Shared grief over Prince Philip's death could mend rifts in Royal Family, says Sir John Major

Harry will fly back to the UK to attend Prince Philip's funeral but the heavily pregnant Meghan will stay in the US. Credit: PA

Shared grief over the Duke of Edinburgh's death could help mend rifts among the Royal Family, former prime minister Sir John Major said.

His comments come after Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, also suggested a coming together for Prince Philip’s funeral could help heal tensions.

Sir John said he believed and hoped the family could be reunited again as Cardinal Nichols suggests.

It follows a tumultuous time for the family after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex laid bare tensions with members of the family during an interview with Oprah Winfrey in March.

The Duke of Edinburgh greets former PM Sir John Major Credit: Fiona Hanson/PA

Harry will fly back to the UK to attend his grandfather's funeral, but Meghan - who is heavily pregnant - will not be attending upon medical advice.

Sir John said the frictions are "better ended as speedily as possible".

Asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme if he agreed with Cardinal Nichols, Sir John said: “I’m sure he is right, I hope he’s right, I believe he is right and I certainly hope so.

“The friction that we are told has arisen is a friction better ended as speedily as possible, and a shared emotion, a shared grief, at the present time because of the death of their father, their grandfather, I think is an ideal opportunity.

“I hope very much that it is possible to mend any rifts that may exist.”

The duke died at the age of 99 on Friday morning at Windsor Castle.

Tributes have poured in from across the world, and on Saturday gun salutes sounded across the UK.

Prince Harry is set to attend without his wife, Meghan Markle. Credit: PA

He was the longest-serving consort in British history and dedicated decades of his life to royal duty, serving the nation at the monarch’s side.

Speaking on Times Radio on Saturday, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales Cardinal Nichols said “many a family gather and get over tension and broken relationships at the time of a funeral”.

He said: “Something very profound unites them all again. And that would be true for this family, I’m sure.”

“Obviously the whole ceremony will be watched by everybody, but you think of the complexities of the dynamics in that family and we have to think of Harry, so far away. I’m sure he’ll come but not being, the whole time, in the public eye might just help,” he said.

Prince Philip's passed away at the age of 99. Credit: PA

The Duke of Sussex, who currently lives in California, will follow Covid-19 protocols for the trip back to the UK for the funeral.

It is understood that Meghan, who is heavily pregnant with her second child, had made every effort to join her husband but was not given clearance to travel by her doctor.

The couple paid tribute to Philip on the website of their foundation Archewell, replacing its homepage with a memorial site and the words: “In loving memory of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh 1921-2021.

“Thank you for your service…You will be greatly missed.”