Meghan Markle will today appear on US radio to give her only interview about her children’s book The Bench in a Father’s Day interview recorded before the birth of her daughter Lilibet.
The Duchess of Sussex will be speaking to NPR Weekend between 1pm and 3pm (6am-8am EST) to talk about her £12.99 book, which has topped the New York Times Bestsellers List for children’s picture books but sold just 3,212 copies in the UK its first week since publication on June 8.
Announcing the broadcast, friend Omid Scobie, who co-wrote their bombshell biography Finding Freedom, tweeted: ‘Fresh off the heels of her first children’s book becoming a certified #1 New York Times bestseller, Duchess Meghan will be giving her only interview about #TheBench to @samanthabalaban at the renowned @NPRWeekend show, this Sunday between 8am-10am Eastern.’
In the interview with NPR producer Samantha Balaban, Meghan revealed that the poem was inspired by watching her husband Prince Harry and their now two-year-old son Archie together, and explores the ‘special bond between father and son’ as ‘seen through a mother’s eyes’.
The duchess said she got Harry a bench for his first Father’s Day and wrote a poem on a little plaque on the back of the bench which says: ‘This is your bench/Where life will begin/For you and our son/Our baby, our kin.’
She told NPR: ‘As most of us do, you go, what am I going to get them as a gift? And I thought I just wanted something sentimental and a place for him to have as a bit of a home base with our son.
‘I often find, and especially in this past year, I think so many of us realized how much happens in the quiet. It was definitely moments like that, watching them from out of the window and watching [the Duke of Sussex] just, you know, rock him to sleep or carry him or, you know… those lived experiences, from my observation, are the things that I infused in this poem.’
Lilibet ‘Lili’ Diana Mountbatten-Windsor – Harry and Meghan’s second child, who was born earlier on June 4 in Santa Barbara – also features in the book, which was illustrated before her birth.
Early reviews were not universally positive, although one cooed that ‘the book’s storytelling and illustration give us snapshots of shared moments that evoke a deep sense of warmth’.
Meghan Markle at the University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa, October 1, 2019
The duke and duchess with their then baby son Archie during a photocall in St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle in Berkshire
Meghan Markle has written a children’s book, The Bench, about the relationship between fathers and sons
Omid Scobie, the Sussexes’ preferred royal reporter, tweeted: ‘Fresh off the heels of her first children’s book becoming a certified #1 New York Times bestseller, Duchess Meghan will be giving her only interview about #TheBench to @samanthabalaban at the renowned @NPRWeekend show, this Sunday between 8am-10am Eastern’
Harry and William ‘call a truce’ ahead of unveiling of Diana statue and are ‘communicating by minimal texts’ – but there will be ‘no reconciliation’ for the brothers after the event
Prince William and Harry will put differences aside to attend the unveiling of a new statue of their mother next month after communicating with ‘minimal’ texts, royal biographers have said.
The unveiling of a new statue of Diana, the princess of Wales , could help thaw frosty ties between her sons who are both due to be at the July 1 ceremony in the gardens of Kensington Palace.
The princes will walk together to unveil the statue they commissioned to mark what would have been their mother’s 60th birthday before giving their individual speeches.
It will be the first time the pair reunite since Prince Philip’s funeral in April. The pair have failed to reconcile since the Harry’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, sources claim.
A source told The Sun : ‘ Harry and William have only communicated by text since the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral. There have not been any personal chats or proper talks, just a very brief and minimal exchange of text messages.
‘The relationship is still very much strained and there’s no sign yet that there will be any sort of coming together any time soon.’
Omid Scobie, a journalist and writer whose 2020 book ‘Finding Freedom’ covers Harry and Meghan’s marriage and move to the United States, said he expects the event ‘will demonstrate that both of them are able to be cordial and respectful when it comes to remembering the life of their mother, despite their differences’.
The once-close brothers, who studied together at Britain’s elite Eton school, and both served in the military, have become distant since Harry’s marriage to Meghan and the couple’s move to California.
Another described it as ‘soothing, loving, although a little schmaltzy in places’, while a third said it read ‘as if it has been penned as a self-help manual for need parents rather than as a story to entertain small kids’.
A further review said: ‘One wonders how any publisher could have thought fit to publish this grammar-defying set of badly rhyming cod homilies, let alone think any child anywhere would want to read it. But that’s planet Sussex for you, where even the business of raising a family is all about the brand.’
An illustration shows the entire Sussex family in the garden of their Californian mansion.
