Robert Lacey: Prince William & Harry have ‘so much pain and trauma’

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Over the summer, I was prepared for Finding Freedom and how big it would be, and it didn’t disappoint. We got a lot of mileage out of that book, as did every other media outlet and gossip outlet. But Robert Lacey’s Battle of Brothers: William and Harry – The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult snuck up on me. I wasn’t expecting “yet another book about royal fractures” to be this big and to contain so many interesting stories. To be clear, I do not believe that Lacey is Team Cambridge or Team Sussex. If anything, from the excerpts so far, Lacey has gone out of his way to minimize or ignore many of the reasonable explanations for why Harry and Meghan left. But Lacey hasn’t held back on the mistakes the other royals have made, and it’s… quite interesting. On People Magazine’s new cover this week, they have an interview with Lacey plus more highlights/excerpts from the book.

Prince Harry and Prince William’s fractured relationship began long before their wives joined the royal family. When Harry, 36, and wife Meghan Markle separated their home and office from William, 38, and Kate Middleton in 2019, the siblings’ rift became clear to the public. However, historian Robert Lacey’s new book Battle of Brothers: The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult, excerpted in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, explores the deep-rooted nature of the princes’ schism dating back to their parents’ turbulent marriage.

“Both brothers have been damaged by their upbringings; both have reacted by finding different solutions,” says the author, who is also the historical consultant for Netflix’s The Crown. “There is so much pain and trauma in this story, going right back to the beginning.”

Lacey says the brothers “were raised to be close and protective of each other,” but tensions grew as William was prepped for his role as future monarch while Harry was left without a defined role of his own. And when Prince Harry found a partner in Meghan, William cautioned that the romance was moving too fast.

“Fundamental to the whole saga is the clash of love versus duty,” explains Lacey, adding that the brothers — now residing in different countries after Prince Harry and Meghan relocated to California after stepping down from their senior roles within the royal family — face “potential tragedy” if they can’t reconcile.

“This compares with Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936 and the death of Princess Diana in 1997,” says Lacey. “It’s of that scale. And it’s a challenge that’s yet to be resolved.”

[From People]

His interview last week with the Daily Mail was a lot more scandalous and noteworthy. I agree with him on the broad strokes, the main one being that the Sussexit was this generation’s cataclysmic event for the monarchy. It was on the scale of the abdication and the death of Diana. It’s not that what Harry and Meghan did was so shocking – they both telegraphed it for a while – it’s that their exit revealed so much about the Crown and the hacks surrounding the monarchy and the British media as well. Sussexit was the sunlight on a lot of the monarchy’s racism, sexism and more. And leave me with this whole “William was prepped for his role as future monarch” sh-t, honestly. I feel like that’s just the British way of saying William puts on airs and looks down his nose at everyone, including his brother, and throws rage-fits whenever he can’t control people.

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55 Responses to “Robert Lacey: Prince William & Harry have ‘so much pain and trauma’”

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  1. Woowza says:

    “This compares with Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936 and the death of Princess Diana in 1997,” says Lacey. “It’s of that scale. And it’s a challenge that’s yet to be resolved.”
    This soo dramatic to me idk. Was it a big deal? Yes But I think that the monarchy will survive and H&M will be absolutely fine. It makes me uncomfortable how they put so much pressure to reconcile the brothers. Let things come naturally

    • Lizzie says:

      King Edward VIII and Diana gave up crowns. Harry is not giving up the crown as he is 6th in line. I think they just try to mention Harry and the abdication in the same sentence as much as possible because the truth of why Harry left could tarnish the rest of the monarchy.

    • Minal says:

      Yeah, I mean that’s the whole thesis of his book so he’s going to have to flog it to move copies. In reality, I think we have the best possible outcome now. Harry has found a new purpose and new life far away from the BRF, and Wills doesn’t have to compete for attention. Nothing more to see here!

