In his book “Spare” Harry trying to explain the tension between Meghan Markle and Kate Middletonbut doesn’t say much. The author of an article for The Telegraph explains why their relationship did not work out from the very beginning.
Prince Harry’s claim that the media and the palace have pitted daughters-in-law against each other is not the whole story.
Prince Harry gives different explanations for why the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Sussex didn’t get along ‘from the start’. From the “embarrassing” moment when Kate “grimaced” over Meghan borrowing her lip gloss, to scandals over hormones and bridesmaids’ dresses, in his autobiography Spare, he recounts including the relationship of these two completely different women.
According to Harry, Prince William and his wife never thought he could get into a “relationship with someone like Megan who had a very successful career.” This speaks to the cultural clash between royal wives. Harry accuses the palace and the press of playing Kate and Meghan against each other. There may indeed be some truth in this, but in his memoirs he does not mention the internal rivalry that predetermined the girls’ relationship from the very first day. And as in any tearful wedding commotion, dresses played a central role here.
Meghan, a self-made woman with a successful career in television and her own Internet portal, The Tig, entered the fight royale when she already had insured paid partnerships with brands such as American Neiman Marcus. Helped by close friend and stylist Jessica Mulroney, the glamorous website proved to be the perfect platform to advertise products ranging from clothing to cosmetics to household items. After getting engaged to Harry in November 2017, Meghan must have been expecting new perks from hand-selected, familiar suppliers.
But, as with the family hierarchy, there was also a certain “power vertical” here, and Meghan had to accept the fact that Kate had the preemptive right to designers. One of Meghan’s absolute favorites was British fashion designer Erdem Moralioglu (Erdem Moralıoğlu), but even after her engagement to Harry, Kate, who was his longtime client, continued to receive priority. (At the time, the designer from Bethnal Green had just unveiled a spring 2018 collection inspired by Elizabeth IIwhich first appeared at London Fashion Week that year).
Suffice it to say that Megan immediately did not like the idea of the privileged position of the future daughter-in-law, especially since she “was not even a queen yet.” (Meghan always defiantly called the Princess of Wales Kate, while the rest of the family called her Katherine. In his memoirs, Harry says that Kate was not present at the first meeting between Megan and William, playing in the garden with the children – it is unlikely that such a reception suited both).
Meghan fell in love with Erdem when she wore the FW 2015 Davina dress to NBC Today in early 2016, before meeting Harry. She later wore this flowy dress for a Christmas dinner with the late Queen in 2018. When she and Harry attended a close friend’s wedding in Jamaica eight months before their engagement, she wore another of the brand’s Pre-Fall collections before it officially went on sale. And in September 2017, the future Duchess wore a red dress by Erdem “Sebla” for a parasport event in Toronto.
However, since Kate, as a royal, regularly went out in outfits of this particular designer, Meghan had to temporarily refuse them until Commonwealth Day in March 2019. Resentment also grew over Meghan’s mistaken belief that Kate’s parents, Michael and Carol Middleton, were using their newfound connections to gain special treatment. She was confident that Kate’s family was allowed free use of Heathrow Airport’s Windsor Suite, and insisted that, for security reasons, her mother Doria also have access there when traveling to the UK. In fact, no one remembers the Middletons ever being there, unlike William and Kate themselves. Doria was spotted in the hall on her way to Harry and Meghan’s wedding in May 2018.
There was also a rumor that Meghan was upset about her sister Kate’s initial rejection. Pippa Middleton (Pippa Middleton) to invite her to the wedding with James Matthews (James Matthews) in May 2017, fearing, perhaps, that the girl Harry will outshine her. She later softened her position and invited Meghan to an evening reception “to keep the peace.” According to Harry, William and Kate were then offended by the fact that because of the couple they had to change the seating arrangements of the guests, and at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex they themselves were accused of the same. By the way, the planning of the event was a test for all its participants.
In addition, Harry confirms a disagreement with the late Queen’s closest aide, Angela Kelly, over Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau tiara, which Meghan was loaned for the ceremony. He denies saying, “What Meghan wants, Meghan gets,” but it feels like it’s become an unofficial marriage slogan. To disguise the “staleness” of the air in the chapel of St. George, they even asked for a freshener.
And Kate and Megan’s quarrel over bridesmaids’ dresses, Harry dubbed “science fiction”, although he did not deny the fact. The masterpieces of French fashion did not sit on any of the girls, and, contrary to Harry’s belief that it was only Kate who raised the fuss, Meghan then informed the palace staff about her complaint to the designer, which angered several mothers. In fact, the quarrel did not occur at the fitting, but when Kate came to Megan to discuss everything. (At that time, both lived in Kensington Palace: Megan – in Nottingham Cottage, and Kate – in apartment 1A).
Ironically, Meghan herself admitted to the staff of the Dukes of Cambridge that Kate “left in tears” in an attempt to help sort things out. That’s why the palace couldn’t demand a retraction. In the memoir, Harry claims that “Meghan brought Kate to tears because of the bridesmaids’ dresses,” and the Telegraph, citing two different sources, wrote that Kate cried after trying on a dress for Princess Charlotte.
