By Jonathan Reed
Video supplied by Harper's Bazaar©
They have been a constant pairing since they were children. Throughout highs and lows they have backed each other, protected each other and jokingly mocked one another. So, when an article in The Sunday Times announced the separation of Kensington Palace and the offices of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, it was to some extent a surprise.
The four of them had been given a nickname, the ‘Fab Four.’ Many had seen a future where William, Kate, Harry and Meghan would pave the way for the Monarchy. Each would bring a sense of global stardom separately, and that stardom would shine brightest as a foursome. But it looks as if it isn’t meant to be.
There are two factors to this decision of separation, natural and manmade.
Naturally, this parting of the brothers would always eventually happen as William and Harry’s future roles take effect. William is a future King, Harry is not. Kate is a future Queen Consort, Meghan will forever remain the Duchess of Sussex. The Cambridge’s lives are destined to be at the centre of the Royal circle until William’s death, and in Kate’s case probably beyond as the mother of a future King. Harry and Meghan’s not so much. As the Royal family grows and the Cambridge children, George, Charlotte and Louis form families of their own, the Sussex’s will naturally fade into obscurity. This is the natural order of things and will remain so.
But, as some have speculated, could this parting be down to something more than just the natural progression of the House of Windsor? Is the real reason due to a fracturing relationship between the two brothers who have forever been by each other’s side?
It has long been noted how different William and Harry are from each other, and whilst this isn’t out of the ordinary, their positions in life are. William is the Heir, Harry the spare. This description has followed the brothers around for all their lives and for both it has been the downside of being born into Royalty.
William has always had less freedom than his younger brother, and for someone who is fiercely independent, it has been frustrating at times. Harry on the other hand, has been able to have free reign to do what he likes, when he likes. The countless scandals the Duke of Sussex has created for himself and the Royal Family are numerous. With William there are barely any, or at least that we know of.
And whilst these questioning discretions Harry has partaken in, including wearing a Nazi costume, playing ‘strip-billiards’ in Las Vegas and punching the odd Paparazzi, have been embarrassing to the Queen, to the public it was seen as an act of endearment. To some ‘party Prince Harry’ was just like us, fun, naughty and somewhat of a rebel.
William however, was not able to do this or at least with the public gazing at his every move. For the second-in-line to the throne the expectation was higher than that of Harry. It is hard to imagine that in some way William was envious of his brother’s freedom. Afterall, every major birthday or event in William’s life came with a deal to the press, even including his time at University: ‘you let us follow you around campus for a week and then we’ll leave you alone.’ The pressure of being a 20-something student and having to act with a maturity beyond those years would be frustrating for anyone.
But this sense of jealousy didn’t just go one way. It has been widely stated throughout the years that Harry always has a sense of resentment to his older brother, and it manifested from one person, their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
Harry was fiercely protective over his late mother from everyone, and that included William. He was much more emotionally needy and didn’t like it when Diana would show her eldest son attention. Famously, when William would return to Eton, Harry would declare, “good, now I have Mummy to myself.”
This incessant grasp for attention was in some case a result of how Diana treat her boys. She openly admitted to friends that she would show Harry more attention due to him being much more emotionally dependent on her. William, in contrast was much happier to do his own thing. He didn’t rely on Diana as much as his younger brother. Some have wrongly claimed that this would mean that Harry was the favourite, but to insinuate this would be highly offensive to a woman who isn’t here to defend herself.
Sadly, as history played out, Diana died at the age of 37 in a tragic car crash in Paris in 1997. William was 15 and Harry, 12. These are crippling ages to lose a vital parental presence, and the aftershock of her death revealed itself in different ways in both her grief-stricken boys.
With William, whose relationship with his mother was much more than mother and son, he was a kind of confidant. It was his idea, not Diana’s, to auction off a collection of her dresses months before her death as a way of making a new start. In the years post Diana, William tried to learn from his mother’s costly mistakes. This resulted in a deep mistrust for the media, some would say a resentment towards any public relationship that the Royals needed just as much as the press did.
Harry didn’t learn, his path would be self-destruction. Harry was much younger than William and his reliance on Diana left him desolate after her death. He didn’t learn from past mistakes, instead it seemed as if he was determined to make his own. Yet, with every scandal, every scuffle with the press and intrusion of privacy, both brothers protected each other. In, what is a testament to Diana’s parenting skills, William and Harry have forever been close and loyal to one another.
