A significant rift between Prince Harry and his older brother Prince William has formed over the last few years, according to claims made in a 2020 biography of the former and Meghan Markle. It includes an alleged explosive conversation in which a word of warning was given by William to his younger brother. And Harry’s reported reaction gives a good insight into the current state of their relationship.
Harry and Meghan first met on a blind date in London in July 2016. Then the following November they revealed all to Sky News about this initial encounter in the couple’s first joint interview following their engagement. Apparently, they had met for a drink and immediately clicked after being set up by a mutual female friend.
“We met once, then twice, back-to-back – two dates in London,” Harry said. “It was three, maybe four weeks later that I managed to persuade her to come join me in Botswana, and we camped out with each other – under the stars. She came and joined me for five days out there, which was absolutely fantastic.”
Surprisingly, Harry and Meghan knew little about each other before they met. The prince had never even seen Suits – the hit show she was a star of – and the actress knew hardly anything about Harry. Meghan revealed, “Everything that I learned about him and his family was what he would share with me and vice versa. So, for both of us it was a very authentic and organic way to get to know each other.”
Meghan and Harry’s whirlwind romance led to a lavish royal wedding in May 2018 at Windsor Castle, and this saw the couple become the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Then 12 months later their son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born. Controversially, the couple also chose to keep the ceremony private and not announce the identities of his godparents when he was christened that July.
Unfortunately, rumors of a feud between Kate Middleton and Meghan began to swirl in 2018. That November The Telegraph newspaper claimed that the Duchess of Cambridge had been left in tears after a bridesmaid dress fitting for her daughter Princess Charlotte in the leadup to Harry and Meghan’s wedding. It wasn’t known what had caused Kate to cry, but the implication was that she’d argued with the American star.
Finally, in May 2020 an alleged friend of the royals told Tatler magazine, “It was a hot day and apparently there was a row over whether the bridesmaids should wear tights or not. Kate, following protocol, felt that they should. Meghan didn’t want them to.” Eventually, it was reported that while Kate and Harry’s wife were “very different people,” there was no real feud between them. The true falling out was reportedly elsewhere.
Vanity Fair royal correspondent Katie Nicholl became the first to allege in an article that it was, in fact, the Duke of Cambridge Prince William and Harry who weren’t getting along. The journalist claimed that a source told her that the brothers had fallen out around Christmas 2018. The apparent source said, “Harry felt William wasn’t rolling out the red carpet for Meghan and told him so.”
The source went on, “[William and Harry] had a bit of a fall-out, which was only resolved when Charles stepped in and asked William to make an effort. That’s when the Cambridges invited the Sussexes to spend Christmas with them.” However, video was then captured at the time showing William appearing to ignore Meghan on a family walk.
In April 2019 the royals attended an Easter service at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. People magazine then claimed that Harry and William “did not speak to each other on their way in or out.” It also reported that “Harry was seen talking to [his cousin] Zara and exchanging pleasantries with Kate but did not say anything to his elder brother.”
The following month saw the birth of Prince Archie, which had the potential to rescue Harry and William’s relationship. Katie Nicholl told Entertainment Tonight at the time, “I was told by a very senior royal source that actually they weren’t talking to each other at one point. I certainly think now that Archie is here, it has probably really helped to improve the relationship. William is over the moon that his brother is a dad.”
However, October 2019 saw the first official confirmation of some kind of falling out. And, shockingly, it came from Harry himself. He was asked about William as part of the ITV documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey. The prince said, “Part of this role and part of this job, and this family, being under the pressure that it’s under, inevitably, you know, stuff happens.”
Harry continued, “But look, we’re brothers, we’ll always be brothers. And we’re certainly on different paths at the moment, but I’ll always be there for him, as I know he’ll always be there for me. We don’t see each other as much as we used to because we’re so busy, but you know, I love him dearly.”
