William and Harry

Behind the Palace Walls


By Katie Nicholl

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William and Harry is a fascinating insight into the lives and loves of two extraordinary young men who have captured not only the hearts and minds of not only the British public, but those the world over. This is the definitive book about the princes, bringing their story right up to date. It is the tale of two brothers who have carried the legacy of their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, into the twenty-first century and on whom the future of the House of Windsor largely depends.

Drawing on her unique set of contacts Katie Nicholl recounts the royal brothers’ extraordinary lives and reveals William and Harry’s real characters as they become front-line soldiers and modern princes. Through her network of sources, some of which have agreed to speak for the very first time, Katie tells the story of one of Prince William’s earliest romances, and his struggle with his destiny as a future King of England.
As a royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton seems more probable, Katie has spoken to a wealth of contacts close to the couple who reveal how their love affair really started at St Andrews, the hurdles the pair overcame and the challenges they still face. She recounts the story of Harry’s time at Eton, his relationship with Chelsy Davy, and his three months he spent on the front line in Afghanistan. She analyses William and Harry’s complex relationship with their father, and the woman who will one day become Queen Camilla. She talks to their friends, contemporaries and confidants to paint a unique and revealing portrait of the two most famous brothers in the world.


This book is dedicated to my husband for his uncompromising love and support, and to my family, especially my mother, for showing me what true courage is.

Modernization is quite a strong word to use with the monarchy because it's something that's been around for many hundreds of years. But I think it's important that people feel the monarchy can keep up with them and is relevant to their lives. We are all human, and inevitably mistakes are made. But in the end there is a great sense of loyalty and dedication among the family, and it rubs off on me. Ever since I was very small, it's something that's been very much impressed on me, in a good way.
Prince William, on his twenty-first birthday
It is more than a decade since princes William and Harry, then just fifteen and twelve years old, united in grief, walked behind their mother's funeral cortege. The single white envelope bearing the word "Mummy," written in Harry's hand, is still probably the most powerful and moving image of these two extraordinary young men. Tragically, Diana's funeral was William and Harry's first public duty. But however poignant the memory of that day remains, the princes are no longer boys. Today they are young men. They are soldiers, forging lives of their own—or trying to.
They are on the precipice of greatness, and though they may not always like it, they and their advisers know that the public perception of them matters. Over the past year there has been a concerted effort behind the palace walls to reinvent their public images. Louche behavior such as falling out of nightclubs will no longer be tolerated. Since graduating from Sandhurst Harry has gone to war and fought on the front line for Queen and country. William is full of zeal for his own career and determined to become a search and rescue pilot.
Today we are seeing more of the royal brothers than ever before. They grace glossy magazine covers, they give interviews, they address the worlds of film, television, and music. They use their titles to promote their charitable works. They have their own office and team of aides and their own agendas. They are as recognized and popular around the world as any Hollywood A-List celebrity.
Now is the time for William and Harry to shoulder their responsibility. The royal brothers will be carrying out their first official overseas tour to Africa to see firsthand the fruits of their charitable works. In their efforts to map out their separate paths they are continually pushing at the boundaries of royal protocol, as their mother so famously did. They are reshaping the future of the great British monarchy with their every step.
Quite simply, they are the future of the House of Windsor. Male primogeniture dictates that we will have King Charles and Queen Camilla before we have King William V and possibly Queen Catherine, but many believe it will be William who will be the standard-bearer for a new twenty-first-century royal family.
But for all their modern attitudes, the tradition and restraint of monarchy continues its hold. Like their father, William and Harry struggle with the idea that their lives are already "mapped out." While they recognize the unique privileges their royal titles bring, they both still crave normality. That is why William loves to ride his motorbike around the streets of London, safe in the knowledge that in his leathers and helmet he is anonymous. And it is the reason Harry has admitted he often wishes he wasn't a prince.
So who are these young men, so much in the spotlight and yet so little understood or truly known by any of the subjects over whom one of them at least will one day reign? What forces have shaped them? What relationships have formed them? What hopes and disappointments have left imprints on their characters? It is not simply a case of William being the heir and Harry the spare. The bond between them runs far deeper. Together they see themselves as "Team Wales."
I have spent the past eight years observing the princes metamorphose from cautious teenagers into responsible young men who are passionate about their careers and their charities. Yet to many they exist only in snapshot recollections, images captured in stage-managed appearances. With this book I hope to change that.

