William and Harry: Brothers with a troubled relationship

Tony Jones
·2-min read

Siblings are often known to have troubled relationships and the Duke of Cambridge and his brother the Duke of Sussex are no different.

The pair have had a friendly rivalry for years, poking fun at each other in public but joining forcing to work together on common charity goals – like their Heads Together mental health campaign.

Watch: Royal biographer Penny Junor on William and Harry ahead of Duke’s funeral

The royal brothers were brought closer together following the trauma of losing their mother when they were boys.

Prince William opens Darwin Centre
Diana with her sons William and Harry (Adrian Dennis/PA)

William was 15 and his brother just 12 when Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a car crash in Paris on August 31 1997.

The Duke of Cambridge highlighted how the experience helped them bond in an interview aired during the 20th anniversary year of his mother’s death.

He said: “We have been brought closer because of the circumstances as well, that’s the thing. You are uniquely bonded because of what we’ve been through.”

However, just a few years later Harry publicly revealed how their relationship had weakened.

When in 2019 he was questioned about an alleged rift with William, he said he loved his brother dearly but they were “on different paths” and have “good days” and “bad days”.

Oprah Winfrey interviews Duke and Duchess of Sussex
The duke and duchess during their interview with Oprah Winfrey (ITV Hub/Harpo Productions/CBS)

He said: “We are brothers. We will always be brothers.

“We are certainly on different paths at the moment but I will always be there for him as I know he will always be there for me.

“We don’t see each other as much as we used to because we are so busy but I love him dearly.

“The majority of the stuff is created out of nothing but, as brothers, you know, you have good days, you have bad days.”

The backdrop to the rift was later revealed in Harry and Meghan’s explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey, when they claimed the duchess had received no support from the monarchy in her mental health struggles.

Rugby Union – Rugby World Cup 2015 – Final – New Zealand v Australia – Twickenham
Harry and William with their grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The couple accused an unnamed royal, not the Queen nor the Duke of Edinburgh, of raising concerns about how dark their son Archie’s skin tone would be before he was born.

Harry also spoke of a breakdown in his relationship with his father the Prince of Wales.

William publicly denied the bigotry accusation, saying when questioned by a journalist: “We’re very much not a racist family.”

With the royal family coming together to mourn the death of Philip, the period may allow the two brothers to begin a reconciliation.

Watch: The wonderful life of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh