Prince Harry celebrates his 36th birthday today, and he’s doing so privately in California, where he and Meghan Markle are living and largely quarantining with their one-year-old son Archie amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the royal family was sure to wish Harry a happy birthday on social media, and sister-in-law Kate Middleton and brother Prince William joined in.
Kate and William’s post is notable because it is the first time the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have given any hint on social media where their relationship with Harry stands now that Harry and Meghan have stepped back from their senior royal family roles. In royal reporters Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand’s book Finding Freedom, the two authors report that Harry’s relationship with Kate and William has been strained for some time—and was badly damaged earlier this year, during Meghan and Harry’s final events as royals in March and following their royal family exit announcement and negotiations.
“To repair that relationship will take time,” a friend of Harry’s told the authors. “They see things differently. They feel that the experience that they’ve gone through over the last couple of years, they come at it from different points of view. William will need to get over his brother leaving the institution. They’ve both been frustrated with each other, but as Harry said himself, at the end of the day the bond of a brotherhood is much bigger than anything else.”
Kate and William’s Kensington Palace post suggests there may have been a slight thawing in the months since—at least between them and Harry. The couple chose a photo of the three running together and captioned it warmly: “Wishing a very happy birthday to Prince Harry today! 🎂🎈” they wrote. Royal fans noticed that the couple chose not to use a photo that included Meghan though. Innocent omission or deliberate slight, you decide.
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Harry, of course, does not currently have an active, public social media account so he did not comment back or like it. He and Meghan shut down their SussexRoyal Instagram when they left their working roles in the family. The launch of their new non-profit Archewell has been delayed because of COVID-19, so their new social media hasn’t debuted yet.
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