When King Charles was crowned in May of this year, many royal watchers were hopeful that this new era in the history of the British crown might be marked by greater unity and stability within the Windsor clan.
But obviously, that’s not how the last six months played out.
Instead, the rift between the two warring factions seems to be deeper than ever.
And now, it seems that Charles’ upcoming birthday party has become the unlikely scene of the family’s latest battle.
Over the weekend, UK newspaper the Sunday Times reported that Harry had turned down an invite to the king’s soiree, which is scheduled for November 14.
“He’ll never not invite his son to a family gathering, because that’s not who he is,” an alleged palace source told the newspaper.
Now, in an unexpected move, reps for Harry and Meghan have hit back with a statement issued to the Daily Mail.
“There has been no contact regarding an invitation to His Majesty’s upcoming birthday,” says the rep.
“It is disappointing the Sunday Times has misreported this story.”
The Mail also spoke with a source “close to the Sussexes” who said:
“They had not received any invitation and were unaware of any celebrations until the stories came out. I’m sure the Duke will find a way to reach out privately to wish His Majesty a happy birthday like he has always done.”
So why the conflicting accounts?
Well, a third source, identified as a “friend of the couple” has a theory.
This person believes that Buckingham Palace officials cooked up the birthday controversy in order to distract from Charles’ recent disastrous trip to Kenya, during which the king was criticized for his unwillingness to apologize for the UK’s history of colonial atrocities in the East African country.
“The story is being positioned in a way to make it look like the Duke is snubbing his father, which he is not,” the insider explains.
“Considering the trip [to Kenya] didn’t go well, this might be a welcome distraction.”
Speaking of high-profile royal engagements, Buckingham Palace is said to be concerned about the possibility that Harry and Meghan’s statement will overshadow two momentous occasions in the lives of the king and his heir.
Prince William is in Singapore this week to present the Earthshot Awards, his annual prize for the year’s top climate change scientists.
Meanwhile, Charles opened a new legislative session of Parliament, his first time doing so as king.
Of course, the international press is much more focused on the birthday-gate — which might be exactly what Harry and Meghan had in mind when they released their statement today.