The new Prince of Wales and the Duke of Sussex appeared side by side in a reunion on Saturday (10 September), following the death of their grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.
The reportedly feuding brothers, together with their wives Princess Kate and Meghan, viewed floral tributes to the Queen at Windsor Castle and spoke to well-wishers in their first public appearance altogether since the Queen’s platinum jubilee earlier this year.
According to a royal source, Prince William extended the invitation to Prince Harry to appear publicly together as he believed it was “an important show of unity at an incredibly difficult time for the family”.
The Queen died on Thursday (8 September) in Balmoral Castle at the age of 96, after 70 years on the throne.
On the following day, King Charles III was formally proclaimed King in an accession ceremony at St James’ Palace in London. The new monarch used his first address to the nation to confirm William as the new Prince of Wales, as well as send a message of “love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas”.
Both the King and William’s gestures have been seen as very public attempts to heal the divide between the Sussexes and the royal family, which began when Harry and Meghan decided to step down as senior members of the royal family.
The couple moved to California in 2020. Last year, they gave a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in which they claimed a member of the royal family had expressed concerns over what colour their son Archie’s skin would be when he was born and that Meghan was denied help after experiencing thoughts of suicide.
Royal experts have hailed William’s gesture to Harry as an “olive branch”, but remain divided over whether it means the brothers are on a path to true reconciliation.
Omid Scobie, executive royal editor for Yahoo! News and author of Finding Freedom, a biography on the Sussexes, tweeted: “The Waleses had always been scheduled to greet well-wishers at Windsor Castle, but royal sources say the decision to invite the Sussexes was made in the eleventh hour.
“It is, without a doubt, a significant moment in the history of the relationship between the two brothers.
“Just as we saw after the death of Prince Philip and at his funeral, these are the moments when members of the royal family can put differences to one side to focus on the loss that brought them together,” he added.
“Today’s public reunion was a show of the utmost respect to the Queen.”
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told Metro that the brothers’ reunion is “what the Queen would have wanted”.
He continued: “We’ve alas lost one of our great monarchs, but King Charles has extended a hand of friendship and William has made a positive move and so [the Sussexes] have responded.”
Fitzwilliams said there were still questions to be answered around the role Harry will play during the rituals and ceremonies in the lead-up to the Queen’s funeral on Monday (19 September), but he was optimistic that “one of the deepest royal rifts may be healing”.
Meanwhile, Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine and royal biographer, wrote in The Sun that it is up to Harry to meet William and King Charles in the middle.
“Harry has to co-operate, too, if this is to work,” she wrote. “William has offered an olive branch. His father has offered an olive branch. It is now Harry’s turn.
“In death there is life and in life there may be forgiveness.”
But some royal experts are less convinced by the display of unity, including ITV’s royal editor, Chris Chip.
In his op-ed, published on Sunday 11 September, Ship wrote: “This is not the two brothers embarking on some sudden path to reconciliation.
“It was, I hear, very difficult for both William and Harry to bury their differences and step out in public together in this way.”
He continued: “William and Harry putting on a show of unity for 45 minutes in memory of their grandmother is a far cry from actually being united.”
Sean Coughlan, royal correspondent for the BBC, also urged fans not to get too excited about the brothers’ relationship just yet.
“It’s going to be complicated and private between two brothers… Even among the most carefully-choregraphed steps of public mourning, there are still families and people falling our and making up,” he wrote.