How happy it must have made our dear departed Queen, sitting up there on her cloud, to see the scene unfolding beneath her at Windsor Castle.
Her grandchildren, William and Harry, and their respective wives, Catherine and Meghan, reunited for the first time since 2020. The Fab Four, back in all their glory. How sad, also, that it took such a tragic event as the death of her late Majesty to make it happen.
If only they could have managed it during her lifetime. But no matter. Her Majesty was nothing if not a pragmatist: better late than never.
Now perhaps she can, from her lofty perch, even look forward to the cousins finally getting to know each other properly.
Imagine that; Archie and baby Lilibet alongside George, Charlotte and Louis, playing together in the grounds of her old home. Wonderful.
King Charles, too, must be delighted.
The Queen would be happy to see William and Harry, and their respective wives, Catherine and Meghan, reunited for the first time since 2020. The Fab Four, back in all their glory
Meghan is seen gazing at Kate as the four admire the floral tributes to the Queen. If only they could have managed to reunite during her lifetime. But no matter. Her Majesty was nothing if not a pragmatist: better late than never
The crowds were expecting to see just Kate and William, but the Crown Prince gallantly offered an olive branch to his younger brother by inviting he and Meghan to join them on their tour
The warring princes are comforted by their respective wives as they gaze down at the floral offerings left by the multitudes of well-wishers
Queen Elizabeth II beams at her great-grandson Prince Louis on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Trooping the Colour parade on June 2, 2022. Her Majesty would be delighted to think that her great-grandchildren might grow up and play together
King Charles III’s sons Harry and William inspecting floral tributes at Windsor Castle this evening
The two royal couples inspect the floral tributes left outside the gates of Windsor Castle this evening
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex view the floral tributes for the late Queen Elizabeth II outside Windsor Castle
After all, he has felt the rift between his boys acutely, and the anger and stinging accusations of his youngest son have cut him to the quick. Nevertheless, like his mother, he has never wavered in his support for Harry and Meghan, never ceased to profess his love for them. Indeed, perhaps it was his short but heartfelt message, delivered towards the end of his highly personal first speech as King, that paved the way for yesterday’s reunion.
‘Today, I also want to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas,’ he said. Only a brief mention, a few simple words, but immensely significant.
By choosing to include their names in such an historic speech, one which will be pored over and remembered for decades to come, the new King left no doubt as to the special place his youngest son and his wife hold in his heart.
It was more than just an expression of paternal love. It was an open invitation, extended in front of the entire nation from a new King: time to bury the hatchet. Time to come together, if not for his sake, then for the memory of the Queen, for granny – and the institution to which she dedicated her existence.
Did he hold out much hope? Who knows. What’s clear, though, is that something seems to have dislodged the shard of ice in the brothers’ hearts.
King Charles III greets members of the public outside Clarence House, London
King Charles III meeting well-wishers as he returns to Clarence House from Buckingham Palace
The couple landed back in the UK last weekend intending to attend charity events when the Queen died at Balmoral
The new Prince and Princess of Wales look sombre as they prepare to face the public and look upon the enormous floral tribute laid out in tribute to Her Majesty the Queen
Catherine, Princess of Wales, warmly greets people and shakes hands and exchanges words with well-wishers outside Windsor Castle
Meghan stopped to chat to the mourners gathered
William greets a child in the crowd outside the gates of Windsor Castle during the walkabout
Because yesterday afternoon, less than 24 hours after his speech, the Fab Four appeared together on The Long Walk leading up to Windsor Castle to greet members of the public and witness the sea of tributes at the gates.
It was a moment as surprising as it was welcome. Meghan, clutching her husband’s hand, no doubt a tiny bit fearful of the reception she might receive. She need not have worried: the crowd reacted with generous relief, just happy to see them not at each other’s throats.
Characteristically, it was William who made the first move, in perhaps his first act of duty as Prince of Wales towards his King: to help mend the broken family. We are told that at some point on Saturday morning, he extended the hand of friendship to Prince Harry by asking him and Meghan to join them on the walkabout.
The act of not just a brother, but a dutiful senior royal. Mercifully, the Sussexes accepted.
The resulting reunion will have gladdened the hearts of millions, especially those who have watched with mounting sadness the widening abyss between Harry and his family. It’s a pleasant stroll between Frogmore and Adelaide cottages on the Windsor estate. A few short steps for two couples – one giant leap for the Royal Family.
Will it last? We must pray it does. It’s hard, looking at the pictures of the two brothers in black, not to be reminded of similar images from a quarter of a century ago, when the young Princes mourned the untimely death of their mother, Princess Diana.
They turned to each other for support then, just as they turn to each other now, as grown men with families of their own. They have much in common, and there is much history between them.
William and Harry are seen conversing as they reunite to mourn their grandmother, the Queen
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex view the tributes left after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle
The Prince and Princess of Wales view the tributes left after the Death of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle
Death is a great leveller. It puts everything in perspective, makes us see how silly and petty so many of the things that preoccupy us in life can be.
It reminds us of the bigger picture, shows us our place in the universe and, in the case of someone as loved and revered as our late Queen, unites people in grief.
For the Prince and Princess of Wales, and also for the new King, there is much to forgive Harry and Meghan. It was perhaps no coincidence that the Royal Family did not wait for Prince Harry to join them all at Balmoral, where they had assembled throughout the course of Thursday, to announce the Queen’s death.
His behaviour in recent months has been, to put it mildly, challenging. And it can’t have been easy for the late Queen to witness Harry’s transformation from adored – and, let’s face it, adorable – grandson into a scowling, petulant princeling, apparently hell-bent on bringing down his own family.
