The Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex have been at odds for several years, after William allegedly advised his brother to take things slowly in his relationship with Meghan Markle. Harry and Meghan stepping down as senior royals and then deciding to speak to Oprah Winfrey about their experiences only helped to widen the growing divide between the brothers. Harry has admitted they are “on different paths”, while William has stayed silent on the matter.
However, they recently joined together in an act of unity: unveiling a statue of their late mother Princess Diana in the Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace. Harry flew back to the UK for the event and the brothers launched a project they had been working on for four years. It was also a joyful reunion with their uncle Earl Spencer and aunts Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes. Unfortunately, it did not mark the new beginning that many hoped for – a thawing in relations.
While royal expert Ann Gripper argued in her podcast Pod Save the Queen that there were “moments of warmth” between the princes, most of the pictures saw them talking to other people. What’s more, there was hope that Harry would stay for a few more days to patch things up with his brother, but instead he flew straight back to the US. Relationship expert and psychotherapist Neil Wilkie said he saw this as an opportunity for them to open up to each other, given how they have both been deeply affected by their mother’s death, but he did not see that happen. He told Express.co.uk: “I felt the unveiling of their mother’s statue was a great opportunity for them to show emotions together. You know, this is a symbolic moment.
“And they were both very young when their mother died and both shared a lot of emotions together at that time, so I had hoped this would be time where they could show they actually love each other and they love their mother and this was a time for them to both shed a tear and to comfort each other, but they didn’t do that. “And the video I watched of the ceremony just showed two men only feet apart but 1,000 miles apart emotionally. “And I understand that there was hope that William and Harry could speak after the unveiling, but Harry very quickly left and got a plane back to California or wherever so that opportunity disappeared.
“And now they’re in different parts of the world ‒ what other occasion will there be where they can have those conversations? And every day that goes by it becomes less likely. “What’s going to break the ice? What’s going to cause either of them to make that step of, ‘I’m really sorry that I upset you, I love you and I want us to be brothers as we used to be’?” Mr Wilkie added that, with every day that passes, positions are “getting hardened” and reconciliation becomes even harder to achieve. He explained that it takes openness and vulnerability to take that first step.
He also argued that the dynamic of the older brother and younger brother, and the roles they have played within the Royal Family structure their whole lives, are coming into play. William, as the older brother and heir, has always known his destiny was to be King and so has both the privileges and burdens associated with that. By contrast, Harry as the younger brother and so-called ‘spare’, he has always had to live in his brother’s shadow, knowing he was not the priority.
However, this also means he has had more freedom to do his own thing and is ultimately why he was able to leave his royal role, while that will never be a possibility for William. Harry even said himself in his Oprah Winfrey interview: “My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don’t get to leave. And I have huge compassion for that.” Mr Wilkie said: “William has to tow the line, he can’t break with tradition because he’s going to be part of tradition.
“So Harry has a choice, he can either be in his bigger brother’s shadow for the rest of his life or he can break free and be different and be his own person. “And that’s what he’s done. He hasn’t done it in a particularly elegant or healthy way but he’s done that.” Mr Wilkie is the author of The Relationship Paradigm series of books and creator of the online couples therapy platform, the Relationship Paradigm.
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