Prince Harry’s decision not to attend Princess Diana’s memorial party could drive a further wedge between him and his brother William, according to a royal expert.
Celebrities, dignitaries, family and friends of Diana are gathering today to honour the late princess at Kensington Palace in what would have been her 60th year.
The event was originally due to be held in the summer to thank donors for helping to fund the commemorative statue of Diana in the grounds of the palace.
Although Harry flew in from his new home in California for the unveiling of the statue last July, he chose not to make the trip for the postponed memorial party.
“I think it’s very sad that Harry didn’t go and I think he [would have been] sorely missed,” says royal expert Duncan Larcombe, author of Prince Harry: The Inside Story.
“Obviously he lives a long way away now and we’ve still got travel restrictions but it’s entirely possible for him to fly back to the UK, as he showed in July for the unveiling of the statue.
“Both of Diana’s sons should be there. Unfortunately, it’s just further confirmation – not that another is needed – that things are not great between the brothers.
“If their mother’s legacy can’t bring them together then you do wonder what on earth can.”
Duncan believes William will ‘do the decent thing’ and refer to Harry when he thanks donors at the party.
“It’ll be interesting to see if William makes any reference to Harry and I would expect he will [have done]," he continues. "He [will have] thanked people for being there on behalf of him and his brother. We’ll have to wait until we know what William [has said] before we can draw conclusions about whether the rift has deepened.”
With Harry’s announcement that he’s in the process of writing a memoir and memories of the Oprah interview still fresh in the minds of the royal family, there’s little surprise that relations between the brothers remain sour, says Duncan.
“It’s very easy to forget just how personal the attack on Oprah was against Kate,” he says. “William is understandably very protective of Kate and let’s not forget that Meghan directly accused Kate of making her cry rather than the other way round.
“She then accused Kate of briefing journalists against her, or at least not clarifying the truth of the story, when actually it’s a very strong allegation to make publicly.
“Between two members of the royal family it’s almost unheard of. The only other royal who’s done that is Diana when she was publicly attacking her husband.”
Despite all the rancour, Duncan describes Harry’s absence from the memorial party as ‘an opportunity missed’.
“William can’t just hop on a plane to see Harry easily, although of course he could, but they live thousands of miles apart and you do wonder when they will find common ground in the future.
“I’m told that at the moment there’s a ‘wait and see what’s in Harry’s book’ attitude among the royal family. But the reality is that Diana’s memorial party is another opportunity missed for the two brothers to get together.”
Royal expert Duncan Larcombe is the author of Prince Harry: The Inside Story. For more royal and lifestyle news, sign up to OK!'s daily newsletter here.
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