Queen Elizabeth death: Prince Harry's small gesture during 'fab four' reunion sparks furore, Prince William called out

A small but sweet gesture by Prince Harry to his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex has had the internet in raptures, but also prompted a wave of criticism against his brother, heir apparent Prince William. 

On Saturday (local time), the two couples - the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Prince and Princess of Wales - made a rare appearance together outside the gates of Windsor Castle, admiring the sea of tributes left for the late Queen Elizabeth II and greeting the throngs of people gathered outside the residence.

After spending about 45 minutes speaking to fans of their famous family, the former "fab four" - who have been plagued by rumours of a royal rift - climbed into a car to make their exit. 

While Prince William entered at the driver's side, leaving his wife, Kate Middleton - now Catherine, Princess of Wales - to escort herself to the passenger seat, Harry followed Meghan to the back left of the car and opened the door for her. After waiting for his wife to sit down, he then closed her door before entering the right side of the vehicle. 

The clip of the royals' departure quickly went viral, with many applauding Harry's "gentlemanly" behaviour. 

However, the simple but sweet act reflected somewhat unfavourably on Prince William, who has drawn the ire of the internet for his lack of courtesy towards Kate, his wife of 11 years. 

The fleeting moment prompted such an uproar, "Be a Harry not a William" began trending on social media. 

The 'fab four' reunion
The 'fab four' reunion on Saturday. Photo credit: Getty Images

Sharing the footage to TikTok, one person captioned the clip: "The way Harry treats Meghan shows he is the real Prince."

"He's a gentleman," another added.

A third said: "Say what you will about Harry and Meghan but he puts his arm around her back and opens her car door for her. He loves her. That gets a swoon from me."

"Prince Harry [is] my favourite Royal. Manners like his beloved mother," a fourth declared.

"Be a Harry, not a William," another echoed, while others speculated whether William's lack of attention to his spouse could be a sign of "trouble in paradise".

As the footage continued to trend, other eagle-eyed viewers noted that while Kate had security personnel opening and closing her doors, Meghan did not. However, Harry and Meghan did lose some of their security entitlements after stepping down as senior royals in 2020.

Harry holding open car door for Meghan
The fleeting moment has sparked a frenzy on social media. Photo credit: Screengrab

A rift between the formerly close brothers has been widely reported in recent years, with royal commentators and experts alike claiming the relationship between the two couples has been fraught following Harry and Meghan's move to the US. Their landmark decision to step down as working royals, as well as lobbying allegations of racism and neglect against the royal family, have purportedly strained Harry's relationships with both William and his father, King Charles III. 

The last time the former "fab four" appeared as a unit publicly was in March 2020 for Commonwealth Day celebrations.

According to local media, the Waleses and Sussexes' reunion over the weekend had not been planned, with William reportedly extending the olive branch to his brother and sister-in-law. 

"The Prince of Wales invited the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to join him and the Princess of Wales earlier," a royal source told The Sun.

"The Prince of Wales thought it was an important show of unity for the Queen at an incredibly difficult time for the family."

According to The Times of London, the reunion "required extended negotiations behind the scenes beforehand".

It comes as royal commentators attempt to decode the brothers' behaviour in the wake of their grandmother's passing, with Vanity Fair royal correspondent, Katie Nicholl, telling Entertainment Tonight that Harry's swift departure from Balmoral Castle - where the Queen passed away on Thursday - "speaks volumes" about the family's supposedly frosty relationship.

The duke was pictured leaving the estate alone early on Friday morning, ahead of the rest of his family. Despite travelling to Balmoral after hearing news of his grandmother's declining condition, Harry did not make it in time to see her before she died. 

The Queen died at Balmoral Castle on Thursday (local time), aged 96. Her state funeral will be held on Monday, September 19.