Kate Middleton’s ‘hardest day’ with Meghan Markle: Princess put aside differences with her sister-in-law for Windsor walkabout after the Queen’s death
- The Prince and Princess of Wales were joined by Sussexes for a walkabout
- Read more: What’s REALLY behind Meghan and Kate’s long-standing feud
In remarkable scenes after the Queen’s death last year, the Prince and Princess of Wales came together with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for a walkabout in Windsor.
To many, the couples’ joint walkabout – said to have been William’s idea to put on a show of unity – might have seemed like some kind of reconciliation.
But it was later reported that Kate found her Windsor walkabout with Harry and Meghan after the Queen’s death ‘one of the hardest things she’d ever had to do’.
The Princess of Wales told a senior royal it was so difficult for her because of the ‘ill-feeling’ between the couples, veteran royal correspondent Robert Jobson said in Our King, serialised in The Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday.
In remarkable scenes after the Queen’s death last year, the Prince and Princess of Wales came together with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for a walkabout in Windsor
Kate and William’s appearance with Harry and Meghan to greet well-wishers and view the flowers outside the gates of Windsor Castle came two days after the Queen’s death at the age of 96 in September last year
The surprise appearance was the first time that the two couples had all been in public together since Commonwealth Day on March 9, 2020.
And it was the first time William and Harry were seen together in public since they joined for the opening of the memorial in honour of their mother, Princess Diana.
It is believed the Sussexes had not previously made any plans to meet with the Waleses, despite staying in Frogmore Cottage, just 700 yards from William and Kate’s Adelaide Cottage.
However both William and Harry raced to Balmoral on Thursday after it became clear the Queen’s health was faltering.
It was later revealed the King ordered his warring sons to set aside their ongoing feud ahead of the Queen’s funeral, leading the pair to reunite in public for the first time in more than a year.
Royal sources say Prince William attempted to bury the hatchet by extending an ’11th-hour olive branch’ to his younger brother Prince Harry, by asking him to join him on a walkabout outside Windsor Castle following a phone call with his father Charles.
A Kensington Palace source said that the Prince of Wales invited the Sussexes to join him and the Princess of Wales on the walkabout.
However, according to The Times, the camps required extended negotiations beforehand which delayed their arrival by 45 minutes.
A senior Palace source said: ‘The Prince of Wales invited the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to join him and the Princess of Wales earlier.
‘The Prince of Wales thought it was an important show of unity for the Queen at an incredibly difficult time for the family.’
The Sussexes’ friend and preferred journalist Omid Scobie later claimed on Twitter that the invitation was made at the ’11th hour’.
However, hinting that William is prepared to extend Harry an olive branch and work towards melting the ice between them, he declared: ‘It is, without a doubt, a significant moment in the history of the relationship between the two brothers’.
And for a few minutes, it looked as though the warring couples had slipped back in time, before bitterness and harsh words had destroyed their relationship.
The Prince and Princess of Wales took to Windsor to inspect the sea of floral tributes laid outside the gates of the Berkshire estate in tribute to the late Queen, who died in Balmoral days earlier.
During the engagement, they were joined by Harry and Meghan, marking the first time that the two couples have all appeared in public since Commonwealth Day on March 9, 2020, just weeks before the Covid lockdown.
While making their way towards the floral tributes, Kate and William mainly walked separately, occasionally reaching out and touching. Meanwhile, Harry and Meghan maintained contact most of the time, often holding hands
The two couples, who had not been seen together in an official capacity since March 2020, appeared to maintain their distance from each other (pictured L-R: the Princess and Prince of Wales, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex)
The royals, once dubbed the ‘fab four’, were greeted by applause as they walked along the gates of Windsor Castle together.
However, all did not appear to be completely well among the feuding couples, who at times appeared uneasy in each other’s company.
Body language expert Judi James told FEMAIL at the time: ‘This is a phenomenal and unexpected scene that displays some natural caution and awkwardness in the body language, although as a statement of intent it seems choreographed as something of a loving tribute the Queen and in some ways the new King, who took what was maybe the first step in speaking of his love for Harry and Meghan in his recent speech.
‘The four line up together to suggest some form of unity and it is William, with his puffed chest and air of confidence, who looks like the leader and instigator. Harry performs some clothing touch anxiety rituals but Meghan seems to be on hand to offer comfort, support and encouragement.’
As they walked along the gates of Windsor Castle together, temporarily putting aside the differences sparked by the Sussexes’ departure, they appeared to maintain a significant distance from each other.
The couples only came together briefly at the start and end of the engagement.
Throughout the rest of the walkabout, which is believed to have lasted some 30 minutes, Prince William and Kate, and Meghan and Harry, appeared to stick to their two couples – perhaps instructed to by their aides – and barely interacted during the sombre occasion.
During the walkabout, the royals inspected the sea of floral tributes laid outside the gates of the Berkshire estate in tribute to the late Queen
The two couples seemed to engage very little with each other, instead staying separate
At times during the walkabout, all four split up, to greet and speak with members of the public individually
At times during the walkabout, all four split up, to greet and speak with members of the public individually.
As the four emerged from their vehicle, the couples spoke to an unidentified man, thought to be an aide. At one point during the conversation, Harry stepped back towards Meghan, and the pair listened while locked in an embrace, with the Duke’s arm around his wife’s waist.
As they started walking, with the two men standing next to each other, while their respective wives flanked them on the outside, William and Harry appeared to engage in a brief chat, as Kate and Meghan looked straight ahead.
At times, Kate appeared to stand some distance from the group.
‘Kate looks slightly distanced although she is close to William when the couples split slightly,’ said Judi.
As they reached the gates, the two couples stopped to look at some of the floral tributes left by well-wishes.
Harry and Meghan stayed close together at the beginning of the event, and often if they were separated, were seen reaching for each other to hold hands.
After speaking to the crowds, the couples made their way to their separate vehicles. At one point, the two Duchesses appeared to be avoiding making eye contact (pictured)
According to Judi: ‘When the couple clasp hands it is Harry’s fingers wiggling downward while Meghan’s are curled around his palm, with her thumb gently stroking his hand. She performs touches on his back and small strokes and other tie-signs and there are some moments when she is the one looking across for communication with William and Kate.’
As the royals started the long walk to Windsor Castle, the couples split up, each attending to one side of the crowd, which was heard cheering both the couples. The four greeted members of the public within their respective couplings, as well as separately.
Once they finished meeting the public, they reconvened in front of their vehicles, where they had a brief chat, before getting into their respective cars.
Describing the overall tone of the meeting, Judi told FEMAIL: ‘There’s no signs of relaxed engagement or even affection here but the fact they are lining up together and communicating again is impressive in itself.
‘It’s an adult approach from the new Prince of Wales and it could have broken a lot of ice in terms of their body language at the funeral and beyond.’
Later, Robert Jobson said sources close to the royal family confirmed to him that the show of unity was an ‘illusion’.
‘Catherine later admitted to a senior royal that, such was the ill feeling between the two couples, the joint walkabout was one of the hardest things she’d ever had to do,’ he writes.
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