Why Queen Camilla's Relationship With William Is So Different From That With Harry

In order to understand the complicated relationship Queen Camilla has with Prince Harry and Prince William, we have to step into our time machines and go back to the '90s when Michael Jackson and Alanis Morissette were at the top of their game and windbreakers were all the rage. An explosive recording hit the newspapers just months after King Charles III (then Prince Charles) and Princess Diana announced their separation to the world. It was dubbed "Tampongate," and while it made those looking through the fishbowl chuckle, it wasn't so funny for those swimming on the inside.

In 1997, following Charles and Diana's divorce and a shocking BBC Panorama interview with Diana, the princess was killed in a car accident. By 1998, Prince William and Prince Harry were introduced to Camilla, and in 2005 she married Charles. Obviously, as anyone else would, the princes had their reservations about their new stepmother — and let's just say Prince Harry might have seen himself as something of a Cinderella figure in the House of Windsor. Over the years, his opinion has only soured more, while William has actually become closer to Camilla in the last decade.

Why would two brothers who went through the exact same trials and tribulations have such different emotions about their stepmother? Here's why Prince William has publicly and privately accepted Camilla and Prince Harry has thrown grenades in the form of scathing words.

Prince William and Camilla are both dealing with spouses that have cancer

Buckingham Palace released a statement on February 5, 2024, saying King Charles III had been diagnosed with cancer. Although the statement didn't specify what type, it explained he would be undergoing treatment. The following month, the Princess of Wales announced in a recorded statement that she had also been diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing treatment.

Buckingham Palace released a statement to Harper's Bazaar in response, writing, "His Majesty is 'so proud of Catherine for her courage in speaking as she did.' Following their time in hospital together, HM has 'remained in the closest contact with his beloved daughter-in-law throughout the past weeks.'" Each having a spouse with cancer is an experience that would certainly bring Prince William and Queen Camilla closer, as they surely need a shoulder to lean on and can understand what the other is going through.

Citing insiders, Tatler reported that William and Camilla have become closer since their respective spouses' diagnoses. Their friendly body language at the Commonwealth Day Service, during which they greeted each other with a kiss and chatted like two old friends, was evidence of this. They've reportedly been in close contact over the phone and share a sense of solidarity.

Prince Harry hasn't been able to move on from Princess Diana's death

Prince William and Prince Harry have both dealt with the death of Princess Diana in their own way, privately and publicly. While we can never really say what went on behind closed doors, Harry has been exceptionally open about his grief in recent years. After stepping down as a working member of the royal family, Harry was no longer under any rules about giving interviews, writing books, or airing out his — or his family's — dirty laundry. That is to say, he word-vomited all over the place. 

In his book "Spare," Harry wrote about not believing his mom had died and that she was simply in hiding. Harry elaborated on this in an interview with "Good Morning America," saying, "I think for anyone, especially if you're a kid, I was 12 years old. I refused to accept that was what had happened." Later in the interview, he shared his thoughts on what therapy would have done for him, telling Michael Strahan, "I wish I had the ability or the opportunity to do some form of therapy, or at least be able to talk more about losing my mum and celebrating her life. But who's to say that at age 12 whether I would've even said yes to that."

Much like his mother, Prince Harry viewed Camilla as 'third person in the marriage'

Remember how we mentioned Prince Harry sees himself as somewhat of a Cinderella figure? Well, in this fairytale, that makes Camilla, Queen Consort, the "evil stepmother," and Harry left nothing unsaid in his memoir "Spare" when he talked about this. In his book, he recounted worrying that she would be like all the "wicked stepmothers in storybooks." He claimed that she leaked stories about his drug use in 2002 and even alleged that William was absolutely "seething" when Charles and Camilla planted stories about him, Princess Catherine, and their children.

The allegations continued as he went on a press tour. Although he told "Good Morning America" that he doesn't view Camilla as "an evil stepmother," his book and other statements to the press seem to contradict this (via Time). He continued to allude to Camilla leaking stories about him to the media as a way to rehabilitate her own image with the public in hopes they would one day accept her as queen. He told Anderson Cooper on "60 Minutes," "There was open willingness on both sides to trade [off] information. And with a family built on hierarchy, and with her on the way to being queen consort, there was going to be people or bodies left in the street because of that." Thankfully, that last bit was a metaphor.

Harry also dubbed Camilla the "third person in the marriage," which is a comment that might've had Charles choking on his royal Cheerios back at Buckingham Palace as it directly echoes Princess Diana's controversial BBC Panorama interview with Martin Bashir, in which she also stated, "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."

William and Camilla actually get along quite well

Considering Princess Catherine and King Charles' cancer diagnoses, the entire monarchy seemingly rests on the shoulders of Prince William and Queen Camilla. According to OK! magazine, this means their offices have to coordinate schedules much more than they did before, and the pair will be in closer contact with one another. With all the upset going on in Charles' slimmed-down monarchy, the pair don't really have a choice but to spend more time around one another. 

