William will be participating in the upcoming family summit about Harry and wife Meghan Markle's wish to step down from senior royal roles

By Maria Pasquini
January 12, 2020 10:37 AM

Although Prince William has yet to publicly break his silence on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s intention to step back from royal life, he has privately expressed “sadness” over the distance that has grown between him and his brother.

“I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives and I can’t do that any more; we’re separate entities,” William, 37, told a friend, according to The Sunday Times.

However, the royal also hopes the rift can be repaired in time.

“All we can do, and all I can do, is try and support them and hope that the time comes when we’re all singing from the same page. I want everyone to play on the team,” he said, according to the friend.

Prince William and Prince Harry
Shutterstock

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Those in palace circles previously told PEOPLE that some of the distance between William and Harry, 35, 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.”

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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.”

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.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty

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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The couple’s friend Tom Bradby has warned that should a suitable solution not be reached, the royal couple could give a “no-holds-barred interview.”

“I have some idea of what might be aired in a full, no-holds-barred sit down interview and I don’t think it would be pretty,” Brady, a journalist who toured southern Africa with the royal couple for the emotional ITV documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, wrote for The Sunday Times.

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