    • Nic919 says:

      Harry leaving is modernizing the monarchy in a way they didn’t want. His leaving means that anyone not directly in line to be monarch should be getting their own career and not relying on the government teat. That makes it awkward for everyone but Charles and William and George. At some point regular UK taxpayers are going to start asking why Andrew, Edward, of Michael, etc etc aren’t doing the same thing. The propaganda from the RRs to make it look like Harry is just a lost child when he is doing the most adult thing out of that entire family is really quite something.

  2. Dee says:

    How odd that William is one who faffs about with part-time helicoptering and half-baked ideas, while his brother, in the role that is royally undefined, has found what he’s good at, met a partner who is his equal in so many ways and is forging his own path. Isn’t this narrative supposed to work the other way around?

  3. Mignionette says:

    I don’t equate M&H leaving with Edward and Mrs Simpson. No fuxxing way.

    Edward was the bloody King in all but formal Coronation. He had a defined role. He and Wallace were also Nazi sympathizers who compromised war time efforts.

    M&H had no real defined roles except to function as tabloid fodder whilst Bill filed Article 8 injunctions for being caught playing in Rose bushes.

    Also Bill has THREE heirs so Harry is largely irrelevant at this point. Bill punished Harry via his media hacks for not picking a Chelsy / Fergie like wife whom could mingle with the Aristos but also occupy the front pages allowing he and Kate to peacefully cut Ribbons.

    • Seraphina says:

      Agreed on all your points.

    • Myra says:

      I think this goes to show the popularity of Harry and the weight he has in the monarchy. By all accounts he should have been irrelevant by now. There is just something about him that has made him more significant than both his father and brother. Maybe it’s because he carries his mother’s spirit, or it’s the marriage with another charismatic person or both.

      • Seraphina says:

        I think it is both. His mother recognized all his positives at a young age and it quite a statement for Diana to have said Harry would be better suited for King. THAT speaks volumes. Add to that his wife and what Meghan brings to the table, yeah Sussex Royal is pretty important and their star only shines brighter. And I can see why they chose to raise Archie away from the toxic lazy lifestyle.

      • Gina says:

        He definitely carries his mother’s spirit. Charisma and empathy in abundance.

      • Becks1 says:

        And I think it’s also about how unpopular William is. Maybe not right now, but I think a dip in his popularity is coming (and I feel like right the general public is just sort of lukewarm on him.) This is the William show now, which is what he wanted, except that the William show is just William standing around talking about how important he is.

        The big difference between Sussexit and the other two situations, in my opinion, is that Harry and Meghan are still very much an entity. The duke and duchess of Windsor lived basically in exile for the rest of their lives, minus a few attempts to get back into the royal fold. Diana obviously was dead, so while her memory was and still is a very big “presence” in royal drama, its also sort of just set in the past. But Harry and Meghan aren’t in exile and they’re not in the past. They’re very much present and very much active, and I think we’ll see that even more once Archewell launches and their Netflix shows start to stream. In that respect, Sussexit has the potential to be a very big deal in terms of its impact on the monarchy .

      • BnLurkN4eva says:

        No one over there in the establishment wants to admit it, but Harry is the future, William is the past. He holds still to the old ways and right now in this moment, he might seem a stablizing presence for the monarchy, but the future will be more progressive and England and the BRF must either adopt or die. Harry was the only one in that family in a position to lead the way into the future. They just can’t accept that he chose a part Black woman to walk beside him.

      • HeyJude says:

        I think Harry is so popular because he’s the most authentic person among the royals, perhaps ever? He’s not just charismatic and down to earth but has always been very open with the people, putting his heart on his sleeve. Talking to the public as an equal, not a superior.

    • ravynrobyn says:

      @ Mignionette-but, BUT THEY DON’T EVEN WANT TO CUT RIBBONS❗🤬

  4. Amy Bee says:

    I’ll continue to say that I think the closeness between Harry a William is a myth. They haven’t been close for a very long time and when Diana died, there was no one to prevent the Royal Family from treating Harry as an inferior to William.

