Prince William’s royal reboot has a Harry-shaped hole

Prince William used his 40th birthday to announce that he aims to become the country’s most prominent activist against homelessness.

Wearing a vendor’s outfit from The big topic, the British homeless magazine, he not only posed for selfies with the public, but also for an official birthday photo. William, in a red hat and hi-vis vest, was a far cry from the traditional images of awe that the palace tended to circulate on such occasions.

Less than three weeks earlier, William had called for action on the environment in his only platinum jubilee speech, saying, “The urgent need to protect and restore our planet has never been more urgent.”

And just weeks earlier, on March 28, another public statement was made, this time in response to criticism of colonial undertones during their Caribbean tour: “I know this tour has brought even more focus to questions about the past and the past has the future. In Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas, it is up to the people to decide that future… Whoever chooses the Commonwealth to lead their families in the future is not what I have in mind.”

Taken together, these three moments provide a revealing roadmap of what William aspires to be as he ascends to the roles of Prince of Wales and eventually King: ally of the oppressed, friend of the earth, and modernizing denier of at least the archaic anachronisms of monarchy.

However, the unreconciled dispute with his offended brother and sister-in-law hovers like the sword of Damocles over all these brilliant intentions and noble goals.

William didn’t say a word about it.

And while they’re in their Montecito mansion, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle always have the opportunity to throw a rocket into Williams’ plans.

They may be doing just that with the forthcoming release of a “completely truthful” memoir by Harry, which is expected to expose Windsor’s dysfunction in general and the breakdown of his parents’ marriage in particular. Also in the works is a reality-style Netflix show, which the streaming giant’s cameras have been tracking for over a year.

It’s hard to imagine the royals breaking a sweat any more than a high-level insider defecting to the media. But that’s exactly what happened, and so far William has revealed he has no idea how to deal with the whole Meghan and Harry debacle other than trying to pretend it’s not happening.

In the very short time after the bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which Meghan and Harry made very serious allegations of racism in the royal family and stuck to the family line, the diplomatic denial of “some memories may vary” was perhaps an understandable part for William. After the bombshell, he told reporters, “We’re not a racist family,” and about speaking to Harry about what Harry had told Oprah, he added, “I haven’t spoken to him yet, but I plan to.”

In the longer term, however, William’s continued failure to hand Harry an olive branch in particular looks both petty and potentially dangerous.

“William has a lot more to lose than Harry. Under his supervision, the monarchy could be lost. That’s Harry’s ace up his sleeve.”

— Duncan Larcombe

Duncan Larcombe, former royal editor of the Sun told the Daily Beast: “If William wants to be a future king, a great leader delivering inspirational speeches on the environment in front of two billion people, then the public has the right to expect him to be capable of delivering a… frankly quite a small dispute to settle with his brother. He needs to start showing some leadership here.

“At some point William has to pick up the phone. Harry doesn’t have to; he can just be a polo player with a beautiful wife. The responsibility lies with William. If he really believes he’s the guy God chose to be king, then he should be able to settle this argument with his brother.

“William has a lot more to lose than Harry. Under his supervision, the monarchy could be lost. That’s Harry’s ace up his sleeve.”

William’s failure to smooth things over with his brother speaks deeply to one of the Windsor clan’s defining traits: stubbornness.

To be fair, the stubbornness is on both sides.

Harry awaits his apology, but William’s view, simply put, is that he’s not the one who needs to apologize. He’s not the one who committed the ultimate crime of betraying the family to the media. In a current detailed profile of the Daily Maila friend of William’s was quoted as saying: “[William feels] really, really angry about what his brother did.”

“The striking disregard William now shows Harry and Meghan was of course clearly demonstrated by William’s reluctance to stand shoulder to shoulder with Harry during the anniversary.”

The striking disregard William now shows Harry and Meghan was of course clearly demonstrated by William’s reluctance to stand shoulder to shoulder with Harry during the anniversary.

Of course, the decision to exclude Meghan and Harry from the celebrations by banning them from the key official events wasn’t necessarily in William’s control (although his success in kicking Andrew out of the Garter Day procession shows his influence is huge) , but his failure to offer a private meeting with his brother can only be blamed on him.

The notion that such a reconciliation would have belittled the Jubilee increasingly seems like a convenient excuse for the Palace’s failure to negotiate a peace agreement between the brothers; one would rather have thought that a photo of Harry and William dancing together to Ed Sheeran would have added immeasurably to the general merriment of the nation and telegraphed a happy message of royal unity.

In the past, the king’s annoying little brothers were carted to the tower. George, Duke of Clarence is said (apocryphally) to have been drowned in a cask of wine in 1478 on the orders of his brother King Edward IV.

William doesn’t get a chance to shut up the troublesome sibling who has decided to speak out against him.

If he cannot reconcile with Harry, the bitter aftermath of a vicious family strife that will rage around the world will haunt him and his rulers for the rest of his days. Prince William’s royal reboot has a Harry-shaped hole


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