Hardly seeing eye to eye: Harry and William never looked at one another during the Jubilee. The brothers are pictured at the unveiling of their mother's statue in July 2021

REBECCA ENGLISH reveals Prince William thinks ‘Harry has been sucked into alien world’

Turning 40 is a milestone in anyone’s life. But for the Duke of Cambridge it is also a time of reckoning.

He is on an inexorable journey to becoming king, a prospect that once scared him. Yet William is more at peace with himself than ever before, as the happy family scenes at the Platinum Jubilee celebrations demonstrated.

His marriage to Kate is strong and fatherhood has given him contentment beyond his dreams.

Even his notoriously prickly relationship with his father, Prince Charles, is more harmonious than it has been since his early teens.

The biggest worry is the fractured bond with his brother, Prince Harry. Relations are still at ‘rock bottom’, friends tell me.

‘He alternates between grieving for what he has lost and feeling really, really angry about what his brother has done,’ said one.

‘He truly loves Harry and feels he has lost the only person, aside from his wife, who understood this strange life of theirs.

‘But he believes there are things you just don’t do. And Harry has 100 per cent crossed that line.’

In a new series for the Daily Mail — ahead of Prince William’s landmark birthday on Tuesday — I have spoken to impeccable sources within his circle, some on the record, some on condition of anonymity, to find out what makes him tick.

The result is illuminating, encouraging — and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny.

Hardly seeing eye to eye: Harry and William never looked at one another during the Jubilee. The brothers are pictured at the unveiling of their mother’s statue in July 2021

Yet his strained relationship with his brother does, inevitably, come heavily into play.

Asked whether they thought William would ever repair his bond with Harry, one friend says: ‘That’s a hard question to answer. The truth is they have got to find some common ground again.

‘But to do that both have to admit fault — and it’s pretty obvious that one of them is absolutely refusing to do that.

‘William is also very principled and believes Harry has crossed a line. He’s thrown accusation after accusation, knowing that silence is the family’s only option because it doesn’t want to get dragged into a public slanging match.

‘He sees how upset his father has been by it all, and it hurts.

‘William is absolutely allergic to drama, but Harry has ensured that the family laundry is being aired on a global scale.

‘I think they will find themselves in a better position in the future, but not now. And too much water has gone under the bridge for things to ever go back to the way they were.

‘Truthfully, William thinks Harry has been sucked into an alien world and there’s f*** all he can do about it. But he does want Harry to be happy, and if he stops throwing dust in their faces, then maybe he will find a way to forgive and forget.’

Another source I have spoken to is more conciliatory. ‘He’s actually always been very protective of Harry and has a very low tolerance of people being disrespectful about him, even now. I think he’ll keep the door open to him for ever,’ they insist.

‘In some ways, it’s not like any of this was a surprise. Harry always had concerns about life within the Royal Family.

‘And in hindsight the pressure that was put on him and William, living and working together as some sort of dynamic duo, placed a massive strain on their relationship. They had no room to breathe. But Meghan complicated it.

‘Harry had to pick a side — and there was only one side he was ever going to choose.

‘But I also find it impossible to believe there is anything these two brothers could say about each other that means they will never find a way to repair things.

‘They were too close and have been through too much together for that to happen.’

But despite these difficulties, my discussions with members of William’s close circle have left me in no doubt that he is, at last, as comfortable as he will ever be with his future — and ready for the challenges ahead.

He will always be his mother’s son, but he has grown more like his father than anyone — including he himself — might care to admit.

One confidant, who has known the prince for many years, says the second-in-line to the throne hasn’t always been as dull and dutiful as some would think.

‘Let’s just say that, like his younger brother, William enjoyed himself immensely in his teens and 20s. Unlike Harry, though, he was never caught!’ they laugh.

William was always more cautious about who he hung around with, preferring to let his hair down with a small group of trusted friends in less public places. He had to be more mindful of what lay ahead.

His long-term mentor and former private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton (a godfather to his son, Prince George) tells me William was always someone of deeply impressive maturity.

‘He hasn’t rubbed his hands in glee [at what is to come], but has looked at it in a dutiful way,’ says Lowther-Pinkerton. ‘One of the lovely things I remember early on was this sense of disbelief that people were really interested in who he was or what he was doing.

‘But he quickly decided that if they were, he was going to turn it to whatever good use he could.’

Lowther-Pinkerton was hugely supportive of William’s determination — as a future head of the armed forces — to ‘serve’ in whatever way he could, even if he couldn’t do it from the frontline.

He did this first with the RAF as a search and rescue pilot, then with East Anglia Air Ambulance — both jobs, Lowther-Pinkerton, says, allowed him to look the forces ‘square in the face’ and shaped him as a man.

