William and Harry could reconcile with the help of Diana
Prince Harry and Prince William's bitter feud must be resolved ahead of the late Princess Diana's 60th birthday, says the royal author whose new book examines the rift between the once-close pair.
Robert Lacey said the unveiling of a statue dedicated to Diana in London, due to be held on what would have been their mother's birthday next July, will be a crucial moment.
The author of Battle of Brothers, a detailed expose into their relationship, says work needs to be done for them to reconcile.
And he argues Buckingham Palace needs to find a way to embrace Meghan, the family's first bi-racial member, as the Caribbean island Barbados ditches the Queen as head of state, raising the fear that more Commonwealth member countries will follow.
The book, due out in Australia on Friday, comes as Prince Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39, cement themselves in their new mansion in Montecito, near Santa Barbara, in California.
Mr Lacey, who was historical consultant and wrote companion books to Netflix series The Crown, said that Prince Harry would never come back to live in Britain.
But he argued both men needed to set aside their differences for the good of the monarchy.
"They need to be back on side," he said.
"Prince Harry will return for the unveiling of the statue in commemoration of their mother. As bad as it has been he will be home and it could be a triumphant return."
It's likely Meghan would join him, and it could be the first time that the once fab four, including Kate, could be together since a frosty farewell at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in March.
Mr Lacey, an established author, was considering writing a book about Prince Charles and Prince Andrew earlier this year.
However, after a conversation with Peter Morgan, the writer behind The Crown, he focused on the feud between the two younger brothers.
The battle of the brothers had been overlooked in reporting on Prince Harry's departure from the royal family, which has mainly focused on Meghan.
Prince Harry, who hated the term Megxit, has been forced to repeatedly say it was his decision to leave, with his first justification at a Sentabale charity dinner in January.
The main source of the brothers' feud was sparked by the way that Prince William, 38, allegedly treated Meghan.
When Prince Harry was discussing his proposed engagement to Meghan, Prince William reportedly said to his brother "are you sure about this girl?".
Prince Harry took the term "this girl" as snobbery towards his soon-to-be wife, a bi-racial American who made her own name as an actor on the television show Suits.
Mr Lacey uncovered key figures in his research, and revealed that Prince William sought the help of his mother's brother Charles Spencer, when the battle blew up.
"From time to time Diana's younger brother had played something of an honorary godfather to both boys in the years since the death of their mother, and their uncle agreed with William to see what he could do," he wrote.
"The result of the Spencer intervention was an even more bitter explosion. Once again Harry refused to slow down.
"He didn't blame his uncle. He understood why Diana's brother should want to help. Yet he was furious with his elder brother for dragging other family members into the row."
That anger did not subside, spilling over in an interview that Prince Harry did during his tour of southern Africa in 2019, where he told his journalist friend Tom Bradby that the brothers were on "different paths".
The book, which has made headlines around the world, tears open the wounds of the brothers, but Mr Lacey said that he was not trying to exacerbate the dispute.
He said that he was trying to analyse the structure of the royal family and how it has struggled, and failed, to deal with the "spare".
Prince Harry's dilemma was not a new problem.
Prince Andrew's fall from grace following his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein led to his forced early retirement but he had been struggling to find his role for decades.
The Queen's relationship fractured with Princess Margaret when she refused to allow her to marry the divorced Peter Townsend.
Princess Margaret then entered her doomed pairing with photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, which ended in divorce.
The book also exposes how the brothers were treated differently.
Prince William was in the costume store with Prince Harry in 2005 when they picked outfits for a "colonial and natives" themed party for their friend's 22nd birthday.
Prince William went as a lion, but Prince Harry chose a military uniform with a Nazi swastika on the left arm.
Why didn't Prince William stop him?
The headlines read: Harry the Nazi and Mein Fury: Charles Rages at Nazi Harry.
"His elder brother was with him, what sort of a mentor was he on that occasion? But William comes out of it smelling like roses," Mr Lacey said.
The stereotypes were set.
It was an easy ride for king-in-waiting William, while party boy Harry, who also got caught with his pants down in Las Vegas, came under a sharper microscope, he added.
The coronavirus pandemic has made travel almost impossible for everyone, even Prince William and Prince Harry, adding to the metaphorical distance between the brothers.
But Mr Lacey said he hoped that they would be able to repair the rift.
It was likely that Prince Harry would visit the UK when a review of his divorce deal from the family was conducted some time before March.
Until then, it might have to be a family WhatsApp group, or perhaps a Zoom call - hopefully neither of them get stuck on mute.
Battle of Brothers by Robert Lacey is published by HarperCollins and is available from Friday (October 16) at all good bookstores and online.
Originally published as William and Harry could reconcile with the help of Diana