Prince Harry’s absence from Duke of Westminster’s wedding shows depth of ‘awful rift’ with his brother William – Daily Mail

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Prince Harry’s absence from the Duke of Westminster’s wedding shows the depth of the ‘awful rift’ with William and is the ‘price to be paid for his self-imposed exile’ with Meghan in the US, a royal expert said today. 

The Duke of Sussex and his estranged brother are long-standing friends of Hugh Grosvenor, one of the richest men in Britain, who will be marrying Olivia Henson at Chester Cathedral tomorrow in the society wedding of the year. 

The Prince of Wales, 41, is set to be an usher at the event, which is also set to be attended by dozens of mutual friends, some of whom are no longer on speaking terms with Harry, 39

Previous reports suggested the Duke of Westminster had ‘excluded’ the Sussexes to avoid a clash with the senior royals, but sources close to Harry have now claimed he chose to pull out himself after realising ‘the challenges of his attendance’. 

Royal author Richard Fitzwilliams said that regardless of the true reason for the Duke’s non-appearance, it was fresh evidence of the ‘clearly awful’ relationship between the brothers.

Hugh Grosvenor will be marrying Olivia Henson at Chester Cathedral tomorrow

He told MailOnline: ‘This is the society wedding of the year and in any normal circumstances Harry, Meghan and William would all be there. 

‘Hugh Grosvenor has impeccable credentials, he’s an old friend of Harry’s, godfather to both George and Archie, and attended Harry and Meghan’s wedding

‘The wedding will also be attended by many of their friends, who Harry does not see now he is in America.  

‘This shows the rift between Harry and William has become a chasm – the situation is clearly awful. Being in self-imposed exile can be very lonely and tomorrow is an example of the price he has to pay. 

‘I expect that Harry will privately regret not being able to attend tomorrow because Hugh was a very special friend.’

People magazine, which was also the only publication invited to officially accompany Harry and Meghan on their recent quasi-royal tour to Nigeria, says it can ‘confirm’ that the prince was invited to wedding and withdrew of his own accord. 

It goes on: ‘However, there was an acknowledgment on both sides that it would be difficult for Harry to attend.’ The magazine adds: ‘It was an ‘understanding between the two friends,’ a source describes the conversation between the two dukes.

An insider close to the bride and groom told People that Harry and the Duke of Westminster mutually made the agreement.

‘The decision certainly avoided the inevitable clamour had estranged brothers Prince William, 41, and Prince Harry both attended the nuptials, eliminating the possibility of the big day being overshadowed for the couple.’

Harry and William are seen at the unveiling of a statue of Princess Diana in 2021 - the last time they were seen together

The publication added that: ‘The Duke of Sussex sends ‘his love and support and admiration for the couple’ for their wedding day.’

The magazine concluded, sympathetically, that ‘transatlantic travel to the UK Is fraught for Harry due to security challenges in his home country’, pointing out that he no longer receives round the clock official police protection and can no longer use their former Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage.

This is despite the fact that the Prince can, and has, been given limited Metropolitan Police protection when necessary in Britain and was even offered a place to stay in a royal residence by his father during his trip to the UK last month.

He and Meghan also both travelled to Nigeria with their personal security team, despite it being one of the most dangerous places in Africa.

Hugh Grosvenor, 33, and his family have long enjoyed close links with the Royal Family spanning back many generations.

The Duke of Westminster, who inherited the title and family fortune at the age of just 25 when his father died suddenly in 2016, is godfather to both Prince George, ten, William and Kate’s eldest son, and Prince Archie, five.

He is himself a godson of King Charles – who will not be attending the wedding as he continues to undergo cancer treatment – and his mother, Natalia, the Dowager Duchess of Westminster, is a godmother to Prince William.

Hugh Grosvenor, Charlie van Straubenzee and Arthur Landon attending Harry and Meghan's wedding

Hugh and Olivia’s wedding will take place at Chester Cathedral at noon on Friday and was chosen because of the Westminster family’s close personal connection with the city.

The couple plan to spend more time at the family seat, Eaton Hall, once they are married.

Hugh, whose fortune is believed to be in the region of around £10 billion through property and landholdings, has nevertheless set about using his enviable position to undertake greater charitable endeavours, particularly in helping vulnerable children and young people.

His bride to be, who has worked until now in the sustainable food industry, will join him in this.

Other prominent guests expected tomorrow include Hugh’s sisters, Lady Edwina and Lady Tamara, and their husbands, broadcaster Dan Snow and banker Edward van Cutsem, also a close friend of both William and Harry.

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