For nearly three years, the small circle of friends close to both Prince William and Prince Harry have been despairing over the searing animosity — the sheer uncompromising, bloody-minded anger — between the two Princes.
But, in April, the sad news of Prince Philip‘s death seemed to offer a glimmer of hope.
The family gathering for their grandfather’s funeral would bring the warring brothers together in an atmosphere of reflection.
Might this be the chance for some healing to develop, wondered a few of their chums?
So, without being too obvious about it, that theme of healing became an element in their friendly chats with their royal mates in the days that followed.
Their friends’ gentle nudges seemed to have had some effect that solemn Saturday afternoon as the two princes walked out of St George’s Chapel to cross the courtyard side by side — subtly brought together by Kate, who then left the pair to the brotherly exchange of words seen on camera.
For nearly three years, the small circle of friends close to both Prince William and Prince Harry have been despairing over the searing animosity — the sheer uncompromising, bloody-minded anger — between the two Princes, writes ROBERT LACEY.
Pictured: Prince William walks next to Prince Harry and Meghan in 2018
Some inching towards reconciliation seemed in progress, their watching friends dared to dream — as did the whole world.
But those hopes were dashed within minutes of the siblings getting inside the castle and beyond camera vision. They started quarrelling again.
‘There they were, at each other’s throats as fiercely as ever,’ relates one long-time friend with a tired and helpless shrug.
‘The rage and anger between those two has grown so incredibly deep.
Too many harsh and wounding things have been said.’
So, sadly no. There was no reconciliation, and no brotherly sit-down or ‘mini summit’ following Prince Philip’s funeral on April 17 — as was incorrectly reported by one newspaper.
William and Kate did the family rounds and said goodbye to the Queen and Prince Charles — then went home to their children.
So there’s the bad news.
The conflict between Diana’s two bitterly divided sons does not seem likely to end any time soon.
But here are the happier tidings. The oh-so-unforgiving and unforgetting brothers are surrounded by a network of devoted friends and a few family members who are working seriously to ease the path to a truce.
And their efforts are matched by deliberate and constructive initiatives being think-tanked inside the Palace.
There is a peace plan in action — several plans, in fact.
But will the obstinately warring brothers take those up when they reunite next Thursday for the unveiling of their mother’s statue?
It will be an almost private event, we now know.
Will William and Harry start seeing sense and pay more heed to the advice of the friends they have built up over the years?
This discreet but concerned support system is made up of a blend of schoolmates, playmates, fellow revellers at ‘Club H’ (the brothers’ discotheque in the basement at Highgrove), companions from the Armed forces, royal mentors and aides who have earned special confidence over the years — plus a few older pillars of wisdom and advice among Diana’s friends.
In April, the sad news of Prince Philip’s death seemed to offer a glimmer of hope.
The family gathering for their grandfather’s funeral would bring the warring brothers together in an atmosphere of reflection. Pictured: Prince William, followed by Prince Harry entering St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, Berkshire for the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh
without being too obvious about it, that theme of healing became an element in their friendly chats with their royal mates in the days that followed.
Pictured: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stand with Harry and Meghan at Westminster Abbey for the Commonwealth day service in 2019, their final engagement together
This is the sort of web of trust and affinity that we all weave around ourselves as we progress through life — with a crucial difference.
If you study the guest lists of the grand 2011 and 2018 royal weddings, you cannot help but be struck by how many of the same names recur, for the two brothers’ social and working lives were always, until recently, exceptionally close.
Their friends made up a particularly tightly knit network until the moment of Meghan’s arrival — and when the fraternal split followed, for all its depth and bitterness, the circle of friends did not, in fact, take rival sides.
So, this offers some grounds for hope — we are not looking here at a raging, modern War of the Roses.
Obviously, people have gravitated supportively to one brother or the other, and they have listened sympathetically to their particular royal chum.
But I have not come across any evidence of friends aggravating the hostilities.
Quite the contrary.
All the mutual friends I have encountered find themselves seeing both points of view — William’s defensiveness of the monarchy as he sees it, and Harry’s defensiveness of his wife.
Love versus duty. This is what makes it so painful.
The friends commiserate with each other over the tragedy they are witnessing, and they frequently discuss how to heal the breach — though with an increasing sense of despair.
Sussex supporters have noted the bizarre combination of self-promotion and self-pity that characterises Meghan, and can see why it has infuriated William.
