Prince Harry reveals rift with brother William pre-dates Meghan

Forthcoming memoir Spare confirms that William and Harry have been fighting for decades

Eleanor Noyce
Monday 09 January 2023 18:37 GMT
Top takeaways from Prince Harry’s ITV interview

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Louise Thomas

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Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, officially arrives on UK shelves on Tuesday. In it, he details a number of shocking allegations, notably addressing his not-so-perfect relationship with his brother, Prince William.

To date, the narrative has been that the bond between “Willy and Harold” – as the brothers call one another – was damaged by the duke’s marriage to Meghan Markle. However, Spare reveals that the rift between the pair runs deeper, and importantly, predates Meghan’s entrance to the royal family.

When reports of the deteriorating relationship between the brothers emerged during Megxit, the now-Duchess of Sussex was blamed by sections of the tabloid press for poisoning their relationship.

In 2020, royal insiders told The Sun that Prince Harry has “completely changed” since meeting Meghan, reporting that the Duchess had “taken total control.” “Things were already tense between the brothers when Harry met Meghan, but things became much, much worse after they got married”, the source detailed.

“Harry and Meghan didn’t spend any time with William and Kate, and the two wives don’t get on at all - the distance and the differences between them grew into a vast chasm.”

Likewise, at the beginning of his relationship with Meghan, Harry was angered by William after he referred to her as “this girl.” “Don’t feel you need to rush this”, William told Harry according to sources quoted in book Finding Freedom. “Take as much time as you need to get to know this girl.”

In ITV’s 2019 documentary Harry & Megan: An African Journey, Harry seemed to confirm speculations that he and William were feuding. “Part of this role and part of this job, and this family, being under the pressure that it’s under, inevitably, you know, stuff happens”, he revealed. “We’re brothers, we’ll always be brothers. And we’re certainly on different paths at the moment, but I’ll always be there for him, as I know he’ll always be there for me.”

The autobiography addresses Meghan’s “damaging” relationship with William, with Harry disclosing that his brother had called Meghan “difficult”, “rude” and “abrasive”.

However, in his memoir, Harry writes that “there has always been this competition between us, weirdly. I think it plays into this heir-spare”, labelling William his “beloved brother and archnemesis.” Clearly, the conflict is more longstanding than meets the eye.

In May 2019, ITV’s Royal Editor Chris Ship reported that the conflict was between the brothers rather than Kate and Meghan. “There was an issue between William and Harry. It was written as a problem between the wives - that actually isn’t true”, Ship remarked on ITV’s Air Time podcast.

In his interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby broadcast on Sunday night, Harry acknowledged that he and William “like most siblings … used to fight all the time.” Likewise, in the 60 Minutes interview that aired on 8 January, Harry claimed that he and the Prince of Wales have been living separate lives since their mother, Princess Diana, died in 1997, worsened by the underlying competition created by the “heir” and the “spare” dynamic.

In the same interview, Harry revealed that when he and William attended the same school, his brother said that he should “pretend we don’t know each other”. These allegations were similarly confirmed by Chris Ship, who writes that “the brothers had physical fights when they were younger, in which Harry said William urged him to hit back.”

“None of anything that I’ve written is ever intended to hurt my family, but it does give a full picture of the situation as we were growing up and also squashes this idea that somehow my wife was the one that destroyed the relationship between these two brothers”, the Duke further stated.

Spare also reveals that Harry worried he would lose his brother to Kate Middleton after their marriage in April 2011 and afterwards, their relationship changed beyond recognition. He writes that he felt the wedding was “yet another farewell” to a family member, elaborating that “the brother I’d escorted into Westminster Abbey that morning was gone – forever. Who could deny it?”

He was happy for William but states: “He’d never again be first and foremost Willy. We’d never again ride together across the Lesotho countryside with capes blowing behind us. We’d never again share a horsey-smelling cottage while learning to fly. Who shall separate us? Life, that’s who.”

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