After Prince Harry announced he and wife Meghan Markle were stepping down as senior royals, Prince William let it be known their brotherly bond was also broken.
Speaking through a friend, William said: "I've put my arm around my brother all our lives. I can't do that any more."
But Robert Lacey, a historian, biographer and consultant to the Netflix series The Crown, believes there was an inevitability to the relationship souring.
And he writes the perception of William and Harry isn't fair.
William, he says, started as a horror infant, winning the nickname "Basher Wills" at nursery and once being told by Bob Geldof: "Shut up, you horrible little boy."
But while William was painted as the golden child who became the perfect Prince Charming, Harry was caricatured as a hell-raising nightclubber who had recklessly worn a Nazi uniform.
And Lacey argues when William played a role in any scandals he was effectively edited out.
Lacey is critical, for example, of William inviting Harry to join his friendship circle at Eton, exposing his brother to "temptations ahead of his years".
He was also present when Harry picked out the Nazi costume.
"It was the function of the elder brother to be perfect…and the function of the younger one to make the rest of us laugh or complain or feel disapproving," Lacey writes.
Disappointed royalists have been puzzled in recent years about why the pair have seemingly grown apart – and many have heaped the blame on to Meghan.
But Tom Bower, author of Rebel Prince, a biography of Prince Charles, says there were fractures between Harry and William that started more than 20 years ago.
Although united by the torture of their mother's death, he says "their volatile childhood was complicated by their different destinies".
Identified as the future monarch, William was sometimes invited alone for Sunday lunch with the Queen in Windsor.
Walking across the Thames from Eton, the schoolboy was introduced by his grandmother to the secrets and magic of the world's most enduring monarchy.
To his growing dismay Harry was denied that privilege.
Although Diana had spoken of Harry's luck to be relieved of that burden, he grieved over being sidelined.
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