Why Prince Harry Reportedly Stopped Giving King Charles The Silent Treatment

King Charles and Prince Harry have a complicated relationship. Since Harry and Meghan Markle left their royal duties in 2020 and moved to California, they've had few in-person interactions with the monarch, other than Queen Elizabeth's funeral. When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex returned to the U.K. in June 2022 for the Platinum Jubilee, they didn't visit with Charles. Harry was back in the U.K. for the coronation in May 2023, but the prince's 28-hour stay was so brief that he didn't have time to chat with his dad.  Then, in September 2023, scheduling conflicts prevented Charles from seeing Harry when he traveled to in the U.K. enroute to the Invictus Games in Germany. 

Besides physical distance, there's been emotional distance as well. In March 2021, during the couple's interview with Oprah, Harry indicated that, around the time his role as a royal changed, Charles was not speaking to him on the phone. While the father and son had resumed phone calls by the time of the interview,  Harry observed, "there's a lot to work through there" (via YouTube). The release of the Netflix docuseries "Harry & Meghan" in December 2022,  followed by Harry's memoir "Spare," in January 2023 only served to add to the conflict. 

However, even as events intervened to widen Harry's rift with the family, there were reports of occasional positive steps. In particular, a birthday phone call on Charles' 75th birthday was viewed by some as a pivotal moment in the restoration of their bond.

Harry makes a point to send birthday greetings to Charles

King Charles celebrated his 75th birthday on November 14, 2023 with a party at Clarence House. While Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, were reportedly not invited to Charles' soiree, they were said to have talked to the monarch on the phone. In addition, The Telegraph reported that Harry sent his dad a video of Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet singing "Happy Birthday."

Although Charles didn't acknowledge Harry's birthday in September 2023, the prince purportedly has a tradition of attempting to communicate with Charles on his birthday. In this case, not only did Charles and Harry apparently talk but, as an additional positive, they apparently made plans to talk again the following week. However, Buckingham Palace declined to confirm this plan, due to privacy concerns.  Back in April 2023, Harry and Charles had "peace talks" shortly before the prince RSVPed his attendance for the king's coronation. However, there wasn't any news of similarly healing phone chats until Harry's birthday call to Charles six months later.

Even so, author Omid Scobie asserts that Harry and Charles have maintained a connection, although Harry frequently is the person who makes the effort to initiate contact. "There is still a warmth with Harry and Charles," Scobie informed People. "With Harry, there's a reluctant acceptance that this is just who his father is." As a result, Scobie added, "[Harry] would rather have that in his life than to cut it off completely."

Some people are cynical about a reconciliation between Harry and Charles

Given the ongoing relationship difficulties between King Charles and Prince Harry, some individuals are skeptical that a call happened. "There was no call, every time Harry calls his father, Charles waves the phone away," a source explained to Express. "He does not want to hear from him until he apologizes." Others doubted that Charles had time for a chat between his royal duties during the day and his party that night. However, Buckingham Palace stepped in and alluded that the call did occur.

The Palace is apparently reluctant to disclose this type of info for multiple reasons. For one thing, Charles is said to prefer that the spotlight remain on his royal duties rather than on family matters. For another, privacy concerns loom large. "The King and Queen worry that if stories about phone calls and private conversations make it into the public domain they will be accused of leaking to the press, even if it's obvious it didn't come from them," a royal source divulged to The Telegraph.

Media intervention has impacted the father-son relationship before. In "Spare," the Duke of Sussex reportedly crossed Charles' one red line with harsh comments about Queen Camilla, including accusing her of revealing private info to the media for PR gains.  On the other hand, royal author Katie Nicholl has observed that Charles has been equally wary about Harry's potential to make confidential conversations public, telling ET, ""I think there is a real trust issue at stake here."