For someone who, roughly two years ago, told friends from his rented Canadian compound that he “didn’t care if he ever returned to England”, Prince Harry sure has been homesick in recent months.
In particular, the Duke of Sussex is finding the holiday season in sunny California less than festive compared to the snow, roaring fires and good old-fashioned British roast dinners he grew up with.
“To Harry, it barely feels like it’s Christmas in Santa Barbara. He’s found himself pining for the UK, which has been hard for him to admit, given the song and dance he’s made over the past two years about starting a new life in America,” says a source.
The insider, who is close to Harry and wife Meghan’s California-based inner circle, reveals that in recent days the 37-year-old royal has “had a massive change of heart” and wants to make a quick trip home for Christmas.
The motivating factor behind the about-face is said to be Harry’s grandmother, the Queen. With the monarch, 95, suffering from poor health the past few months, Harry is aware that she sadly might not have many Christmases left.
“Obviously none of the family want to dwell on this too much, but concerns are growing in that regard,” says the source. “Harry might have fallen out with most of the family, but he is still very close with his granny and wants to put all the drama aside to be there for her.
“He could end up regretting it for the rest of his life if he doesn’t.”
For the royals, Christmas means everyone – from the most senior family members to great-grandchildren – is heading to Norfolk, where they gather at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate for a soiree that begins on Christmas Eve and concludes on Boxing Day.
“It’s the Queen’s favourite time of year, given she has her whole family under one roof,” says the source.
“It used to provide her and Prince Philip a chance to reflect on the dynasty they’ve created together, but after he passed earlier this year, everyone knows it’s going to be very different for her.
“Harry hopes that if he makes it back, it might help her enjoy herself.
“The Queen always did say that out of all of her kids and grandkids, it was Harry who inherited Philip’s cheeky sense of humour.”
While the insider says Meghan, 40, isn’t yet on board with the idea of a last-minute dash across the pond, Harry is keen to give their kids, Archie, 2, and Lilibet, 6 months, a taste of his childhood.
The trip would mark young Archie’s first Christmas in England, as he spent his first in 2019 with his parents in Canada. Then, last year the family were in Santa Barbara.
It will also mark the first time that the royals, including the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William, Duchess Kate and the three Cambridge children, would be meeting little Lili.
“It’s barely cold enough for hot chocolate by the fire in Santa Barbara, and Harry thinks Archie, particularly, given he’s old enough to understand some of what’s happening, will absolutely love it,” concludes the source. “If he goes home, he’ll want to bring the kids – with or without Meghan.”