In part one of our serialization of his new book on Saturday, Robert Lacey – a distinguished royal historian and advisor to The Crown television – recounted how Harry and Meghan’s behavior left the royal family “hopping”.
Today he reveals how William feared Harry was falling into marriage and that the Queen suggested that the couple move to Africa for a year or two to enjoy their time together.
Over the past two years, in his twenties, Prince Harry’s life has slipped sideways into what he described as “total chaos”. In his own words: “I didn’t know what was wrong with me … I had probably been very close to complete exhaustion on numerous occasions.”
At the suggestion of his older brother, Harry entered therapy. Even so, Cressida Bonas, his last serious girlfriend before Meghan Markle, has come to think of himself as a damaged and self-obsessed young man.
“No matter how educated, talented, rich or smart you think you are,” he enigmatically posted on his Instagram page, “how you treat people ultimately says it all.”
She complained to friends that Harry had a media neurosis. He would complain and complain about paparazzi lurking where there clearly weren’t, he said.
Meghan Markle, star of the American television series Suits, entered his life in early July 2016.
Already Harry could perceive in Meghan the oddities and originalities that made her a character so similar to Diana.
Prince Harry was “ furious ” with Prince William after he turned to his uncle Charles Spencer for help in preventing Harry from rushing into his marriage to Meghan Markle
She was a changer, not a conformist, who fought her battles with the same unreal qualities – indeed, those tantalizing anti-reals – qualities of her mother.
At one point during that first summer and fall together in 2016, Harry introduced his girlfriend to his father and grandmother, who they completely approved of. The problem was William.
Meghan and Kate actually got along pretty well right from the start. They may not be best friends, but they found each other, stranger sisters in their extraordinary real situation, and both fantastic professionals, treating each other with mutual respect.
Each was too smart to be the enemy of a future sister-in-law: it only made sense to be friends. The fundamental conflict was between the two males who had known each other all their lives and had never hesitated to tell each other exactly what they were thinking and feeling.
For his part, William was worried that his brother was going too fast in his courtship and didn’t hold back from saying it when Harry started talking about getting married.
“Everything seems to be moving pretty quickly,” William is said to have gazed doubtfully at Harry, on the testimony of more than one friend. ‘Are you sure?’
William couldn’t understand how Harry could think of marrying this as yet unknown and untested amount less than two years after their first meeting.
It went against his every instinct and against his résumé. If “Waity William” had taken nearly a decade to test and approve his life partner, surely his younger brother could have pondered his options for just a year or so?
But “Waity William” obviously took so long to engage with Kate for the sake of the monarchy. He’d auditioned her for a job all those years.
So Harry couldn’t help but wonder if Wills was really worried about his personal happiness – or if he was, once again and as usual, thinking about the makeup and fortunes of the “Society” he would someday become head of?
Harry’s response was a sharp and offended refusal – and after many more peppery reactions, William turned to his uncle Charles Spencer for help.
From time to time Diana’s younger brother had played something of an honorary godfather for both boys in the years following their mother’s death, and her uncle agreed with William to see what he could do.
The result of Spencer’s intervention was an even more bitter explosion. Once again Harry refused to slow down.
He didn’t blame his uncle. He understood why Diana’s brother should want to help. Yet he was furious at his older brother for dragging other family members into line.
The fraternal fracture was established. There would be patches and reconciliations, especially when a public demonstration of unity was needed. But that anger and distrust – that distance – has lasted to the present day.
Harry didn’t blame his uncle Charles Spencer (both above) for the surgery. He understood why Diana’s brother should want to help. But Harry was furious with his older brother
Even in the ferocity of their disharmony, William and Harry could clearly see and agree on some of the things they needed to do next: pull out of each other’s pockets to begin and arrange their homes more separately.
This meant that the brothers would also have to share the offices they had shared in Kensington since 2012.
Harry made a request to set up his own office and mini-camp, possibly in Frogmore, but this was a step too far for both the Queen and Prince Charles who would have to finance the new deal.
