Prince William meets players during visit to Villa Park
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William and Harry have been competing for the spotlight ever since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they were leaving the royal frontline last year. Their dramatic royal exit reflected the deeper fracture between the once-close brothers — and their rift is thought to have only worsened in the year since Megxit became official. Harry has admitted that he and his brother are “on different paths” several times — and, while the Cambridges have increased their royal appearances, the Sussexes have secured lucrative commercial deals and have moved into Hollywood celebrity circles.
Yet, the brothers managed to dodge comparison last weekend as William had taken a vow of silence on social media.
On Friday, the Duke of Cambridge tweeted: “As President of the FA [Football Association] I join the entire football community in the social media boycott this weekend. W.”
The four-day boycott, which began at 3pm on Friday, and ended at midnight on Monday, served as a protest to the growing racist abuse football players have experienced recently.
William has been an avid football fan for years, and has often proudly addressed his love for Aston Villa.
The boycott was limited to social media so any royal engagements William may have attended were not promoted through the usual royal channels.
While Harry is also believed to be a football fan — although he supports rival club Arsenal — he made a very public appearance at Vax Live, at the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday.
In front of a vaccinated crowd of 20,000, the Duke of Sussex appeared alongside many international celebrities — including popstars Selena Gomez and Jennifer Lopez, as well as the band the Foo Fighters.
Harry asked everyone to come together and commit to their “shared humanity”, as “the vaccines must be distributed to everyone, everywhere”.
He added: “We cannot rest or truly recover until there is fair distribution to every corner of the world.
“The mission in front of us is one we cannot afford to fail at and that’s what tonight is about.”
He even received a standing ovation for his passionate plea.
US President Joe Biden also spoke out at the event in a pre-recorded video, where he explained he was “working with leaders around the world to share more vaccines and boost production”.
While the siblings did not have to split the spotlight on this occasion, William and Harry’s rivalry is thought to stem back to their time as neighbours in Kensington Palace, when they shared patronage of the Royal Foundation.
It was not long before Harry and Meghan set up their own vehicle, Sussex Royal Foundation, and reportedly attempted to set up their own court in Windsor away from the Cambridges.
Their new social media accounts also rivalled the page the Cambridges and the Sussexes had once shared, @kensingtonroyal, as Harry and Meghan set up @sussexroyal.
Although all of these new ventures were disbanded once the details of Megxit had been hashed out — and the Queen ruled the couple could not use ‘royal’ in any moniker overseas — the shared passions of the Cambridges and the Sussexes continues to draw parallels.
Both William and Harry have been firm advocates for breaking the social stigma surrounding mental health, having once co-championed the ‘Heads Together’ campaign.
The royals are also passionate about conservation and the environment, yet they have taken different approaches to this humanitarian matter.
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Shortly after the Palace announced William would be launching the ‘Earthshot prize’ in 2019, Harry is believed to have told YouTube pranksters on a leaked phone call: “Small steps or giving out prizes doesn’t make any difference these days.”
The Sussexes have been accused of stealing the Cambridges’ spotlight on special occasions as well.
Their initial declaration of independence was published online the day before Kate’s birthday, while Meghan and Archie were photographed in public for the first time in months just hours before Prince Louis’ birthday only last month.
The Duke of Cambridge has not publicly addressed his relationship with his younger brother, but there have been widespread reports of his fury towards Harry ever since the bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview aired in March.
During the bombshell tell-all, the Sussexes made a list of serious allegations against the Palace regarding race and mental health, while Harry also singled out his brother to discuss their relationship.
He told Oprah: “I love William to bits. He’s my brother.
“We’ve been through hell together. I mean, we have a shared experience.
“But we’re on different paths.”
Harry then claimed his brother was “trapped” in the system of the monarchy, and that their relationship “is space at the moment”.
Royal watchers had their fingers crossed that Prince Philip’s funeral last month would herald in a reunion between the brothers.
While they were pictured talking after the emotional service — after the Duchess of Cambridge facilitated a conversation between the brothers — it’s believed there is still a great deal of work to do before the siblings are able to mend their relationship fully.
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