Yet in recent months, perhaps the old resentments of times gone by are creeping back into their royal and personal relationship?
William’s wedding was one of royal pomp and circumstance. Labelled as the ‘wedding of the decade,’ the nuptials between he and the then, Ms Catherine Middleton was watched globally by over 2 billion people. It was a moment of iconic history with the images and footage being beamed around the world becoming living history, that would be played for decades to come. This was a wedding for an Heir to the throne.
Fast-forward 7 years and it was Harry’s turn as he married Meghan Markle. The wedding would be less grand than William and Kates, mirroring the differing positions within the Royal Family. And whilst interest was in keeping with most royal weddings, some people accused the hysteria emanating from the media, PR orchestrated.
It has been claimed that Harry suffered from a ‘mental breakdown’ before the wedding and that his once friendly attitude had become sour and taut. He was said to declare that “what Meghan wants, Meghan gets.”
To some, this was Harry, sixth in line to the throne, wanting a wedding on the same level of that of his brother, the second in line, or maybe even outdoing the wedding of the decade. Perhaps the wedding of the century?
But it was not to be, thanks to the Queen. In place of Westminster Abbey positioned in the centre of London, Harry and Meghan’s wedding would be assigned St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. It also wouldn’t be a state event and would also lack many of the minor members of the Royal Family, of whom the future royal couple opted out of inviting.
Harry was once again reminded that William is the heir and he is the spare. And so, the detested description reared its ugly head again.
As time has moved on over the past year, so has the relationship with both brothers. Both are now married, with William blessed with three children. Harry recently announced he and Meghan are expecting their first child, and this would be the gauntlet that would end this working relationship for good.
The sad truth is, neither brothers depend on each other anymore. Kate and Meghan fulfil those roles, and in William’s case that role is vital. In Kate, William has an equal who is there as support and not outshine. Someone who he doesn’t have to compete with, who doesn’t try to steal the spotlight.
It is hard to say the same for Harry and Meghan. Throughout Harry’s life he has been the ‘spare’ and forever lived in William’s shadow even when deemed more popular. This split of courts proves it once and for all.
As the future approaches and the Queen, who at 92 still fulfils her engagements flawlessly, begins to pass down more of her royal duties to Prince Charles, it is William and Kate who are being prepared for the next role on their royal lives. Harry however, isn’t. The position he and Meghan hold now is as good as it gets, and things look likely to get respectively worse for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
As Charles becomes King, William becomes the Prince of Wales, and his wife takes that most iconic of Royal titles, Catherine, Princess of Wales. Bestowed on William will be much more than titles, he will also inherit the Duchy of Cornwall, a highly valuable income.
This exemplary amount of money is what funds both the Cambridge’s and Sussex’s spending at the moment. Though as the Duchy passes onto William, Harry and Meghan will lose access to this, instead relying solely on the Sovereign grant, or tax payer’s money to me and you. This could prove problematic for the Sussex’s, as the recent criticism of Meghan’s spending habits on clothes hasn’t particularly endeared her to the masses, and whilst Prince Charles foots the bill, it destroys the argument of ‘tax payers funding it.’ This will all change as William ascends the line to the throne.
He and he alone will control who has access to the vast amounts of money, and after attending a recent Duchy of Cornwall meeting at Clarence House, he made it perfectly clear that only his direct family and their future spouses would have access. Harry and Meghan were out.
This may seem harsh, but decisions like this solidify the bedrock for William’s eventual role as Monarch, and in turn his son’s too.
This split and whatever reasoning is behind it, is to many Royal watchers, the beginning of major change within the Royal Family. With rumours of the Queen stepping down when she reaches 95 and Charles becoming Prince Regent – King in all but name, we are beginning to see the next phase of the British Monarchy. And what may be a hard pill for Harry and Meghan to swallow, it is evident it will be a future without them being the star attractions.
William and Harry have always been close, that is a given. But as time moves on and William and Kate ascend to the top of pyramid of royalty, Harry and Meghan will be left behind. This parting of the Princes proves many things, but perhaps the most substantial, is that whether The Sussex’s like it or not, the spare will never outshine the Heir.