Will Harry, William attend King Charles' coronation? Royal children's roles, unpacked

 The coronation of King Charles III may be a crowning moment for the soon-to-be monarch, but the ceremony is a family affair through and through.

The king’s royally blended family will join as many as 2,800 guests for his coronation on May 6 at Westminster Abbey. Charles’ sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, and their partners, Princess Kate and Duchess Meghan, respectively, will undoubtedly be sharing the royal spotlight with the king for the historic occasion.

Charles' family life is, to put it mildly, complicated. There’s his controversial second marriage to Queen Consort Camilla, the scandals of brother Prince Andrew and the public grievances of son Harry and daughter-in-law Meghan. How Charles manages his family drama over the coming weeks and years is crucial to the king’s efforts to preserve and protect the 1,000-year-old hereditary monarchy he now embodies.

Here’s everything to know about Charles' children's participation in their father's big day.

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Will King Charles' children, their spouses attend the coronation?

King Charles' sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, are expected to attend the coronation. Buckingham Palace and a spokesperson for Harry and his wife, Duchess Meghan, confirmed Harry's attendance to USA TODAY in April.

"(The coronation) is a crowning moment in Charles' life," royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams says. "His whole life has been preparation for it, and he would obviously appreciate having both his sons present."

William's wife and Charles' daughter-in-law, Princess Kate, will also attend the ceremony. However, Meghan will not be present for the coronation, as the Duchess of Sussex is staying in California with the couple's children, Prince Archie, 3, and Princess Lilibet, 1

Rachel Bowie, co-host of "Royally Obsessed," a Gallery Media Group podcast, says while there are "many factors that likely went into" Meghan’s decision to not attend, being present for Archie's 4th birthday (which falls on coronation day) and avoiding media scrutiny were probably top considerations.

"The royals can choose the coronation date, but Archie can't choose his birthday," Bowie says. "From the parent perspective, which Meghan makes very clear that’s one of her key roles and the thing that she values most, … that’s something that she likely doesn’t want to miss.

"There’s an element of self-preservation too," Bowie adds. "Just seeing the vitriol from the British tabloids that has been expended or directed her way – whether she's going, whether she's not going – so it's a move that protects her mental health as well."

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What roles will King Charles' children have in coronation?

Prince William, who is first in line to the British throne, will kneel and pledge his allegiance to King Charles after his crowning, says Roberta Fiorito, another "Royally Obsessed" co-host, a gesture also known as "The Homage of Royal Blood" ceremony. The Prince of Wales might also touch St. Edward’s crown, a jewel-encrusted ceremonial crown dating back to 1661, during the coronation.

While kneeling before his father during the ceremonious vow, William will place his hands in between Charles' hands as he says, "I, William, Prince of Wales, pledge my loyalty to you and faith and truth I will bear unto you, as your liege man of life and limb. So help me God."

Prince Harry, on the other hand, likely won’t have a formal role in the ceremony, says Tom Quinn, author of "Gilded Youth: A History of Growing Up in the Royal Family." Harry's participation could potentially emphasize past tensions he's had with the royal family since he and Meghan stepped down as working royals, Quinn says.

"It would draw too much attention to the difficulties that Harry has had with his wife vis-à-vis the royal family," he says.

Bowie says Princess Kate's standout role in the coronation will probably center on her participation in the ceremony's processional, as well as tending to Prince George, who is serving as one of Charles' Pages of Honor.

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Prince Harry, Duchess Meghan would've had 'huge part' in coronation if it weren’t for family Fitzwilliams says the Sussexes would've had a "huge part to play in the festivities" of Charles" coronation if they hadn't walked away from royal life. "If they hadn't left, they'd be senior royals (and) they'd be on the balcony," he says.

Meghan's absence in particular is a "direct result of all the spats, all the rows, all the bad feeling that existed all those years ago at Kensington Palace and then at Frogmore," Quinn says.

"These spats in the royal family can go on for decades," Quinn says. "She is aware – and was made aware long before she left the U.K. – that she had caused so much offense, that if she came back for any reason she would be less welcome than Harry."

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Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan have ruffled many feathers across the pond since they stepped down from their roles as working royals in January 2020 and moved to California in search of more independence and privacy. Bombshell revelations across several TV interviews, a Netflix docuseries and Harry’s explosive memoir "Spare" have all deepened the rift within the House of Windsor.

Will King Charles' children appear on balcony at Buckingham Palace?

King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla will be joined by other members of the royal family during an appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony once the coronation procession concludes.

Bowie and Fiorito say while Prince William's attendance for this appearance seems certain, Prince Harry may not join his family on the balcony due to the schedule conflict of Prince Archie’s birthday.

"There’s not much planned around his visit, and so he’ll likely stay for the ceremony and then possibly jet back to L.A.," Fiorito says.

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Contributing: Naledi Ushe and Maria Puente, USA TODAY; Danica Kirka, The Associated Press

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