Chapter 1
An Heir and a Spare
I want to bring them security. I hug my children to death and get into bed with them at night. I always feed them love and affection.
Diana, Princess of Wales
Princess Diana peered through the floral curtains of her room at St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington and watched the rain trickle down the Georgian sash windows. Below, the crowds snaked along the street, sheltering beneath a canopy of umbrellas. Among the sea of soggy cellophane-wrapped flowers, Union Jack flags, and congratulatory banners, Diana could make out the press corps, some of whom were on ladders, their lenses trained on the hospital entrance, eagerly awaiting the first glimpse of the baby prince. Very soon all eyes would be on the royal baby sleeping peacefully in his new cot, oblivious to the fact that his first photo-call was awaiting him.
Wrapped in swaddling blankets, the future king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland had already been assigned a full-time bodyguard from Scotland Yard's Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Squad, who now stood guard outside the private hospital room. While Diana had wanted nothing more than for her son to be "normal," this child would grow up in palaces. He was only a day old, but the young prince's life had already been mapped out, his destiny shaped by a thousand years of royal history.
Outside, the mood was one of anticipation and growing excitement. The Queen, jubilant and immaculate in a purple dress coat, had been to visit that morning. They had not always seen eye to eye, but today Diana could do no wrong in the eyes of her mother-in-law. She had produced a healthy heir to the House of Windsor, and in keeping with tradition, a notice had been posted on the gates of Buckingham Palace announcing the happy news. The prince and princess had yet to decide on a name: Charles had wanted Arthur, but Diana preferred William and would get her way. It had been a long labor, and she was desperate to get home to Kensington Palace, where more well-wishers awaited the couple's arrival.
Diana had written royal history when on Monday, June 21, 1982, the summer solstice, Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales was born in the private Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital. Like generations of royals before him, his father, Charles, had been delivered in the Belgian Suite at Buckingham Palace, but Diana, as the royal family quickly discovered, wanted to do things differently. She had endured a difficult pregnancy and terrible morning sickness—which had been the subject of daily press articles, to add to the indignity of it all—and when the time came, she was determined to give birth in a modern hospital, not a palace.
The prince and princess had arrived at St. Mary's in the early hours of Monday morning, following Diana's first contractions. The princess later recalled she had been "sick as a parrot" during the sixteen-hour labor. Charles had been there throughout, offering words of comfort and sips of water to revive her. At one point he had dozed off in an armchair, but he was at Diana's side when her gynecologist George Pinker and his team of nurses safely delivered their son at exactly three minutes past nine that evening. The prince had blue eyes and a wisp of blond hair and weighed in at a healthy seven pounds, one and a half ounces. Only when he was content that Diana was asleep did Charles leave his wife's side to address the public. The little boy, he announced, was beautiful, and mother and child were doing well. "We're very proud." He beamed. "It's been thirty hours, a long time." "Does he look like you, sir?" a royal reporter enquired. "No, he's lucky enough not to," joked Charles, adding that he was relieved and delighted, if a little exhausted from the birth. He couldn't stop smiling, and when a female fan squeezed under the police barrier to plant a kiss on his cheek, he blushed furiously. "You're very kind," he spluttered, before bidding the crowd farewell and returning to Kensington Palace for a nightcap.
The prince was the first to arrive at the hospital the next morning, followed shortly by Diana's sister Lady Jane Fellowes and her mother, Frances Shand Kydd, who had traveled from her home in Scotland to see her daughter and new grandson. As world leaders sent congratulatory telegrams, landlords at pubs around the country served rounds on the house. Even soccer fans managed to prize themselves away from the World Cup to celebrate the joyous news. Britain had been on high alert following Argentina's invasion of the Falklands in April, but on June 14, the Argentinian forces on the islands had surrendered, and within days the war was declared over. Now the people of Britain had another reason to celebrate: A future king had been born. It was a momentous occasion, and the great British public planned to celebrate.
The spring sunshine had dispersed the rain clouds when Diana and Charles walked down the steps of the Lindo Wing holding their newborn son. Dressed in a green and white spotted maternity dress adorned with an oversized white collar, Diana blinked against the exploding flashbulbs. "Over here, Diana! Look this way! Show us his face!" the photographers shouted above the clicking of their shutters. The crowds, cordoned off behind police barriers, called out their congratulations and waved at the happy couple. It was less than a year since they had lined the streets of the Mall to watch the newlyweds kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. The wedding at St. Paul's Cathedral was the celebration of the decade, and not since the Queen's coronation had there been such a street party. The British public had their fairy-tale prince and princess, and now the royal succession was secured.
