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How would you feel if you found out your brother was planning to exile you to Africa because you were more popular than him?
The relationship between Prince Harry and Prince William looked decidedly frosty as they walked separately into an Easter service at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on Sunday. It came after the bombshell revelation that there are plots afoot to send Harry and Meghan overseas for two or three years in 2020, partly to stop the glamorous newlyweds from overshadowing William and Kate.
Fresh palace spin Monday sought to suggest that Harry and Meghan “like the idea” (which is fortunate, isn’t it?), but it was hard to avoid the conclusion from observing the brothers on Sunday that an unseasonal chill had descended over the young royals.
Amid rumored fears by palace staff that Meghan and Harry could be “bigger than Diana,” the brothers, who were once inseparable, appeared to be doing everything they could to keep out of each other’s way as they shuffled awkwardly into church for an Easter service.
Harry was alone (Meghan, expecting her baby any day now, did not attend) but, instead of forming a trio with William and Kate, he chose to tag along with cousin Zara and her husband, Mike Tindall.
At the entrance to the church, Harry held back so he did not have to go in with his brother, or sit next to him inside. Their decision to not walk into church together was no mere accident of logistics.
The royals know that these big set-piece church arrivals are laden with symbolism and, in previous years, it would have been unimaginable for a solo Harry not to stroll in with William and Kate to provide a clear symbol of unity among the younger generation of the Crown.
But such is the distance opening up between the brothers that Harry kept away—he looked tense and preoccupied and clearly avoided making eye contact with William.
What is particularly interesting about this falling out is that there no longer appears to be any attempt to hide it. In times gone by, a quintessentially British stiff upper lip would have been deployed and the two princes would have walked into church together with a game smile on their faces. Recriminations would have taken place safely behind palace walls.
But for a surly Harry to stare at his shoes in public in the company of his brother is a bizarre new development, and perhaps gives credence to recent reports that Harry is becoming more outspoken in his defiance of the mores of his role.
Notably, the palace is clearly not seeking to deny The Sunday Times story.
Another ill-advised glug of petrol was poured on the fire by William and Kate when they posted a 93rd birthday greeting to their grandmother on the Kensington Palace account, which appeared to deliberately exclude Meghan.
William and Kate’s message on their Kensington Royal Instagram account read: “Wishing a very happy 93rd birthday to Her Majesty The Queen!"
However, the picture used was from the 2016 Trooping of the Color event. It showed the Queen, Prince Philip, William, Harry, Kate, George, and Charlotte. There are plenty of pictures from last year that included Meghan that would have worked just as well.
The Queen seems unlikely to have spent yesterday checking her grandchildren’s Instagrams for birthday messages. Meghan, on the other hand, tucked quietly away in Frogmore Cottage, could well have been.
One can’t help wondering, therefore, who the picture was really meant for.