The Truth About Queen Elizabeth's Relationship With Prince William

Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8, 2022. She will be remembered as the longest-serving monarch in British history to date, and also for the relationships she had with her children and her grandchildren. 

Of those relationships, a lot of attention has been paid to how she and her grandson Prince William got along during her lifetime. As the oldest son of King Charles III and Princess Diana – and now as the man who is second in line to the kingship and will presumably ascend the throne upon his own father's passing — it makes sense that Queen Elizabeth would be invested in shaping the person who William has been and who he is now.

In fact, while speaking to News Corp Australia, E! News royal expert Melanie Bromley has attested that the pair had a "half family and half business" relationship. Here is a look at the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Prince William.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince William didn't have an easy relationship

By definition and design, the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Prince William was never one that was purely between a grandparent and her grandchild. As heir to the throne, Queen Elizabeth often seemed acutely aware of the weight required to teach William what to expect for his own future as monarch.

As E! News royal correspondent Melanie Bromley told News Corp Australia, Queen Elizabeth and William's relationship was inherently close. She said, "William is going to become king, so there has been a very close relationship between William and the Queen." Bromley went on to explain that Queen Elizabeth spent time teaching William the same royal lessons that she taught her son, King Charles III. 

The relationship between the queen and William was also a lot more strict than the one she shared with William's brother, Prince Harry. As Bromley shared, once William and his wife Kate Middleton began having children, the pressure was off the queen to impart royal lessons to Harry, who is unlikely to become king at all (via News Corp Australia).

Queen Elizabeth trusted Prince William more in later years

In August 2019, the Express reported that Queen Elizabeth had begun to more seriously share royal duties with her grandson Prince William. The outlet interviewed royal author Juliet Rieden about what those lessons might be like. Rieden explained that in part, the queen was motivated by her advancing years. At the time the article was published, Queen Elizabeth was already 93 years old.

Rieden said, "The queen is 93 and she's offloading a lot of her work both to her son and to her grandson. William has really had to up the ante and take on a lot of this heavy lifting." These lessons seemed to have changed the dynamic between grandmother and grandson, as they also found themselves interacting as mentor and mentee, or even colleagues at times.

Robert Lacey, who works as a consultant for the Netflix series "The Crown," has also spoken about these unique lessons. As he told Vogue in 2017, there's a lot for William to learn before he ascends the throne. Lacey said that some of the work began when William was still a teen, and explained, "She would have him at Windsor Castle and would open the state boxes and guide him through the papers. It was William's constitutional education."

She might have had a hand in Prince William's separation from Prince Harry

Prince William and Prince Harry have been locked in an feud that appears to have begun around the time Harry began dating his wife, Meghan Markle. Per Cosmopolitan, problems between the brothers began in Christmas 2018, when Harry reportedly approached William about doing more to welcome Markle into holiday celebrations with the royal family. Eventually, the feud between the brothers escalated to a point at which the relationship between the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who originally shared an office and several charities, began to break apart. The Sussexes began to separate themselves from the Prince and Princess of Wales, then known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, in June 2019 (vis Cosmopolitan).

While it's been said by some royal sources that Queen Elizabeth preferred to stay out of the business of her family members, others have claimed that the monarch herself was behind the decision for the brothers to separate their households and charities. Showbiz Cheatsheet reported that Omid Scobie, journalist and one of the authors of "Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family," agreed with the decision. Scobie explained, "Their operating style is very different to the Cambridges, and so having their own space to think as big as they like, working on a global scale, is perfect for them."

The queen encouraged Prince William to take care of Kate Middleton

Prince William and Kate Middleton began dating in college, and the royal family knew that if Middleton was the woman William married, she needed to be protected and taken care of as she learned more about her own stature within it. As one royal aide explained to author Katie Nicholl, who wrote the book "Kate: The Future Queen," those who work at the palace were introduced to the future wife of Prince William early on in the relationship. The aide explained that part of their work included coaching Kate on the media (via Showbiz Cheatsheet).

"William said we had a duty of care to her and her famil,y and so we advised her on how to deal with the cameras," the aide explained. "We told her to smile at the photographers so that there would be a better picture. She was given advice on how to manage the media, and we were there to support her if there was a crisis."

Queen Elizabeth was one of the first people who welcomed Middleton into the royal family. After William and Middleton's relationship had hit the five-year mark, Queen Elizabeth invited Middleton to Balmoral and allowed her to photograph the home and the land around it. As Nicholl also noted in her book, this was a big break from royal protocol, but it showed where Queen Elizabeth was making an effort to welcome Middleton and make her feel comfortable (via Marie Claire).