It was almost too much for Diana, still fragile and exhausted from the birth, to take in. Life had been a whirlwind ever since the Palace confirmed that the Prince of Wales was to marry Lady Diana Spencer. When she gave birth to William, she was still navigating the maze of royal life and coming to terms with the fact that home was no longer a flat in west London but a grand palace. It was a steep learning curve, and she had yet to master the confidence and sophistication she would acquire in later life. She was still painfully shy in public and turned to her husband, who was well practiced in his public role, for support. While Diana had wanted to blend into the background, the British public positioned her center stage, a role the baby prince would later also struggle with. The minutiae of her daily life was now fodder for public consumption. Every outfit she wore was pored over in the pages of glossy magazines as Charles and Di mania gripped Britain. It had not escaped Charles's notice, nor the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh's, that around the world the princess was being referred to as a "breath of fresh air" in the House of Windsor. It was Diana the papers seemed most interested in, and before long the retiring and camera-shy princess would eclipse her husband entirely.
The couple had embarked on a whistle-stop tour of Australia and New Zealand following their wedding, and Diana had been an instant hit on the other side of the world. Women demanded a "Lady Di" cut and blow-dry at their local salons, while her signature spotted frocks and frilly Victorian-style collars were copied on the high street. While it was all rather flattering and laughable at times, privately Diana struggled with her new fame. Married life was not everything she had expected, and, she later complained, in the transition from her uncomplicated life as the unknown Lady Diana Spencer to that of Princess of Wales she had been largely unaided. However, she should have been well prepared for royal life. The youngest daughter of Earl Spencer and Frances Shand Kydd, Diana came from an aristocratic family that had been linked to royalty for more than three centuries. Her father had served as an equerry to King George VI and later the Queen, while her mother was the daughter of the fourth Baron Fermoy. Both her grandparents served the royal family: Her paternal grandmother, Countess Spencer, was a lady of the bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, while her maternal grandmother, Lady Ruth Fermoy, had worked for the royal family for more than thirty years. As a child Diana and her siblings would play with Prince Andrew, who would visit the Spencer family at their home Park House, an impressive mansion nestled amid great oak trees in the sprawling royal estate a short drive from Sandringham, the Queen's Norfolk home.
As a teenager Diana dreaded trips to the royal residence, which she found "strange," but she got along with Andrew, who was close to her in age, and they would spend hours watching films together in Sandringham's home cinema. Charles had been paired off with Diana's older sister Sarah, and they had enjoyed a skiing trip to Klosters, but it was the lissome and gamine Diana who caught the prince's eye at a friend's barbecue in the autumn of 1980. At the time Diana was a nineteen-year-old nursery school teacher living with three girlfriends in Earl's Court. The attentions of the prince, who had been linked as suitor with numerous aristocratic young ladies, known as "Charlie's Angels" in the British press, was a novel experience for Diana, who had not yet had a serious boyfriend. She immediately fell in love with Charles and was deemed the perfect virgin bride. For several months they managed to keep their courtship clandestine, but the newspapers eventually picked up on the romance. For the hitherto unknown Diana, life changed overnight. Her flat was suddenly besieged by reporters, all desperate for nuggets of information about the beautiful aristocrat who had finally won the Prince of Wales. As she sped off one afternoon in her battered Mini Metro, photographers clinging to the car, the strain showed on her beautiful face. "It's been very difficult," her concerned father, Earl Spencer, remarked.
Incredibly, the couple managed to keep their engagement a secret for three weeks while Diana was in Australia for a holiday, but when she returned there was little option but to make it official. At 11 A.M. on February 24, 1981, Buckingham Palace announced they were to wed. While the prince was largely protected by palace mandarins, Diana was left to cope with her new celebrity status alone. Her dignified silence won the royal family's approval, and Diana moved out of her flat and into the nanny's quarters at Buckingham Palace on the second floor. There Diana complained she felt cut off and isolated and started to have second thoughts. While those around her put her doubts and anxieties down to pre-wedding nerves, it was apparent from the start that Diana and Charles had entered into the marriage with polarized expectations. The princess had dreamed of a romantic escape following their wedding; instead they honeymooned at Balmoral, the royal family's Scottish retreat, together with the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Margaret, Princess Anne, and her children, Peter and Zara Phillips. It was not the honeymoon Diana had hoped for, and she was flummoxed by the family's strict timetable, which was meticulous even when on holiday.
