If this is a truce, it doesn’t much look like one.
Prince Harry and Prince William released dueling statements Monday afternoon following the death of their grandfather last week, with Harry making a statement just 32 minutes after his brother released his.
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That the brothers were unable or unwilling to co-ordinate a joint statement does not bode well for hopes of fraternal reconciliation in the coming days.
Harry and Meghan were criticized in some quarters for unilaterally posting a brief message of condolence on their website last week, before other more senior members of the family had spoken.
While William’s statement today was intensely personal, focused on his own memories of his grandfather, Harry sought to identify directly with the general public, referencing the coronavirus pandemic and drawing a parallel between his bereavement and that of “many of you who have lost a loved one or grandparent over the pain of this past year.”
Prince William’s statement, which was accompanied on Twitter by an adorable photograph of Prince George on a horse-drawn carriage with Philip, appeared to refer to the guidance and support his grandfather offered him after the death of his mother, Diana, in a 1997 car accident, saying: “I feel lucky to have not just had his example to guide me, but his enduring presence well into my own adult life—both through good times and the hardest days.”
William said Philip’s “century of life was defined by service—to his country and Commonwealth, to his wife and Queen, and to our family.”
William paid testament to Philip’s “infectious sense of adventure as well as his mischievous sense of humour” and said he was grateful Kate “had so many years to get to know my grandfather and for the kindness he showed her,” adding, “I will never take for granted the special memories my children will always have of their great-grandpa coming to collect them in his carriage.”
William’s statement concluded: “My grandfather was an extraordinary man and part of an extraordinary generation. Catherine and I will continue to do what he would have wanted and will support The Queen in the years ahead. I will miss my Grandpa, but I know he would want us to get on with the job.”
Harry described his grandfather “as a man of service, honour and great humour.”
In language that seemed more Californian than British, Harry described his grandfather as “authentically himself.”
He also seemed to refer to the duke’s tendency to make outrageous remarks, saying, “You never knew what he might say next.”
Harry’s statement went on to say that while he would be remembered for his many official roles, “for me, like many of you who have lost a loved one or grandparent over the pain of this past year, he was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ‘til the end.
“He has been a rock for Her Majesty The Queen with unparalleled devotion, by her side for 73 years of marriage, and while I could go on, I know that right now he would say to all of us, beer in hand, ‘Oh do get on with it!’
“So, on that note, Grandpa, thank you for your service, your dedication to Granny, and for always being yourself. You will be sorely missed, but always remembered—by the nation and the world. Meghan, Archie, and I (as well as your future great-granddaughter) will always hold a special place for you in our hearts.”
Harry signed off his note with the phrase “Per Mare, Per Terram,” the Latin motto of the British Royal Marines.
Harry succeeded his grandfather as captain general of the Royal Marines in 2017. Philip had previously done the job for 64 years. Harry was forced to resign after 30 months as part of the terms of his departure from royal life.