    All Harry wanted was to be in the Army and to do charity work on the side, the Royal Family didn’t want that, so he had to leave.

    • Mignionette says:

      I don’t think it is a myth. I think Harry loved Bill and knew he manipulated him but loved him just the same. That’s what kept them bonded. I do believe however that the scales fell off his eyes when his brother endangered both his wife and unborn child. At that point Harry had his heart broken but grew up and took back is power. The less than 100% compliance would have been seen as an attack by a narc like Bill. In some senses Meg and Harry’s backgrounds are so similar that it’s understanding they found solace in each other.

      • Amy Bee says:

        Nah, the scales fell off a long time ago. Remember, Harry was always portrayed as the bad prince and William was the good prince long before Meghan came on the scene. He was always used by the family including William as the scapegoat and was never protected by the family. I just think having a family just gave him the confidence to do what he wanted to for a very long time and that was to leave the family.

    • bluemoonhorse says:

      The scales fell because of the counseling Harry did. JMO of course since I don’ t know but I think the last 5 years leading up to meeting Meghan, they saw less and less of each other. Family relationships stay the same until someone insists they change, and I don’t think Harry bothered with insisting that they change until he fell in love.

      • Mignionette says:

        @bluemooonhorse good point.

        Counselling will do that, especially where the person in recovery moves forward and those around them don’t like the change.

        Harry found himself an equally kindred spirit and moved his family the fuk on from the circus.

        Good for the both of them.

  5. Seraphina says:

    It really is a shame how this relationship has come to this point. I agree that their upbringing must have really scarred them: one has a divine ordained purpose in life and the other is left to figure it out and used as a scapegoat. I would love to hear a psychological view on that type of child rearing and it’s implications within the family. Add to it that they lost a loving mother who understood the balance they needed. I know Diana had her faults, but losing a caring and loving mother is enough to deal with at a young age and added the toxic environment of the BRF…..not too surprising how we have come to this.

    • Oh says:

      “It really is a shame how this relationship has come to this point” Looool RF and the British people loved Harry when he was their clown, even when he did horrible things like wearing a Nazi costume , they still loved him , and I didn’t see someone demanding him to lose his title at that time – -and yes, I know he was not the Duke of Sussex at that time but no one was asking him to lose His Royal Highness- … William used to love Harry when Harry was mess without a goal. When Meghan coming on the scene, everything changed … If William was a nice person and welcomed Meghan as a sister he never had, like what Harry did for kate I’m sure the situation will change now … I just feel sorry for Meghan , it hurts when your husband’s family treats you as a foreign intruder

      • Seraphina says:

        @OH, I meant more of a brotherly connection relationship. I have a brother and as we have grown older, we have been there for one another and we have become even closer and grown to value one another.

    • bluemoonhorse says:

      Add in a distant father, a grandmother matriarch who despised your mother, and an abusive grandpa. Dysfunction station.

    • SKF says:

      Yeah my colleague and friend went to Eton and was in Harry’s house. He said that when William was there, a constant fuss was made over him and he had a large security detail all around the school. When William left, the fuss and security all left. Harry has his very small detail (essentially one person I think?) and that’s it. He apparently wryly commented on it a fair bit, how he was the “extra”, the unimportant one, the one no one cared about. His family and everyone else drummed it into him his whole life – that his brother was special and he was not and he basically lived to support his brother. That would definitely mess you, and your dynamic with your extra special brother up.

  6. JT says:

    William hasn’t been prepared for his role as king other than saying he will be king. His insecurity and the embiggening articles come from the fact that he is unprepared and everyone knows it. He’s been coasting his entire life, raging at everyone and it’s time to cash that check now that Harry is gone. This is why they need Harry to carry the monarchy and have been begging him to come back. Did anyone catch that army officer saying how much them military community needs him on the heels of Will potentially replacing Harry? The RF and the BM know that Will and Kate are severely lacking and it’s going to get harder to cover it up.

