Amid so many touching moments in St George’s Chapel, two simple, whispered words seemed barely to register.
Indeed, when a visibly nervous Prince Harry turned to his father, who had just walked his glamorous bride down the aisle, and said ‘Thanks Pa’, few others would have heard him at all.
Yet when they were repeated just three days later at a Buckingham Palace garden party to mark the Prince of Wales’s forthcoming 70th birthday, the depth of gratitude rang out loud and clear.
Harry marked the occasion with a speech of self-deprecation and rare warmth, saying: ‘Pa, while I know that you’ve asked that today not be about you, you must forgive me if I don’t listen to you. Much like when I was younger. Instead, I ask everyone here to say a huge thank you to you, for your incredible work.’
Yet the relationship between this father and his two princely sons has not always been so cordial, with the boys seeming frosty and at times belligerent towards Charles. So Harry’s new-found generosity towards the Prince of Wales is significant indeed.
This newspaper understands that the past few months have seen a remarkable thawing between Charles and Harry – and that the person behind this about-face is the Prince’s new bride, Meghan.
William too has been far from deferential towards Charles. Palace insiders say that the Duke of Cambridge has even been known to raise his voice at his father. And when Charles chose to maintain a dignified silence during the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death last year, there was speculation this was an expression of a family rift.
Yet Meghan has brought with her a new and unexpected dynamic, and not just because she, too, has grown up negotiating a fractured family. (Even before the wedding, Harry had remarked that Meghan regarded the Windsors as ‘the family she never had’).
More than that, it is her newfound relationship with Charles that is proving to be key.
‘Meghan met Charles and was bowled over by his charm,’ said a family source. ‘She told Harry he was wonderful: welcoming, warm, hard-working kind and stable.
‘She made it clear that he should appreciate him and bond more.’
In turn, Charles, with a twinkle in his eye, has been completely taken with her, telling friends: ‘She is so intelligent and so nice. She makes Harry happy. We could not like her more.’
Never before had Charles shown so much support towards one of Harry’s girlfriends, and Harry was visibly moved.
‘There has been a wedding bonus for all the family: a sort of mega-watt warming effect,’ said the friend.
Meghan, meanwhile, has actively charmed her new father-in-law. She consulted Charles about the music for the wedding, while the Prince of Wales has taken time to discuss the complexities of life in ‘The Firm’.
It helps that Meghan is fascinated by Royal history – more so than her husband – and sources say she is poring over lever-arch files of notes as she studies the Commonwealth.
Charles sees his work ethic and his passion for philanthropy reflected in Meghan, who has campaigned to raise awareness of women’s issues. It will not have escaped his notice that she shares his belief in organic food.
Camilla, too, has played her part as a sort of ‘super-granny’, dispensing humorous, down-to-earth advice to Meghan. It is understood that the two ‘outsiders’ have become friends – they were seen clasping hands as they greeted one another at the Palace on Tuesday.