The royal rift between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in the U.S. and the Prince and Princess of Wales in the U.K. was pulled into public focus once again on Thursday, as the couples both announced events marking World Mental Health Day on October 10.
William and Kate announced three days of royal engagements around Britain on Thursday through a press release issued by Kensington Palace. The royals will attend a series of events highlighting mental health initiatives, including a youth forum hosted in connection with a U.K. radio station.
In the U.S., Harry and Meghan’s plans to host a parents summit in New York City marking World Mental Health Day were revealed exclusively by People magazine.
The couple will attend The Archewell Foundation Parents’ Summit: Mental Wellness in a Digital Age in the city, which will focus on the issues facing parents with children growing up with unrestricted access to the internet.
The summit will form part of the non-profit organization, Project Healthy Minds’, annual World Mental Health Day Festival, and feature discussions with parents navigating the core issues.
The duke and duchess will take part in an on-stage discussion with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, moderated by TV and radio host Carson Daly.
Harry and Meghan’s summit is notable for a number of reasons, primarily as it marks the couple’s first public return to New York City after experiencing what their spokesperson called a “near catastrophic car chase” following an awards show back in May.
Harry and Meghan were leaving the Ziegfeld Theatre in Midtown Manhattan on May 16 with the duchess’ mother, Doria Ragland, after attending the Women of Vision awards when they were followed by paparazzi.
The statement issued by the couple’s spokesperson described how the group were chased by a “ring of highly aggressive paparazzi,” resulting in “multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers.”
The statement attracted some criticism though, as comments from the NYPD and one of the drivers on the evening appeared to downplay the severity of the pursuit.
In addition to the summit marking their first return to NYC following the car chase, it also comes close on the heels of a two-day visit made by Prince William in September where he attended the Earthshot Innovation Summit.
William drew large crowds for his public appearances in the city, and soon after it was revealed that the prince’s Royal Foundation—run jointly with wife, Kate—had filed a trademark application to protect its name for charitable operations in the U.S., principally connected with mental health.
The trademark move was interpreted as a sign that William and Kate could be looking to expand their outreach in America, something which could ultimately be seen as stepping on Harry and Meghan’s toes, following their full-time move to California in 2020.
The warring relationship between William and Kate and Harry and Meghan was detailed in Harry’s January 2023 memoir, Spare.
In the best selling book, the prince gave his side of some of the tabloid media’s most sensational royal stories, including the reported conflict between Meghan and Kate over bridesmaids dresses before the 2018 royal wedding and motivations which ultimately led to the Sussexes permanent separation from the monarchy.
One element of the brothers’ relationship that Harry examined in his book was their intense rivalry, extending to their charity work. Writing of a time in 2015, Harry claimed that William was angered over which brother took up causes linked with Africa.
“One small problem: Willy. Africa was his thing, he said. And he had the right to say this, or felt he did, because he was the Heir,” Harry wrote. “It was ever in his power to veto my thing, and he had every intention of exercising, even flexing, that veto power.”
“We’d had some real rows about it,” he continued, going on to point out a mutual friend had noted its pettiness, asking: “Why can’t you both work on Africa?”
William did not publicly respond to the allegations made by Harry in his memoir.
This draws some parallels with the fact that both royals have now used New York City as a backdrop for their charity work in close succession, begging the question, is the U.S. big enough to accommodate both princes’ efforts without stepping on one another’s toes and reopening old wounds?
A similar question will be raised in November, where William will attend his third annual Earthshot Prize awards ceremony, connected with his eco-initiative founded in 2020. This year, the ceremony will be held in Singapore.
Harry was in Singapore in August to participate in a polo match raising money for his Sentebale charity which distributes funds and support for young people in Africa with HIV and AIDS.
The Wales’ and Sussexes have not been photographed together since Queen Elizabeth II‘s funeral in September 2022.
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