Prince William and Prince Harry’s rivalry was ‘inevitable’ and can be traced back to their childhood, says childhood trauma expert

The brothers' feud 'dates back decades'

Prince William and Prince Harry
(Image credit: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images/Future)

A psychotherapist and childhood trauma expert has revealed the tell-tale signs from Prince William and Prince Harry’s childhoods that prove their rivalry in adulthood was, sadly, ‘inevitable.’

Everyone has sibling quarrels, whether you're the parent of toddlers and are struggling to prevent sibling rivalry between them as they fight over toys, or you're a sibling yourself and navigating that relationship into adulthood. Those arguments and disagreements can even be a good thing, as science has shown that kids who fight with their siblings will fare better in life. But, in the case of the very public feud between Prince William and Prince Harry, it seems that very little good has come out of their head-butting. 

But for all the signs that their rivalry began when Prince Harry met and married his wife, Meghan Markle, one expert has highlighted the long-standing signs that the brothers were always destined to grow apart. 

Psychotherapist Helen Villiers, who specialises in family relationships and childhood trauma, has opened the lid on the brotherly relationship, sharing that the differing positions they held in the royal line of succession, and the differing treatment they received in childhood because of that, meant their rivalry was 'inevitable.' Not only that, but by using the brothers as an example, she explains that any children who receive different treatment growing up will often grow apart as they reach adulthood, showing the damning effects of familial discords like eldest daughter syndrome

"Where one child is valued more highly than another in his family system, regardless of whether or not the parents are trying to treat them equally, there will inevitably be rivalry and it could be that they are the heir to the throne and it could be that one is more academically intelligent or gifted or something than the other," she explained to The Express

"As a result, they are both internally in the family system valued more highly, but also externally valued more highly," the expert added. 

"If we look at William and Harry, growing up as children, William was heir to the throne, the firstborn boy and, therefore, he naturally has had much more media attention priority. There is a constant narrative that Harry is not as good as William, which of course is going to absolutely show up in their relationship with each other, because Harry will always feel that he's less than and believe, potentially, that William buys into that narrative, which he probably will because that's the narrative they've been taught."

The 'narrative' of William being more valued, the expert shares, is one so inherent to the members of The Firm that there really is no escaping it. She also explains that even all the intervention Princess Diana and King Charles may have taken to ensure that their sons were not treated as an heir and a spare, just those titles alone would have been enough to make Harry believe that his brother was valued more than him.

"It's just the narratives that they've been taught to believe and conditioned with and therefore [it] creates this constant ongoing conflict between them," she explains. It also doesn't help that there really is no rectifying the idea that William is more 'valuable' as, as the expert highlights, "William is going to be the King of England at some point and therefore, has a higher position than Harry and it can't be challenged that Harry is not as important as William because William is indeed more important."

So while it seemed that, for a long time, Harry and William had a great relationship with one another, the expert says their feud 'originated in childhood' though it ultimately boiled over when they reached adulthood and they found their differences more 'difficult to navigate.' 

She shared, "Absolutely, their difficulties in their relationship will 100% have originated in childhood, and without really good management and support, they will have found that very difficult to navigate."

In other royal news, Prince William has revealed the one habit he wishes both parents and kids would give up for good - but proves it’s easier said than done, while Princess Diana’s brother recently opened up about the ‘difficult’ job he undertook for his sister when she became a royal and shared her biggest childhood fear. Also, Prince William and Kate Middleton may break longstanding tradition for Prince Louis’ birthday celebrations this year - and the reason is completely understandable.

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse
Royal News and Entertainment writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is royal news and entertainment writer for 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.