Prince William “Made a Conscious Decision” to Choose the Firm Over His Relationship with Prince Harry

The brothers’ former private secretary opens up in a new docuseries.

Prince William and Prince Harry
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to the ongoing rift with his younger brother, Prince Harry, it seems future king Prince William has made a conscious decision to put the Firm before family, according to Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, a name longtime royal followers might recognize as William and Harry’s first private secretary who joined the ranks in 2005. (Quick delineation for those new to the royal fold: “The Firm” is a moniker used to describe the working operations of the British Royal Family. “The family” is the actual family unit.)

In a Channel 4 docuseries called The Real Windsors: A Very Modern Prince?—and reported on by The Sun—Lowther-Pinkerton says the Duke of Cambridge will always put the interests of the monarchy before his relationship with his brother, which has been strained for years and reached a fever pitch after Harry and wife Meghan Markle stepped back as working members of the Firm in early 2020. Lowther-Pinkerton says there are many examples where William has opted to take “the more difficult route” in order to do what is honorable, The Sun reports, “and the duke will never waiver from right or wrong,” the outlet writes.

“He has made a conscious decision that duty comes first,” Lowther-Pinkerton says in the docuseries.

Lowther-Pinkerton worked side-by-side with William for years and says “Prince William is very analytical and asks all the questions. And makes sure that he’s clear what you’re asking him to do. His sort of moral compass is set absolutely rigidly due north. He has the clearest understanding of almost anybody I know of what is right and what is wrong, and he won’t waiver from it, even if it means he’s going to take a hit.”

Royal expert Katie Nicholl also appears on the forthcoming docuseries, and says “I think William had to park being a loving brother who was absolutely his brother’s number one fan to put on a different hat. It was putting the future of the Firm and the best interests of the monarchy before himself and before his brother and before their relationship.”

Lowther-Pinkerton worked for the brothers for eight years, until his departure in 2013.

“There are many examples of when I worked for him [William] where it would have been very easy to take one route,” he says. “But it wouldn’t have been the honorable or the right thing to do, so he took the more difficult route.”

William—second in line to the throne behind his father, Prince Charles—considers his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, a role model; royal history aficionados (or viewers of The Crown) remember that Her Majesty at one point was forced to choose the Firm over her own sibling, younger sister Princess Margaret. (Ultimately the sisters worked through Margaret’s desire to marry Peter Townsend and were close friends throughout the rest of Margaret’s life. She died in 2002.)

“He’s inevitably drawn a lot from the example that she’s given over the years,” Lowther-Pinkerton says of William’s admiration of the Queen, saying he believes the monarchy will be in safe hands when it’s William’s turn to reign. “He’s got some great role models there. In a way, he’s lucky because he sits at the bottom of the pile in terms of the generational way of looking at it. And he can sort of look at those generations and draw on them. The monarchy has always changed, it’s always evolved—each generation will do things slightly differently, there’ll be lots of common themes. That’s why it’s an evolution, not a revolution.”

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.