Throughout the days immediately after the Queen’s death, amid all the grief and nostalgia, there was one spectacle that warmed the hearts of many. Could it be true? Had Harry and William finally reconciled?
Rushing to our television sets, we watched as the two princes and their wives emerged from Windsor Castle together to greet the crowds and look at their floral tributes.
It had been Prince William‘s idea, we later learned, to put on a show of unity — a gesture that would surely have touched his deeply Christian grandmother. And for a few minutes, it looked as though the warring couples had slipped back in time, before bitterness and harsh words had destroyed their relationship.
Sadly, it was all an illusion — as sources close to the Royal Family have confirmed to me. Catherine later admitted to a senior royal that, such was the ill feeling between the two couples, the joint walkabout was one of the hardest things she had ever had to do.
Catherine, Princess of Wales, Prince William, Prince of Wales, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on the long Walk at Windsor Castle to greet well-wishers
The Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visit floral tributes and meet members of the public at Windsor Castle
Bear in mind this was before Prince Harry published Spare, the autobiography that not only revealed family secrets but laid bare his resentment of his brother. It was before the cloying Netflix documentary series he did with Meghan, and the succession of TV interviews in which he criticised the royal institution.
If Catherine found it almost unbearable before all this to share a walkabout with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, then how — one has to wonder — do she and William feel about them now?
In truth, by the time his grandmother died, Harry had precious few supporters left in the family. Even the Queen, who had always had great affection for him, eventually tired of his outbursts.
First, she had wearied of the volatile exchanges between Harry and his brother, which sometimes took place in her presence. Then Harry and Meghan had started publicly criticising both the monarchy and members of the Royal Family.
At that point, the Queen was frankly mystified by the couple’s behaviour, describing it as ‘quite mad’. She came to believe, however, that her grandson was ‘so consumed’ by his love for his wife that it was ‘clouding his judgment’.
And she felt let down: not only was Her Majesty disappointed in Harry’s decision to abandon his royal duty, but she also saw the departure of the Sussexes as a missed opportunity. Despite that, the Queen sincerely hoped that her grandson would find peace and happiness living the life he had chosen.
Harry, for his part, phoned her regularly from California. But it troubled the Queen when he kept trying to air his grievances. In the end, she asked him to speak directly to his father instead. A source said: ‘Her Majesty found Prince Harry’s calls quite difficult and wearisome. She didn’t want to interfere in the father/son relationship and would urge him to speak to his father.’
Kate found her Windsor walkabout with Harry and Meghan after the Queen’s death ‘one of the hardest things she’d ever had to do’, a sensational new royal book reveals today
Not only was Her Majesty disappointed in Harry’s decision to abandon his royal duty, but she also saw the departure of the Sussexes as a missed opportunity. Pictured: Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle on April 28, 2022
That didn’t work out either. Prince Charles simply stopped taking Harry’s calls after his son swore at him and repeatedly asked for funds.
When the Queen asked Charles why he hadn’t given in, he told her that he wasn’t a bank.
News of Harry’s relationship with an American actress had broken on October 31, 2016. Meghan Markle didn’t seem perturbed: on the same day, she posted a picture on Instagram of two spooning bananas. But her mood seemed quickly to change.
Photos of the prince’s stunning new girlfriend were suddenly at a premium, and she was inevitably being targeted by the paparazzi.
‘Terrified’ for her safety, Harry later admitted he feared history would repeat itself and Meghan would suffer the same relentless hounding his mother endured, which he believed had led to her death.
On November 8, he released a formal statement in which he called on the Press and online trolls to stop what he called the ‘wave of abuse and harassment’ directed at his girlfriend, claiming he had been involved in ‘nightly legal battles’ to stop the media from publishing defamatory stories about Meghan and their relationship. Unfortunately, he had consulted neither Charles nor William before letting loose this incendiary broadside.
