A royal showdown? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expected to travel back to the U.K. this year to attend a number of important events, but a royal expert says any meeting between the couple and Harry’s brother, Prince William, and wife Duchess Kate will be uncomfortable.
“I think it’s going to be very awkward if they do meet up,” Phil Dampier, author of Royally Suited: Harry and Meghan in Their Own Words, told The Sun on Saturday, January 2. “From what I am told, the rift is not a lot better at the moment — they are not talking a lot,” he added.
Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39, who left London and settled in California in March 2020 after they stepped down as senior members of the royal family, are speculated to be returning to the UK for events including Queen Elizabeth‘s 95th birthday in April, Prince Philip‘s 100th birthday in June, and the dedication of a Princess Diana statue, Harry and William’s late mother, in the summer. Harry has also said he hoped to attend the Invictus Games, which are being held in the Netherlands in May.
“I think they will put on a united front for the unveiling of Diana’s statue and I’m sure they will put on a united front for the birthday celebrations, but behind the scenes I think there’s going to be a lot of tension,” Dampier said.
The royal siblings have had a turbulent relationship for a few years, reportedly since Harry told his brother of his plans to marry Meghan, which resulted in William, 38, advising him to slow things down in their whirlwind romance. Harry admitted in a TV special in October 2019 that the pair are “on different paths at the moment, but I will always be there for him, and he will always be there for me.”
Their bond was strained even more in January 2020 when Harry and Meghan announced their plans to step down as senior royals and split their time between the U.K. and North America.
Royal historian Robert Lacey told Elle magazine in an interview posted online on Saturday that William was so furious with his brother, that he refused to even sit down to lunch with him before the pair met with their father, Prince Charles, and the queen at her Sandringham estate to discuss the terms of the couple’s royal exit early last year.
“The Queen said, ‘All right, let’s have meeting next Monday at 2 o’clock, where we’ll sit around the table and hash it out with all our advisors, private secretaries, the courtiers. But before that, we’ll have a family lunch where the family can just sit together and talk.’ One prince said no, I’m not coming to that, I’m not sitting with my brother, and the prince who said that was William,” the Battle of Brothers author said.
“Most people were shocked. This is not royal gossip; we saw William turning up late just in time for the 2 o’clock meeting, so there’s no doubt at all that was his position then,” he continued. “Friends suggest he was so furious with Harry that he couldn’t trust himself to sit at same table [as him]. This is the depth to which the anger has gone.”
The couples’ frosty relationship was evident at their last public event together in March 2020, where William and Kate appeared to avoid making eye contact with the pair.
Sources previously told Us Weekly that British brothers have been working on repairing their relationship in recent months, with William offering his brother a shoulder to lean on as Harry struggled to adjust to his new life in L.A. “He’s concerned about his brother’s well-being and safety,” a source told Us of William.
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The royal family also offered support to Meghan and Harry after they revealed that they’d suffered a miscarriage in July 2020, with an insider telling Us that “there is great sadness around the royal family for Harry and Meghan.”
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