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Could the war be over, or the ice at least be thawing? After a long period of reported animosity, a royal insider has told Us Weekly that Prince William and Prince Harry’s relationship is beginning to improve.
“William and Harry’s fallout was very real, very ugly, and incredibly intense,” the source said. “They’d reached an impasse, there was so much mud under the bridge and a lot of people felt their feud was beyond repair.”
“It’s certainly been a roller-coaster for everyone involved, especially the brothers, who are vowing not to let things get this out of hand in the future and have learned a lot from this difficult experience,” the source told Us Weekly. There has been “a lot of rejoicing” from family, including Queen Elizabeth, as the brothers mend their strained relationship, the publication said.
William and wife Kate Middleton are reportedly preparing to travel to California to spend time with Harry and Meghan. The brothers “are looking forward to spending time together in person the moment it’s safe to travel,” an insider told Us Weekly, noting they will likely reunite in England. “But at some point in 2021, the Cambridges will travel to Santa Barbara and see the Sussexes on their new home turf.”
If true, the story of improved fraternal relations would provide a positive cap to a year of turbulent royal drama—including the publication of a book, Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family, which laid out in unsparing detail Harry and Meghan’s fury at the way they had been treated by the royal family.
It was a year ago today, on Jan. 8, 2020, that Harry and Meghan first revealed their intention to “step back” as senior members of the royal family, setting off a chain of events—the royals were not happy with their pitch!—which led them to effectively leave the royal family, while keeping their titles of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
They now live in California, with 19-month-old son Archie, have multimillion-dollar deals with Netflix and Spotify, and are rumored to be at odds with members of the royal family who are said to be uncomfortable with their money-making activities.
However, the message—this week, at least—from Montecito is, everything’s great.
Harry and Meghan are “in a good place” and their organization Archewell is “doing amazing things,” a source said, quoted by The Sun. “After a very turbulent 12 months for everyone in the world and massive changes of moving country and all the rest of it, they have also been very vocal about what they have gone through in their own personal life. They have a house. They have created the financial independence that they were after... And so I think that they are in a very good place.”
Last year "was a huge game-changer for Harry and Meghan and it came with its ups and downs—the stress of announcing their departure from the royal family, moving three times, dealing with the pandemic, making huge business decisions, setting up Archewell, coming to terms with the miscarriage,” another source told Us Weekly. “It’s brought them closer together and made them a stronger couple.”
These anniversary-celebrating sources are clearly keen to emphasize the positive over, say, Harry and Meghan’s alleged ongoing feuding with the royals, and their battles with the media, including Meghan’s court case against the Mail on Sunday—the latest chapter will unfold on Jan. 19.
On that day, a British judge is set to hear Meghan’s application for a summary judgment in the case—meaning the judge may decide they do not need to hear witnesses or consider further evidence to declare his verdict. The case centers on Meghan’s claim that her privacy rights were breached when the Mail on Sunday published extracts from a letter she wrote to her father in 2018.
But there has been no mention of any storm clouds this week from Sussex HQ. “Meghan and Harry took a huge leap of faith to embark on their new life,” a source close to the couple told People. “It was always their dream to be financially independent and pay their own way.”
A source close to Harry told the magazine, “The year started out with a lot of excitement and anticipation. Harry was finally doing what he’d wanted to do for years, and to have Meghan and Archie with him was all he could have asked for.”
“Despite everything that has been going on this year, they don’t regret their move to the U.S.,” an “insider” told People. “They love that they are able to focus on projects and causes that are important to them.”
The rosy picture is in stark contrast to weekend reports that any chance of future royal roles for Harry and Meghan now being “dead in the water,” according to royal sources talking to the Daily Mail.
“It’s solely down to the choices they have made,” a source said. “There is no anger or animosity [on behalf of the royal family]. But every commercial deal that has been done by the Sussexes has been a nail in the coffin of any kind of return to royal life.”
Another source told the paper, “To come back would mean they would have to undo all the commercial tie-ups they have already done, and clearly Harry and Meghan don’t want to do that. That is absolutely their choice and the queen has agreed they can pursue these new careers. But to cap it all, they have bought a house 6,000 miles away, which is an unmistakable statement of intent on their behalf.”
The Daily Beast and other publications recently reported that Harry and Meghan wanted a 12-month extension of their “Megxit” probationary period (which ends officially on March 31 this year), agreed upon when they left their senior royal roles last year. That now doesn’t seem likely, and because of COVID travel restrictions, Harry will not be returning to Britain to discuss the matter with the queen, the Mirror reported this week.
“Harry was told very clearly in January by his grandmother that ‘you work for the monarchy, the monarchy doesn’t work for you,’” one source told the Mail. “And if you can’t accept that, then you need to walk away. Her Majesty was remarkably clear and decisive on that point and has never deviated from it, not once. I think what has evolved this year across the Atlantic has only served to prove her point.”
While these tensions still exist, if Meghan is able to secure a summary judgment in her Mail on Sunday case, it may prove to be a moment of alignment with the palace, because the royal family would reportedly prefer not to endure the spectacle and fallout of Meghan’s estranged father Thomas taking the stand or the possibility of father facing off against daughter in a courtroom and in public.
The U.K. Sunday Times recently reported that courtiers were “astonished” the case had gotten this far, and that several former Sussex staffers are already preparing to be grilled in the witness box. These courtiers want Meghan to drop her suit “to protect the royal family.”
One source told The Sunday Times, “A trial would be traumatic for Meghan and Harry, it will expose palace operations, members of staff would be dragged into it on the witness stands... it would be deeply uncomfortable for the institution.”
The court case may not provide the only opportunity for accord between Harry and Meghan and the royals. Later this year, their presence is expected at the queen’s 95th and Prince Philip’s 100th birthdays, and the unveiling of Princess Diana’s statue—a project Harry has overseen with William—at Kensington Palace. And, if the latest reports of fraternal bonding are true, the smiles—if and when all sides are reunited—may not just be for show.