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Princess Diana is on the minds of many royal followers this month, as the twenty-fifth anniversary of her untimely death approaches on August 31. Many have asked, throughout Prince William and Prince Harry’s ongoing feud, what would Diana think of all of this?
It can certainly be surmised that Diana would be devastated; she had much more in mind for the brothers’ relationship than this. According to Diana’s biographer, Andrew Morton (per The Daily Express), Diana saw Harry as a wingman for William in his lonely job as future king.
Speaking to The Daily Beast, Morton recalled how close the brothers once were, even describing them as “inseparable.”
“Like any mother, Diana would have been concerned about the breakdown in the relationship between her children,” Morton says. “She said on Panorama, and she said to me on numerous occasions, that she saw Harry as a wingman for William, because his job is a lonely job, and you cannot trust many people around you. She saw Harry as being there to back up his brother, but that’s not how things turned out.”
According to royal expert Katie Nicholl, author of William and Harry: Behind the Palace Walls, the brothers’ rift started with a falling out around Christmas 2018, when Harry told William he wasn’t doing enough to include Meghan in the royal family. A source told Nicholl “Harry felt William wasn’t rolling out the red carpet for Meghan and told him so.” They had a fallout, which was only resolved when their father, Prince Charles, stepped in and asked William to make an effort. “That’s when the Cambridges invited the Sussexes to spend Christmas with them,” Nicholl’s source says.
In a TLC documentary called Kate v. Meghan: Princesses at War? airing a few months later, according to The Daily Express, Nicholl claimed that the feud might have actually started far earlier, when Harry and Meghan first began dating. Nicholl says that William was “quite concerned that the relationship had moved so quickly” and, she continued, “being so close to Harry, probably the only person close enough to say to Harry: ‘This seems to be moving quickly. Are you sure?’”
Spoiler alert—this did not go over well with Harry.
“I think what was meant as well-intended brotherly advice just riled Harry,” Nicholl says. “Harry is hugely protective of Meghan. He saw that as criticism. He interpreted that as his brother not really being behind this marriage, this union, and I don’t think things have been quite right ever since.”
For his part, Morton believes there isn’t much chance of a reconciliation between the brothers.
“I very much doubt they will be reconciled,” he told The Daily Beast. “There is a lot of wishful thinking about this. The closest parallel is George VI and Edward VIII. George VI adored his brother, like Harry adored William. They were inseparable. But then he abdicated, moved abroad, and the relationship was never the same again. William and Harry are in a similar situation.”
Morton points to June’s Platinum Jubilee—where the brothers barely interacted at all, if at all.
“As we saw at the Jubilee, when the time they spent in London was brief to say the least, there was no suggestion of having dinner or lunch or getting the children together,” Morton says. “They will go their separate ways, and the longer Harry and Meghan stay in America, the more comfortable they will be there.”
It begs the question: if Diana were still alive, would this rift be this deep?
Rachel Burchfield is a writer whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family. In addition to serving as the weekend editor at Marie Claire, she has worked with publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. She cohosts Podcast Royal, a show that provides candid commentary on the biggest royal family headlines and offers segments on fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and lifestyle.
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