Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana tied the knot in 1981. Nine years later, news of their separation made headlines, and their divorce was finalized in 1996. Diana, then 36, was killed in a car crash in Paris in the summer of 1997. While William, now 38, has been open about how his mother’s death impacted his mental health, his grandmother, now 94, spotted the signs of trouble much earlier.
“It was then three years after his parents’ separation – just two years before Diana’s death – and the Queen was worried about William’s state of mind,” Lacey writes in Battle of Brothers: William, Harry and the Inside Story of a Family in Tumult. “The Queen actually feared that the boy might be heading for some sort of breakdown, she confided to one of her advisors – just as the prince’s mother herself had clearly cracked up mentally in several respects.”
At the time, Lacey claims, Prince Philip “shared his wife’s concerns” and “suggested” that the queen try to step in by “trying to get closer to this particular boy – who was not just her fragile grandson, but a future inheritor of her crown.” It was then that the monarch implemented a routine of Sunday lunches with William, which “helped to turn the fragile schoolboy heading for a breakdown into quite a tough young man.”
While he worked through his family’s big changes at a young age, William found a sense of comfort in his bond with the queen, who gave him a “moral compass and a purpose.” During his days as a student at Eton College, the Duke of Cambridge “was not scared” to forge his own path, even when he was later joined by younger brother Prince Harry at the school.
As the years went on, William’s close bond with his grandmother has continued to develop. Three months after Harry, 36, and Meghan Markle announced that they were stepping down from their senior positions, a source told Us Weekly exclusively that the queen has told William and Duchess Kate “numerous times that they’re doing a wonderful job” as high-ranking royals.
“The wonderful thing about Kate and William is that they remain focused and calm even during their most challenging times,” the insider said in April. “She couldn’t be prouder. She takes pride in being on top of everything but recognizes that it’s time to hand off some responsibility.”
Battle of Brothers is available now.