Bonded by unimaginable circumstances. Prince William and Prince Harry grew up close as members of the royal family, but their brotherly connection faced its struggles as they formed their own separate lives as adults.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana welcomed their first son, William, in June 1982 — 10 months after the couple tied the knot in a lavish wedding. The pair’s second son, Harry, arrived in September 1984.
The Princess of Wales strived to give her children a normal upbringing, despite their royal lineage, but in August 1997, William and Harry — 15 and 12, respectively, at the time — suffered a devastating tragedy when their mother died at age 36 following a car accident.
While Diana’s death forever changed them as individuals, it also brought Harry and William closer since they were the only ones who understood what they had been through.
“Losing our mother at a young age has kind of helped us sort of travel through that difficult patch together,” the Duke of Cambridge detailed during a January 2018 conversation with volunteers for the Best Man Project. “When you’re like-minded, you go through similar things. It’s a bond and it’s something that, you know, you’ve tackled it together and come out the other side better for it.”
However, rumors of a rift between the siblings took hold as they grew older. Harry ultimately confirmed the tension in the October 2019 documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey.
“Part of this role and part of this job, this family, being under the pressure that it’s under, inevitably stuff happens,” the Duke of Sussex explained. “But look, we’re brothers, we’ll always be brothers. We’re certainly on different paths at the moment but I’ll always be there for him and as I know he’ll always be there for me.”
The situation intensified in January 2020 when Harry and wife Meghan Markle announced their decision to “step back” as senior members of the royal family. They completed their official duties and relocated to her native California that March. In February 2021, Buckingham Palace confirmed the duo would not return as working members of the royal family.
Harry gave an update on his relationship with William the following month during his and Meghan’s CBS tell-all interview. “As I said before, I love William to bits. We’ve been through hell together and we have a shared experience, but we are on different paths,” he reiterated. “The relationship is space at the moment and time heals all things, hopefully.”
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Scroll through the gallery below to see how William and Harry have changed during their time in the spotlight.