Prince William left Kensington Palace with his wife Kate Middleton today as he prepares to see Prince Harry for the first time in more than a year – with the estranged brothers set to be reunited at their grandfather Philip’s funeral.
The princes will not stand shoulder to shoulder behind the Duke of Edinburgh‘s coffin as they walk from Windsor Castle’s quadrangle to St George’s Chapel – and will instead be either side of their cousin Peter Phillips.
When the coffin is carried into the chapel, William will move ahead of his younger brother as they take their seats separately, in an arrangement that will be seen by some as a missed opportunity to show family unity.
It had been quietly hoped that the loss of their beloved grandfather, who both men loved deeply, might start the process of rapprochement – but the brothers are unlikely to have even seen each other before the funeral.
William, 38, and Harry, 36, are among nine members of the Royal Family who will walk behind their grandfather’s typically unique coffin this afternoon, leaving the Sovereign’s entrance at Windsor Castle at precisely 2.45pm.
Today will mark the first time Harry and William have been seen together since March 2020, when they attended a Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey with other royals and could barely look each other in the eye.
Royal aides have been ‘walking on eggshells’ as they try to navigate the rift between the brothers, sources said last night as tensions remain following Harry and Meghan’s acrimonious split from the Royal Family last year.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave Kensington Palace this afternoon for Prince Philip’s funeral at Windsor Castle
Cars leave Kensington Palace in London this afternoon with a police escort for Prince Philip’s funeral at Windsor Castle
Prince William is pictured this afternoon as he leaves Kensington Palace for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at Windsor Castle
Relations were further soured by the couple’s explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey last month, in which they attacked senior royals while Philip, who died on April 9 at the age of 99, lay in hospital in London.
And today is likely to be a particularly difficult day for the brothers and evoke memories of having to walk behind their mother Princess Diana’s coffin in September 1997, when they were aged just 15 and 13.
William and Harry’s special bond with the Duke of Edinburgh
The Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex’s affection for their ‘Grandpa’ the Duke of Edinburgh was always to clear to see.
On official engagements, William and Harry were often captured side by side with Philip, usually in fits of laughter at something the duke had said.
Both enjoyed his witty and entertaining company and greatly admired his decades of dedication to duty and the loyal support he showed to the Queen.
Philip, William and Harry together at Sandhurst in April 2006
In a tribute released on Monday, William described his grandfather as a ‘extraordinary man’. He heralded his ‘mischievous sense of humour’, adding: ‘I will miss my Grandpa, but I know he would want us to get on with the job.’
William shared a poignant personal photograph taken by the Duchess of Cambridge of their eldest son Prince George, aged just two, riding in a carriage with his great grandfather in 2015. ‘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 and seeing for themselves his infectious sense of adventure as well as his mischievous sense of humour!’ William said.
Harry described Philip as ‘a man of service, honour and great humour, adding that ‘he was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ’til the end’. William and Harry spent their childhood summers enjoying barbecues cooked by Philip at Balmoral, as well as shooting, hunting and fishing, which was also much loved by the duke, on the Aberdeenshire estate.
The trio all shared a love of polo and outdoor life. As a royal patriarch, adored by his eight grandchildren, Philip was a larger than life character who even kept his royal relatives on their toes.
Harry said: ‘He was authentically himself, with a seriously sharp wit, and could hold the attention of any room due to his charm—and also because you never knew what he might say next.’ In a nod to Philip’s well-known impatience, Harry added: ‘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.’
As a military man who served with distinction in the Second World War, Philip was proud of his grandsons for their own service in the armed forces. When William and Harry’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales died suddenly in a car crash when they were just 15 and 12, the brothers were staying at Balmoral with their grandparents. The duke and the Queen supported the boys during the difficult days ahead.
Philip is said to have offered William and Harry ‘gruff tenderness and outdoor activities like stalking and hiking to tire them out’. Ahead of Diana’s funeral, he is said to have told the brothers as plans were being made for them to walk behind the princess’ funeral cortege ‘If I walk, will you walk with me?’
On the day, Philip joined the princes as they made the heartbreaking procession through central London in honour of the princess. The duke could be stern and it is not known what he made of the Megxit debacle when Harry quit as a senior working royal for a new life in the US with the Duchess of Sussex. Nor is it known whether Philip was aware of or what he made of the fall out from the Sussexes’ bombshell Oprah interview in which they accused the royal family of racism.
The Duke of York told on Sunday how Philip kept calm in a crisis, adding: ‘If you had a problem, he would think about it. That’s the great thing that I always think about, that he was always somebody you could go to and he would always listen.’
In 2012, William and Harry visited Philip together in hospital while he was being treated for a bladder infection during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and they did so again as a duo after he had abdominal surgery in 2013.
Insiders have stressed that the arrangement involving the positioning of the brothers in the funeral procession should not be taken as a sign that William and Harry refused to walk alongside each other.
Asked whether arrangements for the procession reflected the royal siblings’ relationship, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘This is a funeral, we’re not going to be drawn into those perceptions of drama, or anything like that, this is a funeral.