Harry and Meghan were told that they were to house their staff in Buckingham Palace offices under the supervision of Queen’s private secretary Sir Edward Young – which was hardly the fate both sides wanted.
However, BP was the royal headquarters and the couple were willing to see how things could turn out.
The saddest separation in many ways came from the brothers’ decision to split the Royal Foundation, the burgeoning charity they had created a decade earlier to further their various good causes.
Final Abbey snub – printed in black and white
Twenty-three years ago, William and Harry had walked out together – so bravely – side by side down the main aisle of Westminster Abbey in the wake of their mother’s coffin.
On Monday, March 9, 2020, they were supposed to return to the Abbey with their wives for a Commonwealth Day celebration, but this time Harry was furious.
For the first time, he had been relegated to the position of royal “junior”, along with Edward and Sophie Wessex.
Neither he nor Meghan had been asked to follow the corridor behind the Queen, who would be accompanied by Charles and Camilla, as well as William and Kate.
In 2018 and 2019, Harry and Meghan had walked down the aisle in the main procession.
But, in 2020, they were sidelined for their last appearance as royals in Britain.
As blatantly “junior” members of the family, the Sussexes should simply move to their seats and take their place on the sidelines.
The submission of a “spare” could not have been more strikingly illustrated.
Fortunately, however, Prince William had more sense than those responsible for the humiliating new protocol.
The weekend before, he had decided that he and Kate would be very happy to skip the procession and take their place unceremoniously in the congregation along with Harry and Uncle Edward.
It was a small but delicate gesture of peace.
Within minutes of each other, the two princes and their wives sat quietly in their seats, then sat down to wait for the Queen and Prince Charles to proceed in high splendor down the aisle.
The only problem was that 2,000 service orders had already been distributed in the Abbey, explaining that William and Kate would go in and take care of the main royal party – and not mentioning Harry and Meghan at all.
So there was the black and white rudeness – exposed to everyone.
Observers also noted that Harry’s face was “rather strained and unsmiling” – and that when William sat next to him, he barely greeted his brother.
During the shoot, Meghan performed with her best televised smile, but as the ceremony progressed, Harry seemed to grow darker.
According to one observer, “his accelerated blinking even suggested that he could hold back the tears.”
Raising and paying £ 7 to 8 million a year for around 26 charities, the Royal Foundation seemed to embody both Diana’s legacy and her children’s harmony in perpetuating her name.
When William, Kate, Harry and Meghan appeared on stage together for the first time to launch their Royal Foundation Forum in late February 2018, they were hailed as the “Fab Four”.
“Personally I am incredibly proud and excited,” said Harry, “that my future wife, who is equally passionate about seeing positive changes in the world, will soon be joining us with this job.”
William then welcomed Meghan into the family more officially, adding how “happy” he was for her to join the team, while Kate supported her husband with applause.
What good actors they all were.
“Working together as a family” was a question, “do you ever disagree about some things?”
Indicates a nervous laugh. The two women stared at the ground without saying anything, using their hair to hide their faces – and their true emotions, presumably.
Harry held onto Meghan for mutual support. It was William who said quite directly, “Oh yes,” inspiring Harry to add that the fights were “heavy and fast”.
Had these disagreements been resolved? the questioner persisted. To which William jokingly replied: “We don’t know!”
It was announced that Meghan would become a fourth trustee and expressed hope that the foundation could extend its support for the women’s empowerment movement that was developing in the United States since the recent Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandals.
“Right now,” Meghan said, “with so many campaigns like #MeToo and #TimesUp, there’s no better time to continue shedding light on women who feel empowered and the people who support them.”
Everyone nodded approvingly. Yet no one – neither on stage, nor in the audience, nor in the attentive and critical press pack – seemed to realize how revolutionary this suggestion the new recruit was making.
Because just the previous month, a $ 13 million legal defense fund was created, linked to MeToo and TimesUp, seeking legislation to discipline and punish companies that tolerated sexual harassment.