His father was given only 20 minutes’ notice before Harry released a formal statement in which he called on the Press and online trolls to stop ‘abuse’ directed at Meghan. Pictured: Meghan, a then Prince Charles, and Harry on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on June 9, 2018
His father was given only 20 minutes’ notice before it was released. On that day, Prince Charles had just arrived in Bahrain on a Foreign Office-sponsored visit to the Gulf states. As any member of the Royal Family could have predicted, Press attention immediately switched from the tour to his besotted son and the new girlfriend.
Reports at the time suggested Charles was ‘crushed’, but this was far from the truth. Instead, he was disappointed at what he regarded as his son’s bad manners.
‘He would never have done such a thing if the Queen was on tour,’ said one former aide.
‘Understandably, there is a hierarchy and a grid system, but Prince Harry seemed to think when it came to Meghan Markle, she would always take precedence.’
William was also uneasy. Privately, he thought his brother had overreacted. ‘It was all a bit dramatic, a bit OTT,’ one of his former aides later recalled. As for Harry, he took offence when told that the massive attention Meghan was getting was only to be expected. He was also angry at what he considered his family’s lack of support.
As he later explained in the Netflix docu-series he made with Meghan, ‘as far as a lot of the family were concerned, everything that she was being put through, they had been put through as well’
As he later explained in the Netflix docu-series he made with Meghan, ‘as far as a lot of the family were concerned, everything that she was being put through, they had been put through as well.
‘So, it was almost like a rite of passage, and some of the members of the family were like, ‘My wife had to go through that, so why should your girlfriend be treated any differently? Why should you get special treatment? Why should she be protected?’ I said, ‘The difference here is the race element.’ ‘
The ‘race element’ that so exercised Harry’s protective instincts had somehow eluded his royal grandmother.
At their first meeting, the Queen had tea with Meghan without even realising she was mixed race. Used to being briefed in advance whenever she met someone new, the monarch explained later — in conversation with a member of her close circle — that she simply hadn’t been told.
Of course, had she known then that Meghan’s mother was black, the Queen — who had counted Nelson Mandela as one of her dear friends — would not have been in the least concerned.
In fact, she was pleased that Harry had at last found love and warmly welcomed Meghan into the Royal Family. But when Her Majesty suggested she should turn to Sophie, Countess of Wessex, for support and advice, Meghan dismissed the idea, saying: ‘I’ve got Harry.’
Her response surprised the Queen, who had doubtless expected her well-meant suggestion to be taken up with gratitude. Still, that hardly mattered: Meghan, she felt, had the potential to be a great asset to the monarchy.
The Queen was pleased that Harry had at last found love and warmly welcomed Meghan into the Royal Family. Pictured: Meghan and Queen Elizabeth II at a ceremony to open the new Mersey Gateway Bridge on June 14, 2018
The actress’s confident presentation skills, combined with her black heritage, convinced the Queen that she would be a great champion for young women as she worked alongside Harry in his role as a Youth Ambassador with the Commonwealth Youth Programme.
Meghan, for her part, was said to be ‘hugely excited’ about this new venture. She would certainly have known that the Commonwealth was particularly close to the Queen’s heart, and that her endorsement was a great honour.
Sources tell me that Meghan subsequently made a diligent study of the Commonwealth and was seen poring over her notes.
Within months of the Queen’s death, however, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s documentary series for Netflix seemed to suggest that she’d had a radical change of heart. To the astonishment of those who remembered Meghan’s enthusiasm for her new role, the series dismissively branded the Commonwealth as ‘Empire 2.0’.
As we now know, William had urged his brother to be cautious before committing himself to a life with Meghan Markle. Even when Harry said he definitely wanted to marry her, William apparently told him: ‘She’s an American actress after all, Harold, anything might happen.’
William had previously urged his brother to be cautious before committing himself to a life with Meghan Markle
It wasn’t the most tactful comment, but he had his reasons. He knew that — even before meeting Meghan — Harry had been obsessed with the idea of marrying and settling down.
