Prince William was furious that Harry and Meghan ‘insulted’ the Queen with a ‘disrespectful’ response to her ban on them using the word ‘royal’ in future ventures, allies revealed last night.
The Duke of Cambridge’s rift with his brother is said to have soured even further when the Sussexes ‘blindsided’ Her Majesty with a terse statement hitting back at the Palace last year.
In a post on their SussexRoyal website the couple wrote ‘there is not any jurisdiction by The Monarchy… over the use of the word “Royal” overseas’.
The curt phrasing, issued as courtiers haggled over the Sussexes new settlement away from frontline duties, crossed a line for William, who felt it a rebuke to the Queen.
‘That was it for William, he felt they’d blindsided the Queen in such an insulting and disrespectful way,’ a source close to the Prince told The Sunday Times.
The tension was palpable during the brothers’ last public engagement together, at a Commonwealth Day service in Westminster Abbey, and the SussexRoyal statement was still at the front of William’s mind, friends said.
Prince William was furious that Harry and Meghan ‘insulted’ the Queen with a ‘disrespectful’ response to her ban on them using the word ‘royal’ in future ventures, allies revealed last night
The tension was palpable during the brothers’ last public engagement together, at a Commonwealth Day service in Westminster Abbey, and the SussexRoyal statement was still at the front of William’s mind, friends said
The curt phrasing, issued as courtiers haggled over the Sussexes new settlement away from frontline duties, crossed a line for William, who felt it a rebuke to the Queen
Harry and Meghan’s bombshell announcement early last year they planned to step down as senior royals plunged the Family into meltdown and triggered crisis talks at Sandringham.
Sources told the paper William and Harry went for a walk after the Sandringham Summit to cool tensions that had been mounting for some months.
After initially being hailed as the Fab Four set to broaden the monarchy’s appeal to a younger generation, cracks started to appear in the Sussex-Cambridge dynamic.
Harry and Meghan uprooted from Kensington Palace to set up their own household at Frogmore Cottage, while reports started emerging of friction between the duchesses.
A year later and the Royal Family – and the brothers’ relationship – has been rocked by a fresh saga following explosive claims during the Oprah Winfrey interview.
William is the only royal to have so far addressed the interview publicly, telling reporters he was due to speak with his brother and stressing ‘we’re very much not a racist family’.
But friends told The Sunday Times his ‘head is all over the place’ and he’s still reeling from the couple’s remarks.
Those close to him refute Harry’s claim that William is ‘trapped’ within the institution of the monarchy, rubbishing it as ‘way off the the mark’.
However while the situation is still ‘raw’, William is said to have resolved to repair the relationship with Harry ‘in time’.
The gulf between him and his brother has brought him closer to Charles and his grandmother, The Queen, a source said.
A year later and the Royal Family – and the brothers – have been rocked by a fresh saga following explosive claims during the Oprah Winfrey interview
Meanwhile a former Palace aide described how William had been left with ‘the absence of his brother’ after he decided to step back as a senior royal and migrate to California.
They said: ‘Once he got over the anger of how things happened, he was left with the absence of his brother.
‘They shared everything about their lives, an office, a foundation, meetings together most days and there was a lot of fun along the way. He’ll miss it forever.’
Elsewhere another close friend of both brothers said comments made by Prince Harry that his brother was ‘trapped’ within the system ‘were way off the mark’ and said: ‘He has a path set for him and he’s completely accepting of his role.’
Earlier it was revealed that more than 90 minutes of unseen footage from the Oprah interview could be aired to the public by ITV and further scupper peace talks between the Duke of Cambridge and his brother.
A source told the Sunday People: ‘There is a lot of interest in showing the interview in full.
‘The original programme was the biggest show of the year so far in the UK and was bought by firms around the world.’
They added: ‘Oprah’s production company know they’re sitting on a goldmine so it’s possible a deal could be done.’
It comes after CBS presenter Gayle King said she had spoken to the Sussexes who told her that Harry had talked to the Duke of Cambridge and Prince of Wales after the interview.
But she said the conversations were ‘not productive’ and the Sussexes were keen for the ‘royals to intervene and tell the Press to stop with the unfair, inaccurate, false stories that definitely have a racial slant’.
CBS presenter Gayle King said she had spoken to the Sussexes and that conversations between Prince Harry and his brother and father were ‘not productive’
Prince Harry arrives with his best man Prince William at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, in 2018
Ms King, 66, who is also close friends with Oprah, failed to give any examples of the stories she was referring to, but added that Meghan had ‘documents to back up everything that she said on Oprah’s interview’.
She told CBS This Morning: ‘Well I’m not trying to break news, but I did actually call them to see how they were feeling, and it’s true, Harry has talked to his brother and he has talked to his father too.
‘The word I was given was that those conversations were not productive. But they are glad that they have at least started a conversation.
‘And I think what is still upsetting to them is the palace keep saying they want to work it out privately, but yet, they believe these false stories are coming out that are very disparaging against Meghan, still.
‘No one in the Royal Family has talked to Meghan yet, at this particular time.
‘And I think it’s frustrating for them to see that it’s a racial conversation about the Royal Family when all they wanted all along was for the royals to intervene and tell the Press to stop with the unfair, inaccurate, false stories that definitely have a racial slant.
‘And until you can acknowledge that, I think it’s going to be hard to move forward. But they both want to move forward with this and they both want healing in this family. At the end of the day, that is Harry’s family.’
During their interview this month the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said racism drove them out of Britain and claimed their son Archie was denied the title of prince because he is mixed-race.