‘Meghan can be a 500 per cent nightmare,’ some close friends of Harry are among the first to admit.
‘The never-ending PR. She’s just so . . . American!’
On the opposite side, friends of William and Kate are willing to concede the jealousy the Cambridges once felt at being overshadowed by the megawatt younger brother and his wife.
Prince William and Prince Harry walk either side of Peter Phillips at Prince Philip’s funeral ceremony at Windsor on April 17
History will reveal, they agree, how their friends William and Kate were guilty of some ‘sharp-elbowed’ tactics in seeking to keep Harry and Meghan in their place.
And what about William’s notoriously short temper?
Which of the two brothers was so beside himself with rage in January 2020 that he declined to attend the family lunch arranged by the Queen before the Sandringham Summit?
Both sets of friends see the case for the other side, and seek to urge compromise upon their own particular prince.
‘Homesick Harry’ has been calling UK pals mournfully in recent weeks, since his public complaints against Prince Charles were so poorly received.
Yesterday he landed in London, in time to do his five-day quarantine before next Thursday, and those friends have been trying to point out to him the risk he is running with his stream of hurtful, personal complaints.
The Palace adds its own warning shot across his bows.
‘There is sharing,’ says one senior source with emphasis, ‘and then there is over sharing.’
Who was the mother responsible for the parenting of Prince Charles that Harry has condemned?
There is no way a Palace source would have contradicted Harry’s claim that he cleared the name of Lilibet for his newborn daughter with the Queen unless that contradiction had come from the very top.
Her Majesty was not amused . . .
To be a royal rebel is one thing — to be a royal reject is quite another. Would Netflix renew the contract of a modern-day Duke and Duchess of Windsor?
I’m told that Harry has been telling friends he would like to reconcile, and is willing to admit some of the missteps he has made.
There was no reconciliation, and no brotherly sit-down or ‘mini summit’ following Prince Philip’s funeral on April 17 — as was incorrectly reported by one newspaper
Then he recalls one particular insult or other, as he perceives it, that his brother or family made against Meghan, and he flares up again — ever Mr Combustible.
William’s friends similarly try to point out to him the Cambridge version of the bottom line.
The House of Windsor simply cannot afford to go on ostracising the only mixed-race members of the clan.
William has no choice, for example, but to swallow his pride and smile beside Meghan on next year’s Platinum Jubilee balcony.
According to one of my sources, it’s been pointed to him that everyone has a difficult sister-in-law.
William’s response was to nod his head in sage acceptance.
Then suddenly he broke out angrily. ‘But look at the way that bloody woman treated my staff — merciless!’
Both brothers have a sorry tendency to dwell in the past, feeding off old grievances, with no mother around to knock their heads together — and a father whose priorities are set elsewhere.
‘The main thing Charles wants is for the pair of them to smile on Camilla becoming his full Queen Consort [instead of Princess Consort, as officially pre-ordained at present],’ says one friend.
‘He’s fixated about it — something he never stops trying to negotiate with both of them.
But they will never say ‘Yes’ to Camilla taking the place that should have been filled by their mother.’
So that’s what the friends say — while Buckingham Palace looks on the impasse with little attempt to disguise its concern.
‘There is a crucial distinction,’ says a senior source, ‘between the family and the Monarchy.
And if the interests of the two come into conflict, we know where our duty lies: to protect the institution.’
Palace courtiers are much maligned — and I say that as one who has maligned them much.
But the top figures in Buckingham Palace are working flat out to bring an end to the present emergency — and make no mistake, they view it as little less than that.
Sir Edward Young, the Queen’s private secretary, came to public attention in 2012 as the man who, with the Queen’s dresser, Liverpudlian Angela Kelly, helped mastermind Elizabeth II’s inspired ‘parachute jump’ into the Olympic Stadium with Daniel Craig/James Bond to open the London Games.
Now he is organising the impressively rapid sequence of Palace responses to the damage done by the Sussexes’ session with Oprah.
At Prince Philip’s funeral, the two princes walked out of St George’s Chapel to cross the courtyard side by side — subtly brought together by Kate, who then left the pair to the brotherly exchange of words seen on camera
Within a week of the interview, BP had recruited a team of ‘independent investigators’ from one of London’s top law firms to conduct a review of Palace ‘human resources issues’ — those bullying allegations against Meghan, in other words.
