Prince Harry says he understands ‘how irritating the younger sibling can be to the older sibling’ as he recalls life at boarding school with Prince William

 Prince Harry and Prince William.
Prince Harry and Prince William.

Speaking about his life at boarding school with older brother Prince William, Prince Harry has revealed he was 'hurt' by his brother ignoring him but said he understands ‘how irritating the younger sibling can be to the older sibling.'


As many younger siblings experience throughout their lives, their paths are often first cut and cemented by older siblings. For Prince William and Prince Harry, despite their differing futures in the Royal Family due to their places in the royal line of succession, this was no different.

Their current lives couldn't be more different, with Harry living in LA with his wife, Meghan Markle, and two children, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet, while William is preparing to become King and give his children prominent royal titles when he does, but at one point their paths weren't all that dissimilar.

The two sons of King Charles and Princess Diana, who passed away in 1997, are only separated in age by a two-year gap and this meant they were always close and often doing the same thing while growing up. When it came to their schooling, it meant they were often attending the same institutions and this, Prince Harry has revealed, was something his older brother was not too happy about.

Prince William and HRH Prince Harry on the balcony of Buckingham Palace
Prince William and HRH Prince Harry on the balcony of Buckingham Palace

Speaking on 60 Minutes with host Anderson Cooper during a promotional interview for his memoir Spare, Cooper asked about a passage in the book where Harry recalled his time at Eton College.

He said, "Your brother told you, 'Pretend we don't know each other'," prompting Harry to respond, "Yeah, and at the time it hurt. I couldn't make sense of it.

"I was like, 'What do you mean? We're now at the same school. Like, I haven't seen you for ages, now we get to hang out together.' He's like, 'No, no, no, when we're at school we don't know each other.' And I took that personally."

Speaking about the same passage in Spare during an interview with ITV, Harry later admitted that, while he was initially hurt by William's statement, he can now understand his wish to keep away from his brother.

He said, "I get how irritating the younger sibling can be to the older sibling. But in the moment, at the time, I didn't – I didn't really grasp that, I didn't really realise it, but yes, I’ve always loved my brother."

Prince Harry and Prince William
Prince Harry and Prince William

William's desire is somewhat understandable when you put the royal turmoil he wasn't experiencing during his time at Eton into context. He was only 13-years-old when he enrolled there in 1995 and the institution was said to be a 'haven' for him as his parents’ public feuds raged on and reportedly left him deeply embarrassed.

However, he did still experience some struggles at the school. His classmate, the actor Eddie Redmayne, told Vanity Fair, “I did play rugby with Prince William. I always felt a bit sorry for him, because basically any school you played, all they wanted to do was tackle Prince William and they could say, ‘I tackled Prince William.’ So if you were standing next to Prince William, like I was, it was actually quite easy and quite fun.”

Perhaps because he enjoyed his time the school, and contrary to his approach to interacting with Harry when he did enrol at the college, William reportedly encouraged his parents to send Prince Harry to Eton where they could study together.

According to royal author Robert Lacey, “The Prince of Wales came to feel that Eton was simply beyond the intellectual reach of Harry and for a time Diana had agreed, prompting the two parents to research a series of alternatives – posh schools for thickos.

“But William protested. He insisted that his brother would be happiest joining him at Eton – that’s what Harry had told him he really wanted to do, and that’s what William wanted too.”