Prince William Was Jealous of Prince Harry's "Lovable Rogue" Public Reputation

Prince William and Prince Harry's royal rift was a long time coming, according to royal historian and 'Battle of Brothers' author Robert Lacey.

london, united kingdom july 10 embargoed for publication in uk newspapers until 24 hours after create date and time prince harry, duke of sussex and prince william, duke of cambridge watch a flypast to mark the centenary of the royal air force from the balcony of buckingham palace on july 10, 2018 in london, england the 100th birthday of the raf, which was founded on on 1 april 1918, was marked with a centenary parade with the presentation of a new queens colour and flypast of 100 aircraft over buckingham palace photo by max mumbyindigogetty images
(Image credit: WPA Pool)

While it's widely believed that Prince William's failure to support Prince Harry's relationship with Meghan Markle sparked the rift between the brothers, their relationship's been complicated since childhood, according to royal historian Robert Lacey. William envied his younger brother's public reputation, the Battle of Brothers author told (opens in new tab) Entertainment Tonight, and struggled with the pressure of being heir to the throne.

"I talked to Ken Wolf, who was the bodyguard to Harry and William when they were little boys," Lacey said. "And he said how William was always sort of jealous of the lovable rogue reputation that Harry had and the affection that he generated. And there is certainly a school of thought that William and [his wife] Kate were not happy at the way in which these royal rock stars, Harry and Meghan, overshadowed them, and that they're quite happy now to have seen them out of the country."

"There is a school of thought that it suits William very well for Harry and Meghan to be the scapegoats living abroad," Lacey continued.

london, united kingdom july 10 embargoed for publication in uk newspapers until 24 hours after create date and time prince harry, duke of sussex and prince william, duke of cambridge watch a flypast to mark the centenary of the royal air force from the balcony of buckingham palace on july 10, 2018 in london, england the 100th birthday of the raf, which was founded on on 1 april 1918, was marked with a centenary parade with the presentation of a new queens colour and flypast of 100 aircraft over buckingham palace photo by max mumbyindigogetty images

(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo)

Reflecting on the brothers' childhood, Lacey said William felt "very protective" towards Harry. "He'd had the same impulse towards his mother as things got bad for her. His was the shoulder that she cried on. But there's a sense also of course that this robbed him of his youth and I think the responsibility he had for Harry also robbed him of the, you know, carefree nature of his childhood. That is why we are told he—until last year—he certainly hadn't told his own son, Prince George, that he was going to be king one day. William felt that that was something that'd been a burden too much for him as a child and he didn't want that for his own son."

Asked whether William and Harry would ever reunite in a royal capacity, Lacey was doubtful. "I think we're gonna have to face the reality that these are two brothers that have drawn two different lessons from their troubled childhoods and they're going in different directions," he said. "I think the best we can hope for is that they can maintain their fundamental love and respect for each other and remain [on] good terms for the future."

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london, united kingdom july 10 embargoed for publication in uk newspapers until 24 hours after create date and time prince harry, duke of sussex and prince william, duke of cambridge watch a flypast to mark the centenary of the royal air force from the balcony of buckingham palace on july 10, 2018 in london, england the 100th birthday of the raf, which was founded on on 1 april 1918, was marked with a centenary parade with the presentation of a new queens colour and flypast of 100 aircraft over buckingham palace photo by max mumbyindigogetty images

(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo)

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.