King Charles told the Duke of Sussex that the Queen had died five minutes before Buckingham Palace released the official announcement, The Telegraph can reveal.
Prince Harry received a call from his father when he was mid-air, shortly before landing in Aberdeen. By the time his plane touched down, the world had been told that the Queen had died.
A royal source insisted that the Duke was not treated differently from any other member of the family, and that the King was not in regular contact with anyone during the course of what was a very difficult day.
“Everybody was trying to get where they needed to be,” the source said. “That was the focus.
“And the King was adamant that the official statement must not be released until all members of the family had been informed. That was a father talking because he cares.”
However, the sequence of events that unfolded following the monarch’s demise appears to indicate the extent of the gulf that exists between Prince Harry and his family.
The Queen’s downturn is understood to have been relayed to members of the family the previous evening.
At the time, it was not considered urgent enough for them to drop everything and race to Balmoral.
But by the following morning, things had changed. The Queen’s Helicopter Flight was scrambled for Prince Charles, as he was then, to fly to Balmoral from Dumfries House.
Later that morning, he called both of his sons with the sad news that their grandmother was not expected to make it, advising them to make travel plans to get to Scotland.
Prince Harry, it is believed, received that call some time after Prince William.
As such, Harry’s aides struggled to get a flight, frantically looking at every option to get him to his grandmother.
Meanwhile, his brother joined forces with the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex, to fly from RAF Northolt to Aberdeen, landing at 3.50pm.
Prince Harry eventually took off from Luton Airport at 5.35pm – an hour after Prime Minister Liz Truss was reportedly informed of the Queen’s death.
Why he was not told earlier is unclear. The release of the public statement was delayed until the King managed to reach him on board the aircraft shortly before he touched down.
The statement went out at 6.30pm and the Duke’s plane landed in Aberdeen at 6.46pm. He was pictured arriving at Balmoral just over an hour later looking ashen-faced. He left alone early the next morning.
Despite the odd joint appearance this week alongside his family, there is little hope of a reconciliation between Prince Harry and his family.
The King’s brief reference to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in his televised address was interpreted in some quarters as an olive branch but in others as one made solely for public consumption.
An invitation to Sunday’s grand state reception for world leaders at Buckingham Palace was revoked when it emerged that it had been sent to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in error.
Meanwhile, even the u-turn on allowing Prince Harry to wear military uniform at the grandchildren’s vigil on Saturday evening ruffled feathers when he discovered he had been being denied the right to bear his grandmother’s ER initials on the shoulder of his military uniform.
Prince Harry was given special dispensation by the King to wear Blues and Royals No 1 dress uniform, despite not being a working royal.
But the apparent scene of unity played out at Westminster Hall belied resentment behind the scenes.
The previous day, the Duke had been taken aback when he received his uniform from Buckingham Palace to discover that it was missing the ER initials from the shoulder epaulettes.
The aiguillettes – ornamental braided cord – that go hand in hand with the cypher had also been removed.
Such decorations can only be worn by personal aides-de-camp to the sovereign.
The Duke was appointed to the honorary role in October 2018 but was stripped of it in February 2021 when it was confirmed he would not be returning to royal duties, meaning he was not entitled to wear them.
Regardless, it triggered a furious exchange of phone calls and messages that was still not resolved on Friday evening.
Such was his frustration, he is said to have considered wearing a morning suit to the vigil to avoid humiliation.
The Duke was told it would be sorted out on his arrival at Westminster Hall, but when he eventually emerged in public, he was wearing the uniform as sent by the palace.
Meanwhile, the Prince of Wales, who was also in Blues and Royals No 1 dress uniform, was bearing the late Queen’s ER cypher but was missing his aiguillettes, despite having worn them on his RAF No 1 uniform for the procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall on Wednesday.
It is thought he may have removed them for the vigil in a bid to appease his brother.
The Duke of York, who was also given special dispensation to wear military uniform for a vigil at his mother’s coffin on Friday evening, was wearing the cypher and aiguillettes.
Despite being stripped of his honorary military roles and patronages by the late Queen in January, he remained in the position of aide-de-camp.