Hopes of a thaw in the ‘cold war’ between The Firm and the Sussexes emerged last night after royal insiders revealed that King Charles saw ‘tremendous flickers of hope’ when he spoke to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Queen’s funeral — and even believes he might even be able to salvage the relationship with the duke and duchess. The King’s conversations with his son and daughter-in-law at the ceremonies for the late monarch at Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle left him feeling hopeful that he could mend relations with the Sussex after their acrimonious departure from the royal family.
An insider told The Telegraph: ‘It remains the case that the King loves both of his children. Over the last 16 days or so, there were tremendous flickers of hope. In terms of the future, there is hope of a cause for unity.’ Among the many challenges facing the King in his reign, including modernizing Britain’s ancient monarchy, will be how to deal with the duke and duchess, who plunged The Firm into crisis after quitting public duties for a life free from royal obligations in California — from where they have made a string of damaging allegations against the institution.
In his first address to the nation as monarch, the King appeared to extend an ‘olive branch’ to the couple. However, others believe it was no more than a PR bid for unity in the hours after the Queen’s death. In the run-up to the funeral, Harry was apparently banned from wearing military uniform on the day, and he and Meghan were reportedly uninvited from a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by the King for VIPs including foreign royalty, prime ministers and presidents. The revelation about the King comes as two new bombshell books make a series of astonishing claims about the duke and duchess.
Katie Nicholl’s book, The New Royals claims the couple had hoped to move into a ‘suite of apartments at Windsor Castle’ but were given Frogmore Cottage instead. Harry and Meghan reportedly had their hearts set on a home in the heart of the Queen’s Berkshire residence but were left disappointed. ‘When Harry and Meghan announced their wish to move out of Kensington Palace, the Queen offered them Frogmore Cottage in Windsor Great Park as their new home,’ Nicholl writes, in an extract first published in the Mail On Sunday. ‘This was not the suite of apartments at Windsor Castle they had hoped for. It was a generous gesture nonetheless, recalled Lady Elizabeth Anson, who died in 2020.
‘The cottage was a big deal,’ she said. ‘The Queen’s entrance into the gardens is right next to their cottage. It is essentially her back yard, her solitude, and her privacy. She was giving that up in gifting Harry and Meghan Frogmore Cottage. We all thought it was very big of her. She said, ‘I hope they’ll respect it.»In April 2019, the couple finally moved in. Then, the following month, Buckingham Palace announced a still more significant departure: Harry and Meghan were moving their Royal Household – effectively their office – from Kensington Palace to Buckingham Palace.’
The move was particularly significant because it signaled the end of Harry and William’s ‘double act’, Nicholl notes, and was ‘deeply disappointing’ for the Queen. Elsewhere Nicholl claims the late Queen was surprised that divorcee Meghan opted for a white wedding dress (pictured) — and also told the Duchess off for chastising a kitchen worker who was preparing her a special meal. The author said: ‘[Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s] wedding day was a great success, although the Queen had reservations about the pure white of Meghan’s Givenchy dress, designed by Clare Waight Keller. ‘According to a source: ‘The Queen was surprised that Meghan wore pure white on her wedding day. Perhaps it’s a generational thing, but she believes if you’ve been married before, you wear off-white on your wedding day, which is what the Duchess of Cornwall did.’ ‘Keen to support anyone marrying into her family, however, the Queen did her best to get to know the new Duchess.’
She continued: ‘Meghan’s direct approach had even come to the notice of the Queen. On one occasion in the run-up to the wedding, Meghan went to Windsor Castle for a menu-tasting and ended up having a tense exchange with a member of staff, according to one source. Meghan was at the castle to taste some of the dishes, and told one of the caterers she could taste egg,’ said the source. ‘She got quite upset, saying that the dish was meant to be vegan and macrobiotic, when suddenly the Queen walked in and said, «Meghan, in this family we don’t speak to people like that».’ Royal editor Nicholl has published one of two bombshell books that make explosive claims about the Royal Family.
A second, Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown by Valentine Low, claims Meghan believed she would be the ‘Beyoncé of the UK’ when she married Prince Harry, before she found that she hated the strict rules of royal life and later sensationally quit her duties. The book, which was previewed in The Times, also ran allegations that the Queen was forced to put her foot down over Megxit and told the Sussexes they were ‘either in or out’. Mr Low said that the royals met at a so-called ‘Sandringham summit’ five days after the Duke and Duchess announced their plans to step down as senior working royals on January 8, 2020. During initial deliberations, the Queen wanted all four royal households to work together quickly in order to find a solution.
In the days that followed, meetings were held at Clarence House, then Prince Charles’ home, including secretaries from the four households, before discussions moved to Buckingham Palace. Simon Case, Prince William’s private secretary, was also involved, ‘talking to both sides’, the newspaper reported.
These included five possible scenarios including giving the Duke and Duchess a month each year for their own activities, or taking on only a small number of engagements and spending most of their time doing other things. As part of these options, blanket rules on not making decisions for financial or material gain — either for themselves or friends — would apply. A former palace insider said: ‘I think Meghan thought she was going to be the Beyoncé of the UK. Being part of the royal family would give her that kudos. ‘Whereas what she discovered was that there were so many rules that were so ridiculous that she couldn’t even do the things that she could do as a private individual, which is tough.’ But another called it an impossible task, with the two worlds of royalty and celebrity unable to comprehend each other.
