoon on a British Airways flight from Abuja. The couple are expected to board a plane to Los Angeles so they can be reunited with Archie and Lilibet in Montecito late tonight or tomorrow.

Last week Harry spent three days in London to mark the ten-year anniversary of the Invictus Games – but was unable to meet with his father because of the King’s packed diary.

It has reportedly led to briefing and counter-briefing on both sides about why their paths never crossed. One source close to the King redeployed the famous phrase coined by the Queen about Harry and Meghan after Megxit, that ‘recollections may vary’, after a Sussex source told The Sunday Times: ‘I was fully expecting them to meet. I know that’s what he [Harry] wanted to happen’.

It came as King Charles today revealed he has lost his sense of taste during his ongoing cancer treatment.

Harry needed to give 28 days’ warning to the King and the Home Office to request security arrangements for his stay, which began last Tuesday and ended on Friday when he met Meghan at Heathrow and flew to Nigeria.

The Sunday Times spoke to people close to the Sussexes who said Harry’s London visit was ‘long on the radar’ for the Palace.

‘I can’t imagine that request [from the Duke] fell through the gaps. Even if they didn’t get a request, which I don’t believe, could His Majesty not have made a request to see his son? It was widely known he was coming’, one insider said.

Another source told the newspaper: ‘It surprises me a lot. I was fully expecting them to meet. I know that’s what he wanted to happen and I don’t know when he’s next back.’

But friends of the King have questioned the analysis from the Sussex camp, using the famous phrase coined by the Queen about the Sussexes, that ‘recollections may vary’.

‘While it is true that the King is understandably wary about meeting with Harry, given the publicity circus that seems to surround all such visits, he did of course agree to see his son at the most vulnerable moment of his illness and at very short notice,’ a source said.

While he was hardly going to roll out the red carpet the moment this Invictus trip was announced, with doctors advising him to focus on his treatment and recovery, the idea that he refused to find space in his diarywell, let’s say recollections may vary once again.’

As well as the row over why Harry and Charles failed to meet, there will have been further salt in the wound because today’s engagement with the King and William was being confirmed while Harry was in the UK.

The King’s decision to hand the role to William has been seen as a blow to Harry when it was announced last year.

The King said it was a ‘great joy’ to meet servicemen, their families and veterans at an earlier visit to the Army Flying Museum but added the handover was ‘tinged with great sadness’.

He said: ‘I do hope you’ll go from strength to strength in the future with the Prince of Wales as your new Colonel-in-Chief.

‘The great thing is he’s a very good pilot indeed – so that’s encouraging.’

He unveiled a plaque commemorating an Apache AH Mk.1 going on display, the first of its kind to be installed at a UK museum.

The aircraft was one of four involved in a rescue mission during the Battle of Jugroom Fort in 2007.

The King said: ‘Let me just say what a great joy it is to be with you even briefly on this occasion but also it is tinged with great sadness after 32 years of knowing you all, admiring your many activities and achievements through the time that I’ve been lucky enough to be Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps.’

General Nick Barton, who took part in the rescue operation, said it was a ‘unique honour’ to meet the King who served as an important ‘figurehead’ for the soldiers.

Charles spoke to one veteran who had recently undergone chemotherapy for testicular cancer, discussing losing the sense of taste as a result of the treatment.

William embarked on his first engagement with the Army Air Corps after the King left, receiving a briefing on its work and inspecting training and operational aircraft as well as talking to soldiers.

He was presented with gifts on behalf of the corps – a tartan scarf for the prince, a wrap for his wife Kate and three wooden helicopter models for each of the couple’s children.

He will later leave the base in an Apache as part of a capability flight.

Kensington Palace posted two images of the prince during his military service on X, showing a young William in 1998 and 2009 – standing next to a helicopter in one picture and smiling at the controls in another.

‘Time flies!’ the caption read.

The rare joint engagement for Charles and William comes on the same day the estranged Harry is jetting back from his ‘quasi-royal’ tour in Nigeria with his wife Meghan Markle.

The Sussexes will head back to their Montecito mansion in California following their ‘rock star’ tour.

Buckingham Palace announced last week that the King would have a joint engagement with William to pass on the role he held for 31 years to his eldest son.

Charles announced in August last year that William would be appointed as Colonel-in-Chief, while also granting the Princess of Wales three new roles.

A royal spokesperson said: ‘At the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop, His Majesty The King will officially hand over the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

‘In August 2023, following His Majesty’s Accession, The King was pleased to announce military appointments including that The Prince of Wales would become Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps.

‘The role was previously held by His Majesty The King, as Prince of Wales, for 31 years.’

It came just two hours after Harry’s spokesman said the King was too busy to see his youngest son during his whistlestop trip to the UK to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Invictus Games.

The Duke of Sussex was in London for three days last week but# due to the King’s busy schedule was unable to meet his father.

Harry’s spokesperson confirmed that it was ‘unfortunately not possible’ for the pair to meet ‘due to His Majesty’s full programme’, as he returns to public duties after undergoing treatment for cancer.

Following much speculation over whether the Duke would pop in to visit his father, who he last saw in February following his shocking diagnosis, Harry’s spokesperson confirmed there was no time for a reunion.