William "Does Not Foresee" Reconciling With Harry, Says Royal Biographer
"He's moving ahead in the absence of Harry," said author Robert Lacey.
After years of following their brotherly bond, no one wanted to believe the rumors that Prince William and Prince Harry had, as the Brits like to say, "fallen out" with each other—including noted historian Robert Lacey. The royal biographer, who is also the historical consultant for The Crown, originally thought reports of a rift between the brothers were being blown out of proportion by the British press. ("What you see in the papers is what they wish to report," he says.) But he came to discover that not only were the rumors true, but it's "worse than anyone thinks."
In his new book, Battle of Brothers: William & Harry—The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult, Lacey includes a devastating account of the breakdown of the princes' brotherly bond by examining the root cause of the conflict, tracing its origins back to their childhood. Lacey contends that the toxic combination of their trauma-scarred upbringing due to their parents' "loveless, arranged" marriage and their mother's shocking and tragic death—coupled with the Palace's ill-fated decisions that stirred up long-simmering feelings of resentment—have resulted in a spilt that imperils the very future of the monarchy.
In a wide-ranging interview with Best Life, Lacey, a true royal insider who wrote what is considered to be the definitive authorized biography of Queen Elizabeth, revealed that he believes that the breakdown between the brothers may never fully heal. "I think William does not foresee any great chance for reconciliation," Lacey said. Instead, he is focused on protecting the future of the monarchy, according to Lacey. "William is a pragmatist. We're seeing that now. He is moving ahead in the absence of Harry," he explained.
There's still a chance the princes may reach some semblance of a truce when the Sussexes' exit agreement comes up for review by the Queen five months from now. "Next year is going to be a year of big decisions," said Lacey. The follow-up to the Sandringham Summit, scheduled for March 2021 in Britain, "might produce some sort of reconciliation." There's also the long-awaited unveiling of a statue of Princess Diana at Kensington Palace, which will take place on July 1 in honor of what would have been their mother's 60th birthday. "They will certainly stand side-by-side on that occasion," said Lacey. "But who can tell how deep their reconciliation will be?"
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But as the months pass, the chasm between William and Harry seems to have widened as the Cambridges assume a higher profile within the royal family, while the Sussexes embrace their new life in California, including a multi-million-dollar Netflix deal, growing advocacy for various social causes, and the launch of their new foundation, Archewell.
"William and Catherine certainly got it right so far being willing to serve," said Lacey. "If you're looking at Meghan and Harry in a positive way, they've gone too fast for most of the people in Britain. The causes they endorse go beyond what people think are proper for the royal family."
But Lacey also warns that the royal family shuns Harry and Meghan's international stardom at their own peril. "The British monarchy will be less rich if it cannot find a way to include the talented but admittedly difficult celebrity of Meghan and Harry inside its future," he said. "When Edward VIII was sent into exile following the Abdication of 1936, he published his memoirs then said nothing more. If this couple are sent into exile, they will not stay silent."
Read on to reminisce about some of William and Harry's happier moments together before their sad and shocking rift, and for more royals news, check out Why the Queen Could Be Upset About Dominic West Playing Prince Charles.
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.
Playing it up for the camera
In the very early days of their marriage, despite what we now know about their ill-fated union, Princess Diana and Prince Charles often scheduled photo calls with the press to convey a picture of domestic bliss. Young William, born in 1982, and baby brother Harry were always the center of attention. One of the most iconic sessions occurred in 1985, when the two boys banged away on their parents' piano. William even gave Harry a quick kiss on the top of his head (but wiped his mouth afterwards) for photographer Tim Graham. Right from the start, their two-year age difference allowed Wills to be the somewhat bossy, but affectionate older brother. And for another cute royal's early days, check out Princess Charlotte's Most Adorable Moments.
Harry's first day of school
Accompanied by his mother and big brother, Harry seemed thrilled as he arrived for his first day at The Wetherby School in London in 1989. The young princes looked adorable in their grey school blazers piped in red and matching hats outside their preparatory school. But the truly heartwarming moment came when photographers captured Harry literally looking up to his big brother during the brief photo call with a look that perfectly captured their growing bond. And for more of the Duke of Cambridge through the years, here are 27 Facts About Prince William That You Never Knew.
Going to America with Princess Diana
Princess Diana was determined to give her sons "as normal a life as possible," even as her marriage to Prince Charles was collapsing. In 1993, at the height of the drama, she took William and Harry to Disney World. While Charles did not accompany them (two of Diana's friends, Katie Menzies and Catherine Soame, came along instead), the Orlando Sentinel reported the boys were all smiles as they enjoyed plenty of fun, including a wild log flume ride with Diana on Splash Mountain at "the happiest place on earth" and a private breakfast with Disney characters. And for more on the impact their mother had, here are 13 Amazing Ways Princess Diana Changed the Royal Family Forever.
Some friendly competition on the polo field
When William turned 21 in 2003, rare video footage of the prince with Harry and Prince Charles getting ready for a polo match showed just how much the brothers loved to kid each other. Harry, upon hearing William had forgotten his boots, said, "You're an idiot," to which William replied, "That's the stupidest thing I could have done." Later, when William joked he should be praised for his performance on the field, Harry took another jab at his brother, saying, "Shut up, I nearly fell off my horse trying to get you to hit the ball and you missed it, spoon." And for more of the brothers' love of polo, check out The Secret Ways All of the British Royals Stay Fit.
Prince William's wedding to Kate Middleton
When Prince William and Kate Middleton married in 2011 in Westminster Abbey, the brothers' bond appeared stronger than ever. Harry and William, both decked out in their respective military uniforms and regalia, left Clarence House together, waving to the crowds from the windows of one of the Queen's Roll Royce cars and remained at each other's side until the arrival of the bride. As Kate walked up the aisle escorted by her father, Harry couldn't resist turning around for a look to tell William, "Well, she looks beautiful, I can tell you that." It was a moment of true closeness that reminded the two billion people watching from around the world just how much the brothers had shared by sticking together. And if you can't get enough Kate and Willis, enjoy William and Kate's Most Adorable Couples Moments Through the Years.
Enjoying some movie magic
In 2013, when William, Harry, and a pregnant Kate toured Warner Brothers' studio in London, the then-closer-than-close trio showed off their playful side by wielding wands from Harry Potter and checking out props from the 2012 film The Dark Knight. William even jokingly suggested Harry borrow the Batmobile for the weekend. Although something of a third wheel after the wedding, Harry was famously close to the Duchess of Cambridge (he called her "the sister [he] never had") and sometimes teamed up with her to poke fun at William. Those were truly most joyful days in the brothers' lives.
Racing to the finish line
In 2016, William, Harry, and Kate launched "Heads Together," a campaign to destigmatize talking about mental illness. In Feb. 2017, the trio promoted their initiative with a race in Olympic Park in London. The famously competitive brothers were neck and neck, with Kate in third place, before a triumphant Harry sprinted ahead of his royal relatives. Last month, William and Kate chose to send birthday wishes to Harry, who turned 36 on Sept. 15, with a throwback photo from the event on Instagram that harkened back to much happier days. And for the latest on the Sussexes, check out Harry and Meghan Signal They May Be Ready to Give Up Their Royal Titles.