It was the picture that broke a nation’s heart: two young princes united in grief as the world watched.
Now, nearly 25 years on from the funeral of Princess Diana, William and Harry will come together once more to pay tribute to their dearly-missed mother.
As they prepare to unveil a statue of Diana today, it is hoped the occasion will be a rare moment to address the growing rift between the brothers that has rocked the royal family.
Reportedly sparked by William’s concerns over Harry’s fast-developing relationship with Meghan Markle, the tense row quickly boiled over – with the younger prince accusing The Firm of racism and claiming his brother was “trapped” within the royal system.
Despite a brief reconciliation at the funeral of Prince Philip in April, the pair are said to have remained distanced, only communicating briefly by text. However, there remains hope that the brothers may be ready to reconcile.
Here is how their once close-knit relationship turned into a damaging war-of-words.
‘Don’t rush this, get to know this girl’
From the moment Meghan came into Harry’s life, tensions flared between the prince and William, according to last summer’s biography Finding Freedom.
“Don’t feel you need to rush this,” the older brother reportedly told the younger, adding: “Take as much time as you need to get to know this girl.”
The book’s authors, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, wrote that the phrase “this girl” immediately bothered Harry.
They said: “Harry was p***ed off… that his brother would ask such a thing.”
Speaking on the Channel 5 documentary Kate v Meghan: Princesses at War?, royal author Katie Nicholl said: “I think what was meant as well-intended brotherly advice just riled Harry.
“Harry is hugely protective of Meghan. He saw that as criticism. He interpreted that as his brother not really being behind this marriage, this union, and I don’t think things have been quite right ever since.”
Following the royal wedding in 2018, reports also abounded of a growing distance between the couple and Kate and William.
Allegations surfaced that Kate was “left sobbing” amid a tense argument with Meghan over the bridesmaids’ dresses.
However, during her interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year, Meghan said “the reverse happened” and she was left crying.
Claiming it would not be fair on Kate to go into details on what happened, Meghan simply stated there “wasn’t a confrontation” and an apology was made.
Brothers’ ‘fierce and bitter meeting’ over bullying row
Inside the palace, however, concerns over the Sussexes’ demanding behaviour was beginning to boil over.
In 2018, Jason Knauf, the joint communications secretary for Kensington Palace, sent an email to Simon Case, William’s private secretary, outlining concerns that two staff had left the palace after conflicts with Meghan.
“I’m very concerned that the duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year,” he wrote in a document drafted that October, The Times reported.
Knauf said her treatment of one aide had been “totally unacceptable”, claiming he had received “report after report” about the duchess.
Robert Lacey, the author of Battle of Brothers, claimed that William was “horrified” about the accusations and confronted his brother in a “fierce and bitter meeting”.
“The moment the prince heard the bullying allegations, he related to this friend, he got straight on the phone to talk to Harry — and when Harry flared up in furious defence of his wife, the elder brother persisted,” he wrote in an extract from the book, published in The Times.
“Harry shut off his phone angrily, so William went to speak to him personally. The prince was horrified by what he had just been told about Meghan’s alleged behaviour, and he wanted to hear what Harry had to say.”
The Sussexes have denied all allegations of bullying as inaccurate and insisted it was the product of a “smear campaign”. In a statement issued to the newspaper, they said the claims were “defamatory” and “based on misleading and harmful information”.
Prince ‘upset William wasn’t rolling out red carpet’ for Meghan
The first signs of a public rift between the brothers came when the Sussexes announced they were moving out of Kensington Palace, the royal residence they shared with the Cambridges, in November 2018.
Meghan and Harry said they would be leaving their central London home and relocating to Frogmore House in the grounds of Windsor Castle – ahead of the birth of baby Archie.
A royal source told The Sun : “The initial plan was for Harry and Meghan to move out of their cottage in the grounds of Kensington Palace and into one of the main apartments.
“But there has been a bit of tension between the brothers.
“Now Harry and Meghan don’t want to live next to William and Kate and want to strike out on their own.
“They need more room and hope Frogmore Cottage will be ready in time for when they have the baby.”
Over the coming months, Harry was said to have felt aggrieved that his brother wasn’t “rolling out the red carpet” for Meghan.
The Cambridges invited the Sussexes to spend Christmas at their Norfolk home, but reportedly only after an intervention by Prince Charles.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, a source said: “Harry felt William wasn’t rolling out the red carpet for Meghan and told him so.
“They had a bit of a fall-out which was only resolved when Charles stepped in and asked William to make an effort. That’s when the Cambridges invited the Sussexes to spend Christmas with them.”
The gesture appeared to fall short, however, as the brothers were spotted failing to speak to one another during an Easter Sunday service in 2019.
Nonetheless, following news of the birth of Harry and Meghan’s first son, Archie, in May, a proud William said: “Obviously thrilled, absolutely thrilled, and obviously looking forward to seeing them in the next few days when things have quietened down.
“I’m very pleased and glad to welcome my own brother into the sleep deprivation society that is parenting.”
‘We’ll always be brothers… we’re on different paths’
Later that year Harry confirmed the long-suspected rift on the ITV documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey.
“Part of this role and part of this job, and this family, being under the pressure that it’s under, inevitably, you know, stuff happens,” he said.
“But look, we’re brothers, we’ll always be brothers. And we’re certainly on different paths at the moment, but I’ll always be there for him, as I know he’ll always be there for me.”