    • lanne says:

      The RF is in exactly the position they deserve to be. They lost their 2 best ambassadors of their own doing, and I believe they know that, and they are panicking. This entire situation has been grossly mismanaged, from the Queen (who needs to retire–she’s done her duty) to Charles (more concerned with his own position and popularity than his sons) to the courtiers (a bunch of racist, passive-aggressive “plus royale que le roi” types who think seniority and badges on their coats mean everything and lack the ability to function in a 21st century world). I think they all know that William and Kate can’t handle their roles on their own, but their petty jealousy has gotten them exactly what they asked for. They want to be King and Queen to be fawned over and bowed to, but they don’t want any of the responsibility of the job.

  7. Becks1 says:

    so he’s been saying that for a few weeks now – that this feud has the potential to be as damaging to the monarchy as the abdication etc. It’s clear Sussexit IS a big deal for various reasons, and I can understand why news-wise its up there with the abdication or Diana’s death, but I never understood why their exit and the brothers feud had the potential to be so damaging and why it was putting the future of the monarchy at risk, as Lacey says.

    But with the excerpts about William’s rages, it becomes clearer. William is going to be a terrible monarch – he’s lazy, he wants all the praise but without putting in any of the work, and he is apparently a total rage monster. That sounds like a great king. It seems clear now that this was known about him in the family for years (that he would not be a good king) and I imagine there was always a thought that Harry would be there – as a target for his rage, as someone to smooth over the public image and help the royal family look better on an international stage, as someone to do the heavy lifting, work-wise.

    Instead, Harry peaced out, and the racism and classism of the royal family is being detailed over and over again, and we have the angry future future king saying he “may” be involved with “his” project Earthshot for the next 10 years.

    Crisis indeed.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      I totally agree – its becoming more and more clear that William is running amok and on some level is starting fires that could burn the whole institution down. His ‘rages’ and other behaviours also have implications from a government PoV i.e. is he is blabbing state secrets while drunk or high etc.. make him a risk to the state.

      If the RF won’t do anything about him, the government will – remember he’s not King yet and can be removed from the line of succession by an act of Parliament.

      Raging at courtiers and his family is a different kettle of fish from raging at parliament.

      • MerlinsMom1018 says:

        @Digital Unicorn
        I’m interested in your thoughts on what would happen to the Cambridge marriage should William be removed as king by Parliament?

  8. bluemoonhorse says:

    I agree with him on the pain and trauma. And the roots are way back and has shaped the two. It put William in a position without guidance during his teen years. It put Harry into a situation where he looked to an older brother for parenting and the older brother didn’t know how to do that.

    Two lost kids that have grown into lost adults. Harry sought out counseling and I have no doubt it put him in a position he knew what he wanted from life. Meghan arrived and he took it.

    • BabsORIG says:

      How did Harry look up to William to “parent” him if they didn’t even like each other in the first place? Maybe he just looked up to him as the only brother he had!! Maybe Harry thought William would lookout for him but Willileaks constant throwing Harry under the bus left Harry deeply disappointed and felt betrayed by William constantly being an ass to him and thus their feuds!! Just because Harry missed Willileaks (as per this Lacey guy)during Leaks’ gap year doesn’t mean Willileaks was parenting Harry in any way or that Harry looked up to him ass “parent”. Why people buy into the “William is the well rounded one while Harry is the lost puppy” bullchit is mind boggling to me!!🙄🙄

      • bluemoonhorse says:

        I think you need to look at the entire picture once Diana died, and you clearly see the dynamics going wrong with an older brother with his own issues unable to appropriately comfort his younger brother.

        If you go back to Lacey’s other comments that Celebitchy mentioned on other posts, William was left alone with a party place. Here he encouraged his younger brother to drink, take drugs, and act older. Diana’s death caused these two to become very entwined and co-dependent in their trauma. William needed a weaker Harry so he could feel strong and independent; and Harry needed the love and validation from a family member.

        There is also the journalist who said that when Harry was outed in the military, that William was there in the room (tent?) with them and was very protective of Harry.

