For years we have grown accustomed to it — on display with their father, with their late mother, and, of course, at each other’s weddings.
Standing together before their respective ceremonies, many found their support for each other as best man utterly touching, not least because both had moved from childhood into manhood without the guidance of a mother.
Hidden stresses: William, Kate, Harry and Meghan stroll to church on Christmas Day last year. Inevitably, the endless contrasts between their wives has affected the relationship of the brothers
Indeed, their mutual reliance has been an enduring and endearing part of the royal story.
Which is why, just weeks after that Sandringham picture was taken, talk of a rift between William and Harry — coupled with murmurs that all is not well between Kate and
But now the brothers have a new shared passion: fatherhood. Surely the challenges of being parents that both couples now face will help them overcome whatever differences they may have had.
The princes are acutely aware of the importance that Diana placed in them looking out for each other — which is something she wanted them to continue to do all their lives.
The princes are acutely aware of the importance that Diana placed in them looking out for each other — which is something she wanted them to continue to do all their lives. The pair are pictured together in 2006
‘I think it has taken the awareness of the birth of Harry’s first child to remind both brothers of their responsibilities to each other — and to each other’s children,’ says one of Prince Charles’s aides.
Of course, it didn’t help that stories of differences first began to emerge during 37-year-old Meghan’s pregnancy.
What was being said was that William had earlier questioned the haste with which his younger brother was wanting to marry the American actress.
William, of course, dated Kate Middleton for eight years before giving her an engagement ring.
Meghan and Harry announced the birth of their baby boy to their online fans by using the graphic above. For Harry, having a child means so much more than simply being a father
Harry, on the other hand, had made up his mind almost immediately after being introduced to the star of the American TV legal drama Suits — a woman three years his senior — at a London dinner party.
To William, advising caution was simply common sense.
But Harry, ever sensitive, is understood to have interpreted his brother’s words, as well as those from others in his circle, as an implied criticism of his choice of bride.
To some extent, this explains his touchiness in the run-up to last May’s wedding at St George’s Chapel in Windsor.
There was the row over the emerald-encrusted bridal tiara that Meghan wanted to wear, and the incident in which Kate, who’d only just given birth to Prince Louis, apparently burst into tears over the outfit that Princess Charlotte was to wear as a bridesmaid.
It emerged that at the height of the tiara issue, Prince Harry had declared: ‘What Meghan wants, Meghan gets!’ That wasn’t entirely accurate, as the Queen herself ruled that the chosen tiara was inappropriate.
She selected instead the diamond lozenge bandeau tiara made for Queen Mary in 1932 and last seen in public on the head of Princess Anne in 1965.
So stressed were Harry and Meghan before the ceremony that they resorted to acupuncture to ‘calm’ themselves.
But after the wedding, came two further shocks. One was the announcement that Harry and Meghan were decamping from Kensington Palace, where they lived next door to William and
The other was that the two brothers, whose public lives had been so entwined, were ending their joint office in Kensington Palace, with Harry setting his up separately in Buckingham Palace.
Together, these two upheavals inevitably meant the break-up of the crowd-pleasing ‘Fab Four’. In many ways, of course, this was a sensible and entirely natural arrangement.
Meghan is pictured at King’s College, London in March (left) and with Harry at at Buckingham Palace on March 14 (right). Surely the challenges of being parents that both couples now face will help them overcome whatever differences they may have had
Prince William, as a future king, has a very different role and destiny from his brother. Nevertheless, it was seen as a further sign that all was not well between the two couples.
What cannot be overlooked is that from the earliest days of the marriage, Meghan had been unable to escape comparison with the royal wife next door — the poised, uncomplicated Kate.
As for Harry, criticism of Meghan as being too showy and too outspoken has been painful.
Inevitably, the endless contrasts between their wives has affected the relationship of the brothers.
No one expected them to live in each other’s pockets for ever; but, equally, no one would have expected Diana’s boys to take such divergent paths so soon.
Yet it makes absolute sense that while William continues his lifelong training for the throne, the campaigning Duke and Duchess of Sussex may spend time in Africa — a continent that is close to both their hearts — as has been suggested.
Meghan is pictured with Harry at Westminster Abbey in March. William, of course, dated Kate Middleton for eight years before giving her an engagement ring. Harry, on the other hand, had made up his mind almost immediately after being introduced to the star of the American TV legal drama Suits — a woman three years his senior — at a London dinner party [File photo]
While no plans are yet set in stone, few would be surprised if, over the next few years, Harry, Meghan and their son spend much of their time there together.
This natural split would enable Willam and Harry — and their wives — to grow into the meaningful roles that Diana always wanted for them.
And I can report that a rapprochement is already under way.
On Easter Sunday, William and Kate dropped into Frogmore Cottage, Harry and Meghan’s new home, with a housewarming gift. They stayed for an hour, having tea and looking over the property following its renovation.
For Harry, having a child means so much more than simply being a father.
He and William have grown up valuing the closeness of their cousins, especially Princess Anne’s children Peter and Zara Phillips, who each have two children of their own now.
It is a club which Harry has yearned to join, especially since becoming an indulgent uncle to William’s brood.
Which is why the birth of his son will draw him not only closer to those cousins he adores but pull the brothers back to where they used to be in each other’s lives.
Harry especially hopes that his nephew George, who will be six in July, will mentor his first child with the same affection that he and William were guided by Peter Phillips, now 41.
It was Peter, then aged 19, who took over in a big brother capacity to watch over and occupy William and Harry in the aftermath of their mother’s death in 1997.
Diana, of course, remains the constant in the brothers’ lives. Even now, their mother is the figure to whom they frequently refer, even publicly in speeches.
‘Both are well aware of what she would expect of them now that both are fathers,’ says one of her oldest friends. ‘There wouldn’t be any kind of feud if she were here.’