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'No way back' for Prince Harry as working royal as palace stands firm

By The Telegraph UK|

By Hannah Furness and Patrick Sawer

There is no way back for the Duke of Sussex to take a temporary working role in the Royal family while his father is ill, The Sunday Telegraph understands, after reports he is willing to step in.

The terms of the Sandringham summit, as agreed between the Duke and his late grandmother, father and brother, still stand, and rule out a "half in, half out" approach to monarchy.

On Saturday, it was reported that the Duke had expressed willingness to help the Royal family while his father is taking a break from public engagements as he receives treatment for cancer.

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Prince Harry
Prince Harry is reportedly ready to step in to help his family. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

A newspaper claimed the Duke had told friends he would step back into a royal role, and quoted an insider saying it made "perfect sense" on a practical level.

A source close to the Sussexes on Saturday said they believed Prince Harry would return to help his family if asked.

The Duke and his father recently spent around 30 minutes together at Clarence House, after Prince Harry flew back to Britain having learned of the King's cancer diagnosis.

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Prince William, Queen Camilla, King Charles and Prince Harry at Olympic Park on September 10, 2014 in London, England.
Harry dashed to the UK to meet with his father, with Camilla also present. (Getty)

It is understood that the matter was not discussed in that meeting, at which the Queen was present, with no formal conversations taking place about the Duke's return.

Palace sources have emphasised that the King's illness will not change the terms of the Sandringham summit agreement, in which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's exit from the working Royal family was negotiated in detail.

"Those terms were quite clear, and the King's illness hasn't altered that," said one source.

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Prince Harry interview with Will Reeve during the Invictus Games One Year to Go event in Whistler, February 2024
Prince Harry had an interview with Good Morning America. (ABC America)

Another confirmed that the express views of the late Queen, the King and the Prince of Wales, that a hybrid model of working royalty was not appropriate, "remains the case".

In an interview with Good Morning America this week, the Duke said his own family was now based in California but added: "I've got other trips planned that would take me through or back to the UK so I'll stop and see my family as much as I can."

He also agreed with an interviewer that the King's illness could help unify his family.

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Harry agreed that the King's illness could help unify his family. (Samir Hussein/WireImage)

One source said they had a "hard time believing he [Harry] wouldn't want to try" to help his father, should he be asked.

The report in The Times caused disquiet on both sides of the Atlantic, with questions over the timing and wisdom of friends exposing the Duke to criticism of using his father's illness to push a narrative of "reconciliation" with his family.

Ingrid Seward, royal commentator and author of My Mother and I, suggested anyone attempting to engineer the Duke's return to public life in support of his father would be wasting their time.

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"Harry is out". (AP/Getty)

She said: "Harry is out. There's no going back to a public role. What would he do? He has got no patronages to exercise as a public figure and for him to come back would just be a parade for Harry. It would not be a serious, proper role like the working royals have."

One insider said it also appeared at odds with the recent approach of "least said soonest mended" about the Royal family's interpersonal relationships. Even the Duke's critics had noted a lack of immediate briefing about his meeting with his father, and "fairly moderate" words in his GMA interview.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have now finished their three-day trip to Vancouver to promote the Invictus Games.

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Members of the Royal family are expected to be back in action on Sunday, with the King and Queen likely to go to church at Sandringham and the Prince of Wales confirmed as attending the Baftas in his role as president of the academy.

The palace has always made it clear that no "stepping in" to fill the King's engagements is yet necessary from any members of the family, with the Queen continuing with her program and the Prince of Wales returning to work once his wife is on the mend from abdominal surgery.

The King intends to undertake all state business throughout his treatment, with some modifications to make sure his health is protected throughout.?

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