Royal historian Robert Lacey has opened up about Prince William and Prince Harry's much-talked-about rift, saying that the estrangement between the brothers began months after Harry and Meghan's 2018 wedding.
In his updated edition of his book Battle of Brothers, Robert says William and Harry had a "fierce and bitter" showdown over complaints that the Duchess of Sussex had bullied royal household staff – claims Meghan has always denied.
William is said to be the one who set about splitting the Cambridges and Sussexes' joint royal household, which they had run out of Kensington Palace for years, after being "horrified" by what he had heard. "William threw Harry out," a friend told Robert.
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The royal brothers are set for a reunion next Thursday at the unveiling of a statue of Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace and the author thinks that the event could help to heal the rift between the pair.
"I think that will create great progress," Robert tells HELLO! "They are coming together from opposite sides of the world for the express purpose of honouring their mother and what more could they do to honour her than at least start moving back together.
The brothers were last seen together at the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral in April
"I can't believe that either of them would want this occasion to be divisive. If they've gone to all this trouble to raise a monument to Diana and what she stands for and stood for, then surely it’s a time for them to align their own position with what she would have wanted.
"And, if for that moment in time, they are united in paying homage to Diana, why not, in other ongoing moments of time, should they not be united in other ways? After all, it would rather empty the occasion of significance if they just come together for the sake of the statue, and then resume warfare."
"I think one of the clear things that has been lacking in this situation is a mother figure to knock their heads together," he adds. "Friends of Diana have said to me – and I think they're right – that if Diana were alive, it wouldn't have got to this situation. So at that moment, on 1 July, perhaps it will be as if she has come back."
Battle of Brothers by Robert Lacey, £6.99, Amazon
Harry and Meghan moved to the US after stepping back from royal duties last year. The couple spoke about their decision and levelled claims of racism and neglect against the royal family during an interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, which William addressed in a public appearance shortly afterwards, telling a reporter: "We're very much not a racist family."
"I have heard that Harry has been saying to friends he would like to reconcile, but I think for William to move forward he would need some assurance that there's not going to be more revelatory interviews," Robert says. "Trust has got to be restored because you can't negotiate serious reconciliation unless you can discuss things in private."
The Sussexes at their last royal engagement in March 2020
The royal historian thinks the Queen's Platinum Jubilee next June could signal another turning point for Harry and William's relationship. Robert predicts that the Sussexes and their children, Archie and Lilibet, will join the royals on the Buckingham Palace balcony.
"I think the children are a major route towards reconciliation," he says. "The fact that Harry and his grandmother have been able to talk to each other so directly through the last year has been a saving grace of the situation. The Queen has always expressed personal sympathy and understanding and I'm sure she'd want Harry on the balcony. She would not regard the family as complete without that."
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