In the end, they stood shoulder to shoulder, and a world of royal watchers heaved a sigh of relief.
After a long, lonely and at times deeply difficult year marked by divisions, anger and resentment, Prince william and Prince harry were eventually reunited at the funeral of their grandfather, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
As they solemnly walked behind their grandfather’s coffin on Saturday, in one of the most poignant and moving processions in royal history, it was hard not to think back to the march they had made 24 years ago at the funeral of their mother, Princess Diana. And as the spring sun lit up Windsor Castle in all its glory, it was imagined that Princess Diana would have been happy that her beloved boys were together again.
The reunion was not easy, and for Prince Harry, who came from California for the funeral a week ago so he could adhere to strict Covid quarantine rules, it was not the return home than anyone wanted. While not entirely unexpected – Philip was 99 years old and had spent a month in hospital in the weeks leading up to his death – his death was sudden. Grief was etched on each of the faces of the royals on Saturday, but there was a silver lining in an otherwise very sad day – two brothers who once shared an unbreakable bond have been reunited even if only briefly.
For the Queen, who made a lonely figure as she sat alone in St George’s Chapel, the instructions to William and Harry had been clear: bury the ax for the day, and luckily they did. This allowed the focus of the funeral and hours of commentary and newspaper cover pages to rightly focus on the Duke’s high life, his remarkable accomplishments, and the incredible legacy he leaves behind. Philip was said to be deeply upset that his grandsons had quarreled, and no doubt he would have been happy that, even if it was just for appearances, William and Harry put their differences aside on such an important day.
Knowing that this would potentially be a tense reunion, a plan was in place to keep William and Harry apart during the procession. Their cousin Peter Phillips stood between them as they followed the procession from State Entrance at Windsor Castle to the quadrangle of St George’s Chapel, but as the procession solemnly marched behind Prince Philip’s bespoke Land Rover hearse , Peter (Princess Anne’s eldest son) stepped back and allowed the princes to walk side by side.
Once inside the chapel, you could feel their grief. William, jaw clenched as is often the case in extremely difficult times, sat directly across from Harry who was sitting alone. Sources close to Harry say he was nervous about coming home and attending the funeral, the emotion of the day and what it would be like to finally see William. There were signs of that nervousness, the way he was tapping his service order anxiously against his leg and staring into the distance unsure of where to look, almost looking worried to meet William’s eye on the other side of the room. alley.
Unsurprisingly, it was Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, who previously acted as a peacemaker among the brethren, which prompted the long-awaited truce after the service. As William chatted with the Dean of Westminster outside the chapel, she struck up a conversation with Harry. In their masks, it was impossible to know what was being said, but somehow Kate managed to defuse a deeply tense and difficult moment.
There was a lot of talk about this reunion and no one really knew how it would turn out. For a week, while his pregnant wife Meghan markle was forced to stay at home on the advice of his doctor, Harry was isolated in Windsor. He was said to have seen his grandmother across the lawns of the garden at Frogmore Cottage on Friday as the Queen walked her new puppies, but the reunion with William did not take place until Saturday morning, before the funeral.