The infamous “heir and spare” dynamic defined the relationship between brothers Prince William and Prince Harry, but the royal family adamantly does not want history to repeat itself in the relationship between Prince George (the heir) and his younger siblings Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis (who we refuse to call the spares—it’s derogatory). Per Us Weekly, the royal family is keeping a close eye on George’s bond with his two younger siblings, as the Firm does not want a Spare 2.0 (referring to Harry’s memoir, released earlier this year and largely centering around his complicated relationship with his older brother).
“They have to think about George’s feelings in relation to his siblings,” said royal expert Christopher Andersen. “George has all this pressure. He has these two siblings who can help him—who can ease some of the pressure and share some of the burden.”
It just so happens that, while the public certainly loves George, they seem to love Charlotte and Louis equally: “By the same token, they [Charlotte and Louis] don’t want to feel sidelined,” Andersen said. “They don’t want to feel invisible in his shadow.”
The royal family is keen to avoid the mistakes of the past, and it “does not want another kid writing a book, another edition of Spare,” Andersen said. “Obviously, Harry was very hurt by being in the shadow of his brother. I think they’re aware of that.”
William and Harry’s shared childhood—the brothers are just two years apart, born in 1982 and 1984, respectively—seems a lifetime away from George, Charlotte, and Louis’. The family dynamic in the Wales family—the three kids and their parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales—“is much healthier than it normally would be in the royal family,” Andersen said. He continued “George has got loving parents and they dote on him and the kids,” he said, noting that William and Harry didn’t have a happy home life. “The pressures that were on William and Harry grew so much from the dynamics in their family life,” Andersen said. “The fact that Diana was so unhappy and Charles [was] in love with somebody else [was tough].”
George, Charlotte, and Louis will have their own challenges, but not an unhappy home life. They will, however, have to combat social media, which didn’t exist when William and Harry were growing up. “The intrusions on their privacy are just going to be that much greater so that they have to walk this line, William and Kate do, of protecting the kids’ privacy,” Andersen said. “[They’re] trying to make sure they grow up as normal as they can—but also giving the British people and the world what they [see] is required of them, which is visibility.”
As for William and Harry’s continually fractured relationship? “I don’t see anybody holding out the olive branch on either side,” Andersen said. “It’s almost as if they’ve just settled into this situation. It’s unfortunate.”
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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.
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