“Kate had just given birth to Prince Louis and was emotional,” said one of them. (The Sun, headlined “Meghan brought Kate to tears,” ran an article the next day by Jack Royston, who later became Newsweek’s chief royal correspondent and one of Harry and Meghan’s strongest supporters.)
The next day, Kate returned with a bouquet of flowers and a card to apologize and try again to keep the peace. Everyone involved in the aftermath of this incident was surprised that in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan deliberately distorted history. It is likely that she was upset by the heart attack of her father Thomas Markle, because of which he was unable to attend her and Harry’s wedding.
Mr Markle appeared on the morning show of one of the British TV channels in June 2018 and said that he had never actually met Harry in person, although he spoke with him on the phone about “Donald Trump” and Brexit. Then his daughter Samantha went on the air and publicly criticized Harry and Megan’s attitude towards their seriously ill father. At that moment, the staff of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex began to feel the loss of control.
Harry insists Kate told about the fight Charles and Camille, and the story of the bridesmaids’ dresses has exhausted itself. But after the wedding, more and more negative headlines began to appear, because now everyone, without exception, has become witnesses of the overly emotional speeches that the members of the royal family have become accustomed to. The palace could no longer keep this a secret.
Even the Prince of Wales has been touched by the fallout from Meghan’s obsession with her own wedding. It is alleged that the duchess was harsh with a young employee of the palace and criticized the ceremony plan she developed. “If I had my way, I would ask someone else to do this instead of you,” she said. Upon hearing of the incident, William took the woman aside and asked if she was okay. “You’re doing really well,” he said, causing her to burst into tears.
But the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as they were then called, from the very beginning had their own claims to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The awkwardness between the brothers arose after, in November 2016, out of fear of losing Meghan, Harry insisted that their joint secretary of communications, Jason Knauf, release a statement claiming that due to the media, his “girlfriend” had been subjected to “a wave of insults and harassment.” The recklessness of the statement caused alarm in William, who had previously asked his brother not to rush and get to know the chosen one better (Megan apparently offended these words).
The princes disagreed about Harry’s desire to punish the press and start running pages on social networks himself. Introvert William never aspired to be in the spotlight and found this approach too “starry”. He himself had always adhered to the principle of “do not complain and do not make excuses” and therefore doubted the wisdom of Harry’s decision to start a war with the press. Quite a risky move for a woman he had only dated for a few months.
Meghan took the opportunity to remind staff that she is different from other royals, writes Valentine Low in Courtiers: The Hidden Power of the Crown. In the spring of 2017, six months before her official engagement to Harry, Meghan told one of his advisers: “I think we both know that soon I will be one of your bosses.”
She did not hesitate to boast of the popularity that the main role in the legal-drama series “Force Majeure” brought to her. “Her approach was this: I know everything, but I want some kind of control from the outside, so that you can rebel,” said someone familiar with her behavior. However, she did not seem to fully understand the mechanics of the monarchy. According to Lowe’s book, during a 2018 tour of Australia, she allegedly stated, “I can’t believe I’m not getting paid for this.” On another occasion, she spoke to the Royal Foundation staff about how they weren’t doing enough to “monetize” the Invictus Games, Harry’s charitable initiative for former and current service members who were injured or disabled.
As a conciliatory move, the Prince of Wales has agreed to transfer experienced and highly professional press officer Amy Pickerill to the position of Meghan’s deputy private secretary after her engagement to Harry, although the latter claims that his brother did not support him. However, one senior assistant soon complained about the difficulties caused by the couple’s handling of the staff, which “is bending over backwards” to help them. Like, people should be treated with understanding, even if they do not meet the high requirements of the future Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Megan is said to have replied, “It’s not my job to babysit people.”
Then there was the ongoing confusion over the “freebies” (clothing, perfume, cosmetics) that Harry claims Meghan always shared with all the women in the office. The moment, firstly, is controversial, and, secondly, is tantamount to a serious violation of the rules for receiving and registering gifts. Members of the royal family are generally not allowed to receive them, except for important royal events such as a wedding or the birth of a child. In this case, everything must pass through the hands of the owner of the royal warrant. (All “official” gifts, including those received during excursions and from foreign guests, are entered in a special register). For their wardrobe, official and unofficial, members of the royal family pay themselves. However, Meghan initially hoped to keep some of the dresses given to her.
In particular, in the memoir, Harry refers to an assistant who was asked to resign by the Palace’s Human Resources department after she used her position to get free stuff. The statement echoed a statement made in March 2021 by Meghan’s friend Janina Gavankar, who said “someone should have walked out for gross misconduct.” People who worked for the couple at the time refute both claims.
In October 2018, just days after the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, during a government banquet in Fiji, Meghan wore a pair of diamond earrings given to her by a Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The palace then said that they were provided to her by the Chopard brand, but, as it turned out later, it was just a wedding gift. Meghan’s lawyers from Schillings’ office immediately stated: “The Duchess never told the staff that she borrowed the earrings from the jeweler, as this would not be true, so all suggestions that she asked them to lie to the press are unfounded.”
