Brought together under the saddest of circumstances, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex put on a show of unity at their beloved grandfather’s funeral.
Reconciled for the first time in more than a year – and seen together in public for the first time since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex gave a bombshell interview to Oprah Winfrey – the estranged brothers chatted together following the 3pm ceremony at St George’s Chapel.
Although they did not walk shoulder to shoulder in the procession behind the Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin, they made a point of seeking each other out after the 50-minute service and walked back to Windsor Castle side by side.
It came after Prince Harry appeared to look up at his surroundings during the funeral procession, seemingly aware of the pomp and pageantry he has left behind.
Prince Harry was initially seen speaking to the Duchess of Cambridge as they left the chapel and began walking, but then she appeared to hang back so he could talk to Prince William for a few moments without her.
The family had all been due to be convened back to the castle’s state entrance in state vehicles but took the last-minute decision to walk instead, encouraged by the sunny blue skies overhead.
It is thought the brothers also wanted to quell suggestions they are barely on speaking terms after the Duchess of Sussex told Ms Winfrey an unnamed member of the Royal family queried Archie’s skin tone and the Duke claimed his father and brother were “trapped” in the monarchy.
The siblings did not appear to make eye contact at any point during the eight-minute procession, pictured below, as they flanked their older cousin, Peter Phillips, 43.
The Duke of Cambridge, 38, entered the 15th century church one place ahead of his brother, 36, and they were seated opposite one another during the ceremony, with Prince William next to his wife, 39.
While the Duchess of Cambridge appeared to look over at her brother-in-law, the brothers appeared to look towards the altar or down at their orders of service throughout.
It had been hoped that the loss of their “dearest Grandpa”, whom both men loved deeply, would start the process of reconciliation – and the signs on Saturday looked promising.
Before the event, sources on both sides said the princes were keen to put their differences aside in support of their grandmother and had spoken on the telephone since Prince Harry arrived in London on Sunday.
They have not been able to spend any time together since Prince Philip died on April 9, aged 99, because the Duke of Sussex has been quarantining at Frogmore Cottage, his former Windsor home, since he landed at London’s Heathrow airport on a scheduled BA flight from Los Angeles.
The Cambridges, meanwhile, had been spending the Easter holidays at Amner Hall, their home on the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk with their children Prince George, seven, Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, two.
Wearing black face masks, the couple were spotted leaving their west London home, Kensington Palace, late on Saturday morning before being driven the 20 miles to Windsor for the funeral.
Buckingham Palace has refused to comment on whether any of the Royal family would be attending a wake – with numbers limited to 15 inside under the Government’s latest coronavirus guidelines or groups of up to six outside.
The last time the Cambridges and the Sussexes were seen in public together was March 9, 2020, when they attended a Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey.
The pregnant Duchess of Sussex was advised against flying over for the funeral by doctors, but is understood to have watched the televised ceremony from their home in Montecito, California.
Last night, a palace insider said the brothers were conscious of the "optics" of not walking together in the funeral procession and "understood the importance" of putting on a united front.
It came after a royal source revealed that they had spoken on the telephone since the Duke of Sussex arrived in Britain, grateful of the opportunity to speak while both in the same time zone. It is not known how long the Duke will remain in the UK.
The brothers' strained relationship has been exacerbated by the pandemic preventing any face to face contact since the Sussexes left for the US 13 months ago.
Both issued separate and very different tributes to their grandfather. While the sentiments were the same, the styles were contrasting, with Prince William vowing to "get on with the job" and Prince Harry paying homage to Prince Philip as the "master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ‘til the end”.
The next time the brothers are expected to be reunited in public is for the unveiling of the statue of Diana, Princess of Wales, on what would have been her 60th birthday on July 1.
Although the Sussexes' second child, a daughter, is due in early June, sources have said it is "unthinkable" the Duke would miss the long-awaited reveal in Kensington Palace Gardens. It is not yet known whether Prince William and Prince Harry will be joined by their families for the event.