Having always looked out for his younger brother, William was concerned that a whirlwind affair was so quickly leading to marriage. But Harry, whose passion for Meghan had reached fever pitch, was hurt.
There was another unpleasant surprise in store when he announced his intention to marry to his father (who already knew about this from his elder son). First, William, who was present at this meeting, asked: ‘Are you sure, Harold?’
He said he was. Then Charles dropped a bombshell, saying he couldn’t afford to pay for Meghan in the future as well as for Camilla, and for William and Catherine and their young family. This infuriated Harry.
As his wedding day approached, the slights built up in his mind. The first introduction of his bride-to-be to William and Catherine at Kensington Palace had left Meghan with the impression that Catherine was stand-offish.
Later, the Duchess of Cambridge — pregnant at the time — had demanded an apology after Meghan had talked about Catherine’s hormones, suggesting she had ‘baby-brain’. And then there’d been that famous spat involving a bridesmaid’s dress for Princess Charlotte.
Charles dropped a bombshell, saying he couldn’t afford to pay for Meghan in the future as well as for Camilla, and for William and Catherine and their young family
William and Charles noticed that Harry seemed to be permanently on edge. Members of the bride and groom’s entourage also noted that the prince had become ‘petulant and short-tempered’ — raising his voice on occasion to staff and even swearing. Harry, for his part, was now convinced that William didn’t approve of his choice of bride. Whether this was the case or not, the once close bond between the siblings was fraying badly.
As simmering resentments threatened to boil over, Prince Charles wondered what he could do. For his part, he had welcomed Meghan, pronouncing himself captivated by her intelligence and vivacious personality.
Camilla, too, had played her part as a sort of ‘super-granny’, dispensing humorous, down-to-earth advice to her. But the actress made it clear that she would make her own decisions. Like any loving father, Charles was distressed when his sons clashed with each other, especially when the ill feeling between them appeared to extend to both Meghan and Catherine. Aware that both Harry and William were stubborn and strong-willed, he feared the conflict between them would be very difficult to manage and might have a detrimental impact on the monarchy itself.
Sometimes the level of belligerence between his sons — and indeed towards himself when they challenged him — shocked Charles. One particular exchange with William had become so heated that it had actually left him shaken.
Although Charles himself has a short fuse, his temper is always short-lived. Averse to confrontation, he decided not to intervene in the clash between William and Harry, trusting that in time it would blow over.
On May 19, 2018, the day of Harry and Meghan’s wedding, the exuberant crowds were blissfully ignorant about the feud
On May 19, 2018, the day of Harry and Meghan’s wedding, the exuberant crowds were blissfully ignorant about the feud between the brothers and lingering animosity between their wives.
It wasn’t until October 2019 — when an ITV documentary was screened about the Sussexes’ tour of South Africa — that the rift was openly acknowledged.
Harry spoke for the first time of his strained relationship with his brother, while his wife acknowledged that her life behind the scenes had been a struggle.
This angered Prince William, who saw it as a betrayal. One member of his circle said he felt especially let down. He believed the trust between them was gone.
William was now also concerned at reports that the Sussex household was not a happy place to work. There was an unusually high staff turnover, and unsettling claims of bullying (vehemently denied by the Sussexes’ lawyer) by Meghan.
From Harry’s viewpoint, this was rubbish fertilised by planted stories. But enough was enough: the swirl of negativity around Meghan helped them both conclude it was time to forge a new life away from the palace, Press and Royal Family.
As Christmas 2019 approached, he told his father that he and his wife no longer wished to serve as full-time working royals but wanted a workable plan for them to be part in and part out, splitting their time between the UK and North America.
They moved to California and started signing multi-million-dollar deals with Netflix and other companies
Charles, who was used to his son letting off steam periodically, listened but eventually said that the idea was unworkable. Oblivious to his considered opinion, the Sussexes went public with their plans.
