As Britain’s battling royal brothers Prince William and Prince Harry led their cousins in a rare family ceremony Saturday to honor their grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, the drama between the warring wives of Windsor, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, simmered behind the scenes.
Insiders are buzzing over the obvious tensions among the once-close foursome, whose grievances appear to be on the brink of bursting to the surface in the wake of the queen’s death.
“They had the late Queen there as a buffer,” royal watcher Martin Townsend told the Telegraph. “But now that buffer is gone.”
The two sons of King Charles III, both in full military dress per their father’s wishes, arrived in separate cars for the solemn Vigil of the Princes ceremony at Westminster Hall.
The entered the hall in single file – with the new Prince of Wales in the lead – and marched down a marble flight of stairs to stand at the head and the foot of their grandmother’s casket for the 15-minute salute.
It was the first time that Harry, the Duke of Sussex, has been seen in his formal military uniform since he quit royal life in 2020 and moved to California with his wife.
Flanking the princes on either side of the catafalque stood the rest of the queen’s grandchildren: Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, the children of Princess Anne; Prince Andrew’s daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie; and Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, the teenage offspring of Prince Edward.
The black-clad cousins walked in two by two behind the two princes, then stood with heads bowed as members of the public silently filed past.
William led the group as they departed, with Harry bringing up the rear – and with Kate and Meghan nowhere to be seen.
The king’s sons and their wives have struck a brittle public truce in recent days as the brothers mourn their beloved “Grannie.”
Last week, William invited the Sussexes to Windsor Castle for an hour-long walkabout to thank the crowds that had gathered there to offer sympathy.
“The joint appearances take effort,” a friend of both brothers told the Sunday Times of London. “There was an understanding that ‘we need to show solidarity’ not just ‘we need to do this because it’s our duty’. But I don’t think it goes much beyond that.”
Body language experts alleged that the frosty relationship among the formerly close foursome — which turned downright icy after Meghan’s bombshell 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey — showed little sign of warming during the stroll, as Kate, the new Princess of Wales, appeared to look daggers at her American sister-in-law.
“They feel that Oprah crossed a line and that someone should acknowledge the motives behind it and the pain it caused,” a friend of Kate and William said. “They feel they’ve had to be steely to send a message that you cannot just say this hugely upsetting stuff without there being consequences.”
Meanwhile, the Sussexes are said to be seething over reports that their young children, Archie and Lilibet, will not be granted His and Her Royal Highness titles.
And while Harry has reportedly delayed the publication of his memoir as he weighs possible revisions out of “respect” for the late queen, the looming tell-all has the royal family on edge.
“The trust is gone right now,” one insider told the Telegraph. “It’s really hard to spend time with someone, or even to speak openly, when you know they’re writing a book about you and giving interviews.”
President Joe Biden headed to London Saturday to join 1,000 other national leaders, monarchs, and ambassadors flooding the British capital for the queen’s state funeral on Monday.
The dignitaries will be given special access to Westminster Hall from Saturday until Sunday afternoon, allowing them to skip the hours-long lines and pay their respects to the queen as she lies in state.
The foreign visitors have been invited to a massive Buckingham Palace reception Sunday evening, where King Charles and the royal family’s “working members” will greet them in the picture gallery and state apartments.
“Prince Harry will have no role to play” as the royal family realigns under its new king, royal historian Marlene Koenig told the Express. “Meghan will have no role.
“He and Meghan will go back to California and do their things,” Koenig added.