        You can be protective and a user at the same time – mothers show us that dynamic all the time. Making Harry dependent upon him is William’s trauma in action.

        Again, you can dislike William all you want, but this family has a LOT of trauma that twisted the relationships early on: Diana being married young, using her children as confidants, going to the press to air dirty linen: Charles with his long-term mistress and later abuse (at least emotional) of his wife, later he destroys his wife’s reputation by using the media; the queen (their grandmother) basically relieved their mother is dead, and later, to save face, forces 2 young teens to walk behind her coffin; both kids not having a present father and no counseling after the horrible death of their mother — I’m sorry if you can’t see that the past builds the present but a psychologist could fund a practice with the amount of dysfunction here.

      • Becks1 says:

        I think you can say that Harry looked up to William as a parent during their teen years at least but that doesn’t mean that William was a good parent or the steady one or anything.

      • Oh says:

        If that’s true,Harry looked up to William as a parent so it was Harry’s problem, I can’t stand William, but William is only two years older than Harry, so how did that make Harry looked up to William as a parent? They are almost the same age…

      • Nic919 says:

        There is a difference between looking up to an older sibling and thinking they are a parent. While Harry may have looked to William for guidance as a teen, it is highly doubtful that he thought William was a parent to him, especially as they are only two years apart. And I am sure knowing what William was like he didn’t take any relationship advice from him. Which as we can see was the smart thing to do. Harry has a partner who supports him and makes him better. William has an enabler who brings out his worst traits.

  9. Snuffles says:

    I think the rift started when they made Harry William’s scapegoat, got deeper when Will piggy backed on all of Harry’s ideas and hard work and finally broke when he went after his wife and child.

    And of course they’re freaking out, William is NOT prepared to be King and is an absolute terror. They were planning on a life time of scapegoating Harry and riding his coattails. Now they are stuck with the monster they created.

    • lanne says:

      In addition, the failures of kings past could be carefully managed and hidden with traditional media. Social media is a new ballgame for the royals. Think how easy it would be to get a recording of Will raging and releasing it to the public? Even if they don’t publish it in the UK, that shit would be published globally. They are reps of the head of state in the UK. In the world, they are just more celebrities. In fact, it might be a good idea to diminish the international role of the british RF. Keep them in the UK, have them stick to the traditional bread and butter festivals and ribbon cuttings and plaque unveilings. The Cambridges can’t hack it on the world stage, and as the commonwealth diminishes and the UK isolates itself from europe, making the RF more local would make a lot of sense from an expense POV as well. Watching the royals swan around the world while people in the UK have their livelihoods destoyed would be awkward indeed. It’s actually a good thing that Meghan is gone and the Sussexes have paid back any fake obligations. I think they were counting on Meghan playing the role of Marie Antoinette and making her the RF’s scapegoat (we just can’t control that American actress’s spending!! Shame on her)

  10. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Somehow I doubt H and W consider current predicaments equalling the death of their mother and the media frenzy afterward. And casually chitchatting about their mental health and drawing historic parallels paints a very sad picture about the author and all his thirsty readers. What a shame.

  11. Sofia says:

    I’m sorry but if the monarchy and the future King are THAT dependent on the 6th in line (who’s only going to go further down when his niece and nephews start having their own kids in around 20-25 years or so) then they definitely do have some big problems

    • ArtHistorian says:

      Yep. The British monarchy’s future shouldn’t be dependent on Harry at all. If it is then something is clearly rotten in the state of Denmark.

    • Becks1 says:

      Honestly, I think this is the point Lacey is trying to make. Its not about Harry himself, its about the other cracks in the foundation.

      • bluemoonhorse says:

        It’s about their lack of family comes first and solidity to that Royal Family Ideal – now that one sheep has jumped the fence, others will follow. My prediction? Charlotte will be gone very quickly once she comes of age.

