PPrince Harry races to the line against Prince William, and Kate during a training event to promote their charity Heads Together. File /AP
When Prince Philip’s funeral takes place on Saturday, it will be more than a focal point for national mourning. Many will also be watching for any signs of reconciliation between Prince Harry and the royal family, especially with his elder brother Prince William.
It will be the first time that Harry comes face-to-face with the royal family since he and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, stepped away from royal duties last March and moved to California with their young son, Archie.
While that departure caused a huge rift in the monarchy, family relations took a further dive last month when Harry and Meghan gave a candid interview with US talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Among other revelations, Harry confirmed rumors that he and his brother had been growing apart, saying "the relationship is ‘space’ at the moment” - though he added that "time heals all things, hopefully.”
Harry also told Winfrey that his father, heir to the throne Prince Charles, was not accepting his calls for a time.
And the couple threw a bombshell by revealing that an unnamed member of the royal family had expressed concern about "how dark” their child’s skin color might be due to Meghan's biracial heritage. Days after the explosive racism accusations were aired, William shot back, telling reporters that his was "very much not a racist family.”
In spite of the tensions, Saturday's funeral will almost certainly remind the brothers of their shared grief at another royal funeral more than two decades ago - when, as young boys, both walked behind their mother Princess Diana's coffin in 1997.
On Saturday, Harry, 36, and William, 38, are both expected to join other senior royals and walk behind their grandfather’s coffin, as the funeral procession makes its way through Windsor Castle.
Many observers believe that Philip's funeral will provide an ideal opportunity for "The Firm” to show a united front to the world and for the royal brothers to smooth over tensions. Philip, who had been married to Queen Elizabeth II for more than seven decades, died last week at 99.
"They shared emotion. They share grief at the present time because of the death of their grandfather,” former Prime Minister John Major, who was appointed the princes’ guardian after Diana’s death, told the BBC this week. "I hope very much that it is possible to mend any rifts that may exist."
But Angela Levin, Harry’s biographer, said it would be inappropriate for the royals to talk about their personal issues in the run-up to the funeral, and there may not be time afterward if Harry rushes back to the US.
"I absolutely think it would be wrong to be all about themselves before the funeral. And I think that it’s wrong to imagine that they’re going to pour out their hearts and give each other a hug, when so much has happened in the year and William has had to take on so much more responsibility,” she told the AP.
The tell-all conversation that Harry and Meghan Markle had with celebrity host Oprah Winfrey is exactly that: utterly revealing, a bombshell interview that highlights allegedly a slew of issues: racism, thoughts of suicide, apathy in the corridors of Buckingham
Philip, the longest serving royal consort in British history, died peacefully in the morning at Windsor Castle, west of London, Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
The Queen, 94, seen for the first time since his death, was dressed in mourning black, with a white-trimmed, black face mask. Close family, also masked, sat socially distanced in the historic 15th-century Gothic chapel.
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