UK papers hail William and Harry truce

By: AFP
Published: 11:40 AM, 11 Sep, 2022
UK papers hail William and Harry truce
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Britain's newspapers on Sunday hoped for royal reconciliation as their front pages were dedicated to the surprise reunion of estranged princes William and Harry, along with their wives Kate and Meghan.

Pictures of the quartet putting aside their differences to look at floral tributes to Queen Elizabeth II outside her former Windsor Castle residence were splashed across the covers of many of the nation's Sunday papers.

"Reunited for granny," read the Mirror's headline, while the Telegraph ran with "Reunited in sorrow" and the Sun with "All 4 One".

Despite the truce, relations still appeared to be frosty, with the Times headline reading "Warring Windsors' awkward truce to honour the Queen".

"In death, the Queen appeared to do the impossible by bringing brothers William and Harry back together," said Sun columnist and royal expert Ingrid Seward.

"When they emerged from the same vehicle for a walkabout in Windsor, accompanied by their wives, a nation held its breath.

"It is quite possible that emotions will be running so high the brothers could become friends again," she added.

The Mail's Sarah Vine said that the reunion "will have gladdened the hearts of millions."

"Will it last? We must pray it does," she added, calling on Harry to drop plans to publish his autobiography.

"It is time now for forgiveness, to put all those things to one side and find a way forward together," she wrote.

While there was optimism among some papers, the Sunday Times said that "although the brothers put on a show of unity at Windsor, it is understood that the camps required extended negotiations behind the scenes beforehand, delaying their arrival for the walkabout by 45 minutes."

The Sun also cautioned that "it is understood past wounds haven't fully healed, and the walkabout was more a temporary truce."

The Sunday Telegraph described the move as "a knockout PR blow intended to stop 10 days of national mourning being overshadowed by tales of the on-going rift between the royal brothers."

It praised William for offering an "olive branch", saying the prince had "created his very own 'cometh the hour, cometh the man' moment."

However, it warned that "while the joint appearance will undoubtedly begin a healing process for the once-inseparable siblings, there is no denying that the road to peace is not without its potential potholes."

Royal reconciliation

Queen Elizabeth II's death could help start a reconciliation between Prince Harry and wife Meghan and the rest of the royal family, after a reported rift and their relocation to the United States.

The couple, who were on a rare visit to Britain when the queen died on Thursday, reunited with Harry's brother William and wife Kate at Windsor Castle Saturday. It was their first joint public appearance since they moved stateside in early 2020.

All dressed in mourning black, together they looked at the growing banks of flowers left by the public before greeting well-wishers as separate pairs, giving little away about the state of their relations.

But the decision by the quartet -- once dubbed "the fab four" in closer times -- to step out together in front of the cameras at all appeared a sign of progress in repairing badly fractured ties.

UK royal reporters said heir-to-the-throne William proposed the "olive branch" to his younger brother, who has been increasingly critical of the family since leaving frontline royal duties.

Just two days earlier it was a different story, with a tearful looking Harry, 37, arriving alone in a vehicle to the Balmoral estate where the queen had earlier died.

William and several other close family members -- but not Kate -- had earlier turned up together in a single car, but also arrived too late to see the queen before she passed away.

Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams said Thursday's separate arrivals showed the brothers had become "estranged".

He argued that Harry and Meghan were seen to have "done the royal family a lot of damage in recent months" with their broadsides against the monarchy.

"For the future, the ball's in their court and it depends how they want to play," Fitzwilliams added.

- 'Different paths' -

Things used to be so different.

After the princes' mother Diana died in a Paris car crash in 1997, they touched the world by walking behind her coffin at her funeral.

William was 15 while Harry was just 12.

They appeared to share a close bond as adults, uninterrupted by William marrying long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton in 2011 and starting a family.

But relations soured following former British Army captain Harry's 2018 marriage to Meghan -- a mixed-race American television actress -- at Windsor in 2018.

He said in a 2019 interview that he and his brother were "on different paths". A year later, Harry and Meghan sensationally announced their move to the US.

The couple's subsequent explosive Oprah Winfrey interview in March 2021 saw Meghan publicly claim Kate had made her cry.

The most damaging claim, however, was that an unnamed royal had speculated about the skin colour of mixed-race Meghan's future child.

William reacted later by telling a journalist that the royals were "very much not" a racist family.

Relations between the brothers were visibly frosty when they reunited last year to unveil a statue to their mother.

They did not meet during the queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June.

More recently, Meghan told The Cut magazine in a lengthy interview that she now felt "free" to tell her own story, which some saw as a veiled threat to the monarchy.

- 'Unpredictable' -

However, since the queen's death there have been tentative signs of a possible softening in the estrangement.

Despite Harry claiming to Winfrey that his brother and father were "trapped" in the monarchy, Charles appeared open to reconciling with his self-exiled son in his first speech as Britain's new king, notably expressing "love" for him and Meghan.

"He's offering an olive branch, but he's offering (it) with great great care because he knows they're unpredictable," said Fitzwilliams.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are popular with young people, but could be taking a big risk openly criticising the monarchy, he added, especially at a time of national mourning and in its aftermath.

"There's no doubt that the Sussexes will draw a lot of attention right now," noted Fitzwilliams, with British public opinion already firmly on the rest of the family's side.

Saturday's joint appearance with William and Kate, who this week became the prince and princess of Wales following Charles' ascension to the throne, may herald a new chapter for family relations.

But with Harry anticipated to release his likely controversial memoirs by the end of the year, things could also easily regress.

"Obviously they will attend the funeral. More than that, it's impossible to say," said Fitzwilliams.

"If in Harry's memoir he has stopped being critical, that's different."

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.