The release of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Netflix series is looming, with the first half of their six-part documentary set to become available on this morning (Thursday, December 8).
The docuseries promises to give viewers a glimpse behind the curtain of the Sussexes' public lives, from the early days of their relationship to the "challenges that led to them feeling forced to step back from their full-time roles in the institution."
But while the series is yet to even air it's already been stirring up controversy, with royal experts criticising the couple for blowing privacy "out of the water".
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The series is also expected to deepen the growing rift between Prince William and Harry, who are said to be on tense terms.
It was reported over the weekend that William was busy preparing "to hold crisis talks" with King Charles amid fears that the upcoming documentary could bring chaos to the palace.
Despite the royal brother's recent distance, their relationship wasn't always this way and they were once incredibly close, having sought comfort from one another in the aftermath of their mother's death.
Princes William and Harry were just 15 and 12 when Diana was killed in a car crash in a Paris underpass in the early hours of August 31, 1997, and the tragedy bought them closer together.
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Harry said of William when he turned 21: “Ever since our mother died, obviously we were close, but he is the one person on this earth who I can actually really… we can talk about anything.”
But a quarter of a century later, the royal brothers are now grown men, fathers and husbands – but their once close relationship has altered beyond all recognition, blighted by a long-running rift.
Harry’s fallout with William stretches back to before his 2018 wedding to American-born former Suits actress Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex.
The duke was apparently angered at what he perceived to be his brother’s “snobbish” attitude towards his bride, after William questioned whether he should rush into things.
The Sussexes later quit as senior working royals after struggling with royal life and moved to California.
They went on, post-Megxit, to accuse the royal family of racism in a primetime Oprah Winfrey television interview and the institution of not helping Meghan when she had suicidal thoughts.
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The Duchess of Cambridge was publicly singled out by Meghan for allegedly making her cry in the run-up to the wedding.
Harry said he loved William to bits and they had been through hell together, but he added: “The relationship is space at the moment. And time heals all things, hopefully.”
William was furious that private family matters were brought into the public domain.
But Robert Lacey, author of Battle Of Brothers: William, Harry And The Inside Story Of A Family In Turmoil, said there were problems much earlier, including in 2005 when Harry was condemned for dressing up as a Nazi for a “Colonials and Natives” party.
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Harry was accompanied by William when he chose the costume in a fancy dress shop, but there was no criticism of his older brother in the press, with Harry left struck by his own role as “the monarchy’s institutional scapegoat”.
Mr Lacey wrote: “The young prince began re-evaluating his elder brother’s involvement and the unfairness of William’s subsequent emergence smelling of roses. It made Harry feel alienated.
“Friends recall ‘no-speaks’ and quite a serious rift between the two brothers at this time.”
Mr Lacey suggested Diana raised her sons with a “Talk to each other, for God’s sake!” approach and would have wanted them to end their continuing “social distancing”.
Harry has admitted he turned to drink and drugs as he dealt with the trauma of his mother’s death.
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His openness about how he battled to cope and came close to a “complete breakdown” after not talking about his loss has won plaudits from mental health charities.
On the 20th anniversary of her death in 2017, William and Harry were side by side as they viewed tributes left for the princess at her former home, Kensington Palace.
They marked the occasion by commissioning a statue in her memory.
But in the wake of the Megxit and Oprah controversies, they reunited only briefly in the summer of 2021 to finally unveil the bronze tribute, going their separate ways immediately afterwards.
The late Queen's death in September provided the brothers with another opportunity to make peace, but royal experts said it was a "missed one".
The continued tension was clear this weekend when the release of the trailer for the bombshell documentary coincided with Prince William and Kate Middleton's first trip to the US since Harry and Meghan made the country their new home in 2020.
But despite being in close proximity, the royal couples failed to reunite.
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