LONDON — Princes William and Harry walked behind their grandmother’s coffin on Wednesday, side-by-side, with stoic, stony faces, as Queen Elizabeth II’s cortege processed through streets lined with mourners.
Then, people worried about their grief. Now, there is sorrow for their strained relationship.
As boys aged 15 and 12, the two appeared almost lost in shock and sadness.
They were gangly, lean, dressed in black coats that looked two sizes too large.
They had just lost their mother — killed in a violent car crash in a Paris tunnel, pursued by paparazzi on motorcycles. She was 36, a year younger than Harry is today.
Harry said later he had tried to hide under his bangs from the throngs along the route. He told Angela Levin, author of “Conversations with the Prince,” that he didn’t think such a scene should ever be repeated. “I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances.”
He said, “No child should lose their mother at such a young age and then have his grief observed by thousands of people.”
His older brother, William, has spoken of his feelings of “numbness” that day.
The funeral for Diana was raw emotion. The crowds of British people revealed themselves sobbing, a few almost overcome, in a kind of tabloid fever dream.
Wednesday’s mourning was far more restrained. The queen was 96 years old, after all. The palace said she went peacefully. There was a catch of the breath when people heard she had died, but less shock.
Public interest in the two brothers remains high. In part because we know their lives have diverged.
William, 40, is the heir, a dutiful second to their father, the new king. He has taken on Charles’s former titles: Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall. And he will oversee the Duchy of Cornwall, a huge collection of land holdings across the south of England worth around $1.2 billion, according to the most recent accounts.
Harry, 37, is living in Southern California, making his own way and fortune, preparing to publish a memoir that will air royal family laundry and presumably feelings of hurt and his charges that his father cut him off financially and that someone in the family worried what color he and Meghan’s children might be.
Although he was a captain in the British Army and served in Afghanistan, having quit his royal duties, he was in civilian dress, as dictated by protocol.
In their interview with Oprah Winfrey last year, Harry and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, asserted that the royal family had worked against them as newlyweds. The interview also revealed the distance that had grown between the brothers, with Harry saying he and William were not speaking much. He said he loved his brother, but they were on “different paths.”
Many watching the ritual mourning this week have looked for signs of reconciliation between them.
During the 30-minute walk from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday, it was hard to read any signs.
The brothers performed their duty.
They walked, solemnly.
Queen Elizabeth II
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