Royal expert Katie Nicholl told ET about where things stand in the royal family today.
Prince Harry's trip to King Charles III's coronation likely didn't mend any fences when it comes to his family, royal expert Katie Nicholl believes. In an interview with ET's Kevin Frazier after Harry's "blink and you miss it" visit to the U.K., Nicholl explains why the Duke of Sussex's day-long trip may not have improved the royal family rift.
"He was here for just over 24 hours," Nicholl tells ET of Harry, whose familial rift comes amid his exit as a working member of the royal family, his move to the U.S, and the release of his memoir and Netflix docuseries. "He got in late on Friday and by the time the royal family were having the official pictures taken here at Buckingham Palace, Harry was already en route to the airport. It really was a fleeting visit. I think he'd never looked more like a spare part."
"I think many people, including some members of his own family, wondered why he bothered coming at all," she continues. "Yes, he can say that he was at his father's coronation. Thank goodness he was there, because it would look terrible had he not been."
"There was no interaction between him and any of the family members that mattered," Nicholl says. "[Harry] was largely obscured actually for most of the service. I couldn't see any interaction between him and William. I'm told from very reliable sources that, while they were both in Windsor on that Friday night and really not far from each other... there was no contact between the brothers."
The whole situation, Nicholl speculates, left Harry "feeling as crumpled as his Dior suit looked from the back, and that was pretty crumpled."
Though Harry attended the coronation, he left by himself immediately after the ceremony.
"I think it was the absolute image of an outsider, of someone who is not a part of his family, who had been cut adrift," Nicholl says of Harry's solo departure. "Personally, I think it was very, very sad."
As Harry headed to the airport, other royal family members had lunch together.
"There was a place set for him at the table. His father the king would have welcomed him with open arms," Nicholl says, before acknowledging that it would've "of course" been awkward for him at that family meal.
"He's not spoken to his brother. They're not on talking terms. There is a [rift] between them that may never ice over," Nicholl says of William. "But there is also a king who loves his son and I think would have gone out of his way to have made Harry feel welcome. I think for the king's big day, you just put on a brave face and you just get on with it. I think it's a shame that Harry didn't do that. The fact that there was a place set at the table shows that there was an open invitation."
"He was never going to be part of that balcony lineup -- he was never going to be up there, because he was never a working member of the royal family -- but he's still a member of the royal family, he's still the king's son," Nicholl says. "I'm told from a source very close to Charles that, whatever has happened, Charles loves Harry and would have loved for him to at least have been a part of those family celebrations."
Many speculated that Harry's quick trip was due to the fact that his son, Prince Archie, turned 4 on the day of the coronation, and that he wanted to be in California to celebrate the milestone with his family. Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, also share a 1-year-old daughter, Princess Lilibet.
"I think Archie's birthday was very convenient for the prince," Nicholl says. "I mean, any parent of course doesn't want to miss their children's big day, but actually there's only one coronation, there's only one chance to see your father crowned king."
Overall, the situation with Harry over coronation weekend left the royal family with an "overwhelming feeling" of sadness, according to Nicholl.
"It's [a feeling] that this was a missed opportunity. That he could've come back, he could've met with the family, it could've been something towards [reconciling], but he was in a hurry to get out," she says. "He was here for less than 24 hours. I think the feeling was amongst some members why bother coming in the first place? Certainly, for the king as a father, [there is] a sense of deep sadness."
As for where the royal family goes from here, Nicholl believes "it might be a while before we see Harry and his family here in Britain."
"Harry is back for court cases that are coming up and he's also back from the Invictus Games in Germany this summer, so there's every chance he might come to the U.K.," Nicholl says. "But where's he going to stay? He doesn't have the keys to Frogmore Cottage anymore. There's a big redistribution of the royal houses."
"There are plenty of places for him to stay. I think it's really a case of do they want to come back? Do they feel that they're going to be made welcome?" she adds. "I think the fact that Harry didn't turn up at all for that lunch and to actually see his father and speak to him in person [is telling]."