Queen Elizabeth had a lot of opinions about Prince William's life

Queen Elizabeth clearly loved her family members, but that love didn't stop her from expressing her confusion or even dismay at some of their choices. As People noted in August 2022, one such occasion arose in 2015 after Prince William and Kate Middleton moved into their country estate, Amner Hall, and began making a few changes. Some of those changes included adding more trees to the perimeter of the home to increase their privacy, as well as moving the home's gate further down (per Hello! Magazine). 

As People pointed out, other renovations were focused on the areas of the home that the family would occupy. Royal author Sally Bedell Smith told the outlet that when the queen visited the home after the pair made a renovation, she was absolutely baffled by one key feature. "I remember when they had just finished renovating Anmer Hall, and they invited the queen over for lunch," Smith said. "They have one of those big kitchens with eating areas, and she said, 'I can't understand why everybody spends their time in the kitchen.'"

Prince William was invaluable to the queen at the end of her life

Prince William became incredibly important to Queen Elizabeth as she approached the end of her life. In the years that led up to her passing on September 8, 2022, the queen began to rely on William more than ever before. This was especially true following the death of her husband, Prince Philip, in April 2021.

Historian Robert Lacey explained to People that the queen spent a lot of time speaking to both her son, King Charles III, and to Prince William. If they couldn't speak in person, she would call William on the phone. Lacey added that while William wasn't officially on the same royal level as Queen Elizabeth, he was invaluable to her. "They operate together — not as equals, because the queen remains in charge — but William is a very active component in the way the monarchy protects itself," he explained.

Queen Elizabeth was impressed by Kate Middleton's love for Prince William

To say that Queen Elizabeth was pleased with Prince William's wife is an understatement. Royal author Andrew Morton, who wrote "Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words," told OK! Magazine that Queen Elizabeth was keen to avoid some of the mistakes the family had made with Princess Diana when Prince Charles began dating her. As Morton told the outlet, Queen Elizabeth was happy that Middleton loved Prince William for who he was. To support that, she invested herself into the pair's relationship. Morton explained, "She spends a lot more time supporting and nurturing the relationship between William and Catherine than she did with Charles and Diana. It's pretty clear she wasn't going to make that mistake again."

Morton also told the publication that few things had made Queen Elizabeth as happy as William and Middleton's wedding day. "The queen was positively playful on the day of her grandson's nuptials," he recalled. "She had a sense that the future of the royal family, her family, was now secure."

She believed Prince William was the future of the nation

Royal author Andrew Morton has commented on the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Prince William fairly frequently. In an interview with OK! Magazine, he elaborated on the dynamics between the pair, saying that it was evident to Queen Elizabeth that William was the future face of the monarchy in more ways than one.

As Morton put it, he believed Queen Elizabeth viewed her own son's reign as King Charles III as a transitionary period between her period of rule and her grandson's, as opposed to a full-fledged monarchial experience. As such, he stated that the queen's emphasis for the future was on Prince William and his family. "I think she sees them very much as the future," Morton said. "She's no fool — she knows Prince Charles is going to be an interregnum, like Edward VII, so the family that will carry the burden for the monarchy going forward is the House of Cambridge."

Queen Elizabeth and Prince William got closer after Prince Harry stepped back

Another boost to the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Prince William was Prince Harry's decision to step back from his royal duties. In March 2021, The Times explained that once that transition began to take place, Queen Elizabeth and William grew even closer. And when William's uncle, Prince Andrew, was removed from royal duties, the pair was said to have bonded even more.

The Prince and Princess of Wales had also made the decision to move closer to Queen Elizabeth ahead of her death in September 2022. The pair moved themselves and their three children into Adelaide Cottage, which was close to the queen's home at Windsor. While Kensington Palace remains their official home, it's expected that the family of five will spend significant time at Adelaide Cottage, and the children began school nearby in September 2022 (per Hello! Magazine).

She let Prince William live his life as much as possible

Despite the fact that he is clearly the future of the British monarchy, in her lifetime Queen Elizabeth seemed to focus on letting her grandson, Prince William, live his life on his own terms as much as possible. In a 2012 interview with Katie Couric, William revealed that to him, one of his grandmother's greatest strengths was her ability to listen. "She's a very good listener, so if you do ever have problems, you can share them with her and she will listen and she will try and help," he said.

However, William went on to clarify that this didn't mean Queen Elizabeth would tell you what to do. As he continued, "But otherwise, she sort of lets you get on with your own life and carve your own path, and your successes are your successes and your failures are your failures, but she'll be there to help."

That might have been one reason that, as William told Couric, he had "tremendous" respect for his grandmother as a person. "I just remember always having a healthy respect for my grandmother, more so than others," he added.