Sibling rivalry has been around for as long as siblings have existed. But when you add in pressures like royal burdens, constant media scrutiny, and the line of succession, that’s when things get extra complicated.
Prince Harry has been referred to as the “spare heir” since birth. Rumor has it his father Prince Charles really wanted a girl and responded to his gender announcement with a rude comment. No wonder the Duke of Sussex has been fighting to free himself from his brother Prince William’s shadow for years now.
Most royal fans might assume that Prince Harry’s jealousy stems from wishing he was the future king. But that’s not even close to the truth.
They bonded over a shared tragedy
One of the most dramatic moments of bonding for Prince William and Prince Harry was also one of the most tragic. When the boys were 15 and 12 years old, their beloved mother Princess Diana tragically died in a Paris car crash.
Only William and Harry fully understand what it was like to lose Diana in this way and that shared sorrow brought the boys closer than ever. But that might have been the beginning of the rift between them. It was only because they were close in the first place that people noticed their recent distance.
“Nobody apart from each other knows exactly — not even their father — what’s gone on in their heads and their hearts for the last 20-odd years,” biographer Andrew Morton explained. “They both experienced the loss of their mother. The only people that they could trust to talk about it in a candid way was each of them.”
Prince William always had a different destiny to fulfill
From the first moments, everyone knew that Prince William would grow up to be king while Prince Harry would not. And while the younger royal has gone on record saying he doesn’t want to be king — and that in fact, no one really wants to do it — it’s still humbling being in second place for your whole life.
As a source told US Weekly, “There’s always been a part of Harry that felt like he was living in his brother’s shadow. He doesn’t envy the responsibility that comes with being the future king of England, but William’s the ‘golden boy’ and Harry feels like he has a lot to live up to.”
“William is the future King. There is going to be some competitiveness between him and Harry,” another source told People bluntly. “That already puts a rock in the relationship.”
Everything comes easier to Prince William
Ever notice the effortless way the Duke of Cambridge interacts with the press and his adoring fans? That type of geniality comes easily to Prince William. Whether it’s a natural aptitude or a learned skill is debatable. But either way, it’s something Prince Harry lacks.
Even getting married happened faster and is going more smoothly for Prince William compared to Prince Harry. For years, the Duke of Sussex envied his brother’s relationship with Kate Middleton. Now he’s found love of his own, but he’s still far from content.
No one knows for sure if these two drifted apart because of some huge fight or as a natural part of growing up (or some combination of both). But no matter what, they still share an unbreakable bond of brotherhood.
“Part of this role and part of this job, this family, being under the pressure that it’s under, inevitably, stuff happens,” Harry said during an ITV interview. “But look, we’re brothers, we’ll always be brothers. We’re certainly on different paths at the moment but I’ll always be there for him and as I know he’ll always be there for me.”