The truth about Prince William and Prince Harry's relationship

Prince William and Prince Harry are two of the world's most famous brothers, and the future heir to the British throne and his younger sibling have grown up in the world's spotlight. As the children of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, who is next in line for the throne, every move the two have made over the years has been publicly scrutinized and often photographed. Growing up, William and Harry were close, with few people able to understand their fishbowl existence and the loss of their mother Diana bonding them forever. 

Sadly, as William and Harry have matured into husbands and fathers, they endured a very public rift, with Harry leaving England. However, their relationship was reportedly later repaired. So what is the brothers' relationship really like and how has it been throughout the years? Let's take a look back at the royal brothers' bond and discover the truth about Prince William and Prince Harry's relationship.

As children, Prince William and Prince Harry loved doing this together

Growing up, Prince William and Prince Harry split their time between royal residences like Kensington Palace in London and Prince Charles' beloved Gloucestershire estate Highgrove, with nannies, housekeepers, and chefs at their disposal. One former royal chef, Carolyn Robb, who wrote the cookbook The Royal Touch about her time working for the family, discussed the brothers' childhood hi-jinx with Yahoo! Style. She reminisced about her time with the family, explaining that they would often join her as she worked.

"When William and Harry were small, they loved to come into the kitchen. ...  Being an old palace with wooden floorboards you could usually hear them running around upstairs," said the chef. William and Harry would reportedly "fly in and out" of the kitchen and hide from their nannies in the cupboards. "We fortunately had some quite low down cupboards so we could hide Harry; except usually his giggling gave him away," Robb told Yahoo! Style.

Princess Diana was "very anxious" about Prince William and Prince Harry's relationship

Ingrid Seward, editor of Majesty magazine and author of more than 20 books on the British royal family, revealed details about the differences between the way young Prince Harry was treated on the Channel 4 documentary Meghan and Harry: The Baby Years, according to the Daily Mail.

Seward said that Princess Diana, who had a stunning transformation in her life, was mindful of Prince Harry's place in the pecking order and was "very anxious" her second-born didn't feel second-best next to his older brother, the future heir. By contrast, the Queen Mother would occasionally play favorites, according to Seward: "The Queen Mother used to say, 'Come on William come and sit next to me,' and little Harry would be completely left out." One can only imagine how that affected young Harry's psyche.

Of course, it wasn't all bad for poor Harry. When the Queen Mother died, she left Harry "the bulk" of her £14 million estate, according to BBC News, as William would be set when he became King.

Young Prince William and Prince Harry had a "fantastic" relationship thanks to Princess Diana

"William and Harry both had very fun childhoods," royal chef Darren McGrady, who spent 11 years with Queen Elizabeth II and four years with Princess Diana, told OK magazine. Aware of the pressures that would face the boys, Diana let them "enjoy being kids," which led to the brothers embarking on outings to places like Walt Disney World and McDonald's.

As a result, McGrady revealed that young Prince William and Prince Harry were very close: "Growing up, William and Harry had a fantastic relationship." While McGrady prepared the royal meals, the brothers were frequently "running into the kitchen, trying to help me make Mummy's dinner because they wanted to be involved."

Speaking with Delish, McGrady also shared what Princess Diana really thought of the brothers' personalities. "William's deep like his father, and Harry is just an airhead like me," Diana reportedly said. Considering that Harry has devoted his life to charitable endeavors like Sentebale — focusing on vulnerable children in Lesotho, Botswana, and Malawi — and encourages empathy and kindness, as seen on his Instagram, we're sure Diana would find Harry suitably deep nowadays, too.

At boarding school together, Prince William and Prince Harry had very different experiences

Prince William and Prince Harry attended the same boarding school, the famously posh Eton College, a stone's throw from Windsor Castle counting 19 prime ministers as graduates, according to BBC News in 2010. Although William and Harry were at Eton at the same time, they weren't as close as in previous years and their experiences at the school were very different.

