How the Royal Family Is Reacting to the 'Massive Shadow' of 'Spare' — and Whether They'll Reconcile

Following the debut of Prince Harry's book, King Charles and the royals are presenting a united front while discussions are underway behind the scenes on a reconciliation before the coronation

With King Charles III's coronation just three months away, what should be a period of celebration for the British royal family is being heavily overshadowed by Prince Harry's revealing memoir, Spare.

Released on Jan. 10, the Duke of Sussex's book included jarring allegations, from Prince William's alleged physical assault on his younger brother to damaging press leaks within the family.

"This is all so ghastly," a royal insider tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story. "Although there is sorrow because the Queen has died, the coronation should be a joyful moment, too, because Charles will be crowned. But this is a massive shadow."

The royal family hasn't publicly commented on Prince Harry's book, with Prince William, 40, ignoring shouted questions from the media during a Jan. 12 outing with Kate Middleton, 41. King Charles, 74, and Queen Camilla, 75, have similarly kept quiet on the matter.

People Magazine Prince William Royals Cover

"They didn't want to fan the flames of the rift and the dispute," says royal correspondent Valentine Low, author of Courtiers. "They know that anything said in a statement or a briefing would prolong it. They wanted it to calm down as soon as possible. The longer it goes on, the less hope there is for reconciliation."

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Behind the scenes, "William is the one who is most upset and needs time to calm down," says a source close to the royal household.

Despite public silence, discussions are underway on how to work out a reconciliation between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with the royal family. There's "fatigue" at the consequences of the brothers' estrangement, as one insider puts it, and recognition that something — or someone — must bridge the divide.

King Charles III (L), Britain's Prince William, Prince of Wales (2L) and Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex walk behind the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II
King Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry. DANIEL LEAL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

All eyes are on King Charles and Queen Camilla's May 6 coronation — and if Prince Harry, 38, and Meghan, 41, will attend.

A source close to the Sussexes says there has been no movement toward reconciliation and that Harry's initial position on the matter also hasn't changed.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Princess of Wales, Prince William, Prince of Wales, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on the long Walk at Windsor Castle on September 10, 2022 in Windsor, England. Crowds have gathered and tributes left at the gates of Windsor Castle to Queen Elizabeth II, who died at Balmoral Castle on 8 September, 2022. (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty

When previously asked whether he would attend the coronation, he told ITV's Tom Bradby, "There's a lot that can happen between now and then. But, you know, the door is always open. The ball is in their court. There's a lot to be discussed, and I really hope that they are willing to sit down and talk about it."

The way things stand now, there is still a long way to go. "The problem is that [the Sussexes] want a capitulation and apology by the palace, but when 'recollections vary,' that's quite difficult," a close source tells PEOPLE.

People Magazine Prince William Royals Cover

Says the source close to the royal household, "It is such a momentous occasion for Charles, and he would want his son to be at the coronation to witness it."

"He would like to have Harry back in the family," the source adds. "If they don't sort it out, it will always be part of the King's reign and how he has left his family disjointed. He has had a reputation as a distant parent, and it would be awful for him for that to continue."

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Royal historian Robert Lacey adds, "It is almost insulting to ask, 'When are they going to kiss and make up?' There have been some very grave disagreements between them. But the Platinum Jubilee and the funerals of the Queen and Prince Philip did demonstrate that they could put personal enmity aside for the sake of the bigger cause. And that is what the coronation will be all about."

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