Prince William Is Relying On a New “Inner Circle” As Princess Kate Continues to Undergo Cancer Treatment, and As His Rift with Brother Prince Harry Endlessly Continues

“This is a time when William needs all the love and support he can get from his family.”

Prince William
(Image credit: Getty)

Prince William has served as a dutiful caretaker to his wife, Princess Kate, as she has had a tumultuous health year in 2024—but who is supporting William as he supports Kate? In another lifetime, that person might have been his younger brother, Prince Harry; unfortunately, that is not the case, as the brothers are an ocean apart geographically and seemingly endlessly apart emotionally. 

Prince William

Peter and William, seen here at Royal Ascot in 2022.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Firmly in William’s corner during this season are his cousin, Peter Phillips (the son of Princess Anne) and his cousin-in-law, Mike Tindall (who is married to Anne’s daughter, Zara). Both men were in attendance at the Buckingham Palace garden party William threw last month, alongside Zara, Princess Beatrice, and Princess Eugenie.

“When two people in a family fall out, it makes life very difficult not only for them, but for the rest of the family, too,” former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond said, per OK. “Loyalties are tested and there is no easy answer. This is a time when William needs all the love and support he can get from his family.” 

Prince William

Mike and William greeting one another at polo in 2017.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

She added that “His brother is not, and will not, be here to help or provide a shoulder to cry on.” In addition to his wife battling cancer, William and Harry’s father, King Charles, is also receiving treatment for the disease; through this trying time, “I’m really glad that William has a cousin who is almost like a brother to him in Peter Phillips,” Bond said. “Peter is incredibly down-to-earth, solid, and has been there for both William and Harry in good and bad times.”

Prince William

Peter served as a human barrier between William and Harry at their grandfather's funeral in April 2021.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Recalling Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021, Peter “formed a physical bridge between them when Harry came back for their grandfather’s funeral as he walked between the brothers—as if to keep the peace,” Bond said of Peter. “It was good to see Peter supporting William at the recent Buckingham Palace garden party, along with William’s other ‘replacement’ brother, Mike Tindall. I can imagine the three of them having a lof of fun together. This is William’s inner circle.”

Prince William

William with Mike and Zara at Royal Ascot in 2019.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Prince William

Peter and William, seen here in 2016, have become more like brothers than cousins.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Of the men, Bond described them as “People he can trust absolutely and who are showing that they are there for him when the going gets tough. I think it gave us a glimpse of the future for when William becomes King,” she said of the May 21 garden party. “He may not have his brother at his side, but he will have a band of loyal and close relatives to help him represent the monarchy. I’m sure that, whenever they can, they will step up to help William when the burden of Kingship finally falls on his shoulders.”

Prince William and Kate Middleton on The Good, The Bad, & The Rugby Podcast

William, Kate, and Anne appeared on Mike's podcast, "The Good, The Bad, & The Rugby," in 2023.

(Image credit: The Good, The Bad, & The Rugby Podcast)

When he is undertaking royal engagements, William often relies on Kate as his support; for many reasons, her absence has been felt as she continues to recover, with her return being floated as far out as 2025 (though a return in the fall has also been discussed, as has a possible surprise appearance at June 15’s Trooping the Colour and the Buckingham Palace balcony appearance, if she is feeling up to it).

“These things are proving how important Kate is, not just to the monarchy now, but to the future of the monarchy,” royal commentator Maureen Callahan told GB News (and per OK). “It is she alone, really, who brings the glamor, the star power, but also the dignity, the class, the way she’s comported herself through this incredibly difficult time.” 

Catherine, Princess of Wales during Trooping the Colour on June 17, 2023 in London, England. Trooping the Colour is a traditional parade held to mark the British Sovereign's official birthday. It will be the first Trooping the Colour held for King Charles III since he ascended to the throne

Kate, seen here at Trooping the Colour in 2023, is likely to miss this year's event in less than two weeks' time.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Fellow royal commentator Kinsey Schofield said that Kate has been told repeatedly by her husband William and her father-in-law the King that there is no pressure for her to return to public duty until she is fully ready. “She has been spotted around town, looking upbeat,” Schofield said. “Neighbors and her children’s schoolmates’ families have been protective of her and do what they can to ensure that she is protected from prying eyes.”

Schofield said that even if Kate doesn’t turn up at Trooping the Colour this month, her children Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis might still attend this year and could be under the care of Queen Camilla or Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh at the event.

“The children are wonderful and getting a lot of extra time and love from their ‘Mama’ and ‘Papa’ right now,” Schofield said. “It’s a significantly positive sign to see Prince George attending sporting events with Prince William. Especially an event where there are cameras in their faces, and you get a glimpse of so much of their personalities. George is an excellent athlete like his parents. The family is spending time outside and enjoying this rare downtime together.”

Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis

Despite it being a difficult year, the Wales family has relished the extra time together.

(Image credit: Getty/The Prince and Princess of Wales/Matt Porteous)

In addition to Kate’s break from public life to focus on her health, William’s schedule has slowed down significantly as of late, as many royal engagements have been canceled in the runup to the July 4 general election in the United Kingdom. “Things are looking up, and I think that the royal family is grateful and looking forward to the future,” Schofield said.

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.