Within a few more days, Young had arranged the appointment of a ‘Palace Diversity Tsar’ in a ‘listen and learn’ exercise to give more visible effect to the long-standing principles of Elizabeth II’s inclusive and colour-blind monarchy.
‘We accept more needs to be done,’ admitted a senior royal source in March, after the Oprah interview.
‘We can always improve.
‘This is an issue that is taken very seriously across the households.’
Along with those initiatives, Buckingham Palace has drawn a firm line under Prince Charles’s disastrous scheme — mooted in his pursuit of a ‘slimmed-down monarchy’ — that the future royal status due to his Sussex grandchildren might be removed.
To be fair, it looks as though the Sussexes moved the goalposts on the Prince of Wales in this complicated issue of royal precedence.
When Archie was born, Harry and Meghan proudly told the world their baby needed no royal title.
The top figures in Buckingham Palace are working flat out to bring an end to the present emergency — and make no mistake, they view it as little less than that.
Pictured: William and Kate stand next to William after Prince Philip’s funeral service
Charles responded by saying he would ‘consider’ altering the rules of the so-called 1917 Convention, whereby grandchildren of the sovereign automatically receive HRH status.
By the time Meghan sat down with Oprah, however, she and Harry had evidently decided they did want Archie to be a prince, and notoriously linked the prospect of their son losing his HRH to the poisonous question of how brown his skin colour might be.
Meghan presented this to the world as racism, complaining to Oprah at the prejudice against her son, ‘the first member of colour in this family, not being titled in the same way that [Charles’s] other grandchildren would be .
. . They said they wanted to change the Convention for Archie.’
Buckingham Palace declined to comment on or get involved in these personal details, staying above the fray.
‘Under the existing rules,’ states a senior royal source, ‘Archie and his sister are definitely entitled to full royal ‘HRH’ status when their grandfather becomes king.’
George V’s 1917 Convention remains as solid as ever, in other words — it will not be changed for Archie.
The Palace is saying that the future royal status of the Sussex children is not in jeopardy so long as the Queen is alive — meaning Archie and Lili will automatically become prince and princess when Charles accedes.
Will the new King then formally downgrade and ‘de-royal’ his only mixed-race grandchildren while he is trying to win popular support for Camilla becoming Queen?
So, that removes the principal doubt and grievance the Sussexes presented to the world via Oprah.
What Meghan wants, Meghan gets — and now she has nothing to complain about either. Her son is guaranteed his HRH if he wants it — as is his sister, Lili.
So here are three core issues at the heart of the battle between the Princes that have been tackled stoutly by the Palace and are on the way to resolution.
We have recently learned the ‘human resources’ issues — that question of alleged bullying — are still being processed.
Harry and Meghan, I am told, have drawn up a 30-page dossier in justification of their treatment of staff, setting out precise details of why they parted company with certain personnel.
‘We will not be providing a public commentary,’ remarks one Palace source.
‘It will take as long as it will take.’
But the main point is that the Queen’s oft-criticised courtiers are actively seeking to find some positive outcome to the deadlock between her warring grandsons – just as the brothers’ friends are looking for ways to get them personally reconciled.
Sir Edward Young, the Queen’s private secretary, is organising the impressively rapid sequence of Palace responses to the damage done by the Sussexes’ session with Oprah (pictured)
So now it’s over to William and Harry.
Concerned and caring people have been working hard on the important issues — the conditions for peace are surely moving into place.
We have been too deferential towards the two brothers for too long — devoting endless column inches and chat show time to arguing through the rights and wrongs on either side.
Right at the beginning of my research for the book that became Battle Of Brothers, I emailed a close adviser to one of the Princes, suggesting that at first glance, it was a waste of time trying to work out the details of the arguments and grievances on either side.
Basically, I wrote in my ignorance — and, yes, in my arrogance — that the whole kerfuffle surely came down to the head-buttings of two still-immature protagonists who were, as they themselves have sometimes implied, ‘the equally damaged products of a failed arranged marriage’.
Victims of the history, the system — and of themselves.
To my surprise the response came back to me promptly — ‘Off the record, I agree.’
So might we perhaps shift the parameters?
How about you two fractious royal highnesses considering the possibility that both of you are right, and both of you are wrong?
That the time has come for two over-indulged young men to grow up and forget their differences.
Get over it for your own sakes and for ours — and become again the brothers you’re supposed to be.
Battle Of Brothers by Robert Lacey, (£9.99, HarperCollins).
