Finding Freedom, the new book about Harry and Meghan by the royal reporters Carolyn Durand and Omid Scobie, chronicles what the authors claim has been a deepening rift between the prince, his wife and Buckingham Palace that ultimately led to the couple's decision to take a step back from public life. The biography has been providing headlines in UK newspapers in recent days after being serialised in the Times and the Sunday Times. So what have we learned from Finding Freedom?
Some senior royals would show Meghan little respect
According to the book, one of the main drivers behind the couple’s decision was the way they felt Meghan was treated by members of the royal family. One of the authors has said the fact Meghan is a mixed-race American was “going to ruffle some feathers” within Buckingham Palace. One senior royal is said to have referred to Meghan as “Harry’s showgirl”, while another allegedly said: “She comes with a lot of baggage.”
'There's just something about her I don't trust,' a senior courtier reportedly said, while an unnamed staffer is quoted as referring to Meghan as the palace's 'squeaky third wheel'
Courtiers were also quite open in their dislike of Meghan
The couple were also reportedly unhappy with the way Meghan was treated by Buckingham Palace staff. “There’s just something about her I don’t trust,” a senior courtier is reported to have said, while an unnamed staffer is quoted as having referred to her as the palace’s “squeaky third wheel”. The authors say the couple grew to trust only a handful of people.
Relations between the two brothers’ households hit a new low after the announcement
The two couples, Prince William and his wife, Kate, the duchess of Cambridge, and Harry and Meghan (aka the duke and duchess of Sussex), were barely even on speaking terms by this March, according to the authors. They hardly spoke to each other during an engagement at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey that month, despite not having seen each other since January.
Tension centred on William’s attitude to Meghan
The authors claim that Harry was upset by his brother’s advice to “take as much time as you need to get to know this girl” early in their relationship, which he took to be “snobbish” and “condescending”. The authors add that William “just wanted to make sure that Harry wasn’t blindsided by lust” in his haste to get married.
There was less animosity between Kate and Meghan
The authors suggest reports of a feud between the two women were always wide of the mark. Rather, they say, the pair simply had little in common. The book claims Meghan perceived a lack of support from Kate, who, in turn, would try to make contact while not worrying too much if there was no response.
Harry and Meghan knew their values and wanted to control their own brand
Perhaps an unsurprising revelation on its own terms – the couple had their own website and sought to register “Sussex Royal” as a global trademark – but the book describes the pair’s surprise at courtiers’ treatment of them as they sought greater autonomy than Buckingham Palace was willing to grant. “As their popularity had grown, so did Harry and Meghan’s difficulty in understanding why so few inside the palace were looking out for their interests. They were a major draw for the royal family,” the book reports.
They believed their own relatives were briefing against them
Before “Megxit” the couple were on such bad terms with other members of the British royal family that the couple believed them to be leaking stories about them to the press, the authors claim.
Queen Elizabeth was taken by surprise by their announcement
According to the book, the British monarch was “devastated” by the announcement on the couple’s private website of their plans to take a step back. It claims she was put in an awkward position by the plan for a half-in, half-out royal status, which it was felt had been presented as a fait accompli, although it was nothing of the sort.
The announcement appeared to be rushed out
According to the book, it was known within the palace walls that Harry and Meghan wanted changes to their royal status and had sought discussions with the queen before a six-week trip to Canada at the end of last year. It says they made the final decision while in Canada and again sought a meeting with Harry’s grandmother but were told she would not be available until the end of January 2020. The announcement, the authors claim, came on January 8th because the couple got wind that a story was due to break in the UK press.
Meghan was upset people said the decision was hers
“The courtiers blame Meghan, and some family do,” the authors write. She, on the other hand, felt she had sacrificed a lot for the royals. “As Meghan tearfully told a friend in March: ‘I gave up my entire life for this family. I was willing to do whatever it takes. But here we are. It’s very sad.’”
The Sussexes have distanced themselves from the book; a spokesman says that they were not interviewed and did not contribute to it, and that the book is “based on the authors’ own experiences as members of the royal press corps and their own independent reporting”. – Guardian