‘If you’re going out in the Atlantic or the Irish Sea in a Force 8 and flying your helicopter right up to a cliff face to rescue a climber, you can look anyone in the face, even someone who has been on operations in war zones. The danger is the danger. And he was bloody good at it,’ Lowther-Pinkerton says.

The roles also afforded William space in which to marry and start a family away from the goldfish bowl of royal life: first in Anglesey, then Norfolk. He did not move to London to become a full-time working royal until 2017.

Very happy Father’s Day: Charles and William in 2019. Charles has delighted in finding new happiness as a grandfather and William has come to understand and appreciate his papa’s devotion to duty

Very happy Father’s Day: Charles and William in 2019. Charles has delighted in finding new happiness as a grandfather and William has come to understand and appreciate his papa’s devotion to duty

Anyone who knows William will say that becoming a husband and father has been the making of him. ‘He just loves being a dad and having a settled family around him. Having children always puts things into perspective, and doubly so for him,’ says one friend.

‘Whatever happens “at work”, he has to go home and be a “normal” person for the sake of his kids, which has made him more at peace with the reality of his other life.’

Indeed, for William, the single most important priority in his life in recent years has been to protect his children and secure their future.

He has worked hard to build a ‘fortress’ around them, shielding them from the paparazzi and the pressure of being born into such public roles.

Now that they are growing up as happy, unaffected youngsters who enjoy football, ballet and play dates like all their other schoolmates — along with the occasional public appearance — everything else has fallen into place.

William turns up like any other dad to sports matches and school events. ‘It was a bit of a head-spinner at first,’ says a fellow parent. ‘But then you get used to it. He’s just George or Charlotte’s dad.’

Throughout all of this, Kate, 40, has been not just his wife, but his best friend and ‘anchor’.

Their relationship has, inevitably, been picked over at length and subjected to scrutiny and gossip.

I have discussed this with several in William’s circle and all are of the same opinion.

‘It’s just b******s,’ says one.

‘They honestly couldn’t be happier as a couple. You can’t get a cigarette paper between them. They are so tight, just inseparable.’

Kate has now been by William’s side for half of his life, since they first became friends as teenagers at university.

‘They spend all their time together. They lunch together every day, they sit and watch television together every evening.

‘They do go out and see their own friends, of course, but they spend an inordinate amount of time together and live a very conventional married life,’ says one who knows them well.

‘They aren’t a flashy couple — he likes his motorbikes but that’s about it. They are both very outdoorsy people and spend every minute they aren’t working with their children. That’s what they really care about.’

Another source makes clear that William’s approach to his future has very much been dictated by his past.

‘When you speak to William, he’s actually quite puritanical in his attitude when he talks about his parents’ marriage and what went wrong.

‘It hugely affected the way he approached his own relationship with Catherine and why it took so long for him to settle down. He wanted it to be with the right person and [for it to last] for ever.

‘William is very conscious that if it wasn’t for him, the man she fell in love with, Catherine would be living a nice life in the country and bringing up a family away from the spotlight.

‘There’s a bit of snobbery, sadly, when you marry in from outside. It’s a lot better now than it was, but William is still very protective of his wife.

‘The way he sees it, she is as important to the institution as he is. He genuinely admires the way she has just dug her heels in and stuck with it.’

There’s no doubt that William is a complex character — and perceptions of him sometimes depend on who you speak to.

There are some I know who have had angry run-ins with him over the years and describe him as controlling and suspicious — someone who sees an ‘agenda’ everywhere, particularly in terms of the palace machinery (something he has in common with Harry).

But those individuals, it should be stressed, are few and dealt with William as a younger man, when he was still railing against authority — and, particularly, his father.

Prince Charles loves both his sons deeply, but is scarred by his own emotionally difficult childhood.

He is also a workaholic whose diary is organised to the letter six or seven months in advance, making it difficult for him to attend ‘impromptu’ birthday parties for his grandchildren — something for which William and Kate, initially, failed to give him much leeway.

As a result, William gravitated towards his ‘surrogate family’, the Middletons, leaving a rather bruised Charles feeling ‘airbrushed’ out of his life.

Pointedly, when his first grandchild, Prince George, was a baby, Charles told one confidant that ‘I see him as much as I can — within the constraints’.

Explosive rows between father and son were often overheard by staff, with Charles — who hates family confrontations — burying himself in his paperwork to avoid the conflict.

But over the years the situation has righted itself.

Charles has delighted in finding new happiness as a grandfather and William has come to understand and appreciate his papa’s devotion to duty.

‘They are much more on the same page now,’ one insider tells me. ‘They will always be quite different characters, but there’s a mutual respect.

