Tom Sykes writes the Daily Beast’s Royalist column/articles. Sykes has been shady at times, but in recent years, he’s definitely had a more anti-Sussex agenda. But across the British and American media recently, it does feel like there’s been an almost imperceptible shift of “wow, the Windsors are actually in really bad shape, huh?” Perhaps it’s the post-Jubbly blues, perhaps it’s the many failed comebacks of Prince Andrew, perhaps it’s Prince William’s 40th birthday keenery going down like a lead balloon. That’s where the latest Royalist column begins, with William’s birthday messaging and how William is previewing his “roadmap” for his turn as Prince of Wales, “ally of the downtrodden, friend of the earth and modernizing rejector of at least the more archaic anachronisms of monarchy.” Except that Sykes rightly points out that the fact that William has done nothing but “be engorged with rage” on the Prince Harry issue will end up being the biggest problem for William alone.
William refuses to say anything about Harry & Meghan: Hanging over all these splendid intentions and noble goals, however, like the Sword of Damocles, is William’s unreconciled dispute with his aggrieved brother and sister-in-law. On this matter, William has uttered not a word. And, sitting in their Montecito mansion, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have the ability to lob a rocket into the best laid of William’s plans at any time.
On Harry’s memoir & the Sussexes’ Netflix show: It’s hard to think of anything more likely to make the royals break out in a sweat than a senior insider defecting to the media. But that is effectively what has happened, and so far William has demonstrated that he has no idea how to handle the entire Meghan and Harry debacle, other than to try and pretend it’s not happening.
Petty William: In the longer run, the ongoing failure of William, in particular, to extend an olive branch to Harry, in particular, looks both petty and potentially dangerous. Duncan Larcombe, the former royal editor for the Sun told the Daily Beast: “If William wants to be a future king, a great leader giving inspiring addresses about the environment to two billion people, then the public are within their rights to expect him to be able to sort out a frankly pretty minor dispute with his brother. He has to start showing some leadership here. Eventually, William will have to pick up the phone. Harry doesn’t have to; he can just be a polo player with a gorgeous wife. The onus is on William. If he really does believe he is the chap chosen by god to be king, then he should be capable of sorting out this row with his brother. William has got a lot more to lose than Harry. The monarchy could be lost on his watch. That’s Harry’s ace in the hole.”
Obstinate & keen: The failure of William to smooth things over with his brother speaks deeply to one of the defining character traits of the Windsor clan: obstinacy. To be fair, the obstinacy is on both sides. Harry is waiting for his apology, but William’s view, put simply, is that he is not the one who needs to apologize. He is not the one who committed the ultimate crime of snitching on the family to the media.
William’s refusal to see Harry & Meghan during the Jubbly: The striking disregard in which William now holds Harry and Meghan was of course amply demonstrated by William’s unwillingness to stand shoulder to shoulder with Harry during the Jubilee. The decision to airbrush Meghan and Harry out of the celebrations by banning them from the official key events was of course not necessarily in William’s control (although his success in getting Andrew kicked out of the Garter Day procession shows he does have huge influence), but his failure to offer to meet privately with his brother can only be blamed on him.
Failure to broker peace: The notion that any such reconciliation would have belittled the jubilee somehow feels increasingly like a convenient excuse for the failure of the palace to broker a peace deal between the brothers; one would have rather thought a photo of Harry and William dancing together to Ed Sheeran would have added immeasurably to the general gaiety of the nation and telegraphed a happy message of royal unity. William does not have the option of silencing the troublesome sibling who has chosen to speak out against him If he cannot make peace with Harry, the rancorous fall out from a vicious family argument gone global will dog him, and his reign, until the end of his days.
The only thing I disagree with is Larcombe’s description that William and Harry’s fallout was “a frankly pretty minor dispute.” The reason William can’t just call Harry and apologize and make peace is because once anyone starts pulling on those threads, everyone will know that William and Kate were largely behind the smear campaign against Meghan and Harry, and that the Cambridges knowingly tried to drive Meghan to suicide while she was pregnant. Not only that, William and Kate have continued to heap abuse on Harry & Meghan since 2020 too, unless you believe a little elf ran to Robert Lacey and called Meghan a “sociopath.” Not to mention the Jason Knauf/Daily Mail crap. But… I agree with the larger points being made here, which is that this ongoing mess speaks to William’s stupidity, short-sightedness and pettiness. Sucks to be William.
Photos courtesy of Instar.