Commenting on the pictures of Camilla and William at the Commonwealth Day service, former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond told OK!, "As the picture shows, I think there is now a real warmth and affection between Camilla and William — both putting on a brave face to the world and getting on with their jobs when I am sure they would rather be at home tending to their partners and/or children." Bond also told the publication that while William needed time to accept Camilla in his father's life, especially after what happened with his mother, he eventually realized that Camilla makes his father happy and that she's the love of his life. Unfortunately for Prince Harry, he doesn't seem to have gotten to that point. 

William and Camilla's close bond feels like one more betrayal to Prince Harry

It's easy to say at this point that Prince Harry feels betrayed by his family, though there are many complicated reasons for this in every one of those relationships, especially with his father King Charles III, and his brother Prince William. One thing that could make things worse between Harry and William is if his brother got closer to their stepmother, which is exactly what seemed to happen in the wake of his wife's cancer diagnosis.

Tom Quinn, an author and royal expert, relayed his thoughts to the Mirror, telling the publication that Harry really distrusts the fact that William and Camilla are now getting along so well, and sees it as a "betrayal." Quinn said, "He was shocked when William realised that Camilla, far from being the monster they thought her when they were children, is actually a rather nice woman." Quinn told the outlet that Camilla is a great listener "with a sympathetic ear," which is something William has definitely warmed to. It would make sense considering William is under a huge amount of stress and doesn't have a lot of people in his life he can fully trust. Of course, as Quinn told the Mirror, Harry sees this "as one more example of William letting the side down — for Harry things have never moved on really since his mother died." It appears Harry rivals Taylor Swift when it comes to holding grudges.

William's wife is closer to Camilla and Charles than Harry's wife

There aren't enough words to describe the complicated relationship between Prince Harry and his father King Charles III, but what about Harry's wife, Meghan Markle? How does this affect her relationship with Charles? The pair have appeared to get along publicly, but then again so did Harry and Prince William — at least for a time. Things looked all peachy during Meghan and Harry's 2018 wedding when Charles stepped up and walked the bride down the aisle, standing in for her father who did not attend. However, things got so bad after "Megxit" that Meghan didn't even attend Charles' coronation, leaving Harry to awkwardly walk through Westminster Abbey on his own. However, in November 2023, royal author Omid Scobie told Harper's Bazaar, "I was surprised to learn that even Meghan has some sort of correspondence with Charles, sending over photos of the children."

The Princess of Wales, on the other hand, reportedly has an exceptionally close relationship with her father-in-law, especially now that they're both going through cancer treatment simultaneously. According to The Sun, the pair had lunch at Windsor Castle just hours after Catherine released her video telling the world about her cancer diagnosis. A source told the publication, "The King left his lunch feeling very emotional. They are very close and he thinks of Catherine as his daughter." The insider added that there was a lot to share, and they'll support each other.

Queen Camilla got to know Prince William before Prince Harry

According to The Guardian, Prince William met Queen Camilla rather unexpectedly on June 12, 1998, as he dropped by St. James Palace, which Camilla often frequented. William was 16 at the time and met her twice more for tea and lunch; however, Camilla didn't meet Prince Harry until much later. A spokeswoman for Charles even confirmed this to the publication, claiming, "Yes, Prince William and Mrs Parker Bowles have met." Considering the statement about such a private matter, it was obvious Charles was making it clear to the world that he and Camilla were serious about each other.

Over two decades later, Prince Harry dropped some inside details about what went down during that time. In his memoir "Spare," he claimed that news of William and Camilla's first meeting was leaked to the press with such pinpoint accuracy that it was obvious who the information had come from — and it wasn't William. It was later revealed that Camilla's private secretary, Amanda MacManus, was the one who leaked the details to the press, and she was fired for it. MacManus publicly apologized at the time, saying she was "very sorry," according to The Telegraph.

After Harry's book came out, which dredged up much from the past, royal sources once again defended Camilla, telling The Telegraph, "Harry has created a very crisp narrative which in parts is a conflation of different versions of stories."

Prince Harry and Camilla haven't been seen together in public for years

In June 2019, the royal family and others gathered to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's 93rd birthday at the annual Trooping the Colour parade. Although the public didn't know it at the time, this event was one of the last times the royal family looked united and happy together in public, especially with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex still in the royal fold (they would officially end their royal duties on March 31, 2020.)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle rode in a carriage sitting across from Princess Catherine and Queen Camilla, as they smiled and waved to the public. Meghan had only just given birth to her son Archie four weeks prior and it was the first time she had been seen in public since.

Given what we already know from reading Harry's book "Spare," things behind the scenes were not as happy as they appeared on the surface, meaning pictures of Catherine, Camilla, Harry, and Meghan sitting together in a carriage look entirely awkward upon closer inspection. This is especially true as just a few years later, Harry dropped incredible accusations about his stepmother, telling "Good Morning America," "I see someone who married into this institution and has done everything that she can to improve her own reputation and her own image for her own sake" (via Time.) Absolutely scathing!