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The William and Harry Royal Rift Explained

Here's the full breakdown on why Diana's sons haven't spoken in years, the wider implications, and what it means for Americans.

No matter where you look in royal circles, lines have been drawn between Team Wales and Team Sussex. The once inseparable duo hasn’t spoken in years, at least as far as the public knows.

King Charles’ refusal to meet with his ginger-haired younger son on his most recent trip back to London indicates how broad the rift has widened beyond mere sibling discord.

So what went wrong? How did Diana’s precious sons become so divided to the point of the silent treatment?

Today, we delve into the rift between Prince William, the Prince of Wales, and Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex. We explore the events leading to their estrangement and consider the root cause of this breakdown and its broader implications for society’s cultural divisions. 

Let’s start at the beginning.

The Early Years 

Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales was born on September 15th, 1984 completing Charles and Diana’s family and bringing two-year-old Prince William a beloved younger brother. As the two boys grew, they spent time both in the limelight in their capacity as royals, but also with an intentional approach to normal activities like going to theme parks, normal school, and engaging with all spheres of the public.

It was Diana’s wish for them to have as normal an upbringing as possible and be raised to become compassionate and engaged men dedicated to their heritage. Her overt displays of affection towards them contrasted with the traditionally reserved demeanor of the royal family at the time, setting a precedent that resonates in modern royal protocol. 

Diana’s sudden death in 1997 after her very public separation and divorce from now King Charles III a few years prior left the young princes to rely on one another and understandably draw closer than ever as they entered their teenage years.

In Harry’s own words, “… I think what would be quite shocking or surprising to people is that after our mother died, we were on different paths. Right? Two individuals who experienced a very similar traumatic experience, but dealt with it in two very different ways.” These different paths would soon veer opposite in ways that neither brothers, at the time, could have ever imagined.

Over the years following Diana’s tragic passing, throughout both boy’s Secondary and University educations, their time in the army, and even when William married Catherine Middleton, William and Harry’s close brotherhood and popularity remained at the forefront of headlines, pop culture, and even charitable efforts like the Heads Together Campaign (launched in 2016 by the Princes to combat mental health stigmas in the UK and across the world). Harry was a beloved Uncle to his niece and nephews, Charlotte Louis and George, and held the title, “Most eligible bachelor in the world”, but as the 2010s came to an end, cracks in the brother’s close relationship began to show.

Cracks in the Brotherhood 

2016 was a pivotal year for the princes as after two former serious and very public failed relationships, Prince Harry officially was tied publicly to his future wife and American actress, Meghan Markle. The public was initially smitten by the pair, but there were echoes of concern about the speed and dynamics of this couple from very different backgrounds, and reports have established that Prince William was a strong voice of this uneasiness. Having dated his wife, Catherine, Princess of Wales, for nearly a decade before proposing to ensure she would be prepared for Royal life, William is said to have had strong hesitations about Meghan and Harry’s hastiness to tie the knot less than one year after publicly announcing their courtship.

In his bestselling memoir Spare, published in January 2023, Prince Harry recounts that his brother “aired some concerns… early on” and never dissuaded him from marrying the foreign divorcee, but rather highlighted the very prevalent cultural differences between the pair– cultural differences which William and Harry would soon discover to be factored into their undoing. Despite these concerns, Prince William, then the Duke of Cambridge, stood by his brother after Harry’s public statement rebuking the press for violating his then-girlfriend’s privacy, stating

“The Duke of Cambridge absolutely understands the situation concerning privacy and supports the need for Prince Harry to support those closest to him.”

Harry’s Big Day 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wed on May 19, 2018, at the Chapel of St. George at Windsor Castle with Prince William serving as “best man”. The ceremony was revolutionary with a gospel choir and an American Southern pastor contributing to the service in a homage to Meghan’s heritage. However, the event was riddled with snickers from the guests (Royal and otherwise) and shrouded in rumors of a shouting match and tearful fight between the Royal bride herself and a newly post-partum Princess Catherine. No public signs of infighting were prevalent just yet, but Prince Harry would later recount how his brother approached him about the new bride’s demeanor. Again, Harry pointed to cultural differences.

Read the entirety of this article by The Swish Editor-in-Chief, Hannah Brusven, in The Cute North Georgian Magazine.


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Hannah Brusven founded The Swish in 2018 to combat trashy & politically biased women's media and create a  place for young women looking for a little more than more society feeds them.


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