The timing was unfortunate, at best. On May 7, Buckingham Palace announced that King Charles III would bestow one of his top military titles to Prince William, his firstborn son and heir.

“His Majesty the King will officially hand over the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales,” the palace shared. What the statement didn’t note is that his estranged son, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex — who actually served with the Army Air Corps in Afghanistan — was by all accounts expected to one day become its ceremonial leader had he not stepped back from royal duties four years ago.

“For Harry, it was the ultimate humiliation,” an insider exclusively tells In Touch.

It was a double blow. Hours earlier, the 39-year-old had arrived in London to mark the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games, his sporting event for wounded soldiers and vets, only to learn that his cancer-stricken father was too busy to meet with him.

“It unfortunately will not be possible due to His Majesty’s full programme,” Harry’s spokesperson said in a statement. “The Duke of course is understanding of his father’s diary of commitments and various other priorities and hopes to see him soon.”

prince harry and king charles
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In truth, Harry was hurt. “It’s not stopped him from loving his dad but has reminded Harry that some things may never be repairable,” says the source. Now, with sources telling In Touch Charles has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given just two years to live, the idea of reconciliation is fading. Says the source, “Harry is heartbroken and worried he’ll never see his father again.”

Ironically, three years ago, after witnessing the tension between Harry and William, 41 — who remains estranged from his brother — at Prince Philip’s funeral, Charles, 75, was the one pleading for peace.

“Please, boys. Don’t make my final years a misery,” Harry recalls him saying in his 2023 memoir, Spare. Yet the king seems to be perpetuating the feud by shutting him out. “The ball is in their court,” Harry said in an interview last year, adding, “There’s a lot to be discussed, and I really hope that they’re willing to sit down and talk about it.”

So far, that hasn’t happened. Despite Harry’s claims that the palace leaked stories about him and wife Meghan Markle, 42, to protect senior royals and that Charles’ wife, Queen Camilla, 76, is manipulative, Harry’s made multiple attempts to reconnect, to no avail. (For her part Meghan refuses to return to the U.K., says a source.)

prince harry and meghan markle
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A meeting with Charles after his February diagnosis lasted a mere 30 minutes, for example, while he claims William prevented him from visiting Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland on her deathbed (Meghan was told to stay away).

Then Harry — one of the only royals who’s actually served on active military duty — was banned from wearing his uniform at his grandmother’s state funeral, leading some to wonder if he’ll be persona non grata again when his father dies. Plus, as a nonworking royal, Harry’s unwelcome on the Buckingham Palace balcony during family events.

More recently, when Harry celebrated the Invictus Games anniversary with a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on May 8, the royals stayed away in droves (though his late mother Princess Diana’s siblings were there). Instead, at different points in the day, Charles and Camilla hosted a palace garden party also attended by Princess Anne, 73, Prince Edward, 60, and Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, 59, two miles away, while William led an investiture ceremony in nearby Windsor.

“Harry would like nothing more than to see his dad, but he’s been shut out,” confirms the source. “They’re punishing him.”

Not having closure with his father could be inevitable. In April, a report revealed that funeral plans for Charles, dubbed Operation Menai Bridge, were being updated amid speculation Charles’ cancer treatments aren’t going as well as hoped, even as he’s started appearing at more events in recent weeks.

As an insider previously said of the monarch’s health, “Charles’ diagnosis is an open secret among royal staffers.”

Just 12 when his mother was killed in a Paris car crash, Harry has been haunted by her death ever since. And the source says he’s still bereft that he didn’t get to say a final goodbye to his beloved grandmother.

“If his father dies and Harry doesn’t get a chance to see him, it will be another trauma to add to an already long list,” says the source. “But it’s naïve of Harry to think Charles will come around and broker reconciliation.”

That, explains the source, is because Charles “will never get past Harry berating Camilla in Spare” or criticizing the family in the 2022 Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan. “Charles is listening to people around him and agreeing that Harry is too much of a thorn in the monarchy’s side,” says the source.

Meanwhile, says another source, William is concerned the Sussexes could be angling to claim a piece of the $34 billion crown estate and is determined to persuade Charles to cut them out of his will. (The king already cut off Harry’s security funding when he and Meghan left the U.K. in 2020.)

Prince William and Kate Middleton
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“Charles is not obligated to leave Harry anything,” says the insider, “and Camilla and William are urging him not to — they see the Sussexes as greedy fame-seekers who can’t be trusted.”

Despite his heartbreak, Harry is at peace with his decision to speak out and move to America. He isn’t trying to return to the royal fold, he just wants a truce, says the source.

“Meghan wants Harry to focus on what they have and their life in California and leave the baggage behind,” adds the source. “Unfortunately, Meghan seems to be much better at letting go than Harry is.”

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