Royals

A closer look at what's behind the growing rift between Prince Harry and Prince William

The princes have always been close.

By Judy Kean

They've always been close, their bond becoming particularly strong after they tragically lost their mum at a young age.

So the news that there's a rift in the relationship between royal brothers Princes William and Harry has been greeted with sadness.

Now those who know the pair well are hoping that spending Christmas together will give the siblings a chance to mend fences and heal the hurt both are feeling.

It's become clear in recent weeks that there are tensions between William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Harry and his love Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

An alleged feud between the two women has been blamed for the friction, but in fact it is the brothers who are responsible for the frostiness between the two couples, says a well-placed source.

Issues first arose after Harry (34) began dating Meghan (37) back in 2016.

William was introduced to her when she stayed with Harry at Kensington Palace, but after Meghan returned to Canada to work on her TV series Suits, he challenged his younger brother about his new girlfriend.

The source says William (36) sat Harry down for what was meant to be a brotherly chat, during which he advised him to take things slowly with Meghan.

"William told his brother they knew nothing about her background, her intentions or what she was really like. He just wanted to stress that becoming part of the royal family is a massive undertaking, and the pressure and scrutiny is unrelenting. Was Meghan the right one?"

Harry did not take too kindly to William's words, the insider says.

"Harry went mental. He accused his brother of trying to finish his romance before it had begun. The brothers' relationship hasn't really recovered."

William angered Harry by cautioning him to take things slowly with Meghan.
William angered Harry by cautioning him to take things slowly with Meghan.

Of the two, William tends to be far more cautious and guarded, whereas Harry is the spontaneous risk-taker.

William took so long – eight years – to make his relationship with Kate (36) official that she earned the nickname "Waity Katy".

They also split up briefly as William had doubts about whether Kate was "the one", but reunited when he realised she was.

However Harry, having had two previous serious relationships with Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas that lasted seven and two years respectively, knew from the get-go that Meghan was the real deal, and didn't want to waste any time.

William wasn't the only family member with concerns about Meghan, says the source.

"A lot of people in the family objected to her. Who really knows what the concerns were? Was it Meghan's background? Her father and dreadful half-sister? Because she was an outspoken American? Divorced?

"Harry stood up for Meghan very forcibly. He really loves her."

The princes have always got on well – until now.
The princes have always got on well – until now.

Harry is said to be overly protective of Meghan because he couldn't do the same for his mother, Princess Diana.

"It's my opinion that Harry feels he couldn't protect his mother, so he's going all out to protect his wife," says the source. "This is his way of atoning. He will brook absolutely no criticism of Meghan – and he is so sensitive he sees criticism or negativity where there isn't any."

There has also been some issues between Meghan and Kate, says the insider, with Meghan apparently feeling she was being left out in the cold.

The former actress tried to befriend Kate so she could get advice on marrying into the royal family, and hoped that as another commoner and outsider, Kate would be an invaluable ally.

But the busy mum was dealing with severe morning sickness during her pregnancy with her third child, Prince Louis (now 8 months), and had her hands full with Prince George (5) and Princess Charlotte (3). "Meghan hoped Kate would show her the ropes. But equally understandably, Kate was busy. She didn't have as much time for Meghan as Meghan would have liked. They were at very different places in their lives. Meghan felt quite let down. She had really tried, but felt rebuffed and so just stopped trying."

Meghan may also have thought Kate and her family had something against her when they left her off the guest list for Pippa Middleton's wedding to James Matthews last year.

A source says privately, the Middletons didn't want Meghan – whose romance with Harry was the top news story of the time – to attend because they feared she would overshadow the bride.

But publicly, her no-show at the ceremony was put down to a "no ring, no bring" policy, meaning guests could only bring partners if they were married or engaged.

However, James Middleton took his girlfriend at the time, Donna Air, and Princess Eugenie was there with now-husband Jack Brooksbank, even though they weren't engaged until months later.

Harry wasn't happy about Meghan not being there and a compromise was reached, allowing her to attend the evening reception.

Friends say Harry fell head-over-heels in love with his now wife very soon after they met on a blind date and has put her first ever since.

This was evidenced when it came to the wedding planning, when he instructed staff to give the bride whatever she asked for. "What Meghan wants, Meghan gets," Harry is said to have ordered.

However, he had to eathis words when the Queen stepped in and refused to let Meghan wear a diamond and emerald tiara for the ceremony because it
had links to Russia and could be seen as politically incorrect.

William and Harry appeared as close as ever at the wedding in May, and it wasn't until last month that cracks began to really appear when it was announced that Harry and Meghan weren't going to be living in an apartment next door to the Cambridges in Kensington Palace as expected.

Instead, they are moving to Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor estate, a half-hour drive away.

But royal observers say there were signs as far back as February that all was not well between the two couples. In February, the "fab four" appeared together for the first time to talk on stage about their work for the Royal Foundation.

When host Tina Daheley asked them, "Working together as a family, do you ever have disagreements?", there was nervous laughter.

Meghan looked down, Kate fiddled with her hair and William was left to answer. "Oh yes," was his reply.

Harry then joked that there were so many clashes between them that "they come so thick and fast". When asked if they'd been resolved, William jokingly replied, "We don't know."

Some royal commentators now wonder if that comment was referring to the fact that he'd felt affronted when the Queen passed him over for the role of youth ambassador for the Commonwealth, giving the position to Harry instead.

Since then, William has had to be cajoled into doing any-thing for the Commonwealth, courtiers say.

Some royal watchers say cracks were visible when the "fab four" appeared together at the Royal Foundation forum in February.
Some royal watchers say cracks were visible when the "fab four" appeared together at the Royal Foundation forum in February.

William's opinion of Meghan didn't improve either when she fell out with her father, Thomas Markle, after he admitted to collaborating with a paparazzi photographer and pulled out of walking her down the aisle due to health problems.

As a result, Meghan stopped talking to him, which appalled William.

Having lost his mum, William couldn't understand anyone cutting a parent out of their life, whatever they'd done. He thought Meghan had made a big mistake.

Prince Charles even tried to intervene, getting a senior member of his staff to talk to Meghan about mending her deteriorating relationship with her dad. But it didn't make a difference – she has still had no contact with him.

Charles is close to his new daughter-in-law and thrilled Harry has found happiness. But he must have concerns about the wedge being driven between his sons.

Meghan has a strong bond with her father in law Charles
Meghan has a strong bond with her father in law Charles

Since the wedding, Harry and Meghan have spent less time at their London residence, Nottingham Cottage, and more time at a farmhouse they rent in the Cotswolds, where they have entertained close friends such as George and Amal Clooney, and Serena Williams.

They were a no-show at Scottish royal residence Balmoral in August, where the royals traditionally spend a chunk of their summer holiday.

Kate and William stayed there with their children, joined by Zara and Mike Tindall, and Peter and Autumn Phillips, and their kids.

Harry and Meghan did make the trip to Scotland to spend time at Castle Mey with Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in June, but William and Kate didn't go.

The Cambridges were also absent from a board meeting last week of the Royal Foundation. Harry and Meghan not only showed up for the meeting, but stayed for the Christmas party with staff afterwards.

A Kensington Palace spokesperson said William and Kate had never been expected to attend.

A friend says everyone is hoping the falling-out between the two couples is just a case of teething problems, as bringing Meghan into the family fold has caused a change in dynamics.

"It would be nice if this was sorted out soon."

read more from