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Harry’s home! Prince is whisked from Heathrow to begin five-day self-isolation ahead of awkward reunion with William at Diana memorial launch
By Mark Duell for MailOnline and Richard Kay for the Daily Mail and Peter Belfiore and Christopher Eberhart For Dailymail.Com
Prince Harry arrived at Frogmore Cottage this afternoon after flying into Britain to begin his five days of self-isolation ahead of attending the unveiling of a statue of his late mother Princess Diana next Thursday.
The Duke of Sussex landed in time to serve out his ‘amber list’ quarantine at his former Windsor home before the event on July 1, on what is his first trip back home since his grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral ten weeks ago.
Harry touched down at London Heathrow Airport at 12.38pm today on a Boeing 777-323 on American Airlines flight AA134, which left Los Angeles International Airport last night at about 7pm local time (3am UK time today).
Later today, a convoy of royal vehicles including a Range Rover left Heathrow with a police escort, with protection officers having earlier been seen parked at the airport in a 2019 Volkswagen Caravelle worth £47,000 new.
Those arriving in England from amber list countries must normally quarantine for ten days, but can end this early after five days under ‘test to release’ if they pay for a Covid-19 test on day five, in addition to a test on day two.
Frogmore Cottage was initially gifted to Harry and Meghan by the Queen after the couple’s wedding. But they gave up the property after dramatically quitting frontline royal duties and moving to the US.
The keys were later handed to Princess Eugenie, who is living there with husband Jack Brooksbank and their recently born first child August.
Harry will reportedly be staying with the couple during his UK visit, with cottage having been divided up into two sections to make it Covid-safe, according to .
Harry was pictured yesterday evening in a car on the way to the airport in California, as he prepares for what promises to be an emotional visit to unveil the statue of Diana on what would have been her 60th birthday.
The Duke, 36, was photographed being driven by a chauffeur in a California-registered 2021 Cadillac Escalade which is worth £55,000 new and can do 0-60mph in 5.9 seconds and has a top speed of 130mph.
His wife Meghan Markle is remaining at their £11million mansion in Montecito with two-year-old Archie and their second child, Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, who was born 21 days ago at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
Next week, Harry will join his brother Prince William at their first meeting since the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at Windsor Castle on April 17 amid continuing friction following a series of explosive claims in US interviews.
Confirming basic details about the event following Harry’s arrival, a Kensington Palace spokesman said today: ‘Prince William and Prince Harry will attend a small event to mark the unveiling of a statue they commissioned of their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace on Thursday, July 1.
‘In addition to close family of Diana, Princess of Wales, members of the statue committee, the sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley, and garden designer, Pip Morrison, will also be present.
Further details about the statue and garden will be provided on July 1.’
At Heathrow Airport’s Terminal Five this afternoon, one traveller from Los Angeles to London told MailOnline that they could have sworn they saw someone that looked like ‘Prince Harry in sweats’ on board their flight.
The woman, who gave her name as Natalie, said: ‘I was sat in business and I woke up after a nap and got up to stretch my legs.
I was walking up and down and I could have sworn I saw a guy in first class, in sweats, asleep.
‘It might have been him? But then, it might not have been? When do you see a Prince in sweats? I told my friend I saw someone that looked a lot like him, but she did not believe me at all.
If it was him, that’s crazy. That’s the most English thing ever – sharing a flight to London with Prince Harry.’
Harry did not exit through the main international arrival gate at Terminal Five, and there was no security personnel or commotion at the airport.
Very few people were waiting there, and it was mostly sparse and socially distanced.
Eric Ponte, 48, from Los Angeles, who works in entertainment reporting, was sat in business class and did not see the Prince. He said: ‘I adore him so I’m sure I would have recognised him if he was on the flight.
I’m on a trip to see family – but if I can get in a peek of Prince Harry then that wouldn’t be half bad. He could have been on my flight. I would have loved to have said ‘hello’. I think he’s fantastic.’
Alex Newell, 47, from San Diego, who was sat in business class with his wife Clara and his two young children, said: ‘I didn’t see Harry.
But then I wasn’t expecting to see him either. It was a very quiet flight. I didn’t take any notice of the people around me.’ And a woman, who gave her name as Jennifer, said: ‘I walked up and down several times and I didn’t see him. It’s LA – that’s just normal. But that’s crazy if he was there.
