Why Kate Middleton Just Might Be the Secret Weapon Behind Prince William Repairing His Relationship With Prince Harry

The duchess of détentes? A new report suggests that Kate is taking it upon herself to put the brotherly battle to rest once and for all.

By Sarah Grossbart May 05, 2019 10:00 AMTags
Prince Harry, Prince William, Kate Middleton, Meghan MarklePaul Grover- WPA Pool/Getty Images

Calling it an Easter miracle would likely be an exaggeration. 

Attributing it to the spirit of the season may be a step too far as well. But either way having made the roughly 25 mile trip from their four-story Kensington Palace apartment out to Grandmother's house at Windsor Castle, Kate Middleton and Prince William made the decision to close the proverbial gap between them and his brother Prince Harry

After all his new digs are but a two-mile drive from St. George's Chapel where they were all on hand to attend Easter church service with Queen Elizabeth II. A Harper's Bazaar source categorized the drop-in as an opportunity for Kate and William to check in on Harry's nine-months-pregnant bride Meghan Markle and see what the two had done with the place. "William and Catherine visited because Meghan was unable to attend the service," relayed the source. "They wanted to be supportive and see how she is doing. It was a lovely afternoon." 

But confiding to UK paper The Mirror, a separate insider, said the Frogmore Cottage visit bore a far weightier meaning. Calling it an "olive branch", the insider said Harry extended the invite at Kate's urging, with the Duchess of Cambridge eager to make the brotherly battle a thing of the past.

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Because with reports labeling the dustup as everything from a small fight to a "disastrous row that could not be defused", one thing is clear: For as princely and charming as the two dukes can be they are not any less immune to sibling squabbles then the rest of us mere mortals. And all signs point to them having a bit of a go at each other in recent months. 

On his TrueRoyalty.tv chat show, The Royal View, filmmaker Nick Bullen hosts royal biographers, friends and other insiders who all have "firsthand knowledge of life inside the palace," he shared with E! News, one of the guests being Princess Diana's former bodyguard Ken Wharf who also worked with each of the brothers.  

Riffing on the boys' earliest days, said Bullen, Wharf spoke about how "they were like normal brothers who bicker and fall out and have sibling rivalries. We've told the story that these boys are closer than ever as brothers and they've got each other's back and I'm sure that's all true, but the reality is that they're also brothers. Brothers fall out and everyone has falling outs with their families."  


While it's unlikely either sibling will just come out and share details of their recent tensions, each being quite reticent to talk about dealings in their personal lives, theories abound. 

Royal biographer Katie Nicholl reported to Vanity Fair that the feud dates back to Harry's initial courting of Meghan, a successful set-up that left him so smitten he impulsively invited her to Botswana for their third date. Having formed a tight trio with William and his bride over the years, the group even teaming up to launch their Heads Together mental health initiative, Harry was anxious to see how the actress would occupy the fourth space in the group and quite eager to get their approval.

Instead, he was met with resistance. 

"During the early stages of the relationship, ahead of the engagement announcement, William did speak to Harry, just wanting to make sure Harry knew what he was getting himself into," relayed Nicholl. "He voiced some concerns that things were moving too quickly....I was told when Harry first brought Meghan back to the palace, he was desperate for Kate's approval. He so wanted Kate and Meghan to become firm friends and allies. I don't think it ever crossed his mind that he perhaps wouldn't get it unconditionally from his brother."

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William's words, undoubtedly intended simply as a note of caution from an heir who waited some nine years before committing to forever with Kate, stung, said Nicholl, "I think Harry felt that he didn't have the backing from the one person he really wanted it from."

The Mirror's report, however, is far more hyperbolic, suggesting the root of the issue is the Sussexes' determination to forge their own path separate from presumptive future King William and his Queen Consort. According to their source such inner dealings led to "a complete and utter breakdown of communication" between the brothers that Kate is desperate to repair. 

