Reports have circulated about the reason behind Prince Harry and Prince William's rumored rift in recent years, and an upcoming book, Finding Freedom, attempts to offer insight. The book, written by royal reporters Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, takes a look at Harry and Meghan Markle's decision to step down as senior members of the royal family, as well as the reported fallouts they had with Harry's family.
An excerpt from the book published by The Sunday Times claims that Harry and William grew apart following William's alleged concerns about his brother's relationship with Meghan. It also alleges that William's wife, Kate Middleton, "did little to bridge the divide" between the brothers or welcome Meghan to the family.
A spokesperson for Meghan and Harry tells ET: "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed and did not contribute to Finding Freedom. This book is based on the authors’ own experiences as members of the royal press corps and their own independent reporting."
The book claims that Harry and William's rift began when the Duke of Cambridge questioned the pace at which his brother’s relationship with Meghan was moving. According to the excerpt, William had only met Meghan a "handful of times" while she and Harry were dating, and wanted to make sure she had the right intentions -- and that his brother wasn't "blindsided by lust."
"'Don’t feel you need to rush this,' William told Harry, according to sources. 'Take as much time as you need to get to know this girl.'" In those last two words, 'this girl,' Harry heard the tone of snobbishness that was anathema to his approach to the world,'" the book claims, reporting that Harry "was pissed off."
While the book claims the beef between William and Harry began with this alleged conversation, it also notes that Harry was growing in his own independence at the time, and no longer felt as if he needed protection from his older brother.
"At least two other family members also voiced concerns," the book claims, alleging that Harry was aware of the talk -- but didn't care. Finding Freedom alleges that Harry felt extremely protective over Meghan, and wasn't going to let anything get in the way of his happiness.
In the months that followed, William and Harry "hardly spoke," the book reports, adding that Harry's visits to his beloved nephew and niece, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, "had come to a virtual halt by the summer of 2017."
"Though it was not necessarily her responsibility, Kate did little to bridge the divide. She was fiercely loyal to her husband and his family," Finding Freedom claims. According to the book, "the gap between the brothers only widened" after Harry and Meghan married in 2018. "William and Kate’s feelings seemed obvious to the Sussexes that summer and beyond. Among all the friends and family Harry and Meghan hosted at their house in Oxfordshire between May 2018 and March 2019, the Cambridges failed to visit,'" the book claims.
The excerpt also dives into the "Dueling Duchesses" narrative that played out in tabloids following Meghan and Harry's move to Windsor.
"Meghan would agree with the assessment that the duchesses were not the best of friends. Their relationship hadn’t progressed much since she was Harry’s girlfriend. Although Meghan might have understood Kate’s wariness to strike up a meaningful friendship, they were still no closer by the time she was a fellow senior working member of the royal family and the wife of William’s brother. Flowers for her birthday were nice, but Meghan would far rather have had Kate check in on her during the most difficult times with the press," the book reports.
However, the book notes Meghan and Kate "were not at war with each other either." "Meghan was disappointed that she and Kate hadn’t bonded over the position they shared, but she wasn’t losing sleep over it," the excerpt claims. "According to a source, Kate felt they didn’t have much in common 'other than the fact that they lived at Kensington Palace.'"
Meghan was frustrated by the palace not refuting false reports, the book alleges, and hurt by the "sexist and prejudiced" tabloid headlines about her.
"Meghan felt as though some of the commentary and tabloid stories were more than a culture clash; they were sexist and prejudiced. If a man got up before dawn to work, he was applauded for his work ethic. If a woman did it, she was deemed difficult or 'a b**ch.' The double standard was exacerbated when it came to successful women of colour, often labelled demanding or aggressive," the excerpt reads.
"Racism takes a different form in the UK from in America, but there is no mistaking its existence and how ingrained it is. A major theme of racism in the UK centers on the question of who is authentically 'British.' It can come through in subtle acts of bias, micro-aggressions such as the palace staffer who told the biracial co-author of these words, 'I never expected you to speak the way you do,' or the newspaper headline 'Memo to Meghan: we Brits prefer true royalty to fashion royalty.' While the columnist was criticizing Meghan for her Vogue editorials, there was another way to read it, which is that to be British meant to be born and bred in the UK -- and be white," the book explains.
Finding Freedom does attempt to clear up one report about Meghan and Kate; the book claims that the rumored instance of Meghan making Kate cry at a bridesmaid fitting ahead of her wedding never actually occurred.
"A source, who was at the mid-May wedding fitting and has never discussed before what really happened, said stories about tears have been 'puzzling' to those who were present. 'Some of the children weren’t co-operating, and there was a lot going on. Everyone tried to help where they could, but it’s never easy with kids at fittings. There were no tears from anyone. And in the end, the fitting was fine. Kate and Meghan were both a little stressed but professionals in the room, and there were other people there,'" the excerpt reads.
"At the time, though, a Kensington Palace aide said only that the women, who were both hurt by the accusations, were 'very different people,'" the book notes. "Several aides across the royal households now confirm that there was no fitting that left the Duchess of Cambridge in tears."