He added: “We don’t see each other as much as we used to because we’re so busy, but you know, I love him dearly.
“The majority of this stuff (in the press) is created out of nothing, but you know, as brothers, you know, you have good days, you have bad days.”
By Christmas, hopes that the two households would once again come together were dashed as it was revealed Meghan and Harry would be spending it with the duchess’s mum, Doria Ragland.
In a statement, the palace insisted: “This decision is in line with precedent set previously by other members of the Royal Family and has the support of Her Majesty the Queen.”
However, following the announcement, speculation was rife that the rift was taking its toll.
“The rift between William and Harry is one of the main reasons behind their decision. As it’s Archie’s first Christmas, they want it to be super special. It’ll be just Doria and the three of them,” a source told US Weekly.
“The drama surrounding the couple has caused a huge amount of stress. They’re making their family their number one priority right now.”
Princes ‘drove talks to save bond’ during Megxit
The Sussexes arrived at Frogmore Cottage in April 2019 and further cut their their ties with the Cambridges two months later after splitting from their Royal Foundation charity.
The house move, though, was short-lived. On January 8, 2020, Harry and Meghan announced they were quitting their royal roles and relocating to Canada to seek privacy.
In the days that followed, the Queen and her heirs, Princes Charles and William, ordered a series of crisis talks to deal with the wantaway couple, forcing Harry to a Sandringham Summit at the royals’ Norfolk estate.
The emergency meeting ended with the Queen reluctantly granting her grandson and his wife permission to step down as senior royals.
Despite the stunning decision taking the royals off guard, the brothers were said to have remained on good terms throughout the negotiations.
A source told The Sun : “William and Harry have spent time together privately away from the official Sandringham Summit working on their relationship and discussing their future.
“It has been groundbreaking in terms of saving their bond as brothers and has been totally driven by them.
“But Kate and Meghan, who was in Canada, did join in with some of the talks on more than one occasion – which is another sign of a real thaw in their relationship. Things are better.”
William ‘all over the place’ after bombshell Oprah chat
In March, the Duke and Duchess of Sussexes’ bombshell inteview with Oprah Winfrey stunned the world – and plunged the entire royal family into crisis mode.
Harry told Oprah that he and William are on “different paths” and there is “space” between them, while Meghan claimed an unnamed royal made a racist comment about Archie and the institution didn’t help her through her mental health struggles.
Speaking about his father and brother’s future roles as kings, the prince said: “I am part of the system with them, I always have been, but I guess—and I’m very aware of this—my brother can’t leave that system, but I have. My father and my brother are trapped.”
According to friends, William was “very upset” and “reeling” over the claims, with his head “all over the place”.
A former palace aide told the Sunday Times: “Once he got over the anger of how things happened, he was left with the absence of his brother.
“They shared everything about their lives, an office, a foundation, meetings together most days and there was a lot of fun along the way. He’ll miss it forever.”
A close friend of the siblings claimed that William felt that the pressure is “all on him” and his future was different because of Harry’s decision to quit his role as a senior royal.
Another friend added: “It’s still raw. He’s very upset by what’s happened, though absolutely intent that he and Harry’s relationship will heal in time.”
Making his first public appearance since the interview alongside Kate later that week, William couldn’t hold back his thoughts.
Asked at the end of a visit to a school if he had spoken to his brother since the allegations were aired, the Duke of Cambridge said: “No I haven’t spoken to him yet but I will do.”
When Sky News reporter Inzamam Rashid asked immediately afterwards if the royal family was a racist family, William turned back towards the press, saying: “We’re very much not a racist family.”
Kate the ‘peacemaker’ at Philip’s funeral
The brothers reunited for the first time since the Oprah interview a month later at the funeral of Prince Philip.
A source told The Mirror that the warring royals were keen to put their differences aside to give the Duke of Edinburgh a fitting send-off.
“Despite everything that has gone on and the wounds are still pretty raw, everyone is hoping any disputes will be parked for another day,” they said.
“This is about giving the Duke the send-off he deserves surrounded by his family.”
While Harry’s remarks are said to have made it a “tense and difficult moment”, the pair were given a brief chance to talk alone after the funeral – with the Duchess of Cambridge hailed for acting as a “peacemaker”.
Kate, William and Harry were seen chatting as they left St George’s Chapel and walked back to Windsor Castle’s private apartments – before the duchess quietly dropped behind.
An insider told The Telegraph : “Being so close to her own siblings, Pippa and James, and having witnessed first-hand the special bond between William and Harry, she has found the whole situation difficult and upsetting.
“She is certainly someone who shies away from conflict, and will be hoping to sooth the tensions.”
Yet following the event, the relationship between the brothers is feared to have remained strained.
One source told The Sun that the brothers had only communicated by text since April, with no “personal chats or proper talks”, instead “just a very brief and minimal exchange of text messages”.
They added: “The relationship is still very much strained and there’s no sign yet that there will be any sort of coming together any time soon.”
Ahead of today’s unveiling of the Princess Diana statue, however, author Robert Lacey says there may still be hope of reconcilation, with Harry keen to admit to mistakes over the last few years.
“Harry is prepared to acknowledge the role that just sheer temper played at unfortunate moments, notably in the so-called [Megxit] blindsiding early in 2020,” he told Newsweek.
“He actually is prepared to admit, in a way that William doesn’t seem to be.”
Royal fans will hope that the brothers can finally put their differences aside and support each other once more through thick and thin.