‘The duke “gets” his father much more and there’s no doubt the Prince of Wales is extraordinarily proud of what his son has achieved in terms of Earthshot [his ground-breaking environmental prize] and mental health.’

As for his stepmother, William has grown increasingly fond of Camilla. He sees how good she is for his father and how diligently she has approached her new royal role.

‘It’s complex for him emotionally, of course, but that’s families for you,’ shrugs a friend.

One of the issues that has brought father and son closer together — in addition to a shared passion for the environment and social justice — is Harry.

‘The rift with his brother has been really hard on William,’ says one confidant. ‘It’s as if he is mourning the relationship he has lost.

‘People don’t realise he sort of fathered Harry to a degree. He wasn’t just his brother, he was also a parent, always trying to pull Harry back from the brink.

‘But make no mistake, he’s angry. He believes Harry has disrespected the Queen and their family.’

Much has been made of the distance between the two men at this month’s Jubilee celebrations, when they failed even to glance in each other’s direction, let alone speak.

A touch of frost: Meghan and Harry with William and Kate on the Buckingham Palace balcony in July 2018 for the RAF flypast

A touch of frost: Meghan and Harry with William and Kate on the Buckingham Palace balcony in July 2018 for the RAF flypast

But William does not just feel personally betrayed, he is angry for his wife who he believes was ‘massively disrespected’ by Meghan when she claimed in last year’s Oprah interview that it was Kate who made her cry in the run up to her wedding — not the other way around — and that Kate had brought her flowers to apologise.

‘It obviously never occurred [to Meghan] that they were a peace offering, not an apology,’ one insider insists.

‘Despite much provocation, both William and Catherine have tried to keep the peace more than anyone will ever realise.’

Indeed, I understand from multiple sources that when Harry flew over last July for the unveiling of a statute in memory of their late mother, Princess Diana, Kate had been due to attend to support her husband.

But after much discussion between her and William, she gracefully pulled out at the eleventh hour as they were fearful of what reaction it would provoke in Montecito if Meghan, who remained in California, were to see Kate there.

It is said that William never entirely got on with his sister-in-law: they are very different beasts and the prince found Meghan’s lifestyle ‘rather too showbiz’ for his taste, I am told.

For now, though, William is very much looking forward to the future.

As I revealed last year, a move to Windsor with his family is imminent, with all three children starting at a ‘wonderful’ new co-educational prep school in Berkshire this September, which the Mail has chosen not to name.

The couple want to ensure their young family enjoys as carefree an upbringing as possible, away from the spotlight, and to be closer to both the Queen and the Middleton clan.

Kensington Palace, however, will remain their London base, even when Charles accedes to the throne and William takes on the Duchy of Cornwall and a new professional role.

He has worked hard to create a close-knit and devoted team around him, and while he takes his responsibilities seriously (something I will explore further in the second part of this series in Monday’s Mail), he’s considered an engaging boss — and something of a practical joker.

‘Kensington Palace is actually a really fun place to work in and that largely comes from him,’ one insider reveals.

‘He can be very earnest when it comes to his work because he takes it so very seriously. But once that is done he’ll sit in the car sharing memes that his protection team have sent him, often at his own expense.’

One such example of his naughty sense of humour happened in 2012 during his and Kate’s successful royal tour of the South Pacific. The couple were staying in a private house on one side of a large sandy bay, and their staff in another residence on the other side.

After a particularly gruelling day, the couple’s team decided on a moonlight swim in the balmy waters.

‘Out of nowhere one aide (who shall remain nameless) was pulled down under the water, coughing and spluttering. All hell broke lose as everyone thought they were being attacked by a shark and were freaking out,’ reveals my source.

‘Turns out William had got wind of their night-time dip and had swum all the way round the bay, pretty much underwater because he is such an expert diver, to prank them!’

William is also able to laugh at both himself and the rather crazy world he sometimes finds himself in.

On the recommendation of his staff, he has even dipped into The Windsors, Channel 4’s brutally hilarious — but very close to the bone — parody on the Royal Family in which Kate comes from a family of gypsies (a sharp reference to her parents’ business background and the scrutiny this once attracted) and can’t resist filling Kensington Palace with second-hand white goods.

William is portrayed as a rather hapless do-gooder who thinks being a hands-on dad is shouting a little louder for ‘nannnnayyyy’.

He’s also said to be an ‘incredibly empathetic boss and really cares about his staff’.

‘He’ll send gifts to people if they are off sick, knows the names of all their partners and children, loves to chat about their dates when they go wrong — and even keeps tabs on people who have left,’ one close friend tells me.

That emotional openness — somewhere in the mid-ground between his grandmother’s stiff upper lip and the professional victimhood now espoused by Harry — is likely to serve William well moving forwards.