‘The arrangements have been agreed, and they represent Her Majesty’s wishes, so we’re not going to say anything more on that.’
Sources did admit, however, that the fraternal feud has taken up ‘much thought and energy’ in the Lord Chamberlain’s Office, which is responsible for today’s arrangements.
‘Everyone is walking on eggshells so as not to exacerbate the situation,’ said one.
‘To be fair, both William and Harry have made clear that they wish to focus on mourning their grandfather and do not want anything to get in the way of that.
‘But it has made everyone doubly nervous about saying anything that could be remotely construed of being critical of the other side. It’s been a minefield.’
Sources insist the formation of those walking behind the coffin was based on ‘bloodlines and age’.
Meanwhile a source told the Daily Mirror yesterday: ‘Tensions are still obviously running high, a lot has been said and wounds are still very raw.
‘But there is a realisation that everyone does need to reach some form of resolution, if only for the Queen, who has said it is her wish that the family comes together.
‘The family has been united in grief this week and it has given a lot of people pause for thought.
‘It is certainly hoped that the period of unity from the darkness of the Duke’s passing can be used as a catalyst to come together instead of letting the passage of time deepen divisions.’
The group will be led by the duke’s two elder children, with the Prince of Wales, 72, on the right and the Princess Royal, 70, on the left.
They will be followed by the Duke of York, 61, and the Earl of Wessex, 57.
Philip’s three adult grandsons are next, with William on the ‘elder brother’ column behind Charles and Andrew, while Harry will be behind Anne and Edward.
Between them will be Anne’s son Peter, 43. Although he is older than William, he is not a direct heir to the throne.
Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence and the Earl of Snowdon will follow behind the trio, with Philip’s staff bringing up the rear.
Tensions within the family have already seen the Queen change the dress code for the occasion.
A royal ceremonial funeral normally involves honorary military uniforms – but Philip’s mourners will be wearing day dress instead.
The monarch was forced to step in over behind the scene tensions after Prince Andrew insisted on wearing an admiral’s uniform, which other members of the Royal Family did not believe he was entitled to do.
This meant Harry – who has been stripped of his titles after quitting as a working royal – would have been the only member of the family not to be wearing military dress.
As an ex-serviceman he would only have been entitled to a lounge suit and medals.
Earlier this week the Daily Mail revealed that the Queen had ordered day dress to be worn by everyone to defuse the issue.
Last night the Duke of Sussex was finishing his quarantine after flying in from California. His pregnant wife Meghan Markle and 21-month-old son Archie did not travel.
This afternoon, the Duke of Edinburgh’s ‘unwavering loyalty’ to the Queen and his ‘courage, fortitude and faith’ will be marked at his funeral.
After 73 years of marriage, the Queen will say farewell to Philip during the televised funeral service today, attended by a small group of close family and friends.
Covid regulations have reduced the scope of the service with public elements cancelled, mourners reduced from around 800 to just 30, and all guests wearing face masks and sitting apart.
No sermon will be delivered during the ceremonial royal service, in keeping with Philip’s wishes.
His love of the sea and long association with the Royal Navy permeates the Order of Service, with the music chosen by the duke including the hymn Eternal Father, Strong To Save – traditionally associated with seafarers and the maritime armed services.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle speak to Oprah Winfrey in their bombshell interview which was first aired on March 7
Prince William (left, with his wife Kate Middleton) and Prince Harry (right, with his wife Meghan Markle) were last seen in public together at the Commonwealth Service with other royals at Westminster Abbey in London on March 9, 2020
The Duke of Edinburgh (front centre) walks next to Lady Louise Windsor (left) and in front of (from left) the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at St Mary Magdalene Church at Sandringham on Christmas Day 2017
Prince William laughs with his grandfather Prince Philip (centre) at the Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham in October 2015
Prince Harry smiles with Prince Philip as Kate Middleton and Prince William laugh at Buckingham Palace in June 2014
Prince Charles and Prince Philip walk in front of Prince William and Prince Harry as they leave Westminster Hall to make their way to Westminster Abbey for her funeral service of the Queen Mother in London in April 2002
Prince Philip, William, Charles Spencer, Harry and Charles walk during Princess Diana’s funeral in September 1997
The Dean of Windsor, in the Bidding, will pay tribute to Philip’s ‘kindness, humour and humanity’.
The other American duchess who missed a royal funeral
Almost 70 years ago an abdicated king returned from the US for a royal funeral, while his American wife was absent.
In 1952, the Duke of Windsor – formerly Edward VIII – set sail from New York onboard the ocean liner Queen Mary, travelling to London following the death of his brother George VI.
His wife, the Duchess of Windsor, remained in the United States, where they were living at the time.
Edward had plunged the monarchy into crisis in 1936 when he abdicated over his love for the divorcee formerly known as Wallis Simpson.
In 1953, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor watched their niece Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation on television from Paris
Now in 2021, the Duchess of Sussex will be more than 5,300 miles away in the US as the royal family gathers for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.
