Prince William, the new Prince of Wales, extended an olive branch to his brother Prince Harry on Saturday as the relationship between the two princes remains the subject of speculation amid a reported royal rift.
The display of unity in grief comes as they passed the 25th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana on August 31. In 1997 the brothers viewed tributes left to the princess outside their childhood home at Kensington Palace, a gesture they repeated for their grandmother.
Mourners fell silent outside Windsor Castle on Saturday as the Prince and Princess of Wales arrived to view floral tributes left at the gates following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by Harry and his wife Meghan Markle.
The Prince and Princess of Wales and the Sussexes arrived by car together with William in the driver’s seat, both having been staying at their homes mere miles away from one another in Windsor Great Park.
Crowds and news teams had expected William and Kate to arrive but when they appeared alongside Harry and Meghan, Britain’s BBC paused their commentary to take in the “silence” of the crowds as they reacted to seeing the once “fab four” reunited.
The couples spent some time viewing the floral tributes together, sharing momentary interactions with one another as they pointed out specific cards and displays, before they split to greet well-wishers who had gathered on either side of the castle’s long-walk.
Photographs taken of the two brothers viewing the flowers, left for the late-queen who died at Balmoral Castle on Thursday afternoon U.K. time, echo those taken 25-years-ago as they grieved for the loss of their mother, Princess Diana.
The princes did not mark in any formal way the 25th anniversary of her death, which occurred in 1997 after injuries sustained in a high-speed Paris car crash, but both brothers have paid individual tributes to their mother throughout the year.
At the time of their mother’s death William was fifteen and Harry just twelve.
In the hour before the two brother’s appeared together at Windsor, the new Prince of Wales released a statement paying his own personal tribute to his grandmother the queen. In it he recalled how she had been by his side during the saddest period of his life, believed to be a reference to the death of his mother.
“On Thursday, the world lost an extraordinary leader, whose commitment to the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth was absolute. So much will be said in the days ahead about the meaning of her historic reign,” he said.
“I, however, have lost a grandmother. And while I will grieve her loss, I also feel incredibly grateful. I have had the benefit of The Queen’s wisdom and reassurance into my fifth decade.”
“My wife has had 20 years of her guidance and support. My three children have got to spend holidays with her and create memories that will last their whole lives,” he continued.
“She was by my side at my happiest moments. And she was by my side during the saddest days of my life. I knew this day would come, but it will be some time before the reality of life without Grannie will truly feel real.”
It was in the wake of this evocation of the grief felt after the death of Diana that the brothers united appearance was made and, it was revealed, that the invitation for Harry and Meghan to join William and Kate came from William himself.
A spokesperson for the Prince and Princess of Wales confirmed to Newsweek that the Prince had reached out to the Duke of Sussex about the appearance.
Britain’s Daily Mail reported that the invitation came at the “eleventh hour” with the encouragement of King Charles.
“The Waleses had always been scheduled to greet well-wishers at Windsor Castle, but royal sources say the decision to invite the Sussexes was made in the eleventh hour. It is, without a doubt, a significant moment in the history of the relationship between the two brothers.”
The last time William and Harry were photographed together side-by-side was at the unveiling of a statue to their mother in the grounds of Kensington Palace in July 2021.
In April that same year the brothers had both attended the funeral of their grandfather Prince Philip that was held in the immediate aftermath of the broadcast of Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.
During that interview Harry described his relationship with William as “on different paths” after both he and Meghan suggested that the unsupportiveness of the royal family and household contributed to their decision to step away from their royal roles and move to the U.S.
“I love William to bits,” he told the TV veteran. “He’s my brother. We’ve been through hell together. I mean, we have a shared experience. But…we’re on different paths.”
He then continued: “The relationship is space at the moment. And, you know, time heals all things, hopefully.”
As the queen’s funeral and King Charles III‘s reign begins there will be a number of future events that both the Waleses and Sussexes will be expected to attend together. The viewing of the floral tributes has set the tone for these which include the state funeral, which will be held on Monday September 19th.
Newsweek approached Buckingham Palace for comment.