The Duke of Sussex took offence at what he deemed was his brother’s “snobbishness” towards Meghan Markle when he advised him to “take as much time as you need to know this girl”, a new biography has claimed.
The Duke of Cambridge had warned his younger brother of the pace of his blossoming relationship with Ms Markle, according to Finding Freedom, wanting to make sure he was not “blindsided by lust”.
In an extract published in The Sunday Times, authors Carolyn Durand and Omid Scobie say Prince Harry interpreted the choice of words – “this girl” – as “the tone of snobbishness that was anathema to his approach to the world”.
The book claims that one anonymous member of the Royal family referred to Ms Markle as “Harry’s showgirl”, while another allegedly told an aide she “came with a lot of baggage”.
The comments are known to have upset Prince Harry. In an interview with The Times as part of the serialisation of Finding Freedom, Mr Scobie said: “It seems that William genuinely wanted to make sure that his brother was making the right decision. That said, I’m not sure if Meghan was welcomed with as wide arms as perhaps Cressida [Bonas] or Chelsy [Davy] would have been. I think that’s perhaps because she was older and she came with a history and... I think coming from being American.”
A source said Prince William had been pleased to see his brother so “happy and content” while in love, but “has always felt he needs to look out for him” as the older sibling.
After the Duke and Duchess of Sussex married, the book says, difficulties grew, with the Duke growing increasingly frustrated at how “he and Meghan often took a back seat to other family members” in the line of precedence.
Behind palace gates
Although there have been several conference calls among advisers over the weekend, the Queen, Prince Charles and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are understood to have barely registered a reaction to the much-hyped book, apparently viewing the already familiar "revelations" as yesterday's news.
The sense of nonchalance is partly down to coronavirus, which has put the events of January 2020 into sharp perspective, with thousands having died in Britain during a pandemic that has reshaped the entire world order.
But as the Sussexes have struggled to establish themselves Stateside, for the rest of the Royal Family, life – and a new way of working – has continued at pace.
Old courtiers 'simply didn’t like Meghan'
Just before leaving Britain, the book claims, Meghan said: “I gave up my entire life for this family. I was willing to do whatever it takes. It’s very sad.”
Harry believed some old courtiers “simply didn’t like Meghan and would stop at nothing to make her life difficult”, working with a hostile media to make their lives in the UK impossible.
The couple are said to have felt particularly slighted by images of the Queen's Christmas message, which showed her surrounded by photographs of the direct line of succession - without them.
Pitched against his family
Prince Harry was “aware of the talk” about his new girlfriend within the household, the book said, quoting an unnamed friend: "He understands that a lot of people are against them, and he will do everything he can to keep her safe and away from getting hurt — even if that means distancing himself from those people.”
Harry didn’t care "what his family thought or said," the book adds. “Nothing was going to get in the way of his happiness."
The couple met in a discreet Soho club in summer 2016 on a blind date where they spoke for three hours “in their own little world”, foregoing food in their excitement to discuss their "passion for wanting to make change for good".
He knew they were destined for one another. She was “spellbound”.
The couple declared their love after three months, their friends have disclosed, and planned their long-term future together not long afterwards.
'Squeaky third wheel'
There were just a handful of people working at the palace they could trust,” the book claims. “A friend of the couple's referred to the old guard as 'the vipers'.
"Meanwhile, a frustrated palace staffer described the Sussexes' team as 'the squeaky third wheel' of the palace."
Relations between the Sussexes and the Cambridges deteriorated so much that by March the two couples were barely speaking, they added, culminating in an awkward engagement in front of the cameras at the Commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey .
The Duchess of Sussex, says the book, "would agree with the assessment that the duchesses were not the best of friends".
"Flowers for her birthday were nice, but Meghan would far rather have had Kate check in on her during the most difficult times with the press," it states.
"But they were not at war with each other either."
It describes an "awkward moment" when they were shopping in the same area separately - likely due to the security risk of the pair being in public together - and claimed the Duchess of Sussex was "disappointed" they had not bonded but "wasn't losing sleep over it".
Cambridges accused of being cold
Those familiar with Prince Harry and Meghan's early days together in the UK were puzzled by the claims over the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's alleged lack of warmth.
The Telegraph understands the couple invited Meghan over for drinks at Kensington Palace where Harry was away so she did not feel alone, while Kate also shared her experience in royal wedding planning and dressing for engagements in a show of friendship.
Scobie said the Duchess was a “biracial woman stepping into the House of Windsor. That was going to ruffle feathers. We only need look at the Duchess Difficult narrative. What is ‘difficult’? Difficult is pushy, aggressive. It’s all the things that we throw on black women as a society regardless of what their actual personality is.”
A second extract, to be serialised in The Sunday Times, promises “the truth about the wedding and Meghan’s father”. The topic forms part of the Duchess's upcoming privacy court case, and royal watchers will be keeping a particularly close eye on where the revelations have come from.
The Sussexes have already distanced themselves from Finding Freedom, saying they have not given interviews or contributed to it.
It is out on Aug 11.