Prince Harry and Prince William: A Look Back at Their Relationship Before Meghan Markle

For their entire lives, Prince Harry and Prince William have been two of the most popular members of the royal family. The world has watched the brothers grow up, get married, and start their own families while performing their royal duties. Fans always knew they were extremely close, but that all began to change when Harry met Meghan Markle.

Prince William Prince Harry
Prince William and Prince Harry | Toby Melville – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prince William and Prince Harry have shared a close bond since they were kids

The palace released the first photo of Prince William and Prince Harry together in 1984, shortly after Princess Diana gave birth to Harry. The picture featured the two young boys with their mom at Harry’s christening ceremony.

As the boys grew up, their mother took a more modern approach to royal parenting and was often seen in candid pics with her sons. Family photos from William and Harry’s childhood show just how close they were.

William was by Harry’s side when he learned to walk. They enjoyed bike rides with their mom and dad, and the brothers also had fun playing together at home in their royal bubble.

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Today marks #999DayUK, when we celebrate and say thank you to our incredible Police, Fire and Emergency Medical services ‍♀‍‍⚕ and all our specialised emergency services for all that they do to keep us safe. The first photograph in this post is of The Duke of Cambridge and The Duke of Sussex and their mother Diana, Princess of Wales, with their cousins Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall in the yard of the Old Fire Station in the grounds of Sandringham House in 1988. On 999 Day later today The Duke will visit @TheFirefightersCharity at Harcombe House in Devon to hear about the support that the centre provides to members of the fire and rescue service and their families, and meet representatives from across the emergency services sector. On the extraordinary work of our emergency services, The Duke of Cambridge said: "As a society, we owe our wellbeing, and indeed our lives, to the men and women in our emergency services who work tirelessly to protect us in some of the most difficult circumstances. It is only fitting that we should recognise the vital role that they play, and pay tribute to the bravery and dedication of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their communities." 999 Day begins annually at 9am on the 9th September (the 9th hour of the 9th day of the 9th month) and is held to pay tribute to the invaluable work that is carried out by the emergency services and responders. Getty images / Press Association

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One of the last public photos of William and Harry with Princess Diana was in the fall of 1995. It was then that Diana accompanied the boys to the first day of school at Eton College.

According to Insider, William and Harry were vacationing with Prince Charles at Balmoral Castle in Scotland when they received the news that their mom had passed away on August 31, 1997.

Princess Diana’s death changed William and Harry’s lives

As Express notes, William was 15 and Harry was 12 when their mother died, and this tragedy bonded them even more. On the 10th anniversary of her death, Harry said during a speech that he and William separate life into two parts.

“There are the years that we were blessed beside us with the physical presence of both our mother and father. And then there are the 10 years since our mother’s death,” said Harry. “She was our guardian, friend, and protector. She never once allowed her unfaltering love for us to go unspoken or undemonstrated. Behind the media glare, to us, two children, she was quite simply the best mother in the world.”

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Princess Diana’s biographer Andrew Morton wrote in the November 2019 edition of Royals Monthly that the brothers’ relationship is “incredibly intimate.” He explained that no one – not even Prince Charles – knows what’s gone on in their heads and hearts since they lost their mother.

William and Harry could only trust each other when it came to candidly talking about Princess Diana’s death.

Prince William and Prince Harry started to grow apart during adulthood

As William and Harry entered adulthood, they started creating their own career paths. The Duke of Cambridge earned the RAF rank of Flight Lieutenant after three years of search and rescue helicopter training, while the Duke of Sussex served two tours in Afghanistan.

William also met and married Kate Middleton while becoming a senior working royal and preparing to become king. At the same time, William and Harry worked together at official royal engagements and launched joint charities.

They started their successful Heads Up campaign for mental health awareness. Harry admitted to his own struggles after the death of his mother, and he credits William for helping him seek mental health counseling.

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But, after William served as Prince Harry’s best man when he married Meghan Markle in May 2018, the “cracks started to show” between the two brothers. By Megxit in January 2020, their relationship appeared to be severely fractured.

Despite their troubles, Harry said in a 2019 ITV documentary that he and William will always be brothers.

“We are certainly on different paths at the moment, but I will always be there for him as I know he will always be there for me,” said Harry.