The Queen's cousin Lady Elizabeth Anson recalled that Diana found the rituals of royal life hard to grasp. By now the princess was suffering from bulimia and could not tolerate the heavy three-course meals that were served at lunch and supper, nor could she fathom having to change for every meal and occasion.
Diana found her holidays to Sandringham and Balmoral tedious right from the start. She could not get to grips with the etiquette of changing her clothes sometimes as many as four or five times a day. The palaces work to their own timetables and Diana found them impossible. It is rather daunting as no one actually tells you when to change between breakfast, lunch, high tea, and supper; you just learn. Diana's grandmother was a lady-in-waiting for years, so she really should have known the drill.
As Diana wrestled with the royal regime, Charles became increasingly perplexed by what he perceived as his wife's strange behavior. He could not understand why Diana would shut herself away in their bedroom for hours at a time. The Queen, more astute in such matters, was aware that the transition from care-free young woman to the goldfish bowl of royalty was taking its toll on the sensitive young princess. Amid growing concerns for her health, she summoned a doctor to visit Diana, who was by then suffering from depression, but it did little good. The strain showed when the newlyweds posed for their first photo-call on the banks of the River Dee. Against a backdrop of rolling hills and wild heather, Diana said she "highly recommended" married life as her husband tenderly kissed her hand, but she was unconvincing and looked uncomfortable in the presence of the assembled press corps. It was only many years later that she admitted she had found her wedding day, which was watched by 500 million people around the world, "terrifying" and that the pressure of becoming the Princess of Wales was "enormous." There had been little time to master the assorted ceremonies and rituals of state she was expected to carry out as consort to the Prince of Wales, and she lacked confidence. As Diana struggled to retain her identity behind the mask of royal protocol, rumors of her misery seeped into the newspaper gossip columns, which were obsessed with every twist and turn of the royal marriage. For those watching closely, the strains and tensions were already beginning to pull at this union of two fundamentally different people.
However, when she discovered she was pregnant less than a year into their marriage, Diana was overjoyed and busily set about preparing the top-floor nursery in Kensington Palace. A former kindergarten teacher, she loved children and longed to start a family. Her parents' marriage had broken down when she was just six years old, and Diana vividly recalled her parents fighting when her mother, Frances, produced three daughters but no heir to the Spencer estate. Eventually a son, Charles, was born, but it was not enough to hold the Spencers' marriage together, and eventually Frances left the earl for her lover, Peter Shand Kydd. Diana recalled the awfulness of listening to her brother sob himself to sleep as her cuckolded father padded sleeplessly through the house. She did not want the same fate for her own children. "I want my children to have as normal a life as possible," she remarked, recognizing that it was within her power to shape the future of the monarchy. Diana was determined to do things her way, even if it meant going against the grain, which it invariably did. "I want to bring them up with security, not to anticipate things because they will be disappointed. I hug my children to death and get into bed with them at night. I feed them love and affection. It's so important." Like Charles, Diana had been raised by a governess, but for her, security meant being hands on. She was determined that she alone would raise their firstborn and insisted on breastfeeding William. However, with a packed timetable of royal duties and engagements, it was soon apparent that a nanny was required.
Diana immediately dismissed Charles's suggestion that his former governess Mabel Anderson should take up the post. She did not want an old-fashioned nanny with outdated ideas looking after her son. After many arguments, it was decided that forty-two-year-old Barbara Barnes would join the royal nursery. Miss Barnes believed that children should be allowed to develop at their own pace, which immediately endeared her to Diana. She had come highly recommended by her former employer Lord Glenconner, a close friend of the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, who lived next door to Charles and Diana at Kensington Palace, and during the early years the appointment was a success. It was made clear to Nanny Barnes that she was there to assist rather than take over. Diana was in charge of the nursery, and she and Charles made all the important decisions. Nanny Barnes was told to dispense with her uniform and informed, as were all the staff, that she would be called Barbara. For a shy and demure young woman who had initially found the palace so daunting, Diana's changes were fast taking effect in the royal household.
For the first time since their wedding Diana seemed happy, as did Charles, who wrote to his godmother, Lady Mountbatten, of his elation at becoming a father. "The arrival of our small son has been an astonishing experience and one that has meant more to me than I could ever have imagined." It was not just Diana who enjoyed spending time with William in the nursery. Charles loved being with his son, and at bath time he would jump into the tub and splash around with William's favorite plastic whale toy. At bedtime he would often give William his bottle before retiring to his study to catch up on his paperwork.
