Rumors of a feud between Prince Harry and Prince William have been around almost as long as the brothers themselves, and a new royal tell-all book is promising to set the record straight for the final time. Battle of Brothers: William and Harry – The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult, a royal biography by Robert Lacey, details where Harry and William’s conflict truly began (hint: it’s not Meghan Markle) and how it’s evolved over the years, up to and including Harry deciding to leave the royal family. A new excerpt of the book serialized in the Daily Mail hints that Harry’s infamous Nazi costume back in 2005 could have been one of the first blows in their drawn-out conflict, suggesting that William encouraged his brother to sport the look and secretly delighted in the negative media attention that surrounded him after.
In 2005, the brotherly relationship Lacey describes is one of typical teen boys just starting to come into their own (read: start drinking and getting into trouble). As the elder brother, William had taken Harry under his wing in a sense, welcoming him to Eton and introducing him to his circle of friends. So when they attended a Halloween party together, they also went costume-shopping together — and while both brothers took note of the swastika emblazoned on Harry’s jacket, neither felt that was a good reason for him not to wear it.
“Most clearly of all, we know that Harry chose his costume in conjunction with his elder brother — the future King William V, then 22” Lacey writes, “who had laughed all the way back to Highgrove with the younger sibling he was supposed to be mentoring — and then onwards to the party together.”
— SheKnows (@SheKnows) September 8, 2020
After the party, Lacey says that friends noticed new distance between the brothers, noting a similar coolness as that which followed Harry’s media scandal over using marijuana.
“Friends recall ‘no-speaks’ and quite a serious rift between the two brothers at this time — as there had been after the ‘Drugs Shame’ of 2002,” the book notes, “when Harry had first started to realize the price of playing the monarchy’s institutional scapegoat.”
It’s not clear whether Harry believed his costume to be directly in conjunction with William’s that evening, though Lacey says he picked the jacket because the color-matched. Either way, Harry apparently felt betrayed that his brother had walked away from the party scot-free, while he himself was branded a Nazi for months to come.
“For the first time, their relationship really suffered and they barely spoke,” a royal aide told Lacey. “Harry resented the fact that William got away so lightly.”
We’ll state the obvious: Wearing a swastika to a Halloween party is an easy mistake not to make, and neither brother should have needed anyone else to tell them that. It was an immense failure of judgment of Harry to wear that jacket, no matter what. But yeah, if William didn’t warn him away from it, that either makes him equally insensitive or ever-so-slightly interested in sabotaging Harry.
Photos of Princess Diana playing with young William and Harry show the wonderful mom that she was. https://t.co/eVF4WTvDhE
— SheKnows (@SheKnows) September 11, 2020
The larger point Lacey seems to be getting at here is that, as with most sibling relationships, their conflict runs deep. While recent years may have shown the cracks more clearly, the tension of growing up as two brothers, one of whom is to be king, was always bound to breed trouble.
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