William's 40th Birthday Overshadowed by 'Leaked Tales of Family Fractures'

Prince William's milestone 40th birthday was somewhat overshadowed by "leaked tales of family fractures" in the British tabloids, according to royal biographer Omid Scobie.

Writing in his column for Yahoo! News, Scobie, who co-authored the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle biography Finding Freedom, claimed that while reporting around the time of the royal's birthday could have been used as a tool to promote how he is "preparing for his role as Prince of Wales and taking over the Duchy of Cornwall," it was instead eclipsed by anonymous sources criticizing Harry.

Scobie brought up the coverage by the Daily Mail, a newspaper whose sister publication the Mail on Sunday was sued by Meghan after the publication of a private letter written to her father.

Prince William Prince Harry Birthday Rift
Omid Scobie has written of the missed opportunity to promote William's work at the time of his 40th birthday, with the focus instead on his relationship with Harry. Here, William photographed June 14, 2022, and Harry (inset) June 3, 2022. Peter Nicholls/WPA Pool /Getty Images/MATT DUNHAM/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Scobie claimed that the information leaked by anonymous sources to the Daily Mail for its coverage "usually only happens after express permission has been given."

"My experience with the Duke of Cambridge," he wrote, "is that his tight circle of friends will only talk after a nod from the man himself. In the past, those who haven't received such authorisation have found themselves in deep trouble."

Scobie felt that the criticism of Harry given by the anonymous sources including that the prince "has 100 percent crossed that line" in discussing his personal life since moving away from the royal family, detracted from what could have been the marking of a new phase in William's life.

He continued: "it looks like you'll have to wait for his 41st if you want to discover how William transformed from a reluctant heir to a dutiful king-in-waiting, because sources were too busy dishing on how he 'alternates between grief and anger' over Harry's life decisions."

The relationship between William and younger brother Harry is reportedly strained—with royal author and former editor of Vanity Fair, Tina Brown, telling The Telegraph: "I'm told there's absolutely nothing going on between them at the moment."

During his 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry opened up about his relationship with William, which became more distant after Harry's marriage to Meghan Markle in 2018.

He said: "I love William to bits. He's my brother. We've been through hell together. I mean, we have a shared experience. But we're on different paths."

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Oprah Interview
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sat down for a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, March 2021. Harpo Productions

In the months after the broadcast of the interview, it would appear that the relationship worsened as Harry swerved a question as to whether he missed his brother since moving to America during an interview given at the 2022 Invictus Games.

When asked by Today show co-host Hoda Kotb about that subject, the royal said: "Yes, I think especially over the last two years for most people, have they not missed their families? Right? The inability to be able to get home and see them."

The host then rephrased the question and asked: "But do you miss your brother, your dad?"

To this, he replied: "Look, I mean... at the moment, I'm here focused on these guys [at the Invictus Games] and these families and giving everything I can, 120 percent to them to make sure that they have the experience of a lifetime. That's my focus here.

"And when I leave here, I go back, and my focus is my family, who I miss massively. Of course, I do. They're two little people."

Royal watchers were hoping to see a reunion between William and Harry during Queen Elizabeth II's recent Platinum Jubilee celebrations that saw Harry and Meghan make their first public joint return to Britain since moving to the United States in 2020.

These watchers were to be disappointed as the Susssexes only attended two of the planned events and only one of those in view of the public. When the couple arrived at the national service of thanksgiving held at St Paul's Cathedral, they were entered separately from William and Kate, were sat far apart, and left without interacting with each other.

As 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana, there are no public plans for the princes to come together to mark the anniversary. In July 2021, what would have been the princess' 60th birthday, the brothers came together to unveil a statue in her honor at her former home of Kensington Palace. That was the last time the pair were publicly photographed together.

Princess Diana, William and Harry 25th Anniversary
2022 marks the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana's death though there are no official public plans to mark the occasion. Photographed May 7, 1995. Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

The fact that the press coverage around the time of William's birthday has seemingly reinforced the rift between the brothers was a wasted opportunity, according to Scobie, who wrote:

"From a PR perspective, Prince William's birthday milestone was the perfect chance to paint the picture of a man focused on preparing for the big job. After all, he has been genuinely putting the work in. But instead, readers were presented with the hypocritical story of how awful it is for Harry to speak publicly about his experiences."

As the publication of Harry's tell-all memoir looms on the horizon, and with William taking increasing responsibility for royal duties as the queen reduces her output due to health and mobility problems, it is unlikely that the public will see the royal brothers come together anytime soon.

For more royal news and commentary check out Newsweek's The Royal Report podcast:

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