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The Fab Four’s split isn't just about Prince Harry and William - it's about their wives' froideur, writes RICHARD KAY

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 14/03/2019 Richard Kay for the Daily Mail
KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on December 25, 2018 in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage) © 2018 Samir Hussein KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on December 25, 2018 in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Ever since the death of their mother, they have been linked inextricably, not just in the public consciousness but across the royal stage.

As boys, William and Harry were inseparable, finding solace in one another as they coped with the shattering loss of Princess Diana and later sharing in each other’s dreams and successes as adults.

William’s marriage to Kate eight years ago contributed barely a quiver to this remarkable relationship as two became three. The arrival of the Cambridges’ children George, Charlotte and Louis served only to strengthen the fraternal bonds.

a group of people posing for the camera: A split in the family: Kate, William, Harry and Meghan. This week, both women put on an impressive show of companionship and friendliness at the Commonwealth Day service © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A split in the family: Kate, William, Harry and Meghan. This week, both women put on an impressive show of companionship and friendliness at the Commonwealth Day service

When Meghan arrived with her Hollywood glamour the threesome became the Fab Four, as popular as any pop group but dusted with the magic of royalty.

But now with the news that the brothers are to set up their separate households there is a parting of the ways. Many will seize on the split as evidence of a so-called froideur not just between the sisters-in-law but also between William and Harry.

In fact, the ending of a double act which has not only helped bring stability to the monarchy but showered it with popularity has been inevitable from the moment it was announced that the Duchess of Sussex was pregnant. 

Video: Meghan Markle has made her last public work appearance (Yahoo)

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The creation of separate courts reflects the boys’ changing responsibilities. It is the clearest sign yet that William is destined for the throne and thus inevitably pushing his brother to the margins of royal life.

It happens to every generation. Nearly 40 years ago, it happened to Prince Andrew. For the first 22 years of his life, he was a heartbeat away from the crown as next in line after his brother Prince Charles. 

Then, when the Prince and Princess of Wales began their family, his importance receded. By the time Andrew married and had children, he had been relegated down the line of succession.

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry are posing for a picture: Harry, meanwhile, will complete his departure from Kensington Palace – his former childhood home, don’t forget – by establishing his court at Buckingham Palace, removing himself completely from his brother’s sphere [File photo] © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Harry, meanwhile, will complete his departure from Kensington Palace – his former childhood home, don’t forget – by establishing his court at Buckingham Palace, removing himself completely from his brother’s sphere [File photo]

But with William and Harry it was somehow different. Their closeness in age meant that they were often seen together. Then there was the unique way in which they were raised.

Diana refused to allow the usual protocols of favouritism to take root. She instructed courtiers, servants and other members of the Royal Family that the boys were to be treated identically.

She insisted that when important photographs were taken of future king William, his younger brother was also in the picture. She even made a point of bringing Harry to William’s first day at Eton so they could be photographed together and he wouldn’t feel left out.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 10: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (R) and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex,  host a reception to officially open the 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference at St James' Palace on October 10, 2018 in London, England.  The 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference is the fourth such international conference bringing together heads of state, ministers and officials from nearly 80 countries, alongside NGOs, academics and businesses, to build on previous efforts to tackle this lucrative criminal trade. The conference is being hosted by the UK Government from 11th to 12th October 2018. (Photo by Tolga Akmen - WPA Pool / Getty Images) © 2018 Getty Images LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 10: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (R) and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, host a reception to officially open the 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference at St James' Palace on October 10, 2018 in London, England. The 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference is the fourth such international conference bringing together heads of state, ministers and officials from nearly 80 countries, alongside NGOs, academics and businesses, to build on previous efforts to tackle this lucrative criminal trade. The conference is being hosted by the UK Government from 11th to 12th October 2018. (Photo by Tolga Akmen - WPA Pool / Getty Images)

Diana was anxious for Harry to be included in everything. She wanted him to avoid the traditional fate of the second-son ‘spare’ in the Royal Family – left without a significant role while both position and estate (income from the Duchy of Cornwall as Prince of Wales, and from the Crown Estates as sovereign) went to the first-born son.

