Prince Harry received a ‘save the date’ to the Duke of Westminster’s wedding but turned down the invitation to avoid an ‘awkward’ clash with his relatives, a Sussex source has claimed.
Harry and Meghan’s absence from the guestlist for the high society nuptials at Chester Cathedral has attracted significant interest, not least because the Duke of Sussex and Hugh Grosvenor are childhood friends.
Grosvenor, who invited the Prince and Princess of Wales, was said to have wanted to invite the Sussexes too but decided against it to avoid clashes on his big day amid soaring tensions following the release of Omid Scobie’s new book.
He was also believed to be mindful of a row that complicated his sister’s wedding at the same venue in 2004, when Camilla Parker Bowles was invited but told to sit away from Prince Charles to avoid the Queen seeing them together.
But now a different account has emerged in Page Six, with an insider claiming that Harry had been sent a ‘save the date’ for the wedding only for the prince to phone Grosvenor and tell him it would be ‘too awkward’ for him and Meghan to attend.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle received a ‘save the date’ to the Duke of Westminster’s wedding but declined the invitation to avoid an ‘awkward’ clash with the royal family, sources have claimed. Pictured: Harry and Meghan at the Invictus Games in September this year
It was reported that Hugh Grosvenor decided not to invite the Sussexes to his wedding to Olivia Henson next June in a bid to avoid ‘drama’ and so that the row between Harry and William wouldn’t overshadow his big day. Pictured: Hugh and Olivia in April this year
But a source close to Harry, 39, has claimed he personally called the Duke to ‘apologise’ and say that both he and his wife Meghan would not be attending the nuptials at Chester Cathedral because ‘it would be too awkward’. Harry and Prince William are pictured together in July 2021
The remark was issued after a friend of William and Harry responded to the alleged snub, claiming it was ‘incredibly sad it has come to this’. Pictured: Kate, William, Harry and Meghan on the long Walk at Windsor Castle arrive to view flowers and tributes to HM Queen Elizabeth II on September 10, 2022
‘Harry actually got a ”save the date” card a few months ago but called Hugh and said it would be too awkward if he and Meghan Markle attended, so he made his apologies and Hugh understood,’ the Sussex insider was quoted as saying.
MailOnline has approached both the Sussexes and Duke of Westminster for comment.
Grosvenor, 32, is to marry Olivia Henson, 30, at Chester Cathedral on June 7. The King, Queen, Prince and Princess of Wales and Prince George, who is the Duke’s godson, are all invited.
The Daily Mail revealed on Monday that – when putting together the guest list – Grosvenor was mindful of a royal row that complicated his sister’s ceremony at the same venue.
‘Hugh knows how sensitive wedding invitations can be,’ a friend of the family said.
Camilla Parker Bowles was invited to his sister Lady Tamara Grosvenor’s wedding but was told that she would not be permitted to sit with Prince Charles and would have to sit several rows back.
She would also have to arrive separately. This was because Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were due to attend the ceremony.
A Buckingham Palace courtier was quoted as saying at the time: ‘It may provoke comment on the day, but Her Majesty will also be attending and she is a stickler for protocol.
‘A pew will be set aside for the members of the Royal Family attending, and it would be inappropriate for Mrs Parker Bowles to sit beside Prince Charles since she has no official standing.
‘Even for Mrs Parker Bowles to arrive with the Prince at the event, in the presence of the Queen, would be to confer rights and status upon her that she simply does not have.’
Grosvenor is worried about anything ‘overshadowing’ the day, a friend of Harry and William said on Sunday.
‘Hugh is one of very few close friends of William and Harry’s who has maintained strong bonds and a line of communication with both,’ the friend told the Times.
‘He wishes they could put their heads together and patch things up, but realises it’s unlikely to happen before the wedding. He wanted to avoid anything overshadowing the day, especially for Olivia, and doesn’t want any awkwardness.’
A spokesman for the Duke said: ‘We are not in a position to comment on the guest list.’ Buckingham Palace also declined to comment.
It is believed William and Kate and the King and Queen Camilla are all invited to the June 6 wedding, with the Prince of Wales even thought to be in the running to be best man. The Prince and Princess of Wales are pictured together in October
Grosvenor, who is thought to own more land than the King, has an estimated net worth of £9.42 billion and has a long history with the royal family – with his late father Gerald acting as King Charles’ own godfather. Pictured: Grosvenor with his mother in 2018
Prince William (right), and the Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor (centre) in 2018
It is thought Prince William is in the running to be Grosvenor’s best man. Pictured: William with Grosvenor in 2004
Known as Hughie to this friends, the billionaire Duke is also godfather to William’s son Prince George, ten.
A life-long friend for each of the brothers, he is thought to be the only pal both chose to mentor their children.
Grosvenor, who is thought to own more land than the King, has an estimated net worth of £9.42 billion and has a long history with the royal family – with his late father Gerald acting as King Charles’ own godfather.
The Duke was the third child and only son of Gerald Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster, and his wife Natalia who is a descendant from the Russian Imperial House of Romanov, specifically from Nicholas I of Russia.
When he was baptised on June 23 1991, the King – then the Prince of Wales – agreed to officiate as godfather.