On August 4, 1982, the Queen Mother's eighty-second birthday, William was christened in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was baptized in the same gown that Charles had worn as a baby. Diana, who kept William from crying with a soothing finger in his mouth during the ceremony, was still upset that Charles had chosen such mature godparents, among them his close friend and adviser Laurens van der Post. She had wanted younger guardians, but Charles refused to change his mind. Another source of friction was their state visit to Australia and New Zealand the following spring. Diana had been inconsolable at the prospect of leaving William behind for six weeks, and in a further breach of precedent it was agreed that they would take nine-month-old William with them.
It was the first time a working member of the royal family had ever undertaken an official engagement with a baby and a far cry from Charles's childhood, when he had been left in the care of his governess while the Queen and Prince Philip embarked on a tour of the Commonwealth. During Charles's early years his parents were often overseas. Prince Philip was serving in the Royal Navy in Malta, which meant he barely saw his son for the first year of his life and missed Charles's first two birthdays. Neither Charles nor Diana wanted such an upbringing for William. Times had changed, and with the speed and ease of air travel, there was no reason to leave him behind. When Barbara Barnes descended the steps of the Queen's Flight aircraft tightly cradling the baby prince, there was no contest over who was the star of the show. William delighted the crowds and reveled in every second of his fame, happily crawling across the lawn in front of Government House in New Zealand for his first official photo-call.
It was just two years later that Diana discovered she was pregnant again, which was as surprising as it was joyful. Publicly the Waleses had put on a united front, but behind the wrought-iron gates of Kensington Palace the tears in the fabric of their marriage were beginning to show. The couple had not stopped crisscrossing the world, and eighteen months of tours and state visits, on top of motherhood, had left the vulnerable Diana tired and drained. She later admitted that Harry's conception at Sandringham was "as if by a miracle" but secretly hoped that the pregnancy would be the glue that would repair the fractures in their marriage. There was a glimmer of hope when she returned from a trip to Norway. On the desk in her study was a note from her husband. "We were so proud of you," he had written and signed it "Willie Wombat and I." Her joy was to be short-lived, and on top of suffering from morning sickness Diana was convinced that Charles was seeing his ex-girlfriend, Camilla Parker Bowles.
Charles had first met Camilla in 1970 at a polo match in Windsor. He had been immediately smitten with the attractive and gregarious aristocrat but the following year had joined the navy and was sent on an eight-month naval tour of the Caribbean. By the time he returned, Camilla was engaged to Andrew Parker Bowles, a captain in the Household Cavalry. Charles was crushed but determined to keep Camilla as a friend, and they remained close, moving in the same social circles and sharing a passion for fox-hunting. Diana, who was aware of their friendship when she first met Charles, became increasingly paranoid about Camilla during her marriage. When Charles disappeared, she would anxiously question their staff on his whereabouts. While the public only saw her smile, behind closed doors she was miserable and later conceded that her second son was born into the end of their marriage.
On Saturday, September 15, 1984, Diana gave birth to another healthy boy at the same hospital where William was born. Prince Henry Charles Albert David—to be known as Harry—was delivered at 4:30 P.M. and weighed six pounds, fourteen ounces. Charles, who had fed his wife ice cubes during the nine-hour labor, left Diana's side to tell the waiting crowds the good news before returning to the Palace for a martini. "The delivery couldn't have been much better: it was much quicker this time," he said. According to Diana, who had known from an early scan that she was expecting a boy, her husband's comments were rather more crushing. "Oh, it's a boy, and he's even got rusty hair," Charles is understood to have commented. To compound Diana's distress, she was devastated when she returned home to Kensington Palace and Charles sped off in his Aston Martin to play polo in Windsor Great Park. "Something inside of me died," Diana later admitted. The fairy-tale marriage was falling apart.

Chapter 2
The Early Years
William is very much an organizer, which probably might be useful in future years . . . Harry is more quiet. He's certainly a different character altogether.
Diana, Princess of Wales


On Sale
Nov 9, 2010
Page Count
336 pages
Hachette Books

Katie Nicholl

About the Author

Katie Nicholl is a journalist, broadcaster, and Royal Correspondent at Vanity Fair and NBC. Katie works with the BBC and Sky News in the UK, CBC in Canada, and as royal expert for Entertainment Tonight in the US. Katie is the author of bestselling royal biographies William and Harry, The Making of a Royal RomanceKate: The Future Queen, and Harry and Meghan: Life, Loss, and Love. She lives in London, England.

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