Harry can be seen feeding their rescued battery hen chickens – who also featured in the couple’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year – with son Archie, two, with their two dogs, beagle Guy and black Labrador Pula, running around in the grounds.
And Meghan can been seen amidst her vegetable patch with a baby in a sling around her chest.
Another illustration features a bearded ginger father – who bears a resemblance to the duke – cradling a smiling baby on a bench under a tree. The text reads: ‘This is your bench, where life will begin, for you and our son, our baby, our kin.’
In another illustration, a father and son duo each wear pink tutus while performing ballet poses. The accompanying words read: ‘You’ll love him. You’ll listen. You’ll be his supporter.’
Alongside a picture of a father and son playing with toy dinosaurs, Meghan wrote: ‘When life feels in shambles, you’ll help him find order.’
A father using a wheelchair also features in The Bench. He is drawn fixing his son’s shoes alongside the text: ‘This is your bench, for papa and son.’ It continues on the next page alongside a father and son wearing turbans: ‘To celebrate joys and victories won.’
Harry and Meghan revealed they were expecting a girl in March during their explosive tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey. It was a lighter moment during a series of bombshells that left the monarchy in crisis.
Meghan accused an unnamed member of the royal family – not the Queen nor Duke of Edinburgh – of racism, saying they expressed concern about how dark Archie’s skin tone might be before he was born.
The duchess also called out the institution for not helping her when she was suicidal.
The Queen responded by saying the issues were taken ‘very seriously’ but that ‘some recollections may vary’ and the matter would addressed by the family privately.
Harry has gone on to accuse the royal family of ‘total neglect’ when his wife Meghan was feeling suicidal amid harassment on social media.
In his Apple TV mental health series with Winfrey he lambasted the parenting skills of the Prince of Wales, criticising his father for expecting his sons to endure the pressures of royal life, just as Charles has done, instead of protecting them.
The duke told Winfrey he felt ‘really let down’ by his father and how ‘there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened’ but he wanted to try to heal the relationship.
He said of his rift with his brother the Duke of Cambridge that the ‘relationship is ‘space’ at the moment’ and that he hoped time would make things better. The duke later appeared to suggest that his father and the Queen and Philip had failed as parents.
Speaking on the Armchair Expert podcast that was broadcast in May, the duke said he wanted to ‘break the cycle’ of ‘genetic pain and suffering’ for the sake of his own children. He said of Charles: ‘He’s treated me the way he was treated, so how can I change that for my own kids?’
Harry and Meghan stepped down as senior working royals in March 2020 in a quest for personal and financial freedom after struggling with royal life. They have signed multimillion-pound deals with Netflix and Spotify, and set up their Archewell Foundation.
It comes amid claims that Prince William split his household from Prince Harry’s following an angry phone conversation over claims Meghan Markle was bullying palace staff in 2018.
Harry and Meghan, holding Archie, at the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation in Cape Town, September 25, 2019
A friend of the Sussexes said ‘William threw Harry out’, according to Robert Lacey’s book Battle of the Brothers which is featured in the Sunday Times, after the furious phone call which allegedly ended with the Duke of Sussex hanging up on his brother.
The book claims that William suspected Meghan was ‘hostile’ to the royal system and possibly planned on leaving the monarchy from the very start and returning to America.
Staff claim in the book that Meghan ‘played the victim, but was a bully’ and treated courtiers poorly in line with her experiences in Hollywood, a modus operandi allegedly passed on to Harry who was heard ‘screaming’ at his staff.
Meghan and Harry have always denied the bullying allegations.
William is alleged to have told a friend he thought she had an ‘agenda’ and felt ‘hurt’ and ‘betrayed’ by the rift, with the heir to the throne telling a friend his wife Kate ‘had been wary of Meghan from the start’.
He said he felt Meghan was ‘stealing his beloved brother away from him’, according to extracts from the book, and believed that she did not understand how the Royal system worked.
Lacey quotes a Kensington Palace courtier as saying: ‘Meghan portrayed herself as the victim, but she was the bully. People felt run over by her. They thought she was a complete narcissist and sociopath — basically unhinged.’
The author also writes that he believes that William thought that Meghan had an ‘agenda’ and had voiced his reservations to Harry before their engagement, but that the row after Meghan and Harry’s trip to Australia in 2018 sealed his decision to split their households.
In their infamous Oprah interview, Harry cited the Australia 2018 tour as the moment ‘the family got to see how incredible she is at the job’ while comparing her and the alleged treatment she received by the royal family to his mother Princess Diana.