‘The Queen’s model has largely been followed by the Prince of Wales and it has served them well,’ concludes one member of William’s circle.

‘But the public mood towards the monarchy is evolving and when it comes to the duke, people will get to know more about what he’s feeling or thinking, what he stands for and, yes, what his opinions are.

‘The decades ahead are going to be some of the most challenging we have experienced as a nation in modern history. And William is ready to step up to the plate.’

Prince William is ‘grieving and really, really angry’ over the collapse of his relationship with Harry – with friends saying there is ‘little chance’ of them repairing explosive rift

By Rebecca English, Royal Editor for the Daily Mail

Prince William is mourning the collapse of his relationship with his brother Harry, his friends reveal today.

The extent of the explosive rift is exposed in highly revealing Daily Mail interviews with sources who know William intimately.

They say relations between the once-close pair are still at ‘rock bottom’ – with little chance of improvement in the near future.

‘William alternates between grieving for what he has lost and feeling really, really angry about what his brother has done,’ said one insider. ‘He truly loves Harry and feels he has lost the only person, aside from his wife, who understood this strange life of theirs. But he believes there are things you just don’t do. And Harry has 100 per cent crossed that line.’

William also believes Harry has ‘disrespected the Queen and their family’, a friend says.

A must-read series in the Mail ahead of William’s milestone 40th birthday on Tuesday explores in fascinating new detail his life as a husband, father, brother and son.

Prince William and Prince Harry pictured together at the 100th Anniversary of The Battle of Vimy Ridge, France in April 2017

Prince William and Prince Harry pictured together at the 100th Anniversary of The Battle of Vimy Ridge, France in April 2017

Starting today, it also reveals what makes him tick, his secret charity visits and campaigning plans for the future – as well as lifting the lid on the prince as a ‘fun boss’ with a rather wicked sense of humour. Sources close to the second in line to the throne reveal that while William once railed against his future, he is now more at peace with himself than ever before.

His marriage to Kate is strong and fatherhood has given him contentment beyond his dreams.

Even his relationship with his father, Prince Charles, which has been deeply fractious over the years, is more harmonious than it has been since his early teens. A close friend said: ‘He just loves being a dad and having a settled family around him. Having children always puts things into perspective, and doubly so for him.

‘Whatever happens “at work”, he has to go home and be a “normal” person for the sake of his kids, which has made him more at peace with the reality of his other life.’

Another adds of him and Kate: ‘They honestly couldn’t be happier as a couple. You can’t get a cigarette paper between them.

‘They are so tight, just inseparable. When you speak to William, he’s actually quite puritanical in his attitude when he talks about his parents’ marriage and what went wrong.

‘It hugely affected the way he approached his own relationship with Catherine and why it took so long for him to settle down. He wanted it to be with the right person and [for it to last] forever. William is still very protective of his wife. The way he sees it, she is as important to the institution as he is. He genuinely admires the way she has just dug her heels in and stuck with it.’

Yet his strained relationship with his brother inevitably comes heavily into play. It is clear that they have a long way to go before they can even begin to ease the bad blood between them.

Matters are complicated by the prospect of Harry’s memoirs coming out later this year as part of a multi-million deal which will continue to ‘throw dust in the family’s face’.

Asked whether they thought that William would ever repair his bond with Harry, one friend said: ‘That’s a hard question to answer. The truth is they have got to find some common ground again at some point. But William is also very principled and believes Harry has crossed a line.

‘He’s thrown accusation after accusation, knowing that silence is the family’s only option because they don’t want to get dragged into a public slanging match. He sees how upset his father has been by it all, and it hurts.

‘William is absolutely allergic to drama but Harry has ensured that their family laundry is being aired on a global scale.’

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry leave the Grenfell Tower National Memorial Service held at St Paul's Cathedral on 14 December 2017

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry leave the Grenfell Tower National Memorial Service held at St Paul’s Cathedral on 14 December 2017

William is still angry for his wife, who he believes was ‘massively disrespected’ by Meghan when she claimed in last year’s interview with Oprah Winfrey that it was Kate who made her cry before her wedding – not the other way around – and that Kate had brought her flowers in apology.

‘Despite much provocation, both William and Catherine have tried to keep the peace more than anyone will ever realise,’ a source says.

Another added: ‘Make no mistake, he’s angry. He believes Harry has disrespected the Queen and their family.’

Some members of William’s circle say he remains ‘protective’ of his younger brother and will ‘keep the door open to him forever’.

One said: ‘Harry always had concerns about life within the Royal Family and in hindsight the pressure that was put on him and William by living and working together as some sort of dynamic duo put massive strain on their relationship. They had no room to breathe. But Meghan complicated it.’

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