Former Suits star Meghan was the first American divorcee to marry a senior royal since Mrs Simpson, and both she and the Duke of Sussex have since quit as working royals and moved across the Atlantic.
Harry has travelled to the UK to pay his respects, but Meghan, pregnant with her second child, has remained at their home in Montecito, California, after doctors told her not to fly.
Their daughter is due to be born in the summer and the duchess had a miscarriage last year. It is understood Meghan made every effort to travel, whereas the Duchess of Windsor was not invited to George VI’s funeral, nor to Queen Mary’s funeral a year later.
Wallis was never forgiven by George VI’s widow Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother, for her role in the abdication crisis.
Just weeks ago, Meghan and Harry sent reverberations through the monarchy with their primetime Oprah interview. The couple sat down with chat show queen Oprah Winfrey on March 7, laying bare their struggles and troubled relations with their family, accusing an unnamed royal of making racist remarks about their son Archie before he was born, and the institution of failing to help a suicidal Meghan.
It is not known whether the duchess and the couple’s son Archie, who turns two next month, will watch the proceedings on television. The service begins at 3pm, which the coffin emerging at 2.40pm – which will be 6.40am in California.
In 1953, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor watched their niece Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation on television, from hundreds of miles away in Paris. In one photograph, the former monarch, dressed in a suit and tie, rested his foot on the low coffee table in front, exposing his striped socks.
They were living in exile in France at the time, and neither were invited to the ceremony. Instead, they were pictured sitting in hard-backed antique chairs, watching the historic occasion in the home of American millionairess Margaret Biddle.
Later the duchess was seen reaching for a cup of tea, while the duke passed around a platter of food to friends in the rows behind. Following in his great-great-uncle’s footsteps, Harry stepped down from royal duties with Meghan last year for a life free from the constraints of the monarchy.
‘With grateful hearts, we remember the many ways in which his long life has been a blessing to us,’ he will say of Philip, who died aged 99 on April 9.
‘We have been inspired by his unwavering loyalty to our Queen, by his service to the nation and the Commonwealth, by his courage, fortitude and faith.
‘Our lives have been enriched through the challenges that he has set us, the encouragement that he has given us, his kindness, humour and humanity.’
The Prince of Wales and Princess Royal will lead the Duke of York, Earl of Wessex and other family members walking behind the duke’s coffin, carried on a Land Rover hearse he helped design, during the funeral procession which the Queen will join, travelling by car.
Royal brothers the Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex, who have a troubled relationship, will not walk shoulder to shoulder but with their cousin Peter Phillips between them.
Philip’s love of carriage-driving will be a poignant feature of his funeral, with his carriage, which he designed, and ponies making an appearance.
The polished dark green four-wheeled carriage, accompanied by two of Philip’s grooms, will stand in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle as the duke’s coffin is carried past in the procession.
Among the mourners will be the Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Wessex and her children Viscount Severn and Lady Louise.
Zara and Mike Tindall, Princess Beatrice and her husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank have been invited.
Also attending will be the children of the Queen’s sister Princess Margaret, three of Philip’s German relatives and his close friend Countess Mountbatten of Burma.
The Queen was photographed driving in the grounds of Windsor Castle yesterday and during the day was back at work receiving calls from General David Hurley, Governor-General of Australia, and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
It is understood the calls were made by the national figures to convey their condolences to the Queen.
Philip’s children and grandchildren have been paying tribute to his life and legacy, and welcoming the support and warm words from the public who have left flowers and cards.
In the grounds of Windsor Castle on Friday, the Earl and Countess of Wessex viewed cards and flowers left by the public and appeared touched by the tributes to the duke.
While looking over handwritten letters from children, Sophie could be heard saying ‘how sweet’ before speaking to her husband Edward about the number of bouquets that have been gathered.
She was also heard to suggest there would have been many more tributes if coronavirus restrictions had not been in place.
The couple, who were joined by their daughter Lady Louise Windsor, spent around 15 minutes looking at hundreds of flowers and wreaths outside St George’s Chapel.
Among them were floral tributes from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Royal Navy – which the duke was associated with for much of his life.
Lord Chartres, a former bishop of London, said the Queen would be under ‘extraordinary pressure’ during the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral as she mourns her husband in public.
The retired Church of England bishop, who was understood to be close to Philip, told BBC Radio 4’s Today: ‘I hope that today people really will be sending up a prayer for the Queen and for the other members of the royal family because having to grieve in public is an extraordinary pressure and something that most of us would not really want to do.
‘But it is part of their life and their world, and I hope today, and I’m sure, that people won’t forget the personal dimension in the formal ceremonies.’
Lord Chartres said the duke had a ‘very practical’ Christian faith, adding: ‘I always remember preaching on occasions which he was principal actor that the instruction would always come down: ‘No more than four minutes’.
‘He was at home with broad church, high church and low church, but what he really liked was short church, and I think that-one was left in no doubt about that.’
The peer described Philip as a ‘very questioning, curious and deeply committed person’.