The rift was sparked by an official email claiming Meghan was bullying palace staff, which was sent by Jason Knauf, communications secretary to the Cambridges and Sussexes, in October 2018. Staff had already been allegedly coined a ‘half joke’ #freeHarry.
A spokesman for the Sussexes has since said the couple are the target of a smear campaign, and denied allegations of bullying.
William heard the allegations from Simon Case, his private secretary, who was sent the email. He immediately picked up the phone to call his brother, but the conversation ended with Harry slamming down the phone, the book claims.
Lacey also dwelled on the Sussex’ interview with Oprah Winfrey, where the author wrote Prince Harry claimed the brothers’ falling out began because the Firm was jealous his wife Meghan was so good with people, something he said echoed his mother Princess Diana’s treatment.
But the brothers were no longer on speaking terms before Harry and Meghan left for Australia, the book states, adding that it was bullying allegations that sparked a brutal row.
Meet the Sussex Sultans of Spin: How a nine-strong team including Nick Clegg’s ex-aide, the producer of a revenge movie and a celebrity lawyer are trying to help Harry and Meghan win the royal briefing war
The Duchess of Sussex has famously bemoaned the ‘men in grey suits’ – faceless courtiers who supposedly run Royal life. Now, though, Harry and Meghan have assembled their own team of backstairs advisers to help them win the transatlantic briefing war.
Known as the LA Spin Machine, they are prolific in their dealings with the press, ensuring that the Sussex point of view is ever-present in British and US media.
So prolific, in fact, that the Queen and Buckingham Palace have been driven to respond. As revealed in last week’s Mail on Sunday, the Palace has abandoned its policy of ‘never complain, never explain’ and is now determined to correct any ‘mistruths’ that distort the Queen’s private conversations or those of other senior Royals.
This very significant change of heart followed competing claims over whether or not Harry and Meghan had sought the Queen’s permission to call their new daughter Lilibet – Her Majesty’s childhood name.
The Sussexes’ advisers are described, with typical hyperbole, as part of ‘a rapidly expanding team that’s deeply dedicated to advancing systemic cultural change and supporting compassionate communities across the world’.
What that means in practice is they update the couple’s Archewell website, brief friendly journalists, post positive messages about Harry and Meghan on their social media channels… and are on hand to instruct lawyers.
They can also call on a wider web of unpaid celebrity friends and associates to play their part to boost Brand Sussex.
Like their Palace counterparts, the spin doctors hired to get the Sussex ‘truth’ out into the world prefer to remain in the shadows.
But they are unlikely to wear grey suits. For, as The Mail on Sunday can reveal, this influential team is largely female, stiletto-heeled, sleek-haired, and drawn from the highest echelons of film, showbiz, politics, sport and law…
Global press secretary
Toya Holness (pictured) had to calm an international media storm over the Sussexes’ decision to name their newborn daughter Lilibet Diana
Toya Holness had to calm an international media storm over the Sussexes’ decision to name their newborn daughter Lilibet Diana. When asked, Ms Holness, 33, briefed journalists that Harry and Meghan would not have chosen the name without the Queen’s backing.
The American spin doctor issued a statement, saying: ‘The Duke spoke with his family in advance of the announcement, his grandmother was the first family member he called. He shared their hope of naming their daughter Lilibet in her honor [sic]. Had she not been supportive, they would not have used the name.’
But that’s not the same version of events that was shared by those at the Palace who told this newspaper that Harry’s conversation with his grandmother was a ‘telling not an asking’.
Ms Holness, who has a degree in strategic PR from the University of Southern California, joined the Sussexes in October and was promoted in March to oversee their PR on both sides of the Atlantic.
She is one of a small band who speak to Harry and Meghan daily. She may well know who bought the internet domain name LilibetDiana.com just a few days before their daughter’s name was made public.
In the biography section of her Twitter account, Ms Holness writes: ‘I get to help people tell their stories for a living’ and uses the hashtag #FightOn.
She played football at the University of California, Riverside, between 2006 and 2008. A profile of her on the university website records that her career goal was ‘to make more money than her husband’.
Jane Austen and the modern American novelist Nicholas Sparks are listed as her favourite authors, she enjoys teaching dance classes and designing clothes, and says that the ITV drama The Palace – about a fictional version of the Royal Family – is one of her favourite shows.
Head of communications
Christine Schirmer’s (pictured) experience working for the image-sharing website Pinterest in California’s Silicon Valley was no doubt a selling point for Harry and Meghan
Bilingual in English and French, Christine Schirmer’s experience working for the image-sharing website Pinterest in California’s Silicon Valley was no doubt a selling point for Harry and Meghan.