Legislation meant politics – and in real terms, politics was simply taboo. It was a total no-no for the British royal family to support any cause, no matter how virtuous, that could be seen pitting one side against the other.
So here’s another profound reason for the rift that would have divided William and Harry and approached the destruction of the House of Windsor within two years. Meghan didn’t just want to do good in the world, she wanted to change the world.
On June 20, 2019, not long after Archie was born, it was announced that the Royal Foundation’s assets would be divided. William and Kate would take over the existing organization, while Harry and Meghan would set up their own charity with the goal of “achieving global reach”.
The following day, which was just William’s 37th birthday, Harry and Meghan registered the trademark “Sussex Royal – The Foundation Of The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex”.
Sussex Royal was the work of Harry, Meghan and their team of American consultants led by the powerful talent of Hollywood and the public relations agency Sunshine Sachs, the creation of the lovable Ken Sunshine and public relations guru Shawn Sachs.
Those advisors were in attendance at the end of July 2019 when content from Meghan’s Vogue “ Forces for Change ” premiered – and they were met with stern and rather worrying disapproval from the British press.
“Meghan’s” woke up “Vogue is superficial and divisive,” wrote Melanie Phillips, paving the way for The Times. “His sign of virtue is to boast. Show off the reporter’s credentials as a morally virtuous person. Shout out: ‘I! Myself! Myself!’
The new duchess, he continued, clearly did not understand that her new royal status “precludes political statements”. He has not yet understood that the role of the monarchy is to unite the country ”.
The Sun took up the same theme: “OUR ROYALS SHOULD KEEP THEIR POLITICAL VIEWS PRIVATE.” It was a formidable chorus of disapproval – and not just from commentators.
Publishers harbored serious constitutional concerns about the violation of the monarchy in politics. Evidently Meghan didn’t know – or didn’t want to know – what it meant to be a Windsor.
Sometime during the summer and fall of 2016, Harry introduced his girlfriend Meghan Markle to his father and grandmother, who they completely approved of. The problem was William
That feeling was about to be shared by the Windsors themselves – and Prince William was particularly upset.
Many of the papers had identified Meghan’s proclaimed refusal to be “ boastful ” by appearing on the front of her issue as a not-so-shrewd criticism of Kate, whose face had appeared on the cover of her Vogue a few years earlier. .
But William’s concern was much deeper. Money, power and survival. These were basic real issues, and they were too important to be threatened by fashionable controversy in a glossy magazine.
William had warmly approved of his sister-in-law’s previous publishing initiative. The Royal Foundation had stepped in to support the Grenfell Tower fire cookbook by administering the collection and distribution of funds.
The project had been “driven by the desire”, as the foundations put it, “to make a difference together”.
“Together” was the key word. William did not see his future role as monarch – nor his current role as heir – as a matter of him working to keep the nation’s feelings in harmony while his activist brother and wife jumped up and down alongside him cultivating political divisions. and cultural in pursuit of their fashionable vision of doing good. Windsors don’t “wake up”.
William had long been concerned that Harry was drifting away from him, and this was confirmed when he tried to discuss the issues raised by Meghan’s Vogue with his brother.
As with the brothers’ arguments in 2016/17 about William’s attempts to “slow down” Harry, the details of Meghan’s “Forces for Change” showdown are unknown.
But there was another classic Harry explosion, followed by another even deeper rift. Suddenly Harry, Meghan and Archie were no longer joining William, Kate, and the other members of the royal family for their annual summer vacation with their grandmother at Balmoral.
The official excuse, openly expressed by the palace, was that at three months Archie was still too young for the air travel in question. But that didn’t stop the Sussexes from somehow managing to travel to Menorca for a week in August, and then take Archie with them for a few days to the south of France with Elton John and his partner David Furnish.
“The French Riviera with Elton, but no Balmoral with Grandma?” asked a former assistant to Elizabeth II. “They seem to be confusing their queens.”