It’s been over a quarter-century on from the death of their mother, Princess Diana, Royal Doyens William and Harry struggling to maintain their once-closed relationship, as they embrace life onward differently.
“Harry and Wills are barely on speaking terms after ‘Megxit’- referring to Harry and wife Meghan Markle’s decision to quit frontline royal roles in the year 2020 and move to the United States,” according to sources.
As William has turned 40, the elder brother has embraced the royal establishment and taken on more duties, while the younger ‘spare’ prince, aged 37, has rejected traditions for a life in California.
Meanwhile, British public relations consultant and royal commentator, Richard Fitzwilliams asserted, “I suspect… that the rift is very deep.”
After the Princess of Wales, Lady Diana, 36, died from car crash injuries in the early hours of August 31 in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, France in the year 1997, the boys touched the world walking behind her coffin. William was 15 while Harry was just 12.
Both attended Eton boarding school and Harry pursued military training, while William went to university.
They appeared to share a close bond as William married long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton in 2011 and started a family.
“This idyllic sort of brotherly relationship that they projected… did much to put the monarchy back on track,” royal historian and author Ed Owens told the media.
But following Harry’s 2018 marriage to Meghan, relations become strained between the brothers. In a 2019 interview, Harry said that he and his brother were ‘on different paths’. The following year, Harry and Meghan sensationally announced their move to the US.
The couple’s subsequent explosive on a talk show in March 2021 saw Meghan publicly claim Kate had made her cry.
The most damaging claim, however, was that an unnamed royal spat had speculated about the skin colour of mixed-race Meghan’s future child. But William reacted later, telling a journalist that the royals were ‘very much not’ a racist family.
Both the brothers have an enduring dislike for Britain’s tabloid press after their mother’s death.
Harry during the talk show had stated that he left the UK to prevent ‘history repeating itself’, likening Meghan’s treatment by reporters and photographers (paparazzi) to Diana’s hounding.
But their shared disdain for large parts of the media has done little to unite them during their current estrangement.
They appeared to barely speak to each other as they jointly unveiled a statue of their mother outside Kensington Palace in July 2021.
During Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June 2022, they sat far apart at a church service.
Harry and Meghan are likely expected to visit the UK again in September- just three months since their last visit- when they will stay on the queen’s Windsor estate, close to William’s new family home there.
Former royal correspondent Robert Hardman raised the possibility of reconciliation, however.
“Obviously they are estranged but they are brothers, this is a family,” the author of this year’s “Queen of Our Times: The Life of Queen Elizabeth II” told the media.
He praised Harry and Meghan’s ‘dignified role’ when they came back to Britain for the Jubilee and visited the queen.
“To me, that looks like a move towards semi-regular trips back to the UK and each time that happens, things just gradually become less fraught,” he said.
Much could still depend on a ghost-written memoir from Harry, set for publication later this year- ‘causing some anxiety’ among royals, who fear it could be used ‘to settle scores and make further sensational claims’.
Meanwhile, another royal expert, Phil Dampier, felt more outward and pessimistic about the on-going hearsays. He stated in his tweet, “I can’t see any chance of reconciliation between the #Sussexes and the #Cambridges until Harry’s book is out of the way. And it’s likely to make things worse!”
Well, the opinions varied on whether the royal family will include Harry and Meghan in future or not!
“No one person is bigger than the institution, so the monarchy will carry on with or without them. They’re not essential,” Hardman said of Harry and Meghan.
But royal historian Owens argued Harry’s exit has ‘deprived the monarchy of one of its saviours… the informal royal’, who is ‘more down to earth, much more tactile’.
Whereas, royal author Tina Brown asserted, “I do think at a certain point, they’re going to need Harry back.”
In a recent response to what his memoir would be, Harry in his personal statement mentioned, “I’m writing this not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become. I’ve worn many hats over the years, both literally and figuratively, and my hope is that in telling my story—the highs and lows, the mistakes, the lessons learned—I can help show that no matter where we come from, we have more in common than we think. I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to share what I’ve learned over the course of my life so far and excited for people to read a first-hand account of my life that’s accurate and wholly truthful.”