WINDSOR, England — On a sunny but somber Saturday when Britain said farewell to Prince Philip, the sight of his squabbling grandsons briefly reunited at the funeral gave many a reason to smile.
Princes William and Harry were seen chatting outside St. George's Chapel after the funeral. Earlier, they walked, with their cousin Peter Phillips between them, in the procession behind Philip’s coffin as it was ferried in a Land Rover hearse to the historic chapel, which sits on the grounds of the 11th-century Windsor Castle.
It was the first time Harry had been seen with the royal family since he and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, made explosive charges of racism and ill treatment against his kin last month in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Even a former prime minister has weighed in on hopes of a reconciliation between the two brothers, who were once famously close.
“It’s lovely to see Harry and William together again — it’s what we’ve all wanted,” said 66-year-old Martyn Rawlims, from Kidderminster, in central England. “This will probably bring them closer eventually. There’s always a good thing that comes out of it.”
For many in Britain and around the world, the sight of William and Harry walking behind their grandfather's coffin will echo the image of the two, as boys, marching mournfully behind the casket of their mother, Princess Diana, in 1997.
Smoking a cigarette and looking over at Windsor Castle, Rawlims grew teary-eyed when he remembered that day.
“She’d just think, ‘Ah, that’s what brothers do,’” Rawlims said of Diana. “Sometimes it’s a death that causes people to come together and appreciate life more.”
Harry “needed to get away for a bit to have a little bit of space, and the best thing that happened to him after his mother’s death was Meghan,” Rawlims said.
Meghan, who is pregnant with a girl, was advised by doctors not to make the trip from California, where she and Harry now live.
Harry arrived in the U.K. earlier this week and headed straight to Frogmore Cottage, his home on the grounds of Windsor Castle, where he quarantined in line with coronavirus regulations ahead of the funeral.
Older brother William has not commented publicly on the accusations the couple made in the interview, or Harry's description of the two's relationship as “space,” other than to say the royals were “very much not a racist family.”
Sandy Lewin, a 55-year-old teacher who lives not far from Windsor Castle, said her husband served in Afghanistan with Harry and that she came out for his fanfare wedding to Meghan.
“It’s very different because the last time we had something like this was the wedding, which was just magical,” she said. “Now it’s very low and somber.”
“We think the world of Harry,” said Lewin, who laid a single daffodil at Windsor Castle that she plucked from her garden last week when Philip died.
Lewin added that Harry is still held in high esteem by many in the military. She said that while she was a fan of the TV show “Suits,” in which Meghan Markle acted before she married Harry, she didn’t approve of the interview with Winfrey.
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The decision by Harry and Meghan to distance themselves from the royal family has polarized much of the country, and 55-year-old Jane Valder-Ryan, who was out walking her cockapoo dog, Woody, had clearly picked a side. It wasn’t Meghan’s.
“Having the Duke of Sussex be here on his own gives him more flexibility,” Valder-Ryan said.
“We all lived through the crash in Paris,” she said, referring to high-speed motor vehicle accident that left Diana dead and much of the United Kingdom shocked and in mourning.
The public feel “protective” of the princes, Valder-Ryan said. “We feel we’ve grown up with them.”
Adela Suliman reported from Windsor, Corky Siemaszko reported from New York and Henry Austin reported from London.