Former royal butler reveals Prince William and Harry’s royal feud was fuelled by unfair treatment at childhood meal times - and any younger sibling will understand Harry’s reaction

The unbalanced dynamic between the brothers was cemented in early age

Prince William and Prince Harry
(Image credit: Kate Green/Getty Images and Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)

Prince William and Prince Harry’s royal feud 'may have begun over portions of food' as a former royal butler has shared that William's childhood meals were bigger than Harry's because he was 'going to be king one day.' 

Sibling rivalry is something that nearly everyone can understand. It seems unavoidable, even when tonnes of effort is put in to make sure that everyone's on an equal standing. But factor into that already difficult dynamic the added hierarchy of siblings in the royal line of succession and the bond between brothers and sisters seems headed for disaster. 

Prince William and Kate Middleton seemingly recognise this and have been 'scrupulous' about treating their three children as 'equals' throughout their lives, though Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis reportedly still know there's a difference between them and their older brother Prince George. 

But it hasn't always been the royal approach to make sure siblings get their start on a level playing field and one former royal butler believes this is a major driving force for Prince Harry's current feud with his older brother Prince William.  

Prince William and Prince Harry stood back to back

(Image credit: Getty)

Speaking to The Mirror, the late Princess Diana's former royal butler Paul Burrell recounted a story of the young Princes' childhood meal times, sharing that Harry was given smaller portions of food than William due to his lesser royal position - a fact that often left Harry very upset.  

"When I look back now, I think maybe I was glimpsing the dynamic at play," he said. "One time I saw the nanny give William three sausages at breakfast and Harry had two. And Harry would look at his plate and say, 'How come he gets three? And I only get two?'"

According to Burrell, the children's nanny would allegedly reply, "William needs filling up more than you. He's going to be king one day." 

Following the nanny's statement Harry 'would fall quiet and suck it up', Burrell said before adding, "But that's what he had to contend with, even in his own home."

The mealtime squabbles, Burrell believes, were just one of the ways Harry was made to feel in second place to William throughout their childhood. This fuelled a competition where Harry was desperate for the perceived love and attention William got from their parents, making the younger sibling more boisterous and loud.

"William would be measured and stoic, and sort of take everything in. But not Harry. He would have to be the clown, he had to be noticed," Burrell said.

Princes William and Harry with Princess Diana

(Image credit: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

The gap between the brothers that was clearly already forming in their childhood didn't go unnoticed. The List reports that their mother Princess Diana was often 'very anxious' about Harry feeling second-best to William, largely thanks to their great-grandmother's treatment of them. Royal expert Ingrid Seward told the Channel 4 documentary Meghan and Harry: The Baby Years, "The Queen Mother used to say, 'Come on William come and sit next to me,' and little Harry would be completely left out." 

Unfortunately that's just one story that illustrated the tough time Harry experienced growing up and the tales all added up to give him an idea of his future at a very young age. Ken Wharfe, who was the family's protection officer during Harry and William's childhoods, recounted a conversation between the brothers that proved Harry knew he was always going to be playing second fiddle to his brother. 

"On this particular occasion Diana was driving, I was sat in the front, William and Harry in the back. They'd clearly got off to a bad start because they were arguing before we'd even left," he told the Channel 5 documentary Prince Harry: The Troubled Prince.

"Harry out of nowhere said, 'William, one day you’ll be king, I won't, it doesn’t matter therefore I can do what I like'."

News writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is a news writer for Goodtoknow, specialising in family content. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.