They said that the Duchess would be unable to fit the model of a working royal, with the palace unable to accept ‘who she wanted to be’. Mr Low writes that it was the monarch herself who felt that unless the couple were willing to follow the rules which apply to all working royals, they would ‘not be allowed to carry out official duties’. ‘There was a very clear view: you can’t be in and out,’ a source told Mr Low. ‘And if you’ve got such clarity of view, it’s very difficult to say, «Why don’t we go 10 per cent this way instead of 20 per cent?» This meant that compromise was taken off the table by the Queen’, the author said.
He also claimed that the couple felt ‘cornered and misunderstood’ by the Palace due to ‘initial inflexibility’ surrounding their request. Prince Harry initially sent an email to his father, then Prince Charles, regarding their concerns and desire to move to the US, but was told that it required a ‘proper family conversation’ that could not be held until at least January 29, 2020. This, Mr Low wrote, was received badly by the couple, who had hoped to quickly resolve the matter following their request. The response prompted the prince to organize a private meeting with the Queen, but this was cancelled, with Harry being told that she was no longer available and had been confused about her diary arrangements. Courtiers saw the meeting as a chance for the Duke to win the Queen’s support first, before beginning wider talks with the royal family.
‘There was a danger that a private conversation could be interpreted very differently by two people,’ a source told Mr Low. The author added that Harry considered driving unannounced to Sandringham to speak to the Queen, but decided against the move. The explosive extracts of the forthcoming book, Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown by Valentine Low, were published by The Times today.
During initial deliberations, the Queen wanted all four royal households to work together quickly in order to find a solution. In the days that followed, meetings were held at Clarence House, then Prince Charles’ home, including secretaries from the four households, before discussions moved to Buckingham Palace. Simon Case, Prince William’s private secretary, was also involved, ‘talking to both sides’, the newspaper reported. These included five possible scenarios including giving the Duke and Duchess a month each year for their own activities, or taking on only a small number of engagements and spending most of their time doing other things.
Prince Harry initially sent an email to his father, then Prince Charles, regarding their concerns and desire to move to the US, but was told that it required a ‘proper family conversation’ that could not be held until at least January 29, 2020. This, Mr Low wrote, was received badly by the couple, who had hoped to quickly resolve the matter following their request. The response prompted the prince to organize a private meeting with the Queen, but this was cancelled, with Harry being told that she was no longer available and had been confused about her diary arrangements. Courtiers saw the meeting as a chance for the Duke to win the Queen’s support first, before beginning wider talks with the royal family. ‘There was a danger that a private conversation could be interpreted very differently by two people,’ a source told Mr Low.
It comes as palace aides claimed Meghan moaned she wasn’t getting paid for royal tours, agreed to the Oprah interview (pictured) six months before Megxit and reduced staff to tears with bullying and tantrums in Mr Low’s book. The new book claims that during the royal tour of Australia in October 2018, Meghan did not understand why she had to shake people’s hands or do walkabouts. Staff reportedly heard her say: ‘I can’t believe I’m not getting paid for this.’
In The Times, Mr Low also describes the Duchess of Sussex’s attitude towards her staff, describing a meeting where Meghan allegedly lambasted a young female member in front of colleagues over a plan she had presented. After the woman told her that it would be difficult to execute a new plan, Meghan said: ‘Don’t worry. If there was literally anyone else I could ask to do this, I would be asking them instead of you.’ Meghan is said to have berated staff repeatedly, including one occasion when an employee fell foul of the duchess over a mixup involving press at an engagement. The Duchess’s lawyers denied last year that any of the staff were bullied and added that they were grateful for Miss Cohen’s support and dedication. Elsewhere, it claimed that in August 2019, before their Africa tour, the couple’s US team were working on several deals including with Netflix, Harry’s mental heath series for Apple+, Meghan’s Disney voiceover and an interview with Oprah Winfrey slated for the autumn.
Samantha Cohen, the Queen’s former assistant private secretary, advised them to also do an interview with the British media, suggesting Tom Bradby of ITV. Meghan was reportedly reluctant, however the Duke of Sussex agreed on the condition that they did not do the interview together or appear in the same shot as this would be contrary to their Oprah deal. Palace sources also claimed the couple were constantly being sent gifts from fashion, perfume and jewelry companies when they lived at Kensington Palace. Their PA refused the luxury items, sticking to the protocol that members of the royal family do not accept commercial gifts, which is claimed led to clashes with Meghan.
Prince Harry recently launched a last-minute bid to tone down his bombshell autobiography amid fears his final draft ‘might not go down too well’ in the wake of the Queen ‘s death, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. The memoirs had been signed off ready for an expected autumn release, but the Duke – who is writing the book as part of a near £40 million ($43 million) three-title deal – has asked to make some significant alterations.
His request may be seen as a sign that he is ready to take a more conciliatory approach to the rest of the Royal Family, but could cause problems for his publishers. ‘Harry has thrown a spanner in the works,’ a source said. ‘He is keen for refinements in the light of the Queen’s death, her funeral and his father Charles taking the throne. There may be things in the book which might not look so good if they come out so soon after these events. He wants sections changed now. It’s not a total rewrite by any means. He desperately wants to make changes. But it might be too late.’
Publishing sources suggested that the Duke might have limited ‘wriggle room’ given he was handed a seven-figure advance. Publishers Penguin Random House had already demanded a rewrite after the first draft was deemed ‘too touchy-feely’ and placed too much focus on mental health issues, The Mail on Sunday understands.
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