The 42-year-old also speaks fluent ‘Sussex’ and is responsible for ensuring ‘diverse and open access to their work by engaging with credible global, specialist and grassroots outlets’.
Her strength is said to be ‘launching a global brand’ and on her LinkedIn page, Ms Schirmer says she loves ‘building teams, learning new things and making the conversation interesting’.
She is a graduate of Northwestern University in Chicago, where Meghan also studied. It’s not known whether their paths crossed there. Christine then worked as a corporate communications manager at Apple and for San Francisco-based marketing company Digg.
Senior media and privacy lawyer, and partner at Schillings
Cambridge graduate Jenny Afia works closely with celebrity clients on privacy issues, often when paparazzi are involved. She is a go-to solicitor for Meghan and Harry in any legal dispute.
She won the Young Solicitor of the Year title at the 2008 British Legal Awards, and has been ranked as a leader in her field in the Chambers and Partners legal directory ever since.
She says ‘privacy is to do with control’ and believes, intriguingly, that ‘how you behave impacts on how much privacy you get’.
In a recent newspaper profile she admitted sending a legal notice to her future husband after their second date. ‘He was a journalist for a tabloid newspaper at the time and found himself on my wrong side early in our relationship,’ she has said. But he got his own back. When a Twitter user recently asked ‘Who is Jenny Afia?’, he replied: ‘A woman who hasn’t emptied the dishwasher all day.’
Cambridge graduate Jenny Afia (pictured) works closely with celebrity clients on privacy issues, often when paparazzi are involved. She is a go-to solicitor for Meghan and Harry in any legal dispute.
Afia’s firm, Schillings, was called in by the Sussexes when the BBC reported that the couple had not asked the Queen for permission before naming their daughter Lilibet. A legal letter said the story was ‘false and defamatory’. The Palace is said to take a different view.
Executive director of Archewell Foundation
Publicity guru James Holt is a major part of Team Sussex.
Formerly a local newspaper reporter in Shropshire, he became an adviser to Nick Clegg when he was Deputy Prime Minister.
Holt was promoted to head of Government communications at Downing Street before taking on a job with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Publicity guru James Holt (pictured in 2018 at the Sussexes wedding) is a major part of Team Sussex. Formerly a local newspaper reporter in Shropshire, he became an adviser to Nick Clegg when he was Deputy Prime Minister
He defected to Team Sussex and spent five years working for the couple – latterly as their UK spokesman – before being promoted in March to executive director of their Archewell Foundation.
It’s thought Holt will soon move to the US to be close to the Sussex epicentre in Montecito, California.
Head of content, Archewell productions and Archewell Audio
British film-maker Ben Browning was hired in March to lead Harry and Meghan’s film and podcast work.
His recent credits include the Emerald Fennell feminist revenge film, Promising Young Woman.
British film-maker Ben Browning (pictured) was hired in March to lead Harry and Meghan’s film and podcast work
Another former project – which might have left Harry uncomfortable – was when Browning bought the rights to a film script about the death of Princess Diana.
Provisionally titled Inquest, the movie is still classed as ‘in development’, although Browning has wisely now removed it from a list of his work on film industry website IMDb.
Browning’s latest release was a documentary about US pornography baron Larry Flynt, while he has several films in post-production, including Red Rocket about a washed-up adult movie star, and comedy Sharp Stick, written and directed by Lena Dunham, notorious for her sexually explicit work.
KELEIGH THOMAS MORGAN
PR adviser and partner at Sunshine Sachs & Associates
Keleigh Thomas Morgan is a long-time friend of Meghan’s and was instrumental in setting the Sussexes up in LA, sharing her contacts and a strong network of advisers and famous friends.
She also helped devise the strategy for the couple’s African tour in 2019, when they were still working members of the Royal Family.
The 45-year-old was a guest at their wedding and has also represented US actor Tyler Perry, whose LA mansion Harry and Meghan used as a base while house-hunting.
Keleigh Thomas Morgan (pictured) is a long-time friend of Meghan’s and was instrumental in setting the Sussexes up in LA, sharing her contacts and a strong network of advisers and famous friends
Although not on the Archewell staff, her role as head of the West Coast office of New York-based celebrity agency Sunshine Sachs has been crucial for establishing the Sussexes in California.
Consultant and Meghan’s former talent agent
A partner at the Gersh talent agency, Nick Collins names ‘former Suits star Meghan Markle’ on his formidable roster of clients.