Gallery: The Fab Four: Every time William-Kate, Harry-Meghan stepped out together (PHOTOS)

When she learned that the Queen Mother treated William more favourably, she asked her, forcibly, not to.

Such a determinedly modern approach to parenting helped ensure that when the boys faced the terrible tragedy of her death in Paris 22 years ago, they had each other to rely on. It has been that way ever since. Until now.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 11: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend the annual Remembrance Sunday Service at The Cenotaph on November 11, 2018 in London, England. The armistice ending the First World War between the Allies and Germany was signed at Compiègne, France on eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month - 11am on the 11th November 1918. This day is commemorated as Remembrance Day with special attention being paid for this year's centenary. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images) © 2018 Max Mumby/Indigo LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 11: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend the annual Remembrance Sunday Service at The Cenotaph on November 11, 2018 in London, England. The armistice ending the First World War between the Allies and Germany was signed at Compiègne, France on eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month - 11am on the 11th November 1918. This day is commemorated as Remembrance Day with special attention being paid for this year's centenary. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Inevitably, the split will be seen with sadness. As William and Harry – or just ‘the boys’ – they have been indivisible and the public have loved this royal double act. But the fact is, this separation had to happen sooner rather than later.

As the Queen’s reign nears its end and Prince Charles prepares for the throne, William, with Kate at his side, has to make a great leap forward.

There can only be one Prince of Wales. It is not a role that can be shared. William, after all, is going to be top dog.

Prince Harry wearing a suit and tie: Diana was anxious for Harry to be included in everything. She wanted him to avoid the traditional fate of the second-son ‘spare’ in the Royal Family © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Diana was anxious for Harry to be included in everything. She wanted him to avoid the traditional fate of the second-son ‘spare’ in the Royal Family

We might have expected their break to have come sooner – last May for example, when Harry and Meghan were married. But they found three were better as four and the wow factor of two glamorous young royal couples convinced aides that it was worth persisting with for a little longer. 

But with Meghan’s pregnancy and the Sussexes’ planned move to Windsor, a formal split became imperative. It will, of course, raise questions about what really is going on between Kate and Meghan, against the backdrop of reported tensions.

This week, both women put on an impressive show of companionship and friendliness at the Commonwealth Day service. It was designed as much as anything to dispel those rumours.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 11: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend a service marking the centenary of WW1 armistice at Westminster Abbey on November 11, 2018 in London, England. The armistice ending the First World War between the Allies and Germany was signed at Compiègne, France on eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month - 11am on the 11th November 1918. This day is commemorated as Remembrance Day with special attention being paid for this year’s centenary.  (Photo by Paul Grover- WPA Pool/Getty Images) © 2018 Getty Images LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 11: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend a service marking the centenary of WW1 armistice at Westminster Abbey on November 11, 2018 in London, England. The armistice ending the First World War between the Allies and Germany was signed at Compiègne, France on eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month - 11am on the 11th November 1918. This day is commemorated as Remembrance Day with special attention being paid for this year’s centenary. (Photo by Paul Grover- WPA Pool/Getty Images)

But issues surrounding Meghan’s troubled relationship with her father, and the controversy over a US magazine interview in which the duchess’s friends sought to set the record straight, will only add to speculation about this split. 

The separate courts will mirror their divergent interests. William’s key staff have a background in government and it represents a coming of age for the prince, who will be 37 in June.

Harry, meanwhile, will complete his departure from Kensington Palace – his former childhood home, don’t forget – by establishing his court at Buckingham Palace, removing himself completely from his brother’s sphere.

Buckingham Palace, The Mall, Union Flags, London, England © Joe Daniel Price Buckingham Palace, The Mall, Union Flags, London, England

It is a sign that he is following in the footsteps of Princess Anne, Prince Edward and Andrew, who, in earlier times, ensured their independence from their elder brother’s influence.

For William, the future is assured. Harry, however, is at something of a crossroads. He has been here before, of course – when he quit the Army – but this time he has a wife at his side and is about to become a father.

It will now be up to him to forge a royal role beyond the shadow of his big brother.

Gallery: Inside the British royal family’s private homes (Lovemoney)

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