"Kate is acutely aware of the importance of William and Harry getting along, not just because of perception but their collective responsibility to the monarchy as a whole," a palace source tells the paper. 

While talk of issues between William and Meghan "are wide of the mark," notes a courtier, "a specific conflict has led to a deep and personal falling out that could not be defused or abated."

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And now, suggests another source, those in the inner circle are fearing the worst—that a family spat could lead to a permanent division, which would be seen as largely detrimental to the future of the monarchy: "There is a very real fear that if the princes do not repair their relationship, it may reach a point where it is too late." 

Still, not everyone is prepping for a doomsday scenario. Many reports brush off the issue as the type of disagreement that is apt to pop up in families from time to time. As one source told The New York Post, "The rift is not as huge as some have made it out to be."

And signs do point to things getting back on track. Though body language experts were quick to dissect the brothers' distance outside of the Easter service at Windsor, making note of the fact Harry walked several feet ahead of his older sibling and directed most of his focus toward cousin Zara Tindall and her husband Mike Tindall, the source told The Post that he and William could be seen joking together once settled into their chapel pew. 

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And Harry and Kate couldn't have been more chummy at the annual Anzac Day Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey Apr. 25. (Of course the two in-laws have always had an extraordinarily close relationship, with Newsweek reporting about Kate's habit of treating her bonus sibling to home-cooked meals and William joking about Harry's tendency to pop round to their apartment to raid their fridge.)

In addition to the Easter tea, the siblings were spotted together with dad Prince Charles in early April at the world premiere of Netflix's Our Planet series and William will doubtlessly make the trip to Windsor to meet his new niece or nephew when the time comes. 

And certainly the feud isn't irresolvable enough to send the newlyweds off to a completely different continent. Though multiple reports indicate the soon-to-be parents are keen to spend time in Africa focusing on environmental and conservation issues, it's not the multi-year sabbatical that was initially reported by The Sunday Times

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"The plans are still in the early stages, but broadly it will be a series of short trips away rather than spending years away from home," one source told Vanity Fair. "It's worth pointing out that the Sussexes want to do this, this is being driven by them."

In other words, this is not all part of William's sinister plan to push the competition out of the country. Both Meghan and Harry have long held interests in doing humanitarian work in various African countries. Harry, who based his HIV charity Sentebale in Lesotho and Botswana, spent some two months doing conservation projects in the southern part of the continent while Meghan was part of a clean water initiative in Rwanda in 2016. 

"It was always Meghan's dream to spend time in Africa because of her roots. She has always wanted to be a humanitarian who travels around the world and she's loved for that in the States," an insider told Vanity Fair. "My experience of her was that being a respected humanitarian really mattered to her. She's got her pick of where to go now and which charities to work with, she didn't have that platform as much when she was a celebrity."

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So, yes, weeks, or even months, abroad certainly seem to be a part of the couple's longterm vision for their philanthropic future, but it's far too early to predict exactly how they will shake out. 

"These discussions, which the couple are driving, are very much embryonic," an insider told Harper's Bazaar. "Both the duke and duchess are keen to balance projects in Britain and overseas, particularly countries in Africa. There are many exciting possibilities...but moving away for years? That's not an idea they are throwing around. We're talking a few months away or a series of trips."

After all, they did just finish a lengthy and extensive overhaul of their new Windsor digs. "Britain is their home," a friend tells the outlet, "and where they want to raise their family." 

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But when it comes to philanthropic endeavors, the world is every bit their oyster and they are keen to make their own mark, separate from the Cambridges. 

"Before they were engaged, they talked about being roving royals—the ones who were going to travel around the world, be international, affect change," a pal told Vanity Fair

Echoed another source, "They are thinking about the future. Harry was always referred to as the spare, but he's not the spare any more. This is about him and Meghan finding meaningful roles for the future. It's about Harry redefining his role and him and Meghan finding a new role in the Royal Family and creating their own place in the institution."