Prince Philip funeral: Harry and William to 'stand shoulder to shoulder', could help repair 'deep damage'
'Everyone will be watching the funeral closely to see the body language between the brothers,' reveals a source
Princes William and Harry will reunite as they walk behind their grandfather, Prince Philip's coffin, at his funeral on Saturday, April 17. The brothers, who haven't been on speaking terms for over a year, are expected to put aside their differences to pay tribute to their grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, and stand shoulder to shoulder during the event, said reports.
Harry's wife, Meghan Markle will not be there. It is understood she was not given clearance to travel by her doctor. Prince Harry is supposed to arrive from the US within the next 24 hours. The duke, who died peacefully at Windsor Castle on Friday, April 10, with the Queen by his side, was said to have been “dismayed” by the deteriorating relationship of his grandsons.
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According to the royal sources, he “urged them both to put to rest their differences, and not only remember their bond but also be mindful of their duty to the Queen and the country”, reported the Daily Mail. Once inseparable, William and Harry have hardly spoken in more than two years after a series of disastrous rows.
Harry’s attendance could be his opportunity to fix the ‘deep damage’ caused by his and Meghan’s sit-down with Oprah, royal experts said, as he spoke to senior members of the royal family ahead of his return to the UK. The duke will be taken to St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on a Land Rover he helped design and will be followed by pallbearers from the Royal Marines, Regiments, Corps and Air Stations. Just behind the Land Rover, the Prince of Wales and other members of the family, likely to be the duke’s other children and some of his grandchildren including Harry and William, will proceed on foot.
Whether the unity will prove more than a public appearance remains to be seen, but some royal sources believe that the brothers’ first meeting for more than a year could lead to some kind of settlement. According to a source: "He said he wants to be with everyone and was already making arrangements to come home." William is said to have been offended by claims of racism in Harry and Meghan's interview with Oprah. He is assumed to be particularly hurt by Meghan's allegation that his wife Kate made her cry during a bridesmaid's dress fitting.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, said gathering for Philip's funeral could allow the family to have "a comparative bit of privacy" together. He told Times Radio: "I think there might be a bit of consolation in it for the royal family actually because it just gives them a chance to be close and to have a comparative bit of privacy. Obviously, the whole ceremony will be watched by everybody but you think of the complexities of the dynamics in that family and we have to think of Harry, so far away. I'm sure he'll come but not being, the whole time, in the public eye might just help. Many a family gather and get over tension and broken relationships at the time of a funeral. Something very profound unites them all again. And that would be true for this family, I'm sure."
Speaking of William's reunion with his brother, a source told the Mail on Sunday, April 11: "All eyes will be on William and Harry at the funeral. This is the first time we're going to see them together since Harry and Meghan left for their new life in America. There has been so much bad blood but everyone is hoping that, perhaps, this will mark the beginning of a reconciliation." The source added that, even though tensions have been "high", the royal family are "united in grief".
"Harry was told the news about his grandfather at the same time as other members of the family." The source added: "They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Everyone will be watching the funeral closely to see the body language between the brothers."
Following their mother's death in 1997, William and Harry walked behind her coffin as it made its way to Westminster Abbey. Journalist Penny Junor told Mail Online: "My hope is that if something good can come out of the duke's death, it will be that it brings the family together. But clearly, there is a lot of hurt on all sides, and I imagine they will all be feeling apprehensive about seeing one another again. With luck, their desire to support the Queen and pull together for her sake, which I am sure is what the duke would have wanted, will win the day."