King Charles III Hands Over Military Role to Prince William That Could Have Gone to Prince Harry

The decision comes as Prince Harry is in the UK for the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games.

Prince William has a new military title bestowed upon him, but many familiar with the history of the royal family believe that it likely would have gone to his estranged younger brother, Prince Harry, had Harry remained a working member of the royal family.

On Wednesday, King Charles III announced that he had appointed his eldest son to be the Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps. Charles himself held the role for 31 years. 

But it was Harry, who served multiple tours in Afghanistan, who actually served in the very unit that William will be in charge of, leading many to believe that Harry would have taken on this title had he remained a working senior royal.

In 2020, Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, announced their intention to step down as senior members of the royal family. They relocated to California with their son, Archie, now 5, and later welcomed their daughter, Lilibet, almost 3. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex during the Royal Salute Polo Challenge, to benefit Sentebale, at the USPA National Polo Center in Wellington, Florida, on April 12, 2024. - Yaroslav Sabitov/PA Images via Getty Images

Not long after the couple made their decision in 2020, the palace released a statement regarding the couple's new titles. "The Sussexes will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family," read the statement. 

Prince Harry was also stripped of his honorary military titles.

In the 2020 book Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of the Modern Royal Family, royal reporters Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand wrote that the loss of Harry's honorary military appointments hit him the hardest. 

"That’s been a tough pill to swallow, and one that has been the most painful for Meghan to witness him go through," a source close to the couple says in the book. "It’s the one that made Harry emotional."

These titles included Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Force Commandant of the Royal Air Force Base Honington, and honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Navy’s Small Ships and Diving Operations.

Prince William and Prince Harry smile at the passing-out Sovereign's Parade at Sandhurst Military Academy on April 12, 2006 in Sandhurst, England. - Anwar Hussein Collection/ROTA/WireImage

Harry and his brother, William, have remained estranged in recent years following the Sussexes' exit from royal life and subsequent Netflix docuseries, Harry & Meghan, followed closely by Harry's tell-all memoir, Spare

William has been taking on more than his fair share of royal responsibilities as both his father, Charles, and wife, Kate Middleton, deal with their own private cancer battles. 

Harry is currently in the United Kingdom celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games, the event he helped found for wounded veterans. 

After news broke that his father was undergoing cancer treatment, ET confirmed that Charles' younger son had rapidly flown to the U.K. to visit with his father, albeit for a brief period of time -- reportedly just a few hours. 

On Tuesday, a rep for the Duke of Sussex shared with ET that despite their proximity to each other, Prince Harry would not be visiting his father on this trip due to his packed schedule for the Invictus Games.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation onstage during The Invictus Games Foundation Conversation titled Realising a Global Community at the Honourable Artillery Company on May 7, 2024 in London, England. - Getty Images

A spokesperson for Prince Harry told ET, "In response to the many inquiries and continued speculation on whether or not the duke will meet with his father while in the U.K. this week, it, unfortunately, will not be possible due to His Majesty's full program."

The rep added, "The duke, of course, is understanding of his father's diary of commitments and various other priorities and hopes to see him soon."

It's another case of "so close but so far" with his immediate family in England after Harry and Prince William both attended a memorial event for their mom -- Harry virtually and William in person -- and narrowly avoided each other. The royal rift seems to be worse than ever for the brothers a full year after barely acknowledging each other during their father's coronation

The ice may be thawing, however, as ET learned back in March that Meghan, 42, and Harry privately reached out to Prince William, 41, and the Princess of Wales, 42, following her cancer diagnosis. 

Additionally, in a statement to ET, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said at the time, "We wish health and healing for Kate and the family, and hope they are able to do so privately and in peace."