How hard it must have been for her that the last month of Prince Philip’s long life, before he died in April last year, was dominated by coverage of their spiteful interview with Oprah Winfrey. Or that thanks to their accusations of racism, resentment has been stirred up across her precious Commonwealth of nations, threatening to undermine so much of the good work the Queen did in her lifetime.
The Sussexes even declined Charles’s open invitation to stay with him at his holiday cottage on the Balmoral Estate this summer, thus denying the Queen an opportunity to get to know her namesake, her great-granddaughter Lilibet. Instead, she met the tot just once before she passed away.
William, Prince of Wales, greeting people outside Windsor Castle, following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II
Harry takes the hand of a well-wisher and gets in close to have a personal moment
And barely a fortnight ago, Meghan used an interview to aim a series of thinly veiled threats at the Monarchy, even as the Queen’s health was fading.
But none of that matters now. It is time now for forgiveness, to put all those things to one side and find a way forward together.
Yesterday’s show of unity is the first step in what we all must hope will be a more harmonious chapter for the Royal Family.
There remains just one more thing: Prince Harry’s plans to publish a tell-all memoir, the details of which still remain unclear but which, given previous accusations of racism and other slights – real or perceived – still hangs like a Sword of Damocles over the Royal Family. That must surely now be shelved.
For those of us who believe in such things, there could have been no greater message from the Queen at her moment of passing than the sight of two glorious rainbows, one double over Buckingham Palace, another over Windsor.
A message to us all of love and compassion.
A message that, miraculously, now appears to be coming true.
How the new King urged his warring sons to reunite for the sake of their late grandmother: After ‘a chat’ with Charles, William blinked first to extend an olive branch to Harry in a bid to ‘show unity at an incredibly difficult time’
By Kate Mansey, Assistant Editor
Warring Princes William and Harry and their wives were reunited for a Royal walkabout yesterday amid extraordinary scenes at Windsor Castle.
To the astonishment of crowds who were expecting only William and Kate, both couples emerged from a black Audi late in the afternoon to gasps, then murmurs of approval – followed by cheers. The quartet – once dubbed the Fab Four – then spent 40 minutes inspecting the floral tributes and shaking hands with well-wishers.
Afterwards William drove them away, his wife next to him, the Sussexes in the back, in the direction of Frogmore Cottage where Harry and Meghan are staying.
Whether this represented a reconciliation or was a hiatus in hostilities was anyone’s guess.
On arrival the brothers had appeared to exchange a few words, though Kate and Meghan stood silently apart. All four, dressed in black, then moved separately along the crowds, the Sussexes on one side, the new Prince and Princess of Wales on the other.
Warring Princes William and Harry and their wives were reunited for a Royal walkabout yesterday amid extraordinary scenes at Windsor Castle
Afterwards William drove them away, his wife next to him, the Sussexes in the back, in the direction of Frogmore Cottage where Harry and Meghan are staying
A Palace source said William had extended the olive branch to Harry after a chat with the King.
The call went out to the Sussexes earlier in the day: would they join Kate and William on a walkabout? Harry and Meghan accepted.
For William it was said to be important that the family convened in a show of unity at an incredibly difficult time.
The walkabout was due to start around 4.30pm but was delayed until 5.15pm to ensure the Sussexes had time to get ready. ‘Harry looked slightly tense,’ noted body language expert Judi James. ‘He was using a ‘barrier gesture’ – one that he uses to show anxiety – where he has his hand clutching his jacket in front of him.
‘But William looks a lot more relaxed. He looks to be the one instigating the display of unity to honour his grandmother’s memory.’
The reunion came after the King made his peace offering to Harry and Meghan during his first address to the nation as Monarch.
The King said: ‘I want also to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas.’
The King, 73, has never abandoned hope of rekindling his relationship with his youngest son, despite Harry and Meghan moving to the US and publicly attacking the Royals.
Harry alleged wrongly that his father had ‘cut them off’ financially and Meghan made an unsubstantiated claim that a Royal made a racist remark before Archie was born.
William was said to have been avoiding all contact with Harry in case their exchanges ended up in his forthcoming memoir.
As they walked around floral tributes, Harry placed a tender hand on Meghan’s back. There were repeated shouts of ‘Harry’ and ‘Meghan’ and well-wishers passed the couples bouquets and single red roses.
The King, 73, has never abandoned hope of rekindling his relationship with his youngest son, despite Harry and Meghan moving to the US and publicly attacking the Royals
Beatrice Grant, of Inverness, said Kate revealed her four-year-old Louis had said to her, ‘Never mind, great-grandma’s with great-grandpa’. Ms Grant added: ‘She said how she was upset and she had tears in her eyes.’
Cheryl Young, 38, a mum from Preston, said of seeing the Fab Four: ‘It is very surprising but you know what, it is also lovely and hopefully that can continue.’
Michael Clerk, 37, a teacher from Alton, Hampshire, met Harry and Meghan with his daughters Isobel, ten and Sophie, six. ‘I shook his hand and told him I was so sorry for his loss. It’s a privilege to meet Royalty but also a sad time. I wasn’t surprised to see them as a family should be together to grieve.’
His wife Lauren said Harry was ‘really sweet with the children’ adding: ‘You can tell he has his own.’
Nicola Hodgson, a teacher from Windsor, said: ‘I told Harry I was sorry for his loss. I could feel myself going. It was very emotional. He was taking time to speak to everyone. It was very special.’
Grandmother Joan Whelan, from Twickenham, South West London, said: ‘He asked how I was and I said, ‘It’s lovely to see you back.’ I asked him for a hug and he said of course. I felt terrific getting a hug from him.’
Reshma, from Pinner, North London, told William she had lost her parents recently. ‘I asked him how his children were coping and he said they were well. I told him his parents would now be looking down on them all.’
Abul Taher and Charlie Moloney