They once formed an inseparable pair, bound by their duty to the Crown and the unimaginable tragedy they suffered as children.
Today, the relationship between Prince William and Prince Harry appears to have soured beyond repair.
The recent “space” between the brothers (which has no doubt been exacerbated by the explosive Oprah Winfrey tell-all interview) follows years of rumours and speculation surrounding a growing rift.
Speaking on the matter, the Duke of Cambridge revealed he has not been in contact with his younger brother since the premiere of the interview.
But how exactly did the love between the UK’s golden boys turn so bitter?
“We are very much not a racist family,” Prince William told reporters during a visit to a school in Stratford, London.
When asked if he had spoken to Prince Harry after the Oprah interview, he added, “No, I haven’t spoken to him yet, but I will do.”pic.twitter.com/MjTOeH7u6Z
— Omid Scobie (@scobie) March 11, 2021
Sibling rivalry, particularly between brothers so close in age, is a rite of passage many of us experienced in our formative years.
And that’s before you throw in the prospect of hereditary political power, for which one is the rightful heir, and the other is the spare.
Considering their royal ancestors weren’t opposed to bloodshed and murder to occupy the throne, tension between the brothers shouldn’t come as a surprise.
In fact, the dynamic between the dukes, and the roles they have assumed, dates back generations.
Much like Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, Prince William has long been the responsible, obedient older sibling, consistently acting in line with the monarchy’s best interests.
Prince Harry, however, has enjoyed a less serious, more playful position, much like the Queen’s “rebel sister”, Princess Margaret, and Prince Andrew, the original “party Prince” (minus the disgraceful sex-trafficking allegations).
Drinking and experimenting with drugs at a young age, Prince Harry seemed to shirk the expectations and responsibilities his older brother was bound by.
Regardless, the two maintained a close bond, solidified by the passing of their mother when they were just 12 and 15.
Princess Diana’s biographer, Andrew Morton, said it was the two brothers against the world for two decades.
“Nobody apart from each other knows exactly – not even their father – what’s gone on in their heads and their hearts for the last 20-odd years,” Morton told Royal Monthly.
Enter the Duchesses
Best men at each other’s weddings, the “incredibly intimate” relationship between the brothers seemed unwavering.
For years following Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton, the Cambridges would often be seen with Prince Harry in tow.
Then Meghan Markle was added into the mix, and the press dubbed them the Fab Four.
But the cracks began to show shortly after the Sussexes tied the knot in 2018.
In the royal tell-all, Finding Freedom by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, Prince Harry was reportedly incensed at his older brother’s suggestion to “take as much time as you need to get to know this girl”.
Rumours of a feud between Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle swirled as the media painted them into opposing corners.
The UK tabloids’ relentless and often racist coverage of Markle – and her husband’s determination to protect her from it – were some of the catalysts that saw the couple step down from their roles as senior royals, and relocate across the pond.
The “space” between the brothers now had the added complication of physical distance.
There seemed to be a brief reprieve in 2020, when Prince William and Prince Charles were diagnosed with COVID-19, and again following Prince Philip’s hospitalisation in early-March.
Whether the two will be on speaking terms by July 2022, when a statue honouring Princess Diana will be unveiled in Kensington Palace gardens remains to be seen.
For now, the space remains.