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Prince Harry and Prince William’s brotherly bond was shattered over a year ago when Harry announced he was stepping down from senior royal life with wife Meghan Markle and relocating to the US with their son, Archie.
Tensions then bubbled over last month when he and Meghan sat down for an explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey and made a number of bombshell claims – including that William and their father Prince Charles were “trapped” and that the Duchess of Cambridge had made Meghan cry in a row over flower girl dresses ahead of her and Harry’s 2018 wedding.
But with the passing of their beloved grandfather Prince Philip, the brothers were thrown back together for the funeral, with Harry flying back to the UK to walk behind the coffin.
During the emotional event the pair's unbreakable bond shone through, according to a body language expert, as they were photographed talking while they left St George's Chapel in Windsor.
Ahead of the funeral, royal expert Katie Nicholl told us that this tragic event could be what forces the brothers on the road to recovery.
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“Harry and William’s feud is not healed, but they are speaking again,” she told OK! “They were in contact during Philip’s hospital stay as Harry wanted to be kept up to speed.
“And ahead of the funeral, the brothers had been in contact and planned to meet beforehand. They wanted to see each other before they had the world’s eyes on them. They both want to put their differences aside for their grandfather, who they both loved so much.”
She added: “With Harry and William, it was always going to take something big to force them back together. As with many families, it’s often a tragedy that reunites people. For the brothers, it’s forcing them back together sooner than they anticipated and making them face their feelings head-on.”
Harry and William are also reportedly set to come face-to-face again in July, at the unveiling of a statue in tribute to their late mother Princess Diana.
But being forced to meet sooner in these circumstances will have also been an especially poignant moment, as Katie said it will likely have stirred up memories of the day they laid their mother to rest in 1997.
The two brothers were photographed walking behind Prince Philip's hearse outside St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, much like they did during their mother Princess Diana's funeral on 6 September 1997.
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“I think any funeral is going to bring back memories of their mother’s death for the brothers,” she explained. “But walking behind the coffin will spark those difficult memories. It will also remind them of everything they have been through together.
“While the world was mourning Diana, they were mourning their beloved mother and that tragedy was very unique to them. It’s been part of their special bond over the years. Many are hopeful that Philip’s funeral will be the start of their healing process and get them back on a good road to recovery after all this time.”
The brothers’ tension was said to have started in 2017, when William reportedly voiced concerns that Harry’s romance with Meghan was moving too quickly.
Royal sources claimed that Harry took this as a criticism of his relationship and interpreted it as his brother not being behind his marriage.
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Onlookers also claimed that William appeared to ignore Meghan during a Christmas Day walk in 2018.
In October 2019, Harry appeared to confirm the rumours of tension with his brother, admitting, “Part of this role and part of this job, and this family, being under the pressure that it’s under, inevitably, you know, stuff happens. But look, we’re brothers, we’ll always be brothers.
“And we’re certainly on different paths at the moment, but I’ll always be there for him, as I know he’ll always be there for me.”
Months later, royal sources revealed that William was left angered by Harry and Meghan’s announcement they were stepping away from royal life, claiming he had been “blindsided” by the news.
The brothers were reported to be speaking again earlier this year as they both worked on the plans for the unveiling of their late mother’s statue But the Oprah Winfrey interview was said to have left William livid and set any chance of a reconciliation back “10 steps”.
But throughout the feud, Harry has insisted that his relationship with his grandmother the Queen has remained strong and Katie told us that the focus will be on supporting her.
“The Queen has remained close to both William and Harry throughout everything. It’s been hard for her to see them fall out. She doesn’t want tension in the family and has wanted them to build bridges.
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“They both know that everyone is curious to see their reunion but they don’t want to overshadow the day. The focus must be on Philip and paying their respects. They know every move they make could be open to scrutiny, so it’s important for them to put on a very united front.”
In the days following Philip’s passing, it was claimed that William’s wife Kate had been playing peacemaker with the brothers – and hoping that tensions could soon be smoothed over for the sake of their families and children.
“Kate is a very forgiving person,” Katie explains. “She tried to play peacemaker at the start with Harry and William, as she had a very special bond with Harry.
“Understandably her loyalty is with William, but she doesn’t like the tension. The dream was always for their children to grow up together and be close and Kate would still love that. We’re all curious to see what unfolds after their reunion, but I know the Queen’s hope is that this is a positive move in the right direction for Harry and William.”
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