Princess Diana Would Never Have Let William and Harry's Rift Happen, Her Former Butler Says

She would have had that power, Paul Burrell says.

Diana, William & Harry At Thorpe Park
(Image credit: Photo by Julian Parker / Getty)

For years and years, Princes William and Harry were seemingly best friends. They were united in having tragically lost their mother, Princess Diana, at a young age and reportedly having complicated relationships with their father, Prince Charles—but they had also seemed to get along well while their mom was still around, too.

That's why it's so sad to see them drift apart the way they have since Harry moved to the U.S. with his family in 2020. It's widely understood that they haven't been on the best terms at all over the past two years, with Kate Middleton having to step in and make the peace on the rare occasions the brothers were reunited.

Paul Burrell, Diana's former butler, spoke to OK! about how the princess would have felt about her sons fighting like this. "She’d be heartbroken," he said. "It wouldn’t have got as bad as this if she was still here. She’d have banged their heads together."

And they would have listened if that were the case, according to Burrell. "She’s probably the only person that could have done that," he said. "If Diana had been here, [the rift] would never have happened."

Royalty - Prince William And Harry - Sandringham

(Image credit: Photo by Julian Parker / Getty)

The royal insider also recalled how bonded the two brothers were as kids, and explained how shocked he is to witness them growing apart in this way. "It’s incomprehensible to think about the boys being so distanced. I cannot get my head around it," he said.

"I saw those boys grow up and they were tighter than you can possibly believe. They referred to each other about everything.

"When Diana died I thought they would be inseparable."

Thankfully, William and Harry have been reported to be speaking over video chat ahead of the Jubilee weekend, in an attempt to mend their relationship.

But Burrell doesn't believe Harry will be entirely satisfied by his life in California (although this is of course just one outside opinion, and the Duke of Sussex should be free to make his own life decisions).

"Trying to resurrect his life by playing polo in Santa Barbara isn’t going to cut the mustard," Burrell told OK!. "It’s not the Guards Polo Club at Windsor where everyone he went to school with plays polo." (Prince Harry has been playing over the past week, with wife Meghan Markle there to support him.)

"What mates is he going to find in California? He’s not grown up there with anyone."

I mean, it's kind of bold of him to assume nobody can ever move away from home and be happy, right? But it sounds like, from what he knows of Harry, Burrell believes he'll need his family of origin around him moving forward.

"Harry’s going to need his brother one day," he conjectured. "I think he will come back to this country with his tail between his legs. His brother will put his arms around him and say, 'Welcome home, Harry.'

"I don’t think he’s totally happy. I think he’s missing his brother, I really do. I think he’s missing his family, I think he’s missing his friends and the lifestyle he had here in England. I think he’s given everything up for Meghan and I don’t know how long he’s going to be able to live that life."

Burrell also thinks it's a two-way street, and Prince William is likely just as upset about the separation as his baby brother is.

"He must think of Harry every single day," he said. "He’s his brother, he’s made of the same stuff. And they went through the same turmoil and tragedy. They only had each other to rely on really." </3

Iris Goldsztajn
Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of British Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and SELF. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.