Two days later, the lawyers added: “She may have said she borrowed the earrings, which is true as all gifts from heads of state are considered gifts to Her Majesty the Queen, who can then lend them to family members.” But then the staff could say so directly. If they were a wedding gift, they could not be called rented either. Schillings’ also claimed that Meghan knew nothing about the Khashoggi murder, although she once mentioned that, being a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Northwestern University, she loves to read The Economist, where more than one article was published on this topic.
A string of layoffs followed shortly after the engagement, starting with Prince Harry’s private secretary, Ed Lane Fox, and Kensington Palace’s undersecretary of communications, Katrina McKeever, who left in September 2018. Rumors of “tension” reigning there intensified after the appearance in the Sunday Times of an article entitled “The end of the Harry and William duo” about their decision to divide the “yards”. (Officially, this will be announced only in March 2019).
A couple of days earlier, without the knowledge of the press, Mr. Knauf had emailed his immediate supervisor, Simon Case, who had succeeded Miguel Head as William’s personal secretary, and mentioned a conversation with the palace’s head of personnel about “some very serious issues.” regarding Megan’s behavior. “I am very dismayed that in the past year the Duchess has secured the dismissal of two personal assistants by subjecting them to bullying. The treatment she gave to X was completely unacceptable. The Duchess obviously strives to always have someone in sight for bullying. She intimidates X and tries to undermine her self-confidence. We receive one message after another from people who have witnessed inappropriate behavior towards X, despite the general opinion of colleagues that she is the main talent in the family and perfectly fulfills all duties” , — wrote Knauf. He went on to describe the couple’s trip to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga as “filled with problems” and “exacerbated by the Duchess’s behavior,” which he said HR chief Samantha Carruthers agreed with. “It still worries me that this will again go unanswered,” Knauf wrote.
Ms Carruthers ended up bonding with Meghan over her love of dogs and it was to her that the Duchess later confessed her mental health issues. She also arranged for her private secretary, Laura Groutides, to become executive assistant and office manager to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s private secretary, Samantha Cohen. Megan used to call both “Sam”. (As a longtime and respected employee of the royal palace, Ms Cohen agreed to work for Harry and Meghan solely out of respect for the late queen’s personal request, but resigned in October 2019 due to “rough treatment” and comparing her service to “work with teenagers,” Lowe writes in her book).
Fairly or not, disgruntled employees questioned Ms. Carruthers’ ability to ascertain the true causes of complaints. The Duchess vehemently denied bullying anyone and said she and Harry submitted a 25-page rebuttal to the allegations. The results of the subsequent independent investigation by the palace were not published.
When in early December 2018 it became known about the dismissal of Megan’s personal assistant Melissa Touabti after only eight months of service, the media again started talking about the “dictatorship” of the Duchess. The couple claims that her departure served as a catalyst for black PR, while others note that their reputation suffered after her dismissal, since it was she who settled issues with all the dissatisfied. This was followed by the resignation of the security officer. Ms Pickerill submitted her resignation in March 2019, followed by Mr Knauf. Both, by the way, are working on the EarthshotPrize, which is awarded at the initiative of Prince William for his contribution to environmental protection.
In “Spare” Harry calls it “rumors and lies” of the staff due to the rivalry and jealousy that has poisoned relations between the “teams” of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. He also says that the staff did not take “constructive criticism” and considered any comment as an insult. William’s team had “a knack for backstab and a talent for intrigue and constantly pitted sides against each other.” Megan, according to him, was kind to everyone, brought baskets of food and flowers, bought pizza, cookies and ice cream.
However, before being sent to Kensington Palace, the ice cream man was apparently strictly forbidden to treat the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, their team, and even their children. After the Duchess left, the servant called the rest of the household and invited them to share the meal. One former employee explained that Meghan’s generosity made her nasty behavior even harder to put up with. “Today she buys you flowers, and tomorrow she drives you away,” she said.
So when, during the 2019 Nottingham Cottage scandal, William called Meghan “difficult,” “irritable,” “rude,” and “distancing from the staff,” he wasn’t just “mouthing” for the press, as Harry claims. In fact, he knew about Meghan’s character long before the nickname “Difficult Duchess” began to slip in the press.
Justifying the decision to pour his heart out to the world in his memoir, Harry stated in an interview with ITV’s Tom Brady: “I’m not sure how much honesty burns bridges. You know, silence only allows the abuser to abuse. Right? So I don’t know how silence will ever improve the situation. I really believe in it.” This announcement naturally surprised everyone who signed a non-disclosure agreement while working for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and other members of the royal family. Now the veil has fallen from many mysteries.
Harry spreads unsubstantiated theories in The Spare Pages that the media had a plan against him and Meghan and royal aides colluded to spread negative stories involving them. He also accuses the press and the palace of trying to turn the couple into antagonists to other members of the royal family in order to raise the profile of all those higher in the hierarchy in the public eye.
Here we can not fail to note another phrase of the late Queen as a firsthand witness to the rise and fall of Harry and Meghan: “Memories can be different.”
Fashion house Erdem and NGO Archwell declined to comment.