As nothing had been agreed, Charles was understandably upset. The Sussexes had ignored what he had said, staking everything instead on their belief that the Queen would back them. There followed the famous Sandringham summit, convened by the Queen in January 2020 to work out what to do.
So concerned was the monarch about privacy that, on taking advice, she had the library — where the meeting was to take place — swept for bugs. There was a suggestion that Meghan should join Charles, William and Harry via video link from Canada, but the Queen ruled that her attendance in any form was ‘not necessary’ as Harry would represent her. It was also felt that a video link wouldn’t be secure, as Charles and William wouldn’t be able to tell if the meeting was being recorded or if Meghan had anyone else listening in as they spoke.
The Sussexes, of course, did not get what they wanted; they had made their play and lost. No longer working royals, they moved to California and started signing multi-million-dollar deals with Netflix and other companies. There were even reports that Meghan was considering running for president of the United States.
The Sussexes’ interview with Oprah Winfrey, in March 2021, marked a chilling new low in Harry’s relationship with his father and brother.
The Sussexes’ interview with Oprah Winfrey, in March 2021, marked a chilling new low in Harry’s relationship with his father and brother
In the aftermath, William went to his father and told him that the Royal Family needed a clear strategy in dealing with the renegade royals. Charles agreed.
From then on, Harry’s father and brother decided, they would no longer treat him as a trusted — if often infuriating — member of the family. In short, they would never again meet Harry alone. There would always have to be another person in the room.
Not only had Harry heavily implied to Oprah that a member of the family was racist, but he’d had the gall to claim that his father and brother knew they were ‘trapped’ in their royal roles — ‘and I have huge compassion for that,’ he had added, twisting the knife.
Both Charles and William had been extremely upset by Harry’s arrogance, aghast at his lack of discretion and furious that he’d had the audacity to speak about their supposed feelings.
Or, as a senior source in the Royal Household put it rather more tactfully: ‘They were both deeply disappointed in him. He had no right or authority to speak on their behalf.’
There was no meaningful conversation when Harry saw his brother and father again at Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there was no meaningful conversation when Harry saw his brother and father again at Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021. Nor was there any attempt at a rapprochement when Harry joined his brother for the unveiling of a statue of their mother at Kensington Palace on July 1, 2021. However, the Queen did meet Harry and Meghan at Windsor Castle when they made a stopover in April 2022, en route to The Hague for the Invictus Games. She’d agreed to see her grandson on the proviso that he met and talked with his father, too.
The couple were welcomed warmly by the Queen, in what turned out to be the last time Harry saw his grandmother. Charles was also at the castle — along with Camilla — where he was standing in for his mother at the annual Maundy Thursday service.
To add insult to injury, Harry and Meghan turned up late, meaning the meeting with Prince Charles lasted less than 15 minutes.
It was agreed that the Sussexes should later join the rest of the Royal Family for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
Harry and Meghan duly arrived at St Paul’s Cathedral on June 3 for the National Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen
Nevertheless, in a spirit of reconciliation, it was agreed that the Sussexes should later join the rest of the Royal Family for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Again there was a proviso: the Netflix film crew accompanying them would not be allowed access to royal palaces or members of the family.
Harry and Meghan duly arrived at St Paul’s Cathedral on June 3 for the National Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen (which she could not attend). They were booed by some in the large crowd.
If the message hadn’t yet got through, the couple could no longer doubt that they were outsiders, no longer part of the charmed circle of the British Royal Family.
- Adapted from Our King: Charles III — The Man And The Monarch Revealed by Robert Jobson, to be published by John Blake on April 13 at £22. © Robert Jobson 2023. To order a copy for £18.70 (offer valid until May 9, 2023; UK P&P free on orders over £20), visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11950529/Kate-greeting-mourning-crowds-Windsor-Castle-Harry-Meghan-unbearable.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Kate found greeting mourning crowds at Windsor Castle with Harry and Meghan ‘almost unbearable’