Prince William and Prince Harry have been in the spotlight their entire lives, and it feels like this has never been true like it is right now.
The relationship between the brothers is heavy — they carry a figurative weight that few people on this planet can truly understand. Their positions in the world, and their shared reality as the children of two people who had a notoriously tumultuous and very public marriage and divorce, likely impacts nearly every decision they make.
In his upcoming book, royal expert Robert Lacey really dives into the various factors that have influenced how William and Harry have made choices about the women they have brought into their lives.
Whereas Prince William notoriously made Kate Middleton wait nearly a decade before he married her, and was rumored to have cheated on Kate numerous times, Prince Harry was ready to marry Meghan Markle pretty much from the moment he met her.
Robert explains that while William and Harry were raised by the same parents, they have become adults who have internalized remarkably different life lessons from what their parents endured.
The Daily Mirror has been exploring the book deeply, and a writer for the publication recently interviewed Robert Lacey about the brothers. Susanna Reid asked, “The turmoil that is going on between these two brothers is very disruptive. Is it something that started with Meghan marrying Harry and finding out she was very unhappy within the Royal family, or did it begin before that?”
Robert was quick to note that Meghan definitely isn’t the problem for the brothers:
“No, it went way back, and [that’s] what the book is about. It goes right back to the beginning, it’s chickens coming home to roost from all the trouble of the 80s and 90s. These young boys are the product of that marital turmoil, and they took two opposite lessons from it.”
Like a lot of children of divorce, William and Harry saw and internalized lessons from both of their parents. William was 14 and Harry was 12 when their parents split up. Unlike a lot of kids, the brothers Windsor had to endure the breakup of their family on an international stage. While the royal family attempted to shield the young boys from the worst parts of the story, they were still old enough to read, hear, and see a lot.
Robert explains that it seems William took one stance following this experience: duty above all else.
“William took the lesson of duty, as he went through these difficult times, the prospect that he was going to be King was inspiration and strength for him. So when he fell in love he politely asked his girlfriend to wait nine or ten years before they got married so he could make sure she was up to the job. That’s his priority and they have created a wonderful figurehead for the future.”
Of course, we now know that it’s not that Prince William “politely” asked Kate Middleton to wait to get married — this was basically the only option that she was given. While the pair have dodged infidelity rumors in recent years, it was hardly the first time Prince William was alleged to have cheated on Catherine. William also wrestled with his own feelings, and at times he seemed to waffle on whether or not he really wanted to get married to Kate at all.
Robert says that Prince Harry seems to have learned a different lesson:
“Harry took the opposite conclusion from the turmoil of his parents’ loveless arranged marriage. He was going to go for love, so we are looking at a clash between these eternal principles of love versus duty.”
One of the most upsetting realities about the union of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer is that it’s never been quite clear that Charles genuinely wanted to marry Diana. While the princess was always quite happy to talk about how much she loved her husband, Charles never really committed to expressing the same sentiment himself. At least, not about Diana.
Prince Harry has been clear about how much he loves Meghan Markle from the very beginning of their relationship. While most people didn’t know the pair were dating one another for months, once details started to spill out, it was clear that Harry was fully immersed in the relationship he and Meghan were building together.
One can definitely argue that as the future king, Prince William had a lot more pressure on him when it came to choosing someone to marry. After all, Kate isn’t only his wife — she has several projects all of her own design and is heavily invested in causes that impact children and families. She and William also have three children together, with Prince George in line behind his father in order of succession.
It also seems that Prince William wanted to make sure he married someone who would be a solid partner but who wouldn’t attempt to steal his own thunder a la Diana and Charles. Again, as the royal figurehead, William probably does need to command a certain presence. Prince Charles was said to have been jealous of the attention that Diana attracted in general, and it isn’t outside the scope of reality to believe that Prince William may have wanted to avoid something similar in his own marriage. Kate has often given a public impression of being only too happy to let her husband take the lead.
Harry, on the other hand, married a woman who was already a celebrity. Meghan had a long career in Hollywood and was still filming her show Suits when the two were introduced. While she’s never been one to chase attention from tabloids, she already carried a name that was easily recognized by many people.
The relationship between the brothers could be like that of any other pair of siblings; you have your good years and your not-so-good years. It can also be hard on siblings if one makes a decision that the other either cannot understand or is unwilling to begin to. While neither William nor Harry have confirmed or denied any parts of Robert Lacey’s claims, the story itself will probably continue to spark conversation about the brothers for weeks to come.
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