Historian Robert Hardman tells PEOPLE that one of Queen Elizabeth’s “dearest wishes” was “that [the royal family] patch things up”

Queen Elizabeth’s special relationship with her grandson Prince Harry remained strong through the years.

In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, historian Robert Hardman, author of Queen of Our Times: The Life of Elizabeth II, says that the late monarch “adored Harry right to the end, and Harry adored her.”

“I think she was one of the conduits between Windsor and California, and it would have been one of her dearest wishes that [the family] patch things up,” Hardman adds.

Relations have been strained between Harry, 38, his wife Meghan Markle and members of the royal family over the years. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped back as senior members of the royal family in early 2020 and have resided in California since.

The Queen’s former assistant private secretary, Samantha Cohen, says the royal family all “looked tired” amid their grief over their matriarch — and realization about what unfolds next.

“Now it’s real, and the real mourning starts. The reality of life without the Queen starts now,” Cohen adds.

Two days after Queen Elizabeth died at age 96, Harry and Meghan, 41, joined William and Kate, both 40, for a walkabout at Windsor Castle, greeting onlookers and taking in the flowers and other tributes left for the late monarch.

“It was awkward. Both couples found it hard,” an insider tells PEOPLE. “They were in a stoic spirit of just getting through it for the Queen.”

Prince William thought the walkabout to greet the crowds “was an important show of unity at an incredibly difficult time for the family,” a royal source previously told PEOPLE.

Added a palace insider, “It’s such an extraordinary historical moment and also a deeply personal one for the family that you’d hope and think that all members of the family would unite and support [King Charles III] especially. And perhaps some of those wounds can be healed in the process.”

For more on the royal family following Queen Elizabeth’s death and funeral, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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