The Urgent Way Prince Harry Learned of Prince Philip's Death in the Middle of the Night

When Prince Philip died on April 9, there was an urgency to get the news to his grandson, Prince Harry. Living in California with wife Meghan Markle and their 2-year-old son Archie, the royal learned of his grandfather’s passing during the early morning hours after police arrived at his door, according to law enforcement sources.

TMZ, whom those sources spoke to, reports that shortly after Philip, the longest-serving consort to a British sovereign, died at Windsor Castle on the morning of April 9, the U.S. Embassy immediately began attempting to reach out to Harry. The Embassy placed several calls to the Duke of Sussex beginning at around 3 a.m. PT, though the royal never answered, either due to his ringer being turned off or because he was asleep. After the Embassy failed to make contact with Harry, an Embassy representative contacted the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department and requested an officer go to the couple's Montecito estate. Not long after, the sources said, an officer arrived at the couple's home and made contact with someone, who then told Harry that he needed to contact the Embassy immediately.

While it isn't confirmed, TMZ suggests the urgency with which the Embassy acted with could be due to the fact that the British royal family wanted to prevent Harry and Markle from learning of Philip’s death from the media. The UK is several timezones ahead of California, posing the threat that the news could have reached Harry before he had learned of his grandfather’s passing himself. TMZ also suggests Harry learning of his grandfather’s passing via the media "would make the Royals look kinda heartless" given the current drama surrounding the family amid Harry and Markle's March interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Just three days after his grandfather’s passing at the age of 99, Harry paid tribute to his "grandpa" in a statement released via the Archwell Foundation, the organization he founded with Markle. In the statement, the royal fondly remembered his grandfather as "a man of service, honour and great humour" who was "authentically himself." Harry said his grandfather had "seriously sharp wit, and could hold the attention of any room due to his charm—and also because you never knew what he might say next." He added that to him and to others who "have lost a loved one or grandparent over the pain of this past year, he was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, the legend of banter, and cheeky right 'til the end." He ended the message by writing, "Grandpa, thank you for your service, your dedication to Granny, and for always being yourself. You will be sorely missed but always remembered—by the nation and the world."

Just days after Philip's passing, Harry returned to the UK for the first time since he and Markle stepped back as working royals and moved to the U.S. His grandfather's funeral, held at St. George's Chapel on April 17, marked the first time he had been spotted publicly with his family since that bombshell interview with Winfrey. Harry remained in the UK for a few days after the funeral before returning home to California to be with his wife, who is currently pregnant with their second child.