He is said to have given her advice as she made the shift from TV star to member of the Royal Family and reportedly also helped her extricate herself from The Firm not long afterwards.
A partner at the Gersh talent agency, Nick Collins (left) names ‘former Suits star Meghan Markle’ on his formidable roster of clients
When it was announced in March that he was no longer working with Meghan, it was made clear that there was ‘no bad blood’ between the pair and that he remains a consultant.
Actress Janina Gavankar, another long-time friend of Meghan, isn’t on the Sussex payroll but she frequently appears as a voluntary spin doctor battling to contradict criticism of the Duchess.
At the height of Meghan’s Palace ‘bullying’ controversy, 40-year-old Gavankar called the Duchess ‘kind, strong, open’, adding: ‘Here’s what she’s not: ‘a bully.’ ANY of us who know her, feel the same thing from her broken silence: Relief.’
Actress Janina Gavankar (pictured with Meghan), another long-time friend of Meghan, isn’t on the Sussex payroll but she frequently appears as a voluntary spin doctor battling to contradict criticism of the Duchess
Adviser and former chief of staff
After less than a year as the Sussexes’ chief of staff, Catherine St-Laurent stepped down from her position but is said to continue to act as a ‘senior adviser’, providing ‘daily guidance and support’ to the couple.
Her LinkedIn page describes her as a ‘global, multilingual executive with nearly two decades of experience across multiple sectors and geographies developing, executing and managing philanthropic and communications strategies and campaigns to drive social impact’.
Previous experience includes ‘communications activities’ for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and roles at HSBC and sports consultancy Vero Communications.
After less than a year as the Sussexes’ chief of staff, Catherine St-Laurent (pictured) stepped down from her position but is said to continue to act as a ‘senior adviser’
Charles won’t let Archie be a prince, even when he’s King: Prince of Wales’s plan not to include grandson among slimmed-down, lower cost frontline royals is revealed as row that ignited Oprah outburst
Prince Charles is to ensure that his two-year-old grandson Archie will never be a Prince, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The heir to the throne has made it clear that Harry and Meghan’s son will have no place among frontline Royals as he plans a slimmed-down Monarchy after he becomes King.
The move has incensed the Sussexes and is thought to have prompted the series of bitter accusations the couple have levelled at Charles and the Royal Family from across the Atlantic.
A grandchild of the sovereign has long had the right to be a Prince, but Charles is determined to limit the number of key Royals, believing the public does not wish to pay for an ever-expanding Monarchy.
Charles has told the Sussexes that he will change key legal documents to ensure that Archie cannot get the title he would once have inherited by right, according to a source close to the couple.
The decision, which follows months of fraught discussion behind the scenes, has plunged relations between Harry and his relatives to a dangerous new low.
‘Harry and Meghan were told Archie would never be a Prince, even when Charles became King,’ confirmed the source.
Prince Charles is to change the monarchy to ensure that his two-year-old grandson Archie will never be a Prince
Charles has told the Sussexes that he will change key legal documents to ensure that Archie cannot get the title he would once have inherited by right
The revelation comes amid a series of explosive claims by respected Royal biographer Robert Lacey whose newly revised book Battle Of The Brothers states:
- Prince William in effect threw Harry out of their combined Royal household following complaints that Meghan had been bullying their aides – a claim she has denied as a ‘calculated smear’;
- William had been horrified by Meghan’s alleged bullying and confronted his brother in person;
- One Kensington Palace staffer described Meghan as ‘a narcissist and sociopath – basically unhinged’;
- William believed Meghan was ‘stealing his beloved brother away from him’ and felt hurt and betrayed by Harry.
Meanwhile, The Mail on Sunday has learned that Harry demanded the right to approve at least one writer or journalist to work alongside the usual ‘press pack’ of Royal reporters at the unveiling of the statue to Princess Diana next month, so deep is his distrust of the British media.
The full details of Charles’s plan for a slimmed-down Monarchy have never been revealed, but it has been speculated that only heirs to the throne and their immediate families will receive full titles, financial support from the public purse through the Sovereign Grant and police protection funded by the taxpayer.
Charles and his younger brother, the Duke of York, have already been at loggerheads about what security Andrew’s daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie should receive in future. Now Harry and Meghan have found themselves caught up, too.
Insiders suggest they hadn’t seen the move coming, and were shocked to find that Charles will take the active step of changing legal instruments known as the Letters Patent in order to exclude Archie and others.
