Royal Family Hopes Prince Harry's Visit for Prince Philip's Funeral Will 'Thaw' Rift

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Prince Harry is back in the U.K. for Prince Philip's funeral, and the royal family is hoping his visit will help "thaw" some of the rifts in the family that occurred in the wake of Harry and Meghan Markle's explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey last month. While speaking with ET on Monday, royal expert Katie Nicholl shed some light on how Harry and the rest of the family are doing during this difficult time.

"Because of COVID, Prince Harry simply can't see the queen. For the next five days, he has to self-isolate, but of course given what has happened and what the queen is going through, I would imagine that she is probably the first person he will want to see as soon as he's been given the all clear," Nicholl said.

Harry was incredibly close to his grandfather, and while tensions have been high within the royal family as of late, Nicholl told ET that Harry is looking forward to being reunited with his family.

"Well, Prince Harry was incredibly close to his grandfather. They, you know, they were soldiers, they shared a love of the military and I think you can tell from the tone of Harry’s statement in which he pays such a warm tribute to his grandfather just how much he loved him and just like all members of the royal family, will really be missing him," Nicholl explained. "Right now, I’m told he is of course very upset, missing his grandfather, but also relieved to be here in the U.K. and happy to be here and looking forward to being reunited with his family. It's going to be an emotional reunion, he hasn't seen his family for over a year now, so I think a lot of people are thinking maybe there's a silver lining in all of this that finally there will be a family reunion."

Prince William and Prince Harry Share Touching Tributes to Grandfather Prince Philip
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Nicholl added that many in the U.K. are hoping this trip helps mend fences within the family, specifically between brothers William and Harry.

"Well, I think there is every hope that this will be the beginning of the thawing of the rift between William and Harry," Nicholl shared. "We all know that it has not been an easy year, we know about the royal rift at the heart of the monarchy. We know that William and Harry have had a lot of problems over the past year and not least in the last month in the fallout of Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview. But I think the feeling certainly amongst senior royals and those who know the royals well, is that this will be an opportunity for the brothers to be together, to spend some much-needed time together.

It's not clear how long Harry will stay in the U.K. The California transplant had to leave his pregnant wife behind after doctors advised her not to fly at this stage in her pregnancy, but that doesn't mean the former actress didn't want to be there by her husband's side.

"Leaving behind his heavily pregnant wife isn't what he wanted to do. My understanding is that Meghan was very keen to be here with Prince Harry to support him in what is clearly a very, very difficult and personal time for him, but she is now in the late stages of her pregnancy, she's well into her third trimester, she's 39 as well, and that comes with certain risks attached to it, so she doesn't want to take any risks," Nicholl said. "And on the advice of her physician, she was told to stay behind, so I think that it's a difficult journey for Prince Harry to take on his own, and she would have loved to be there to support him, but they are putting her health, the health of their unborn baby, first."

Given the recent media attention, the decision for Meghan to stay behind may allow the royal family to get some one-on-one time with Harry.

"I think as hard as it was for Prince Harry to leave his heavily pregnant wife behind, it may not be such a bad thing that he is here on his own and, you know, he won't have anyone else to worry about," Nicholl went on to share. "This is just him with family and hopefully there will be an opportunity in what is going to be a very busy and emotional and intense weekend. Hopefully there will be a time for some much needed one-on-one time with his father, with Prince William, and with the queen."

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