Duke and Duchess of Sussex 'single-handedly modernising the monarchy' despite 'afraid' palace officials around them, allies claim

Hannah Furness
The Duchess of Sussex arrives at the Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday night - PA

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are “single-handedly modernising the monarchy” despite officials around them being “afraid” to harness their power, their allies said, as the extraordinary fall-out from their emotional documentary continued.

The couple, who are to take a break from the public eye towards the end of the year, are being hampered by briefings by "palace insiders and friends" who do not understand their potential, a source told American network CNN.

Describing the reaction to a recent ITV documentary, which saw the Duke publicly acknowledge a rift with his brother for the first time, as “hysteria”, the source suggested the couple’s “open and honest” approach had been misunderstood.

The comments came on the third day of a building reaction to the documentary, with the Duke of Cambridge reported to be “concerned” about the Sussexes and their wellbeing.

The programme saw Prince Harry admit he and his brother are now on “different paths” and disclose he had suffered the resurgence of mental health issues which require “constant management”.

The Duchess spoke of her profound unhappiness at life in the media spotlight, saying it was not enough to “survive” it but that she wanted to “thrive”.

The Duchess of Sussex on Tuesday night at the Royal Albert Hall Credit: Mark Cuthbert

The couple’s confidentes have said that the Duke’s comments were not intended to cause a stir, but were simply a reflection of his “open, raw and candid” approach to interviews.

The reaction “took everyone by surprise”, one aide said, with those close to them particularly concerned by a palace source telling the BBC the couple are in a “fragile place”.

On Tuesday night, the Duchess made her first public appearance since the documentary, as she attended the opening ceremony of a youth summit in London.

Smiling broadly, she strode down the staircase at the One Young World Summit Opening Ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall greeting her fans at the event celebrating 2,000 young people from over 190 countries around the world.

Prince Harry and Meghan interviewed by Tom Bradby Credit: ITV

The Sussexes have previously been reported to feel isolated and “completely on their own” within the Royal Family as an institution, as they continue to forge their own working path distinct from traditional duties.

Their aides are now frustrated at what they perceive to be “a lot of people out there who talk”.

Global news network CNN reported a source close to the Sussexes claiming “that the institution around the British royal family is full of people afraid of and inexperienced at how to best help harness and deploy the value of the royal couple who, they said, have single-handedly modernized the monarchy”.

The story, intended for a global audience, followed headlines about Prince William and Prince Harry, and a “rift” between them.

The Duchess of Sussex on ITV Credit: ITV

Asked about it on an ITV documentary, Prince Harry laughed and said they are “certainly on different paths at the moment” and “don’t see each other as much as we used to because we are so busy”, but added: “I will always be there for him as I know he will always be there for me.”

The next day, palace sources told the BBC that the Duke of Cambridge was “concerned” and “worried” for his younger brother.

Another told the Evening Standard that the Duchess, who told the programme “not many people ask me if I’m ok”, had been offered support by senior members of the Royal Family including the Queen and Prince of Wales who had "gone out of their way" to help.

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