The loss will be all the more galling as the Sussexes havemade a point of refusing to use another, lesser title for their son, who is technically the Earl of Dumbarton. They took that decision safe in the knowledge that Archie would become a Prince in due course. Or so they thought.
Earlier this year, a source close to the Sussexes confirmed they did indeed expect Archie to be named a Prince when Charles, Archie’s grandfather, acceded to the throne. Their spokesman at the time was even instructed to remind journalists of that ‘fact’.
The Sussexes finally learned that would not be the case just before sitting down with Oprah Winfrey for their first bombshell interview in March.
Insiders suggest the issue was still raw at the time of the recording – which might help account for the devastating criticisms they unleashed on the show, including the damaging implication that an unnamed senior member of the Royal Family had referred to Archie in a racist way.
The move has incensed the Sussexes and is thought to have prompted the series of bitter accusations the couple have levelled at Charles and the Royal Family
Charles is determined to limit the number of key Royals, believing the public does not wish to pay for an ever-expanding Monarchy
It also throws a spotlight on one section of the interview which had raised eyebrows at the time. Speaking to Oprah, Meghan recalled how, when she had been pregnant, ‘They [the Royal Family] were saying they didn’t want him to be a Prince or a Princess’.
She continued: ‘You know, the other piece of that convention is, there’s a convention – I forget if it was George V or George VI convention – that when you’re the grandchild of the monarch, so when Harry’s dad becomes King, automatically Archie and our next baby would become Prince or Princess, or whatever they were going to be… But also it’s not their right to take it away.’
This puzzled Royal watchers, who reminded the Sussexes they had very publicly declared that they didn’t want a title for their son, who would be known as Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
Some pointed out that a son of Prince Harry’s – a great-grandchild of the Queen – had no automatic right to be titled a Prince, or receive a security allowance. But that was to ignore the real drama taking place behind the scenes. Because Meghan was actually referring to the secret news that Archie would never become a Prince, not even when Charles was King.
A source said: ‘This is what nobody realised from the interview. The real thing was that Charles was going to take active steps to strip Archie of his ultimate birthright.’
Charles and his younger brother, the Duke of York, have already been at loggerheads about what security Andrew’s daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie should receive in future
The existing rules for Royal titles were established in Letters Patent dated November 20, 1917.
In these, King George V, the Queen’s grandfather, allowed the title of Prince and Princess to be given to the children of the sovereign, the children of the sovereign’s sons and the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales – in this case, Prince George.
Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, William’s daughter and younger son, received their titles not by right but as gifts of the Queen, who issued new Letters Patent to that effect in 2013. Similarly, when King, Charles will have the power to change George V’s Letters Patent how he sees fit – and so streamline The Firm.
An insider said: ‘Charles has never made any secret of the fact that he wants a slimmed-down Monarchy when he becomes King.
‘He realises that the public don’t want to pay for a huge Monarchy and, as he said, the balcony at Buckingham Palace would probably collapse.’
Even now, not all grandchildren of the Queen are titled Prince or Princess. As she is a daughter, not a son, of the sovereign, Princess Anne’s children had no automatic right to the title but out of choice she also declined lesser titles for her children Peter and Zara.
The Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, thought it prudent not to name his daughter and son as Princess and Prince. Instead, they are titled Lady and Viscount respectively.
A Royal source said last night: ‘We are not going to speculate about the succession or comment on rumours coming out of America.’
Harry wants to have his own journalist at Diana memorial: Prince is set to appoint approved writer to work alongside him when he returns to UK – after author revealed furious clash with William over Meghan ‘bullying’ claims
Sitting side by side, leafing through a photo album, William and Harry are sharing cherished memories of their mother. Their conversation is easy, unconstrained, charming. It is a rare window on a fraternal dynamic and evidence, if it were needed, of an unshakeable bond.
That was four years ago, the occasion a TV documentary on the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death. Today, with the publication of a book revealing extraordinary new details of their toxic rift, the gulf between the brothers seems unbridgeable. Quite how it has come to this seems bewildering.
In less than two weeks, on what would have been Diana’s 60th birthday, the brothers will reunite for the unveiling of her statue, but what should have been a simple, unfussy act of commemoration will doubtless turn into something altogether different.
Harry and Meghan have long decried the coverage they receive from the British media, claiming it is UK-biased and lacks diversity. Not wishing to leave the statue unveiling at Kensington Palace to the official ‘Royal Rota’ of journalists, they are now expected to ‘appoint’ at least one approved writer to work alongside them.
