Prince Harry and his brother, Prince William, got some face time in over the weekend, and it seems we have Kate Middleton to thank for it. As royal expert Katie Nicholl tells ET, Kate has served as a “peacemaker” between the royal brothers. 

“They were very tense as they walked into that chapel,” Nicholl says of William and Harry, who reunited at the funeral of their grandfather, Prince Philip, at Windsor Castle on Saturday. “As they came out of it, you could see some tension diffused. And I think that was largely down to the Duchess of Cambridge, who made a point of speaking to Harry and when she did that, you can see them visibly relax.”

Both William and Harry took part in the procession behind Prince Philip’s coffin on the way to St. George’s Chapel, but their cousin, Peter Phillips, was positioned in between them. Then, while leaving the event, cameras snapped William, Kate and Harry all walking together, before Kate stepped back, giving the brothers some space. 

Prince William, Kate and Harry.

Family comes first ❤️#PrincePhilipFuneralpic.twitter.com/KJOGAjDsfY

“It’s always been my understanding that behind the scenes, Kate has tried very hard to forge a rapprochement and act as a peacemaker between William and Harry,” Nicholl says. “She loves Harry. She says that she is the sister that he never had. She has been heartbroken to see them fall out, and I think she is one of the few people, one of the few family members who would actually be able to push the brothers together, which she did in a very subtle way, but was very effective.” 

“I certainly think she played quite an important role in getting the brothers to the point where they were able to engage in a conversation, of course, in front of the world’s press. Everyone was watching,” she notes. “The focus of the day was absolutely rightly on the Duke of Edinburgh, this was about bidding him a fitting farewell and no one wanted there to be too much attention on William and Harry and this feud — but inevitably the world was watching.”

Indeed, fans of the royal family had been speculating over what Harry’s interactions with his family members might be like, following his and wife Meghan Markle’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year. In that sit-down, Harry and Meghan made allegations of racist comments, and Harry opened up about the tension he’d experienced with his brother and father, Prince Charles. 

Harry’s return to the U.K. for Philip’s funeral marked the first time he had been home in over a year, after he and Meghan stepped back from their senior roles in the royal family and moved to California with their son, Archie. Meghan, who is expecting her and Harry’s second child, was not cleared by her doctor to travel for Philip’s funeral; Harry thus made the trip alone. 

“That closeness, that thawing of icy relations certainly took place outside the chapel. And I think many people felt a sense of relief,” Nicholl says of Harry and William’s anticipated reunion. 

“I saw Harry visibly relax when the Duchess of Cambridge started speaking with him,” she continues. “There had been so much speculation on whether this funeral procession was going to be what finally solved the feisty relationships between the brothers, and I think they do think that everyone hopes that this is a good start towards some sort of reconciliation.” 

According to Nicholl, Harry is expected to return home to California on Monday, as he’s keen to get back to Meghan and Archie. See more in the video below. 

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