The Duke of Sussex then made a pointed comment aimed at the media. Harry said, “The majority of this stuff is created out of nothing, but you know, as brothers, you know, you have good days, you have bad days.” At this point in time, the Daily Express reported that Kate was attempting to smooth things over between the brothers and had spoken with Meghan, whose position she empathized with.
Then, in January 2020 Harry and Meghan announced their intention to step back from official royal duties and establish their own financial independence. It transpired that the royal family had no idea the announcement was coming, and it came as a huge shock to everyone. In fact, a source alleged to Us Weekly that William had felt blindsided by the whole affair.
The source continued, “It’s sad because when they were younger, William would be the first person Harry would go to with big news like this. William is incredibly hurt.” According to The Sun, Prince Charles was “incandescent with rage,” while the Queen was “deeply upset.” Eventually, Harry and Meghan moved to Canada, which apparently hurt William. A source told Us Weekly, “Harry knows William’s mad at him for uprooting and leaving him to pick up the pieces.”
According to Cosmopolitan magazine, one of Nicholl’s sources claimed in March 2020, “To be honest, Kate has taken it all badly. She, Harry and William were once such a happy trio. She thinks what has happened is all very sad.” An Us Weekly source added, “Harry misses his brother and Kate, but there’s too much mud under the bridge at this point for any meaningful communication. They’re cordial, but that’s about as far as it goes.”
Talk of a feud emerged again in July 2020 when The Times and The Sunday Times began publishing extracts from the Finding Freedom book. The biography of Harry and Meghan was written by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand and is based on their time as members of the royal press corps. However, the Sussexes themselves have been clear that they didn’t contribute to its creation and were not interviewed by the authors.
The first extract from the book contained an account of an alleged conversation between William and Harry. It supposedly started the bad feeling between the brothers and left the younger royal labeling William a snob. According to Finding Freedom, “The rift had begun when the Duke of Cambridge questioned the pace at which his brother’s relationship with Meghan was moving.”
An unnamed source told the authors, “A happy and content Harry is rare, so to see him practically skipping around was a delight. But at the same time, William has always felt he needs to look out for Harry – not as a future monarch but as an older brother. Their whole adult lives he’s felt he should keep an eye on Harry and make sure he’s not in trouble and on a good path.”
This same individual went on to claim that William had wanted to ascertain Meghan’s true intentions within the relationship. He’d met her scant few times and had some deep-seated trust issues. The source said, “After all, these are two brothers that have spent their whole lives with people trying to take advantage of them.”
The source continued, “They’ve both developed a radar to detect that type of person. But as William didn’t know a whole lot about Meghan, he wanted to make sure Harry wasn’t blindsided by lust.” The book authors followed up with, “Some members of staff were whispering words of alarm into the Duke of Cambridge’s ear. Meghan was totally foreign to this group of advisers, who could sometimes be even more conservative than the institution they guarded.”
“This was the backdrop when William sat down with his brother to discuss his relationship with Meghan,” authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand wrote. “‘Don’t feel you need to rush this,’ William told Harry, according to sources. ‘Take as much time as you need to get to know this girl.’ In those last two words, ‘this girl,’ Harry heard the tone of snobbishness that was anathema to his approach to the world.”
Harry’s views on life had developed significantly during his decade of military service, according to the writers, and they claimed this caused him to dislike what his brother was insinuating. The authors argued that outside the royal family bubble, Harry “had learnt not to make snap judgments about people based on their accent, education, ethnicity, class or profession.”
However, Carolyn and Omid also alleged that there had been a deeper issue developing between the brothers for years – entirely separate from Meghan. They wrote, “… Harry was tired of the dynamic that had become established between him and his older brother. There had come a point when Harry no longer felt as though he needed looking after.”
The writers argued that Harry felt like William was judging him and his life choices. They went on, “There was a thin line between caring and condescending. Just because he went about his life differently from his brother didn’t make it wrong. William may have felt he was acting out of concern, but Harry was offended that his older brother still treated him as if he were immature.”
