The transatlantic war of words between Buckingham Palace and the Sussexes could take a new twist, with the Queen reportedly ‘ordering’ officials to plan a legal fightback against the couple.
Sources say the ‘exasperated’ Queen, 95, has told palace officials to ‘lawyer up’ with libel experts after ‘repeated attacks’ on the Royal Family from the US-based Sussexes.
It comes after Harry, 36, and wife Meghan Markle, 40, said in their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey that an unnamed royal had raised concerns over their son Archie’s skin colour before his birth.
Days later Buckingham Palace released a statement saying ‘recollections may vary’ in response to allegations.
But the row was reignited this week after it was revealed in a new chapter of their biography Finding Freedom that a source had accused the royals of ‘failing to own’ their part in the fallout.
Now sources close to the Queen have told the Sun that the feeling ‘coming right from the top’ is that ‘enough is enough’.
The source told the paper: ‘There is a limit to how much will be accepted and the Queen and Royal Family can only be pushed so far.
Sources say the ‘exasperated’ Queen (pictured right) has told palace officials to ‘lawyer up’ with libel experts after ‘repeated attacks’ on the Royal Family from the US-based Sussexes. It comes after Harry, 36, and wife Meghan Markle, 40, (pictured left together) said in their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey that an unnamed royal had raised concerns over their son Archie’s skin colour before his birth
Sources close to the Queen (pictured here with Harry and Meghan in 2018) have told the Sun that the feeling ‘coming right from the top is that enough is enough’
Finding Freedom author Omid Scobie claims Meghan and Harry’s decision to name daughter Lilibet is proof of their ‘closeness’ to the Queen
Finding Freedom author Omid Scobie yesterday reignited the row over Meghan and Harry’s decision to name their daughter Lilibet, after the Queen’s childhood nickname, when he claimed it was actually proof of how close the couple are to the monarch.
The name, he said, offered ‘an insight into the close relationship’ the Sussexes and the Queen still share.
Others, however, have taken a different view. Indeed, the question of whether or not the Queen had granted permission – as Harry suggested – sparked a transatlantic row.
Palace sources insist the initial conversation between Harry and his grandmother about the name was ‘a telling not an asking’.
The BBC report first revealing that the Queen had not been asked for permission caused a furore.
Scobie, who co-wrote about Harry and Meghan’s departure from the Royal Family in Finding Freedom, also came under fire last week when a forthcoming excerpt from a revised edition of his book was published detailing the aftermath of the Oprah Winfrey interview.
The Queen’s statement that ‘some recollections may vary’ led Harry and Meghan to believe senior Royals had not taken ‘accountability’ and ‘full ownership’ of the claims, according to the forthcoming new edition.
But Scobie quickly backtracked, saying that it was the ‘institution’ of the Monarchy, not the Queen personally, who bore the brunt of the Sussexes’ displeasure – even though the statement was issued on behalf of Her Majesty.
Yesterday, Scobie told Good Morning America: ‘When it comes to that relationship with the Queen, it is as strong as ever.
They have nothing but love for her. Of course, we saw them name their daughter after the Queen’s very nickname. So that really gives us an insight into that close relationship.’
‘They are getting lawyered up. Harry and Meghan will be made aware and know repeated attacks will not be tolerated.’
One hurdle any legal team could face is the upcoming release of Prince Harry’s tell-all memoirs.
The book, due to be released next year, will be published by Penguin Random House.
According to the Sun, a preemptive legal warning to the publishers is now being considered.
The source told the paper: ‘If someone were named in the book and accused of something directly that could be a libel and also infringe their rights to a private family life.
‘It would be ironic if Harry and Meghan were accused of breaching privacy given their pronouncements on the subject.’
It comes after lawyers for the Sussexes earlier this week denied that the couple had ‘reignited a rift’ with the Queen after an updated biography claimed they believe she has failed to act over their accusations of racism.
The new edition of Finding Freedom suggests sources close to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they were ‘not surprised’ at a perceived lack of action over their claim that a senior royal expressed ‘concern’ about their unborn child’s skin colour.
It says they took exception to a carefully-worded statement from the Queen, following their interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, in which she expressed concern for the couple but insisted that ‘some recollections may vary’.
Days later, Prince William told reporters that the royals were ‘very much not a racist family’ and admitted he was yet to speak to his estranged brother following the Oprah interview.
Now, the updated edition of Finding Freedom has claimed that the Sussexes were far from happy at Buckingham Palace’s official response.
But their legal team at Schillings told MailOnline today that it was false and defamatory to claim the couple have ‘reignited a rift’ with the Queen – or to suggest or imply that they have made any statements to that effect.
Their lawyers insisted there were no new developments on the topic and that the claims were from the authors of the book, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, who do not speak for the Sussexes and rely on unnamed sources.
‘The comments made by a SOURCE (a detail some outlets have purposefully ignored) was about a lack of ownership from the royal institution as a whole. There’s no ‘attack’ against the Queen anywhere in the book.’
An excerpt from the new version of Finding Freedom due to be published in People magazine in the US states that the couple believe senior royals have not taken ‘accountability’ – preventing a major thaw in relations.
Harry and Meghan spoke to Oprah Winfrey in a bombshell interview in March in which they accused a senior royal of racism
Royal author Omid Scobie is a trusted media contact of the Sussexes and co-wrote their biography Finding Freedom
The extract reads: ‘Those three words, ‘recollections may vary’, did not go unnoticed by the couple, who a close source said were ‘not surprised’ that full ownership was not taken. ‘Months later and little accountability has been taken,’ a pal of Meghan’s added. ‘How can you move forward without that?’ ‘
The book now covers Harry’s return to the UK in April for his grandfather Prince Philip‘s funeral – and says he bought a one-way ticket as he hoped he might be able to speak to his family directly, without staff being involved.
The new version of Finding Freedom will be out on August 31
It claims Harry spoke to his brother Prince William three times in all during the visit, as well as briefly chatting to his father, Prince Charles, after the service. He also enjoyed ‘precious moments’ with his grandmother, the Queen.
The biography, which was a glowing portrait of the Sussexes by Mr Scobie and Ms Durand first published in August 2020, concludes that the trip ‘broke the ice’ and that the door to a rapprochement is now ‘slightly ajar’.
Stating that Harry and Meghan have no regrets about their actions, despite the toll on their family, the book says: ‘What started [as a] fairytale romance became a story that reinvented the genre – a self-made, independent woman playing an equal role alongside her knight.’
The excerpt to be published in People also claims the couple felt nervous sitting down with chat show host Oprah but had decided that they needed to speak up now, or never.
‘There were so many things they were unable to say [before stepping back from their royal roles],’ it reads.
Although the Sussexes have insisted they did not co-operate directly with the book’s authors, the level of detail – and claims by both the writers and publisher, Harper Collins, that they had access to the couple’s close circle of friends and associates – has led some to claim that indirect help was provided.
The book’s authors have said, however, that Finding Freedom is ‘independent and unauthorised’ and that the couple did not speak to them about it.
The new version is set to be published on August 31 – the anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. It contains an updated epilogue covering the Oprah interview, the death of Prince Philip, and the Sussexes’ plans for the future.