In a piece for The Cut, former classmates revealed some surprising details. Popular Prince William was naturally at the top of the pecking order and was "like a homecoming-king type." But according to one classmate, Harry was not like his brother in that way. "I think Harry probably had it harder finding his way," the same source said. Fortunately, regardless of how they acted and were received, both were mostly treated like everybody else. "The attitude towards them was very matter of fact," the classmate shared.

The differences between William and Harry continued to grow while at Eton, revealed royal biographer Katie Nicholl in her book William and Harry. "While William had grown out of childish pranks and immersed himself in his studies, Harry earned a reputation for being the class clown," she wrote, according to Express.

When Prince Harry was in the military, Prince William worried about him

In 2007, Prince William and Prince Harry sat down with Matt Lauer for an illuminating interview for the Today show, according to NBC News. Not only did the interview show the close relationship between the brothers, with both teasing each other, but it touchingly revealed that William was worried about Harry while he was in the military.

When asked by Lauer about his feelings, William replied, "Of course, I worry. But I've got full confidence in what he does, and he knows what he's doing and he's very good at what his job is."

Interestingly, the interview also hinted at a bit of jealousy on William's part toward Harry because of the younger brother's ability to see combat. When Lauer asked William if he would be able to see combat action himself as an air ambulance pilot, a job he had according to BBC News, William said, "I live every day that I might hope to get to do what he does, because otherwise what's the point of my training?"

How Prince William and Prince Harry communicate

When imagining royal brothers, it's easy to picture them communicating entirely through white-gloved staff... but the reality is very different. When Prince William and Prince Harry sat down with Matt Lauer at Clarence House in 2007 for an interview with the Today show, as covered by NBC News, they revealed that they're just like everybody else (for the most part).

"We are slightly normal," Harry cracked when Lauer asked disbelievingly if they communicated via text and email, adding, "We contact each other the normal way: text message, phone calls." William agreed, noting, "Usually he's left something at home and I have to bring it for him."

During the interview, William and Harry teased each other. When Lauer asked if William could be called "studious, thoughtful, dutiful, proper," Harry jokingly replied, "I'm sure that's fantastic that the American people think that of William," adding, "As long as we want to be fools, we can." The brothers' easy rapport is equal parts heartwarming and hilarious.

Prince Harry once called Prince William "the perfect brother"

Prince William's 2011 wedding to Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey was the true stuff of fairy tales, watched by a reported 2 billion people around the globe, according to The Telegraph. The bond between the brothers was evident as Prince Harry — the best man — turned to William when Kate began to walk down the aisle and whispered, "Wait till you see her," according to Us Weekly. 

Later that night, as guests celebrated during the evening wedding reception at Buckingham Palace, Harry publicly cemented their remarkable bond by reportedly calling William "the perfect brother" during his wedding speech, according to the Daily Mail. His gushing extended beyond brother William, as Harry also said he thought of Duchess Kate "like a sister."

During his speech, Harry couldn't resist a gentle ribbing, saying of his brother at the wedding reception, "William didn't have a romantic bone in his body before he met Kate, so I knew it was serious when William suddenly started cooing down the phone at Kate," Express reported.

Prince William and Prince Harry were forever bonded because of Princess Diana's death

Few have had to endure public scrutiny while grieving as Prince William and Prince Harry did. Losing their mother, Princess Diana, in the spotlight bonded them forever, said Diana's biographer Andrew Morton in Royals Monthly, according to Us Weekly.

"Their relationship is incredibly intimate," Morton said. "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." The loss of their mother meant that the only people they could truly let their guards down in front of was each other, an experience that bonded them for life.

When Harry gave a speech on the tenth anniversary of their mother's death, he revealed, as reported by Us Weekly, that he and William "can separate life into two parts," the years with their mother and the years after. "She was our guardian, friend and protector," Harry said, citing his mother's "unfaltering love." He added, "Behind the media glare, to us, two children, she was quite simply the best mother in the world."

When Prince Harry missed their mother, Prince William was "a huge support"

Prince William and Kate Middleton have spearheaded the Heads Together campaign championing mental health, something Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were involved in through the Royal Foundation, according to BBC News. It's no wonder that mental health counseling is near and dear to Harry's heart, as he required counseling himself while struggling with depression.

