If my sibling had acted up like Harry, he’d get a brotherly shove out the door (and no royal pardon)

Feuding brothers have been part and parcel of life since Cain and Abel, says John Dolan, who reflects on a more modern day sibling rift
If my sibling had acted up like Harry, he’d get a brotherly shove out the door (and no royal pardon)

REUNION: Princes William and Harry unveil the statue of their mother, Diana. Picture:  Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

WHEN it comes to harmonising, few have ever mastered it quite as well as American star singing duo Phil and Don Everly.

Then, one night, in the middle of a concert in California in 1973, the harmony was replaced by a jarring note of discord.

Years of tension between the brothers erupted when Phil finally snapped over Don’s drunken antics, smashed his guitar, and stalked off the stage, announcing to the stunned crowd: “I’m tired of being an Everly brother.”

It would be ten years before they made up and reunited on stage to croon classics like Cathy’s Clown together again.

That’s not too bad, when you consider that it looks like being a lot longer than ten years before the warring Gallagher brothers, Liam and Noel, kiss and make up and perform again as Oasis.

Or how about the German shoemaker brothers Adi and Rudi Dassler. They started a successful business together in the 1920s, and all went well until an air raid during World War II.

Apparently, Adi and his family got into a bomb shelter where Rudi and his family were hiding, and Adi said, “The dirty bastards are back again.” He meant the Allied bombers, but Rudi took it the wrong way and thought he was smearing Rudi’s family.

They fell out big time, and Adi formed one company, Adidas, and Rudi set up another, Puma — now that’s German efficiency!

Yes, sirree, feuding brothers have been part and parcel of life ever since Cain smote Abel deep in the mists of time.

In that instance, it was jealousy and pride that was at stake, but when two male siblings butt heads, any number of issues can cause the rift: Money, land, politics, how their parents treated them, girlfriends and wives...

It’s true what they say — you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. If a fella’s friend annoys him, he can always drop him and find another. If a brother is a pain in the butt, replacement isn’t on the agenda — so the warring siblings part ways, and are often too stubborn to ever make up again.

The brothers with their mother Diana, Princess of Wales, before her death.
The brothers with their mother Diana, Princess of Wales, before her death.

Which brings me neatly to another case of two very high profile feuding brothers, which played out its latest vignette in public on Thursday.

Princes William and Harry had what I imagine was an awkward royal meet-and-greet in London, when they attended the unveiling of a statue in memory of their late mother, Diana.

The event, arranged to tie in with the date Diana would have celebrated her 60th birthday, was booked a while ago, when the brothers seemed to be rubbing along just fine.

Not so now.

No sooner had Harry and his American bride Meghan had their dream English fairytale wedding in a castle, than they were fleeing to live in her homeland, amidst a welter of angry allegations, furious denials, rancour, and recriminations — all played out in public.

Like any family fall-out, there are two sides to this. But, having two brothers myself, I have no hesitation in saying where the bulk of the blame in this royal rift lies: Squarely at the feet of Harry.

That’s because relationships between family and friends can survive all kinds of rows and feuds — but one thing that can’t be forgiven is a breach of trust — and that’s what Harry has done to William time and time again in blabbing to the world.

Take their meeting in London this week: Does anyone doubt that every utterance from William to his younger brother will one day soon end up being regurgitated on Harry’s next confessional TV series for the likes of Netflix, as he hawks his private life for a few million bucks? Whatever William may have said and done, he has never breached Harry’s trust.

It’s highly hypocritical of Harry — and Meghan — to slag off the tabloids on the one hand, while behaving exactly like the worst red-tops on the other. Private conversations, tittle-tattle, breaches of confidence... no bean is left unspilled when those two get in front of the camera, wallowing in riches and victimhood.

If one of my brothers had betrayed my trust like Harry, I’d be cutting him out of my life pronto. But what makes this situation so much harder for the royal siblings is that they know they cannot just cut each other out of their lives.

The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry arrive for a visit to the White Garden in Kensington Palace, London, and to meet with representatives from charities supported by Diana, the Princess of Wales.
The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry arrive for a visit to the White Garden in Kensington Palace, London, and to meet with representatives from charities supported by Diana, the Princess of Wales.

Royal protocol dictates they will have to meet up on a fairly regular basis — such as at Prince Philip’s funeral, for instance, when their simmering animosity was writ bear while they followed their grandfather’s coffin. They couldn’t even march together.

Indeed, Harry and Meghan have already been invited to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year, when she becomes the first British monarch ever to mark 70 years on the throne. 

So, William and Harry’s paths will inevitably have to cross in the years ahead, while the media second guesses on whether they have healed the rift or it has widened.

What a sorry mess.

It’s hard to know what is fact and what is fiction in the royal media circus. But if reports that the brothers held a private meeting to discuss their issues after the statue was unveiled are true, I would have been very wary if I were William.

The chances of this ‘private’ meeting being re-told to an American audience from a sofa by a swimming pool, perhaps with Oprah Winfrey nodding away sagely, are surely too high for him to risk a heart-to-heart.

Another story this week had a ring of truth to it: That Harry was prepared to admit to William that he made mistakes, but William was not prepared to admit being in the wrong — and Harry would ‘get his head bitten off’ by his wife if he attempted a reconciliation.

Diana famously said there were three people in her relationship. In her case, the other two were Charles and Camilla. In this modern version, the three are William, Harry, and Meghan.

Just like you can’t choose your family, nor can you choose your brother’s wives! And it was Harry’s fate to fall in love with and marry Meghan that led to this bout of simmering sibling rivalry.

To some, Meghan is a powerful, strong woman who is taking on an archaic royal system and striving to make a better life for herself and her family.

To others, she is a poisonous, selfish, divisive presence, intent on chasing fame and fortune, and uncaring as to the effect this has on her husband’s famous family.

Meghan is at the root of the fall-out between William and Harry, and the ill feeling between the two men has become a classic case of stubborn brothers butting heads.

If only it were as easy for William to smash his guitar on stage and stalk off, telling the world: “I’m tired of being a Windsor brother!”

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more