Earlier this week Prince William spoke with Syrian aid workers about how donations from Britain are being used to help millions of vulnerable people
Meghan Markle claimed she entered the Royal Family ‘naively’ and didn’t do any research about her husband or the institution and Prince Harry accused his father Prince Charles of refusing to take his calls when the pair emigrated to the US last year.
Last week, Prince William defended the Royal Family, saying it was ‘very much not a racist family’ while on a trip to a school in London, and said ominously of Harry: ‘I haven’t spoken to him yet but I will do.’
This evening Kensington Palace released footage of Prince William speaking with Syrian aid workers about how donations from Britain are being used to help millions of vulnerable people.
Speaking with humanitarian workers Fadi Hallisso, Kawther Mohamad Ali, and Shahinaz Muamar via video call on Thursday, the duke said he was ‘amazed’ by the money raised to date, but acknowledged it is ‘nowhere near what you need’.
The Queen plans diversity drive: Royals will boost existing programmes as Harry and Meghan’s accusations of racism are blamed for ‘unproductive’ peace talks with William and Charles
By Kate Mansey for the Mail on Sunday
The Queen is to appoint a diversity tsar to modernise the Monarchy, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Sources say the proposed move is an acknowledgment that ‘more needs to be done’ to champion minorities’ rights and follows the explosive claims made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex of institutional racism.
As part of a major drive encompassing Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace, aides will undertake a ‘listen and learn’ exercise over the coming weeks which will involve speaking to a range of businesses and individuals about how the Monarchy can improve representation.
Plans seen by this newspaper detail how the Palace will ‘seek independent views’ to help assess and improve the approach to diversity – including ethnic minorities, the disabled and the gay and trans communities.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex during their two-hour interview with Oprah Winfrey
The potential recruitment of a diversity chief to champion reform is also set out.
A Royal source said: ‘This is an issue which has been taken very seriously across the Households.
‘We have the policies, procedures and programmes in place but we haven’t seen the progress we would like and accept more needs to be done. We can always improve.
‘We are not afraid to look at new ways of approaching it. The work to do this has been under way for some time now and comes with the full support of the family.’
The project has been given fresh impetus as Harry and Meghan appear to step up their battle with the Royal Family over racism.
In their interview with Oprah Winfrey, they claimed a family member asked how dark their son Archie’s skin might be – although their accounts differed as to whether the alleged comment was made before or during pregnancy.
Ms Winfrey responded: ‘Because they were concerned that if he were too brown, that that would be a problem? Are you saying that?’
Meghan replied: ‘I wasn’t able to follow up with why, but if that’s the assumption you’re making, I think that feels like a pretty safe one.’
The Queen is to appoint a diversity tsar to modernise the Monarchy as part of a major drive encompassing Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attending the Commonwealth Day Service 2020
Lawyers draft bully probe questions
A law firm brought in by Buckingham Palace to review the handling of claims that the Duchess of Sussex bullied staff is drafting questions to be sent to current and former employees.
The allegations – angrily denied by the Duchess –were made in October 2018 when Jason Knauf, then Meghan and Harry’s communications secretary, detailed his concerns in an email to Simon Case, then the Duke of Cambridge’s private secretary.
In the email, published this month by The Times, Mr Knauf wrote: ‘I am very concerned that the Duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household… The treatment of [X, name redacted] was totally unacceptable… The Duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights. She is bullying [Y] and seeking to undermine her confidence.’
A spokesman for the Sussexes said the couple were victims of a calculated smear campaign, adding that the Duchess was ‘saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself’.
An independent law firm is assessing if ‘lessons can be learnt’ from the handling of the original complaint with aides past and present invited to contribute.
A Palace spokesman declined to comment, but a source said the public should not expect ‘a running commentary’ on the inquiry, which is unlikely to conclude until next year.
Prince Harry said racism had been a major factor in the couple’s decision to move to California.
Ms Winfrey later conveyed that the alleged comment had not been made by either the Queen or the Duke of Edinburgh.
In a statement two days after the initial broadcast on the US TV network CBS, Buckingham Palace insisted it took the couple’s claims – particularly on race – ‘very seriously’, but pointedly added that ‘recollections may vary’, suggesting some allegations are disputed.
Prince William said later: ‘We are very much not a racist family.’ But The Mail on Sunday understands the issue of racism continues to sour the relationship between Harry, his father and his brother – and was the reason Gayle King, a US chat-show host and friend of Harry and Meghan, last week described recent phone calls between them as ‘not productive’.
It is understood that the Sussexes feel that while disputed allegations of bullying made against Meghan are the subject of an independent review ordered by the Palace, the claims of racism aren’t under formal investigation.
In an intervention criticised for reigniting the furore, Miss King last week said the Duchess has ‘documents to back up everything she said’, adding: ‘It’s frustrating for them to see that it’s a racial conversation about the Royal Family when all they wanted all along was for the Royals to intervene and tell the Press to stop with the unfair, inaccurate, false stories that definitely have a racial slant.’
Palace insiders emphasise the Royal Family’s strong track record of celebrating diversity, particularly through their support of hundreds of charities in Britain and throughout the Commonwealth.
Prince Charles has even faced criticism for championing diversity.
In 1994, there were critical headlines after he said he wanted to be ‘Defender of Faith’ rather than ‘Defender of the Faith’ when he ascends the throne and becomes head of the Church of England.
Prince William has repeatedly spoken out against racism, backing high-profile campaigns including those run by the FA.