There were signs of reconciliation between Prince Harry and his brother William at Prince Philip’s funeral service today – and Kate Middleton appeared to play a crucial role.
Harry and William were both part of the silent procession behind Philip’s coffin before the funeral, though they did not walk side-by-side. Instead, their cousin Peter Philips was placed between them.
The brothers were also separated during the service itself, as COVID-19 restrictions required attendees to remain within family bubbles.
Afterwards, however, as the family exited St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, Harry was seen talking with Kate.
A few moments later, Harry, Kate and William broke away from the rest of the crowd and walked together. Harry was in the middle, flanked by his brother and sister-in-law.
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It was a significant moment, given the deep rift that has developed between Harry and William in recent years.
The Duke of Sussex’s relationship with the rest of his family, including William, has been strained ever since he and his wife Meghan Markle decided to step back from their roles as senior working royals in early 2020.
Last month, Harry and Meghan gave an explosive interview to Oprah Winfrey in the United States, during which they accused Buckingham Palace of rebuffing requests to get the Duchess treatment for her mental health.
The couple also claimed a senior royal had expressed concerns about the colour of their son Archie’s skin before he was born, though they stressed the culprit was neither the Queen nor Prince Philip.
Meghan did not return to the United Kingdom for Philip’s funeral, citing advice from her doctor. She is currently pregnant.
Instead, she sent a handwritten note and a wreath of flowers, designed by Willow Crossley. The wreath included Eryngium, respresenting the Royal Marines, and Acanthus mollis, which is the national flower of Greece, where Philip was born.
William and Harry did not actually reunite until today, as the latter was in quarantine.
Kate’s role in their apparent reconciliation after the funeral was noteable. Ahead of time, British media reported she would try to be a peacemaker.
“The Duchess of Cambridge, who Harry described as ‘the big sister I never had’ when she became engaged to William in 2010, will help to broker peace between her husband and brother-in-law,” the UK Telegraph’s royal expert Camilla Tominey said on Tuesday.
“Kate was said to be ‘hopeful of a reconciliation’ with Harry and Meghan before the Oprah interview, telling friends she did not think it was too late to ‘pull them back in’.
“With pregnant Meghan unable to attend the funeral on doctors’ advice, it is hoped that Kate may be able to foster a rapprochement, believing it to be ‘incredibly sad’ that William and Harry are not on better terms.”
A source told Ms Tominey Kate “shies away from conflict” and would be “hoping to soothe the tensions”.
As our own Daniela Elser noted this week, Kate and Harry had a close relationship even before she got engaged to William.
As Kate settled into her royal career, she, Harry and William often attended official events as a group, and in 2016 they teamed up to launch the mental health charity Heads Together.
But following Harry’s engagement to Meghan, tensions between the two couples rose steadily.
During her interview with Oprah, Meghan addressed rumours that she’d made Kate cry in the lead-up to her wedding in 2018.
“No, the reverse happened,” she claimed.
“It was a really hard week of the wedding, and she was upset about something. But she owned it, and she apologised, and she brought me flowers and a note apologising. She did what I would do if I knew that I hurt someone, to just take accountability for it.”