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Timeline for Prince William and Prince Harry’s “Royal Rift” -check

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As a sober reminder of just how far and fast the relationship between Prince Harry and Prince William has deteriorated, consider this: It was less than four years ago, in December 2017, after years of discussions, that they jointly settled on sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley as the artist who would create a statue of in honor of their mother, which is due to be unveiled in less than two weeks’ time.

At that time, relations between Meghan, Harry, William and Kate were still exceptionally warm. Harry and Meghan had announced their engagement in November 2017 and the couple would, days after the brothers appeared on a rainy afternoon to make that announcement, spend a happy Christmas staying with William and Kate at their Sandringham home.

It is hard to imagine Harry and William, who even issued separate statements on the death of their grandfather in April, agreeing on anything at all today. They may once have seemed joined at the hip, but can one picture them now cooperating on something of this scale and with such personal and political import? It seems improbable.

Indeed, were the commissioning process beginning today, the notion of the socially aware Harry of 2021 happily agreeing with his brother that a distinguished white male artist—whose establishment credentials are so impeccable that they include creating the image of Queen Elizabeth used on all British coinage—should be the person to carry out this job would be deeply unlikely, no matter how cutting edge and brilliant Rank-Broadley’s work may be.

It would not be surprising, therefore, if today’s Harry were to feel considerably less invested in the project than the Harry of four years ago did, especially given that his subsequent self-imposed exile to California has of course removed him from physical proximity to the project. Harry’s spokesperson declined to comment to The Daily Beast

William, on the other hand, is likely to have seen much of this project developing firsthand. Rank-Broadley’s Gloucestershire studio is less than 15 minutes from Prince Charles’ Highgrove home, although Rank-Broadley is a deeply private, serious man who doesn’t hang out with the rich, elite, local set, sources told The Daily Beast.

His discretion may well be part of what has attracted the royals to him over the years: He made a centennial image of the queen mother in 2000 and designed a 2007 medal marking the 60th anniversary of the queen’s marriage. But there is no doubt that the unveiling a week on Thursday will be a high-profile affair, although the absence of Meghan—who will not be at her husband’s side in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace, as The Daily Beast reported this week—means there might not be quite the media frenzy that was once forecast.

Given that her baby Lilibet will be less than a month old, and Meghan is on maternity leave (although she was hard at work Wednesday, posting a celebratory message on her website after her book was named a New York Times bestseller) this is no surprise—and yet it is of course equally hard to avoid the suspicion that if this was something that Meghan actually wanted to attend, or thought she would feel welcome at, she would have found a way to be there.

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