The Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Cambridge denied allegations that bullying from William has caused their rift

By Eric Todisco
January 13, 2020 08:46 AM

Prince Harry and Prince William are denying a U.K. newspaper’s story that the rift between the brothers was allegedly caused by William’s “bullying.”

In a joint statement obtained by PEOPLE, Harry, 35, and William, 37, insisted that the story, which was run by the Times of London, was false.

“Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a U.K. newspaper today speculating about the relationship between The Duke of Sussex and The Duke of Cambridge,” the statement said.

“For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful,” it continued.

William has yet to to publicly break his silence on Harry and his wife Meghan Markle’s intentions  to step back from royal life.

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Those in palace circles previously told PEOPLE that some of the distance between William and Harry is a normal consequence of their moving into adulthood.

“After the death of their mother, Princess Diana, in 1997, the two brothers were thrown together by the tragedy of their childhood,” said longtime royal historian Robert Lacey. “But it’s inevitable, as they grow up and develop different personalities, that synchronicity won’t apply anymore.”

A source also pointed out that it’s no coincidence that the division comes as Queen Elizabeth, 93, hands off many of her duties to her heir, Prince Charles, 71, with William sliding in behind him.

“They are on different paths now,” said a source. “It’s just the reality of the situation.”

As conversations surrounding Harry and Meghan’s bombshell announcement have continued, palace sources told PEOPLE on Saturday that the Queen has ordered a family summit at her country home in Sandringham on Monday, in order to “talk things through.”

Meghan and Harry
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The meeting will be the first time the Queen, Harry, William and Charles have all been together since Remembrance Day weekend.

It is likely the Duchess of Sussex will participate via phone if it happens within the right timeframe, bearing in mind that she is currently in Vancouver Island, Canada.

The high-level meeting raises the prospect that a conclusion is in sight to the unprecedented talks to find a solution that works for the Sussexes and the family.

“As we have said previously, making a change to the working life and role of the monarchy for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex requires complex and thoughtful discussions. Next steps will be agreed at the meeting,” the source shared. “The request for this to be resolved ‘at pace’ is still Her Majesty’s wish. The aim remains days not weeks. There is genuine agreement and understanding that any decision will take time to be implemented.”

The source would not be drawn on the timing of Monday’s meeting or whether it was in order to conclude the talks and come to a final agreement, saying, “there is a range of possibilities for the family to review.”

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