In 2017, while speaking to The Telegraph, Harry shared that he had shut down his emotions "for almost two decades" and had relied heavily on William. "My brother, you know, bless him, he was a huge support to me," Harry said. "He kept saying this is not right, this is not normal, you need to talk to [someone] about stuff, it's OK."

Thankfully, William was there to help get Harry get back on his feet. And now that Harry is married to Meghan — who prioritizes emotional wellbeing, as seen in a Sussex Royal Instagram post — the prince has another positive influence in his life.

Prince William and Prince Harry have always been competitive

With an age gap of a little over two years, Prince William and Prince Harry were raised very closely, with Princess Diana going out of her way to provide a normal life for them. However, just like regular, non-royal brothers all over the world, their closeness also lent itself to a healthy sibling rivalry. "They're very, very close ... they're also very competitive — and always have been," revealed royal biographer Andrew Morton in an issue of Royals Monthly, according to Us Weekly.

Growing up as the younger brother with William's role as heir to the throne reportedly took an emotional toll on Harry. "There's always been a part of Harry that felt like he was living in his brother's shadow," a royal insider speaking to Us Weekly said in 2019. It's possible that reported uneasiness and slight jealousy on Harry's part may have influenced the brothers' rift later on. "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," the source shared.

Prince William and Prince Harry dissolved their joint household because of "different outlooks on life"

Ever since the tragic death of Princess Diana in a Parisian car crash, Prince William and Prince Harry have turned to each other for comfort and support through times both good and bad. "The brothers have leant on each other and looked after each other since their mother died," an anonymous source told The Times (via The Sun). However, after starting their families, the distance led them to stop relying on each other so heavily. "They have become different people with different outlooks on life," the insider shared.

When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle decided to form their own household — first leaving Kensington Palace for Frogmore Cottage at Windsor, and then forming their own office at Buckingham Palace — speculation swirled. However, the move was described as "long-planned" by official sources, according to Town & Country.

A statement from the Queen's office pointed to Harry and Meghan's then-impending move to Windsor: "This long-planned move will ensure that permanent support arrangements for The Duke and Duchess's work are in place as they start their family and move to their official residence at Frogmore Cottage."

Prince William's reported lack of support for Meghan Markle may have caused a temporary rift with Prince Harry

According to The Sun, a royal source explained Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's decision to move from Kensington Palace to Frogmore Cottage. "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," said the source. "But there has been a bit of tension between the brothers."

Vanity Fair reported that royal biographer Katie Nicholl claimed that the falling out between Prince William and Prince Harry initially started when the younger brother felt slighted by his older sibling, feeling that he wasn't properly welcoming to Meghan in the early days of their relationship. "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," Nicholl said.

Meanwhile, in Prince Harry's ITV documentary chronicling his ten-day royal visit to South Africa (via Town & Country) with Meghan in 2019, Harry and Meghan: An African Journey, the Duke confirmed the rift, saying, "We're certainly on different paths at the moment," according to People. 

This is the reason Prince William and Prince Harry resumed contact

Royal reporters have feverishly speculated about the true reasons behind the rumored royal rift between Prince William and Prince Harry, since the brothers had always been so close. Regardless of the issues between them, the brothers fortunately resumed contact after Prince Charles fell ill with COVID-19, making him one of several celebs who tested positive for coronavirus, according to Entertainment Tonight.

"They have done video calls together, they have done a lot of family birthdays and I think with Prince Charles not being well, that really forced the brothers to pick up the phone and get back in touch," royal reporter Katie Nicholl revealed.

In the ITV documentary Harry and Meghan: An African Journey, Harry spoke candidly about the ups and downs of his relationship with William. "We're brothers, we'll always be brothers," said Harry, according to Time, confirming that, regardless of their "different paths," their bond would endure. "I'll always be there for him and as I know, he'll always be there for me," Harry continued. "We don't see each other as much as we used to because we're so busy but I love him dearly." No doubt Princess Diana would be proud of the relationship her sons have maintained.