The Duke and Duchess of Sussex may still have “plenty of time” before they need to confirm whether they will travel across the Atlantic to attend the Coronation of King Charles, an expert said. Dr George Gross, visiting research fellow in Theology at King’s College London, said that, unless the official invitations sent presented a set RSVP deadline after which guests can no longer express their wish to attend, Meghan and Prince Harry don’t need to be in a hurry to make up their mind about heading to Westminster Abbey for the historic event.
He told Express.co.uk: “In a bygone era, if we’re going back to the Tudors and the Stewards, if you received a summons to the Coronation, attendance wasn’t optional, you couldn’t say ‘I’m not free’, you’d attend. But obviously in the 20th and 21st century, things have been different.
“Given that we don’t really know that all the formal invitations have gone out yet, I think they’ve still got plenty of time.”
The royal box, where members of the Royal Family will sit during the service as it happened in past coronations, allows “some flexibility” as it will likely always have some space available for relatives of the King.
Dr Gross said: “Given that they’ve got the royal box, in a sense, there’s flexibility on this one.
“The other reason that there’s always a little bit of flexibility is people never know for sure if they will attend with things like health and so on.
“They’re always last minute [cancellations], it’s the same as planning any great event or even, if we take it back to the ordinary person, if you try planning a party and somebody changes their mind last minute, there’s always some flexibility, and there are always cancellations, and they’re always last minute attendees.
“So there’s always a little bit of room. Because of the royal box, I think you’ve got more flexibility.”
A spokesperson for Meghan and Harry confirmed in late February the pair had received an invite via email to the Coronation.
If Meghan and Harry decided to bring their children along to Westminster Abbey, Dr Gross believes officials could make arrangements to make the long ceremony easier to attend for the prince and princess.
He said: “There is that Clementine Churchill precedent, so there are ways that you could be at the service and then not be there for the whole thing, you could see the core parts.
“One of the big problems for all of those participating is that guests assembled are there for many hours in advance. And so it takes a very long time of sitting.
“So it would not be surprising if they participated for some [parts of the service]. But they are very young. And it may just be seen as just too young.”
Dr Gross added there isn’t a historical precedent stating Prince Archie and Princess Lili can’t be there or have to be there as the grandchildren of the sovereign.
Dr Gross and Dr David Crankshaw, lecturer in the History of Early Modern Christianity at King’s College London, are leading research on the ‘British Coronations Project c.973–present’ – a comprehensive analysis of what these events reveal about our past, our present and about ourselves.
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