He even had an official role in the King’s coronation procession – carrying the Standards of the Quarterings of the Royal Arms and Standard of the Principality of Wales alongside the Marquess of Anglesey, the Earl of Caledon and Scottish peer and Conservative politician the Earl of Dundee.
Grosvenor was raised at Eaton Hall with his three sisters: Lady Tamara, Lady Edwina, and Lady Viola. They attended a local public primary school before he attended the small, private Mostyn House School, followed by Ellesmere College in Shropshire where fees are £40,635 a year.
He later studied at Newcastle University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Countryside Management.
The Sunday Times reported that the Duke wanted to invite Harry and Meghan (pictured in New York City last month) but eventually decided against it as he feared the tension it would cause with the other Royals who have been invited – including the King and Queen
Known as Hughie to this friends, the billionaire Duke is also godfather to William’s son Prince George, ten. A life-long friend for each of the brothers, he is thought to be the only pal both chose to mentor their children. Pictured: William and Kate at the Royal Variety Performance at the Royal Albert Hall on November 30
Ed Van Cutsem and Lady Tamara Grosvenor leave their wedding service at Chester Cathedral on November 6, 2004
The Duke, whose Latin family motto Virtus Non Stemma means Virtue not Ancestry, was originally titled Earl Grosvenor from his birth until 2016, when his father died and he became the seventh Duke.
At the time he was labelled Britain’s most eligible bachelor but in April this year he announced his engagement to Olivia Grace Henson.
Ms Henson, the Duke’s girlfriend of two years, works for an ethical food company. She attended Princess of Wales’s old school, Marlborough College, where Princess Eugenie was a contemporary.
He confirmed the engagement through a statement, which said: ‘The Duke of Westminster and Miss Olivia Henson are delighted to announce they are engaged to be married.
‘The couple, who have been together for two years, recently became engaged at the Duke’s family home at Eaton Hall in Cheshire.
‘Members of both their families are absolutely delighted with the news.
‘Hugh Grosvenor, The Duke of Westminster, is Grosvenor’s Chair as well as Chair of the Westminster Foundation. Miss Henson works for Belazu, a B-Corp certified food company based in London.’
William is said to ‘want action’ after his wife Kate was named alongside Charles as the two Royals identified by Meghan in a private letter to the King, which claimed ‘concern’ was expressed about her future son’s skin colour. Pictured: Harry and Meghan with Archie in 2019
King Charles III is said to be taking the furore over Omid Scobie’s book Endgame ‘very seriously’ after His Majesty and Kate Middleton were named as the senior royals who allegedly commented on Archie’s skin colour before he was born
The original ‘racism’ claim was made in the Sussexes’ infamous 2021 Oprah Winfrey interview (pictured)
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, joined by her mother Doria Ragland, show their new son Archie to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at Windsor Castle in 2019
News that the Sussexes will not attend Grosvenor’s wedding comes as Harry and Meghan are facing a mounting backlash as they continue to maintain their silence on royal racism claims made by their ‘mouthpiece’ Omid Scobie in his new book, Endgame.
The Dutch translation has caused the Royal Family consternation after King Charles and the Princess of Wales were named as the senior royals who allegedly discussed Archie’s skin tone.
The couple are yet to speak on the book publicly and a meeting between King Charles and Prince William is now set to take place next week to discuss how to handle the fallout from Scobie’s book.
It could have serious consequences for Harry and Meghan as William is believed to ‘want action’.
Determinedly, the Royal Family has adopted a ‘business as usual’ stance, but the possibility of legal action remains. The final decision on the next step rests with Charles, who, according to sources, will not act hastily.
A Palace source said: ‘Most right-thinking people would expect an apology – who wouldn’t?
‘Being falsely branded a racist in print is a serious allegation that must be treated seriously. All options are still on the table.’
Sources close to the Sussexes have attempted to distance the couple from the book. They say Meghan never intended the King or Princess of Wales to be publicly identified in the race row and say the letter was not leaked to Scobie by anyone close to her.
Pictured: Harry and Meghan with Archie after his Christening and (left to right) Camilla, King Charles, Ms Doria Ragland, Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, The Duke of Cambridge and The Duchess of Cambridge in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle
The inclusion of the names led to 5,000 copies of the book, called ‘Final Battle’ (pictured) in Holland, being withdrawn from sale on the bookshelves and pulped
Harry and Meghan (pictured in Dusseldorf in September) have not commented on the scandal publicly
Meanwhile, Conservative MP Bob Seely is putting forward a Bill that could deny the Sussexes their Duke and Duchess titles.
Writing in The Mail on Sunday, he said that he felt compelled to act because of the ‘use of race to smear the Royal Family’ – and proposes to revive First World War laws that could pave the way to making the couple plain Mr and Mrs Sussex.
The Isle of Wight MP wants to adapt laws originally passed to deny enemy German nobles their British titles. Mr Seely said he had to act because of the attempt to use race to smear the Royal Family, which he called ‘poisonously insidious’.
He is applying for his Titles Deprivation 1917 Amendment Bill to be listed on the Commons’ Order Paper next week. It would resurrect the wartime powers by removing references to ‘enemies’ and ‘present war’. He has cleared the wording with Parliament’s Table Office, which oversees draft legislation.