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Princes William and Harry stood side by side in the queen's funeral procession — like they did for their mother, Princess Diana

William and Harry walk behind queen's coffin
Princes William and Harry walk side by side behind Queen Elizabeth's coffin — like they did at Diana's funeral 02:02

Despite reports of a rift between Princes William and Harry, the brothers united in their grief on Wednesday, walking side by side behind Queen Elizabeth II's coffin during a procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster, where the queen will lie in state until Monday's funeral. During a procession for Prince Philip's funeral last year, the brothers notably did not stand next to each other. 

The last time the princes stood side by side during a funeral procession was for their mother, Princess Diana, who died in a car crash in 1997 at age 36. At the time, William was 15 and Harry was 12. 

Princess Diana - Funeral
Prince William and Prince Harry stood together at the funeral for their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997. Adam Butler / PA Images via Getty Images

For much of that procession, the brothers walked in a line with their uncle, Charles, Earl of Spencer, between them, and with their father alongside. When they got to Westminster Abbey, the brothers stood side by side in front of the hearse that held their mother's coffin. 

CBS News royal contributor Tina Brown said that at the time, the royal family wanted the young princes to walk behind their mothers' coffin as a sign of tradition and continuity. "It was the need to express that continuity of the monarchy, the constitution. This is the pageantry of the British constitution being played out in the most extraordinary way," Brown said during the live broadcast of the queen's procession on CBS News. 

"And those symbols are so incredibly important to the march of history," Brown continued. "And that's what we are seeing today."

When their grandfather, Prince Philip, died in 2021, the brothers' relationship was so tense, a cousin walked in between them, Brown said. Photos from the procession show them separated by Peter Phillips, the son of Princess Anne.

The Funeral Of Prince Philip, Duke Of Edinburgh Is Held In Windsor
Prince William, left, and Prince Harry, right, walked with their cousin, Peter Phillips, between them during the funeral procession for Prince Philip on April 17, 2021 in Windsor, England.  Getty Images

In 2020, Harry and Meghan had left their roles as senior royals and moved to California. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the couple spoke about the pain they suffered and criticized the family for not helping them when tabloids got out of control and Meghan faced racism. 

In his first address to the nation as monarch, King Charles III made a public gesture of support for his younger son, saying: "I also want to express my love for Harry and Meghan, as they continue to build their lives overseas."

There are still "some major unresolved issues" between the brothers, says Roya Nikkhah, a royal correspondent who's reported on the monarchy for over a decade. Yet they came together for the queen's funeral procession.

"It's wonderful that they're walking side by side, because it sends that message of, this is so much bigger, this ceremony, than any temporary feud," Brown said.

Coffin Carrying Queen Elizabeth II Is Transferred From Buckingham Palace To The Palace Of Westminster
Prince William, left, and Prince Harry walk behing the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II during a procession from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster, in London, on September 14, 2022.  Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

When they reached Westminster, the princes each stood next to their wives, Kate, Princess of Wales and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. 

In 2017, Prince Harry opened up about his grief following his mother's death in an interview with Bryony Gordon of Britain's Telegraph newspaper. He admitted he was close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions and that it was not until his late 20s that he sought help to process his grief.

Harry said it was his brother who finally convinced him to get professional help after suffering in silence, reports CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata.

Despite their recent differences, the brothers have come together for some other momentous family events. In 2021, they joined to unveil a statue in Diana's honor outside Kensington Palace, marking what would have been her 60th birthday. 

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