In less than two weeks, on what would have been Diana’s 60th birthday, the brothers will reunite for the unveiling of her statue, but what should have been a simple, unfussy act of commemoration will doubtless turn into something altogether different. Pictured: Anzac Day service in 2018
It is just the kind of imperiousness that rankles with the Duke of Cambridge.
The Times reported yesterday that a blistering row between the Duke and his brother over bullying claims led to them splitting their households, with a friend of the future King noting: ‘William threw Harry out.’
Previously, it was assumed that Harry precipitated the separation.
The account of how William and Harry fell out appears in the paperback edition of Battle Of Brothers by historian and biographer Robert Lacey, which is being serialised in The Times.
The newspaper revealed in March how Jason Knauf, communications secretary to the Cambridges and Sussexes, claimed in October 2018 that Meghan had been bullying members of staff. Lawyers for the Sussexes have denied the allegations.
After William heard the bullying allegations, he rang Harry, according to Lacey. The conversation was heated and Harry ‘shut off his phone angrily’ so William went to speak to him personally.
Lacey writes: ‘The Prince was horrified by what he had just been told about Meghan’s alleged behaviour, and he wanted to hear what Harry had to say. The showdown between the brothers was fierce and bitter.’
Separately, The Mail on Sunday has been told there have been other, equally intense clashes. None more so, according to a source, than on the eve of Harry’s wedding. Details are sketchy but this row was said to have been particularly ferocious.
The Times revealed in March how Jason Knauf, communications secretary to the Cambridges and Sussexes, claimed in October 2018 that Meghan had been bullying members of staff. Lawyers for the Sussexes have denied the allegations
The Princes had already fallen out before Harry and Meghan’s engagement after William had expressed doubts about the speed at which their relationship was progressing. Lacey writes that William believed Meghan was following an ‘agenda’ and Kate, too, according to a friend, was wary of her from the outset.
The author quotes one Kensington Palace staffer as saying: ‘Meghan portrayed herself as the victim, but she was the bully. People felt run over by her.
‘They thought she was a complete narcissist and sociopath – basically unhinged.’
According to the book, jealousy is at the heart of the brothers’ rift. Or at least that is how Harry sees it. The Duke views his triumphant October 2018 return with Meghan from their Australian tour as a defining moment in their deteriorating relationship.
William, of course, would reject any notion that he and his wife resented the Diana-like popularity Meghan enjoyed at the time. In any case, the book says, the brothers were no longer on speaking terms before the Sussexes set off for Australia, owing to William’s anger over the bullying allegations.
PR man Knauf, 34, was concerned by stories of mistreatment brought to him by colleagues and resolved to set down the facts, as he saw them, for the record.
In an email to William’s private secretary, Knauf wrote: ‘I am very concerned that the Duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year.’
His office had received ‘report after report’, he wrote, from people who had witnessed ‘unacceptable behaviour’ by Meghan towards this member of staff.
As early as 2017, around the time of the couple’s engagement, according to a report in The Times, a senior aide had spoken to the couple about the difficulties caused by their treatment of staff. ‘It’s not my job to coddle people,’ Meghan was said to have replied.
Today, with the publication of a book revealing extraordinary new details of their toxic rift, the gulf between the brothers seems unbridgeable. Quite how it has come to this seems bewildering
It is significant that it was Knauf – whose PR expertise Meghan valued and who was one of her most senior advisers – that raised the issue. Until this point, Lacey says Texas-born Knauf had taken ‘considerable stick from some of his non-royal contacts’ who criticised him for being overly protective of the Duchess.
But numerous colleagues were bringing stories of what they said they had suffered at Meghan’s hands, including emotional cruelty and manipulation, and he could not remain silent.
The Times reported that several people maintained they had been ‘humiliated’ by the Duchess, and that criticism also extended to Harry. ‘I overheard a conversation between Harry and one of his top aides,’ one Kensington Palace courtier told Lacey. ‘Harry was screaming and screaming down the phone. Team Sussex was a really toxic environment. People shouting and screaming in each other’s faces.’
It is unclear whether Knauf brought his dossier to William personally or whether it was submitted via an aide. Either way, the troubling stories astonished and horrified the Duke, who knew and liked all the individuals named in the dossier. After all, they were his staff too.
Taking their cue from the Queen, William and Kate had always treated their staff like family. What William heard, or possibly read, crystallised a long-held suspicion –that Meghan was fundamentally hostile towards the Royal system.
This interpretation, said Meghan, was wholly wrong.
In a statement issued to The Times early in March this year, her lawyers denied all allegations of bullying as inaccurate and defamatory and the product of what they called a ‘smear campaign’.