A police van leaves London Heathrow Airport in front of royal vehicles after they picked up Prince Harry this afternoon
Royal protection officers in a Volkswagen Caravelle outside London Heathrow Airport waiting for Prince Harry to arrive today
Prince Harry is pictured on the beach in Santa Barbara, California, on March 31.
He has now arrived in London after flying back
Prince Harry’s Boeing 777-323 American Airlines flight on the ground at London Heathrow Airport this afternoon
A police van at London Heathrow Airport this afternoon as royal protection officers prepare to pick up the Duke of Sussex
It comes as the Daily Mail revealed today that William and Harry have had to drastically scale back the statue unveiling.
The brothers were due to put aside their bitter rift to host an elaborate ceremony on July 1 at Kensington Palace, her former home.
Instead they will preside over a significantly reduced gathering featuring just a handful of guests – the estranged princes themselves and Spencer relatives.
Up until this week they had been planning to welcome more than 100 of their mother’s friends, former staff and supporters.
But Covid rules have pressed them into a rethink.
Guests have been told that next Thursday’s large ceremony has been scrapped and that a new date will be fixed for September.
Prince William and Prince Harry walk either side of Peter Phillips at Prince Philip’s funeral ceremony at Windsor on April 17
Harry is pictured talking to Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton after Philip’s funeral at Windsor Castle on April 17
Kensington Palace announced basic details about the Diana memorial statue unveiling in a statement issued this afternoon
It is a bitter disappointment for many in Diana’s circle who had hoped their presence would help bring about a reconciliation between William and his brother.
They have been barely on speaking terms since Harry and Meghan quit royal life for California.
Whether this makes a rapprochement that much easier remains to be seen.
The pair have privately told friends that they will do their utmost to ensure their differences do not distract from what they hope will be a moving celebration to recognise their mother’s ‘positive impact’.
Ever since they announced plans for the statue it has been bedevilled by problems.
Originally it was hoped to be unveiled in 2017.
But there were delays over the design and, according to insiders, differences of opinion over what period in Diana’s life the statue should represent.
Prince Harry sits in the back of a car approaching Los Angeles International Airport last night as he heads to London
Harry is pictured being driven by a chaufferer in a 2021 Cadillac Escalade to Los Angeles International Airport last night
Such divisions led the committee – set up after her death in 1997 in order to find a suitable way to celebrate her life – to conclude that a statue would be wrong.
At the time, her family expressed reservations that no sculptor had ever properly ‘caught’ Diana.
There were also real fears that a statue would become a shrine.
Those fears have not subsided but with the passing years, William and Harry felt the time was right for a life-size figure.
They sought private donations to fund the statue, which has been created by artist Ian Rank-Broadley, whose portrait of the Queen appears on all British coins.
The statue was finished in 2018, but Harry and Meghan’s wedding and Megxit delayed the unveiling.
Charles and Diana with their sons Prince William and Prince Harry on a cycling trip on the Isles of Scilly in June 1989
Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Charles watch as Diana’s coffin is driven away from Westminster Abbey in 1997
Donors including Elton John and David Furnish will now be invited to September’s party along with other friends and family – but there is no guarantee Harry will be there.
So while many watching on Thursday will be keen to see how the artist has imagined Diana, many more will be searching for any sign that the warring brothers can settle their differences.
During the family gathering, Kate Middleton is set to help William and Harry put on a united front, reports say, after she agreed to attend the ceremony.
An insider said the 39-year-old Duchess of Cambridge had seen the project since the beginning and would want to be there to support her husband.
Prince William, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend an Anzac Day service at Westminster Abbey on April 25, 2018
The Princess of Wales is pictured arriving at the Serpentine Gallery in London in June 1995
Royal historian Robert Lacey said the chat did not happened because the Cambridges were worried their comments would be given to the US press.
The row has intensified in recent weeks following the birth of Harry and Meghan’s daughter, Lilibet – the name Prince Philip affectionately used for the Queen.
Claims from the BBC then followed that the monarch had not been consulted, but the couple’s lawyers said it was ‘false and defamatory’ to suggest they did not discuss using the name with Her Majesty.
Lilibet has not been seen in public yet, although the Queen has reportedly met her over a video call.
Mr Lacey said the meeting needs to have far more substance than just appearing for the cameras if the rift is to begin to heal.
He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘Surely when they’re gathered together to honor their mother and what Diana stood for, that will be the time when we can hope for some sort of reconciliation and serious talk.