“Harry was p****d off,” another apparent source claimed to Omid and Carolyn. “P****d off that his brother would ask such a thing. Some felt it was an overreaction. But then, this sums them up as people – William, the calm and rational one, and Harry, who can’t help but take things far too personally.”
The authors were also given conflicting opinions from two other sources. One of them was allegedly a close family friend, who said, “Harry has a heart of gold, but he’s incredibly sensitive.” But, the other individual, who was apparently a friend of the brothers, said, “Harry could see through William’s words. He was being a snob.”
Carolyn and Omid continued, “Harry was taken aback, even angry, despite the fact that William was simply looking out for his brother. He didn’t really know Meghan yet. William was concerned that Harry had isolated himself from many of their old friends.” However, another unnamed person had a different take on William’s motivations. They said, “… Perhaps he just didn’t want to accept that Harry had grown up and become his own man.”
“At least two other family members also voiced concerns to each other over the pace at which Harry’s relationship had moved,” the authors wrote. “Meghan had often been the topic of conversation and gossip among them. When she arrived in the prince’s life, one senior royal referred to the American actress as ‘Harry’s showgirl.’”
“[Another senior royal] told an aide, ‘[Meghan] comes with a lot of baggage,’” the authors went on. “And a high-ranking courtier was overheard telling a colleague, ‘There’s just something about her I don’t trust.’” Harry was also allegedly belittled within the royal setup for being “too sensitive and outspoken.”
Sadly, Harry was well aware of what the people around him were saying about his new love, according to one of his friends. The person apparently said, “He’s extremely protective of Meghan. 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.”
Carolyn and Omid concluded that, fundamentally, Harry didn’t care what his family thought about Meghan. Another unnamed individual claimed, “Nothing was going to get in the way of his happiness. He knew Meghan was right for him. Their love was real, and their feelings for each other were genuine. Everything else was noise.”
“In the months after William talked to Harry about the relationship, the two hardly spoke,” the authors wrote. “The brothers went from always making time for each other to spending barely any time together.” Sadly, this meant that Harry apparently began to see his nephew Prince George and niece Princess Charlotte less and less. Visits then allegedly ground to a complete halt by summer 2017.
“Once Harry and Meghan were married, the gap between the brothers only widened,” Omid and Carolyn claimed. “William and Kate’s feelings seemed obvious to the Sussexes that summer and beyond. Among all the friends and family Harry and Meghan hosted at their house in Oxfordshire between May 2018 and March 2019, the Cambridges failed to visit.” An apparent source did say, however, “The invite was there.”
“It was a far cry from how Harry had envisioned his future,” the authors went on. “The younger prince once told a friend that he had an image of getting married and spending time with William and Kate, the two couples together, their children best friends.” Carolyn and Omid also wrote, “The friction between the brothers was one of several reasons Harry wanted to base his family in Windsor.”
The authors claimed that a source told them, “[Harry] wanted to get away from the goldfish bowl that was Kensington Palace. Everywhere you turn you’re surrounded by staff and family. He was at a point in his life where he was working with his brother, doing the foundation with his brother, and living by his brother. It was too much.”
Overall, an intriguing question remains – despite the Sussexes distancing themselves from the book. Phil Dampier is the author of Royally Suited: Harry and Meghan in Their Own Words, and he spoke to Australia’s New Idea magazine about the matter. He said, “They are quick to sue newspapers and paparazzi photographers. So, if they don’t condemn the content, we can assume they have no problem with the narrative.”
Dampier believes that Finding Freedom “will sadly do little to heal the relationship between Harry and his blood family – particularly with his brother William. I’m told the pair are speaking at the moment, but the conversations are stilted and difficult.” But how does Kate feel about the book’s potentially incendiary revelations?
Author of Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words Andrew Morton told New Idea, “There’s no doubt the rift between Harry and William has deeply affected Kate. It upsets her.” But, Morton added, “As a loyal wife, Kate has definitely sided with her husband. No question of it. She’s his loyal wife and will always be his loyal wife. That’s a given.”