The Duchess wished to fit in and be accepted, they insisted. She had left her life in North America to commit herself to her new role.
The Times reported yesterday that a blistering row between the Duke and his brother over bullying claims led to them splitting their households, with a friend of the future King noting: ‘William threw Harry out.’
Lacey stresses that his account of this period is based on Knauf’s written accusations and ‘William’s personal account of these events to one of his friends, who then spoke to this author’.
He writes that while the showdown between the brothers was fierce, William’s pre-engagement questioning of Meghan’s suitability had been quite reasonable. Some of William’s reservations chimed with the allegations in Knauf’s dossier. Lacey says William felt that Meghan was ‘undermining some precious principles of the Monarchy if she really was treating her staff in this way’.
Not only that, she seemed to be stealing his brother away from him. Courtiers would later coin a hashtag – #freeHarry.
William felt deeply wounded. ‘Hurt’ and ‘betrayed’ were the two feelings he described to his friend. The elder brother had always felt so protective. He had seen it as his job to look out for Harry.
‘At the end of the day, the British Crown and all it stood for with its ancient traditions, styles and values – the mission of the Monarchy – had to matter more to William than his brother did,’ writes Lacey.
Fiercely combative in his wife’s defence, Harry meanwhile was equally furious that William should believe the accusations against Meghan. Whether claims of racism surfaced during these heated discussions is not known.
But Harry made clear to the world in his interview with Oprah Winfrey that he considered his family’s response to Meghan to have been essentially ‘racist’.
Lacey writes: ‘William, for his part, felt just as strongly about Meghan and the need for her subversive ‘agenda’ to be removed from the operations of the British Monarchy, which she did not appear to understand or respect.
Harry made clear to the world in his interview with Oprah Winfrey that he considered his family’s response to Meghan to have been essentially ‘racist’
‘He certainly wanted Meghan removed, for a start, from the hitherto harmonious joint household that he and his brother had operated together for the best part of a decade. William simply did not want her or Harry around any more.’
It is little surprise, then, that Meghan will not accompany Harry to the statue unveiling. Indeed it is far from clear when she will return to these shores.
There was some speculation that Archie would travel with his father but that it not now expected to happen.
The statue, created by Ian Rank-Broadley, has been years in the making. William and Harry, who were just 15 and 12 when their mother was killed in a car crash in Paris, announced the idea in 2017.
At the time, a Palace statement said that it was ‘hoped’ that the statue would be ‘unveiled… before the end of 2017’. Questions over the design and where it should be displayed led to delays.
Later that year, when the Princes announced that Rank-Broadley had been chosen as the sculptor, the Duke of Cambridge tweeted that the statue was ‘expected to be unveiled in 2019’.
The brothers convened a committee to oversee the project and sought funds from private investors. Those with a key role on the committee included trusted adviser Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, the Princes’ former private secretary and Prince George’s godfather; Diana’s sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Julia Samuel, a close friend of their mother.
Gerry Farrell, co-owner of London’s Sladmore Contemporary gallery, was brought in as an artistic adviser. Towards the beginning of the process, he described it as a ‘challenging commission’.
It would take another two years and many more transatlantic discussions between the brothers before the statue would finally be made public.
Mr Farrell said: ‘The Princes remember her as a mother, and publicly she meant so many different things to different people. It was important for the princes to convey the depth of her character and variety of her interests.’
There were other concerns, too.For William, and particularly young Harry, the public reaction to their mother’s death baffled them.
William felt deeply wounded. ‘Hurt’ and ‘betrayed’ were the two feelings he described to his friend. The elder brother had always felt so protective. He had seen it as his job to look out for Harry
In a recent documentary series on Apple+ with Oprah Winfrey, Harry spoke of being unable to ‘process’ his mother’s death. Speaking about walking behind his mother’s coffin at the funeral, he said: ‘Sharing the grief of my mother’s death with the world, for me the thing I remember the most is the sound of the horses’ hooves going along the mall. The red brick road.
‘By this time, both of us were in shock. It was like I was outside of my body and walking along just doing what was expected of me. Showing one tenth of the emotion everyone else was showing.
‘I was like, ‘This is my mum. You never even met her.’
Worried that the statue might draw crowds and a sea of flowers, the Princes agreed to erect it in the Princess Diana Memorial Garden at Kensington Palace, where the Princess of Wales lived until her death and where Harry and Meghan announced their engagement.
The Princes are understood to be ‘impressed’ with the finished design.
Whether they will ever be able to find common ground on the issues that divide them is another matter entirely.