  12. ABritGuest says:

    Brits love the class system & idea of a monarch ruling over them so the monarchy isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But I think it will struggle when the queen goes and I think that’s what monarchists who want Harry back recognise. Lacey is also being dramatic to sell his book

    I just saw ratings for William’s show on Monday and it was over 1m less viewers than the Sussexes’ documentary at its peak and over 2 million less than the Queen’s similar environmental documentary a few years earlier. I think the Queen is the popular lynchpin because she’s been there so long and they will struggle when she’s gone.

    There’s a lack of star power in current ranks and It’s a long wait until the Cambridge kids are older and any of them can do duties. With implementation of Brexit coming I think it’s going to be a hard time for the royals & justifying their costs so think they will need to be SEEN showing their worth. But the known worker bees- Charles & his siblings& partners are already quite mature.

    So think the ability to both do the public duties and sell the royal brand to the masses is what some are concerned about. As much as the ‘working like a top ceo’ thing was a joke- as Charles & William will not have as many senior royals around to support them during their respective reigns as the Queen has enjoyed, then the Cambridges may have to work harder than they perhaps anticipated& perhaps the monarchists don’t think they are up to it

    • Nic919 says:

      If Billy and Cathy had charisma and a work ethic they wouldn’t have been so concerned with Harry going to the US. They relied on him way too much and then would toss him under the bus when it suited them. Harry got fed up and found a partner who supported him for who he was and not his ability to cover as a scapegoat for the weakness of others.

  13. Khia says:

    They ALL need a copy of The Art of Communicating from Thich Nhat Hanh

  14. Vanessa says:

    It sad that their childhood was horribly but Harry choose to go to therapy and get better married someone who has all the same value as him . William just become a bitter angry controlling man who has made his mission in life to destroy his younger brother life at all cost . I don’t think William wants to be king he just wants all the money and attention and praise he wants the public to love him and worship him . I don’t know why this Author keep insisting that William is all about duty when it’s clear to everyone that William is a lazy angry bitter man the only time William has been truly focused and stay on tasked was when him and kate were helping the press destroy Harry and Meghan reputation.

    • lanne says:

      “All about duty” while rage-screaming at anyone who crosses his path. Yeah, that doesn’t really fly.

    • Lady D says:

      “he just wants all the money and attention and praise he wants the public to love him and worship him” and even if he does get all his heart desires, he will still go after and never stop trying to destroy Harry. Thirty years from now William will still be bitter and hellbent on Harry’s destruction.

      • Carrie says:

        Trump : Obama
        William : Harry
        Trump and William know they are not half the man the other is and this fact simply kills them.

  15. Mariane says:

    I’m tired of this narrative that harry needs to submit to Billy to “save the monarchy”! Harry doesn’t have to do sh***. He should continue prioritising his peace of mind and his family. Leave these people in the past . I dont even want him to go back to the UK until 2022!!!

    Lacey is a known to take liberty in his writing. The fact that he’s not writing about the rose story or how cambridge staff were proven to be leaking to press is clue that he has his own agenda. Clearly working with Charles’s courtiers

  16. L4frimaire says:

    From all of these excerpts I kind of don’t care about all of this past Royal drama. It makes them seem so messy and mean spirited. From all these books being written, I still don’t get why they were so incredibly nasty to Meghan and why they thought it was a good thing for the Royal family and Britains image. It just seems pointless to keep hounding and smearing them because at this point there is no objective to it. Do they really want the Sussexes back in the U.K. full time, because it doesn’t seem like that’s what the Sussexes want.

  17. candy says:

    How could they not have trauma? Their mother was brutally taken from them. Even normal families have years long grudges that never get solved, let alone families with a bitter divorce followed by the untimely death of a parent. Not to mention they were at boarding school when all this happened. Sounds like a horrible childhood to me. I think they both had years of the best therapy money can buy. But some things can’t be “therapized” away.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Harry is like his mother. William is like his father. Two completely incompatible personalities.

  19. Sean says:

    It’s so sad …shows how much they need their mom 💔