“It’s a big claim to make perhaps, but I don’t think this (feud) would’ve happened if Diana was still alive to mentor them,” Robert exclusively tells New Idea.
“The brothers developed a closeness to her in the turmoil and break-up of her marriage to Prince Charles. It was Diana they turned to [not] Charles.”
In fact, in a letter to her butler, Paul Burrell, just a year before she died, Diana revealed her hopes for her two sons.
“I love my boys to death and hope that the seeds I’ve planted will grow and bring the strength, knowledge and stability that is needed,” she penned.
Robert believes Diana, who died in 1997, would be “heartbroken” knowing her sons are currently at odds with each other.
Diana has been an “enormous influence” on the princes. But Robert, author of the royal tell-all, Battle of Brothers, says William, 38, and Harry, 36, have drawn opposite lessons from their mother’s life.
“William was inspired by a great sense of duty,” Robert says. “Whereas Harry took exactly the opposite lesson, that they were the product of a loveless marriage and that he was going to go for love. And so we have this eternal clash between love and duty.”
The author burrows deep into the root causes of the feud between William, the future king, and Harry in Battle of Brothers. And the genesis was a good 15 years before ‘Megxit’.
In the book, Robert says their feud was ignited when, in 2005, Harry was busted wearing a Nazi costume to a party. “Harry chose his costume in conjunction with his elder brother,” Robert writes.
He tells New Idea: “But at the end of it, it’s Harry who’s blamed, and William, the older brother, emerges smiling like a rose. In terms of the nursery rhyme, William was king of the castle and Harry was cast as a dirty rascal.”
While Robert calls the souring of the brothers’ relationship a “tragedy”, next year they will have several chances to reconcile. But if they don’t, he warns, they risk severing their relationship permanently.
Their first opportunity comes in March, where the brothers, along with the Queen, 94, and Prince Charles, 71, will meet to discuss Harry and wife Meghan’s new working relationship as royals.
Robert says the brothers’ relationship may never recover if Prince William takes on Prince Harry’s former military title as Captain General of Royal Marines.
Then there is the boys’ grandfather, Prince Philip’s 100th birthday celebrations in June. But the biggest hope for reconciliation will come with the unveiling of the Princess Diana statue at Kensington Palace on July 1, on what would have been her 60th birthday.
“One of two things has to have happened,” Robert suggests. “Either they must’ve established some sort of reconciliation that has real meaning or Harry and Meghan will permanently go their own way.”
If they do patch things up, they’ll have to make it genuine and not just a show – as Robert says, once a monarchy starts “putting on an act, it loses its validity and support quickly”.
For more, pick up the latest issue of New Idea. Out now!