Despite their relatively tense relationship, Prince Harry made a rare joke about his father, King Charles III, after being honored at the 21st annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards in Beverly Hills, California.

The former royal, 39, was presented with an award by John Travolta on January 19 for his work during his time in the British army and recalled a candid memory when asked to speak about his flight experience.

“I think I was maybe 7 or 8 years old in a Wessex helicopter, and I jumped into it so excited. And then my father jumped in behind the controls and I was terrified,” he told members of the audience as they burst into laughter.

Harry’s wife, Meghan Markle, was reportedly supposed to attend the ceremony but was unable to due to one of their children being sick. It’s unclear which child as the pair share son Prince Archie and daughter Princess Lilibet.

Harry’s rare comment follows major tension between him and the royal family, which was reignited following the release of his January 2023 memoir, Spare.

The division between the family members seemingly started in 2018 behind closed doors after a royal reporter alleged that Harry was upset with Prince William after he claimed his older brother wasn’t welcoming to his new wife, the Duchess of Sussex, 42. The dynamics of the royal family only worsened in early 2020 when Harry and Meghan famously stepped down from their responsibilities.

Harry later made several bombshell claims in his memoir — including “sadistic jokes” about who his father, 75, really is — after claiming he initially tried to handle things with his family confidentially.

“And every single time I tried to do it privately there have been briefings and leakings and planting of stories against me and my wife,” Harry said in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper in January 2023. “You know, the family motto is ‘Never complain, never explain.’ It’s just a motto.”

Royal biographer Omid Scobie gave an update on Harry’s relationship with his father and brother in his November 2023 book, Endgame, revealing Harry is more friendly with the king than the Prince of Wales.

“A striking difference between Charles and William when it comes to their relationships with Harry is there is still a warmth with Harry and Charles,” the author told People prior to the book’s release. “With Harry, there’s a reluctant acceptance that this is just who his father is.”

Omid explained that Harry would rather “have that in his life” with his father than cut off the relationship completely. “Hence, when they talk, it is often [Harry] reaching out,” he explained. Omid also revealed that he was “surprised to learn” that the Suits actress has also had some correspondence with the king.

Meghan sends “over photos of the children although they’re not directly to him,” the author explained, adding, “So there is a willingness there.”

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