If we could turn back time – even by a year – the sight of Princes William and Harry walking side by side behind their beloved grandfather’s coffin at his funeral on Saturday would have been both heartbreaking and heartwarming.
A nation would remember the day nearly a quarter of a century ago when these once inseparable boys followed in the wake of their mother Diana’s coffin – united forever, we thought, in grief and loss and love. An unbreakable bond.
Yet that bond has been broken. It is shattered by Harry’s quick and unexpected departure from his royal duties to live in the US, and by the incendiary interview he and his wife gave to Oprah Winfrey in California when ‘Grandpa’ was seriously ill in the hospital.
There is now hope of reconciliation between William and Harry, and many believe that the Duke’s death will give them common ground to rebuild their once-rock-solid relationship; that this funeral will bring Diana’s once inseparable sons back together, just as she would have liked.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during their CBS interview with Oprah Winfrey last month
That William as the eldest should be the bigger man, expand the olive branch and apologize to Harry and Meghan for all the pain they caused the royal family by publicly labeling at least one of them as racist in the interview with Oprah.
There are those who feel that William should even find it within himself to forgive Harry, move on, forget all the wild, unfounded charges brought against him, his wife and the rest of the royal family.
As a Christian who believes in the sanctity of forgiveness as the cornerstone of our faith, I would love to see that happen.
But if I were William – who, let’s not forget, will one day become the highest governor of the Church of England – I would have to ask myself, Can I really find it in myself to forgive Harry’s betrayal? Are some wounds just too deep?
Harry knew exactly what he was doing when he and Meghan secretly made plans to leave the UK just months after their wedding and demanded a new deal from the Queen to diminish their royal duties and still retain the privileges and titles and maintain personal protection.
All while pursuing a multi-millionaire celebrity lifestyle in California and living in the pocket of Netflix.
Yes, the same company that produced the hit TV series The Crown – a fantastic and often cruel show of royalty, portraying the Queen as a cold and outsider and Prince Philip as a blundering buffoon.
Harry knew he would seriously abandon his brother William – also the father of a young family – which would increase not only his dedication to duty but the vast amount of public assignments he would have to carry out when Harry was absent.
He knew he was breaking that bond with his brother, but he did it anyway. Because, as Harry said in that interview, it was his new family – not the royal family – that now came first.
Still, like his grandfather and grandmother, William never complained, he never explained.
Only once has he publicly defended his family against Meghan’s allegations, in an unusual and clearly outraged response to a reporter who asked if her allegations were true.
Prince William and Prince Harry attended the European premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the Royal Albert Hall in 2017
With gritted teeth, he replied: The royal family is “not racist.”
Harry must have known that what his wife would tell the world in that interview would make the royals look cold, remote and unwelcoming.
As we saw, Harry was utterly complicit in his walk-on role – especially when it came to the as-yet-unspecified claims of racism.
Perhaps more unforgivably, Harry has allowed his wife to trace his sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, more than once.
Those of us who have come to love and admire our future queen were enraged. Imagine how betrayed her husband must have felt! Harry had committed an unforgivable sin that could attack Kate.
Because make no mistake, there is seldom forgiveness between brothers when the sisters-in-law drop out.
Of course, both men are completely protecting their wife.
You can only imagine how upset Kate would have been when Meghan claimed to about 50 million viewers worldwide that she didn’t make her cry when trying on her bridesmaid dress in 2018 – that it was Kate who made her cry. .
Meghan also claimed she was suicidal when she was five months pregnant with son Archie and that the royals refused to make Archie a prince.
She claimed to have repeatedly asked the palace for advice, but was ignored.
Prince Philip, Prince William, Charles Spencer, Prince Harry and Prince Charles, walk during the funeral service for Princess Diana
The queen was characteristically cold in her response, famously saying that “some memories may be different.”
But the House of Windsor has been left shaken, and there is no doubt that the interview caused deep anger and fear at a time when the family was preparing to say goodbye to Prince Philip for the last time.
What grief Harry and Meghan’s words must have brought to the Queen as her lifelong partner, her Rock, was seriously ill in the hospital.
And what brother could forgive another who justified his actions by saying that if Grandpa died, they would postpone the interview? Do not cancel. Just postpone! Coincidentally, the Duke returned from the hospital for a few weeks to die next to his beloved Lilibet.
If Diana had been alive, she might have injected some sense into Harry’s head, befriended Meghan, paved the path of reconciliation between her two once inseparable sons.
Would she have seen the early warning signs, as women often do, and made peace before this modern Welsh war even started?
I feel very sad for William and Kate as they make plans for Prince Philip’s funeral. To them, he was a man they revered and loved, and they promised to follow in his honorable footsteps.
In addition, they will have to greet the brother and smile at the brother who, along with his wife, turned his back on it and caused them so much pain.
Funerals are meant to bring families together, but as many of us know, they can often tear them apart. Such sadness aggravates inflicted, imagined, or actual pain.
Emotions are reinforced; we cling to those we know we can trust. And for William and Kate, they are unlikely to trust the man who shared the content of one of their recent conversations with America through TV host Gayle King.
Still, I feel sorry for Harry, who walked alone on that last march, knowing the damage he did – not just his brother, but the queen and grandfather he adored and mourned.
The boys may walk side by side on Saturdays – just as they did all those years ago at their mother’s funeral with the Duke of Edinburgh, their father and uncle. But I now fear their hearts might as well be a million miles apart.
Meghan’s friends revealed this week that she and her husband were ‘willing to forgive the royal family’ for treating her.
Unfortunately, I fear it will be many, many years – or ever – before William or Kate can forgive them.