The death of Queen Elizabeth II could help spark a reconciliation between Prince Harry and his wife Meghan and the rest of the royal family after a reported split and their move to the United States.
The couple, who made a rare visit to Britain when the Queen died on Thursday, reunited with Harry’s brother William and wife Kate at Windsor Castle on Saturday. It was their first joint public appearance since moving to the United States in early 2020.
All dressed in mourning black, they looked together at the growing flower banks left by the public before greeting the benefactors as separate couples, giving little away about the state of their relationships.
But the quartet’s decision — once dubbed “the fabulous four” in narrower times — to appear in front of the cameras together seemed a sign of progress in mending severely severed ties.
British royal reporters said heir-apparent William introduced the “olive branch” to his younger brother, who has become increasingly critical of the family since leaving frontline royal duties.
Just two days earlier, it was a different story, with tear-eyed Harry, 37, arriving alone in a vehicle at the Balmoral estate where the Queen had previously died.
William and several other close relatives – but not Kate – had turned up together in one car before, but also arrived too late to see the Queen before she died.
Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams said Thursday’s separate arrivals showed the brothers had become “estranged”.
He argued that in recent months Harry and Meghan “have done a lot of damage to the royal family” with their side against the monarchy.
“For the future, the ball is in their court and it depends on how they want to play,” Fitzwilliams added.
Things used to be so different.
After the princes’ mother, Diana, died in a car accident in Paris in 1997, they touched the world by walking behind her coffin at her funeral.
William was 15, while Harry was just 12.
They seemed to have a close bond as adults, unbroken by William who married his long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton in 2011 and started a family.
But relations soured after former British Army Captain Harry’s 2018 wedding to Meghan – a mixed-race American television actress – in Windsor in 2018.
He said in a 2019 interview that he and his brother were “on different paths”. A year later, Harry and Meghan sensationally announced their move to the US.
During the subsequent explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021, Meghan was seen publicly claiming that Kate had made her cry.
The most damaging allegation, however, was that an unnamed royal had been speculating about the skin color of Meghan’s future mixed-race child.
William later responded by telling a journalist that the royals were “very little” of a racist family.
Relations between the brothers were visibly frosty when they reunited last year to unveil a statue for their mother.
They did not meet during the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations in June.
More recently, Meghan told The Cut magazine in a lengthy interview that she now felt “free” to tell her own story, which some saw as a veiled threat to the monarchy.
Since the queen’s death, however, there have been tentative signs of a possible softening of the estrangement.
Despite Harry claiming to Winfrey that his brother and father were “trapped” in the monarchy, Charles seemed open to reconciliation with his self-exiled son in his maiden speech as Britain’s new king, notably voicing “love” for him and Meghan.
“He offers an olive branch, but he offers (it) with great care because he knows they are unpredictable,” Fitzwilliams said.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are popular with young people but could take a big risk to openly criticize the monarchy, he added, especially at a time of national mourning and in its aftermath.
“There is no doubt that the Sussexes will now attract a lot of attention,” Fitzwilliams noted, with British public opinion already firmly on the side of the family.
Saturday’s joint appearance with William and Kate, who this week became the Prince and Princess of Wales after Charles’ accession to the throne, could open a new chapter for family relationships.
But since Harry expected to release his likely controversial memoir by the end of the year, things could easily take a turn for the worse.
“Of course they will attend the funeral. More than that, that’s impossible to say,” Fitzwilliams said.
“If he is no longer critical in Harry’s memoirs, that’s different.”
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)