The brothers' rift dates back to 2017, when William cautioned his younger sibling about moving too fast with Meghan Markle

By Monique Jessen Simon Perry
February 05, 2020 01:14 PM

There is still unfinished business between Prince Harry and Prince William.

The royal brothers’ rift dates back to 2017, when William cautioned his younger sibling about moving too fast with Meghan Markle, which in turn left Harry angry and hurt. Now that Meghan and Prince Harry have started their new lives — relocating to Canada with nearly 9-month-old son Archie amid their decision to step down as senior members of the royal family — there’s hope that Princess Diana’s sons will start to heal their relationship.

“They didn’t leave on good terms by any means, but they are both relieved that it’s over,” a family friend tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story.

In recent weeks, however, the brothers have been talking more, says a palace source, leading some to hope that they can gradually repair their fractured relationship.

“Perhaps [Meghan and Harry] didn’t think things through exactly as they could have, but they wanted to be happy,” adds the family friend. “Who can blame them for that?”

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Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Owen Humphreys/AFP via Getty

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Prince William was faced with the royal family drama for the first time in public at Sunday’s BAFTAs, when Margot Robbie delivered a speech on behalf of best supporting actor winner Brad Pitt.

The actor joked he would be calling his award “Harry” because he was “really excited about bringing it back to the States with him” — and Robbie quickly reminded, “His words, not mine!”

The camera then showed Prince William and Kate Middleton in the audience, who both had a good-natured laugh.

Prince William, along with his father Prince Charles and grandmother Queen Elizabeth, were involved in the discussions surrounding Prince Harry and Meghan’s exit, gathering at the monarch’s Sandringham estate last month for a meeting to “talk things through.”

“Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family,” the Queen, 93, said in a rare and emotional statement following the summit. “My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.”

Queen Elizabeth announced that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would be splitting their time between the U.K. and North America and work to become financially independent. But their new life hasn’t come without a price.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty

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The couple will no longer use their HRH (His/Her Royal Highness) titles, and Prince Harry had to forgo his role as youth ambassador to the Commonwealth and relinquish his honorary military appointments.

Despite the sacrifices, the couple ultimately negotiated “almost everything they asked for,” says the palace insider, with the ability to live and work where they want at the top of the list. As for the loss of their HRH titles, “Harry doesn’t care about the titles,” says a source in their circle. “It doesn’t interest him; it never has.”

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