It didn’t stay quiet for long. Just over a week since the Queen’s funeral and an extract from a new book about the alleged palace bullying scandal is causing (another) royal stir.
The book, Courtiers: The inside story of the Palace power struggles from the Royal correspondent who revealed the bullying allegations, reveals multiple juicy details about the drama which unfurled behind closed doors in Buckingham Palace, from the very early days of Harry and Meghan’s courtship to Harry and William’s seemingly ongoing brotherly “feud”.
The book’s author Valentine Low has been reporting on the royal family for more than 25 years. He speaks to multiple insiders who worked during the period of turmoil before Harry and Meghan chose to exit the family, and quite frankly… no one comes off too well.
Here are some of the biggest bombshells unveiled — and this is just the one excerpt released so far.
Harry and Meghan distrusted the palace before even going public
While the world was just beginning to learn of Harry’s new potential relationship through whispers of “Suits actress” this, and “American girlfriend” that, the pair were already well established in their stance on the Palace.
In the portion of the book revealed to The Times, one source tells author Valentine Low: “[Harry] definitely had mistrust of the courtiers at Buckingham Palace and his father’s palace.”
In fact, Meghan distrusted the palace so early on that she reportedly demanded Harry make their relationship official so that she would be awarded some protection as a result.
The extract reads: “Meghan, meanwhile, told him that if he did not do something about it, she would break off the relationship. A source said: ‘She was saying, ‘If you don’t put out a statement confirming I’m your girlfriend, I’m going to break up with you.’ ‘ Harry was in a panic. Another source said: ‘He was freaking out, saying, ‘She’s going to dump me.’”
There were rifts between Harry, Meghan and staff as early as 2017
When she first joined the family, Meghan fitte in perfectly - she was liked by Will and Kate and she came across well. Even an old hand within the royal family, the Lord Chamberlain, Earl Peel, testified to that.
In the excerpt, he’s said to have commented: “I liked her, actually. She was very forthright. Very, very polite. Very understanding. She wanted to learn.”
But things quickly turned as Harry and Meghan felt unsupported by their staff, with Harry apparently accusing those who disagreed with him of “palace syndrome” (whereby one becomes indoctrinated into protecting the “firm” at all costs). When staff complained about how they were being treated, Meghan is said to have replied: “It’s not my job to coddle people.”
The wedding tiara caused a huge rift
In the snippet of the book made public, the author reveals that Meghan’s fittings for her wedding tiara - which she was set to borrow from the Queen - kept going awry, leading Harry to swear at the Queen’s dresser (a member of staff, to clarify, not the chest of drawers).
Because Meghan wanted to align tiara trial runs with her hairdresser, she didn’t take into account availability of Angela Kelly, the Queen’s dresser and curator of her personal jewellery. Angela Kelly explained the protocol to Meghan, but was also ignoring requests for fittings. Harry got so angry he’s said to have released some royal potty mouth, directed at Kelly, and was told off by the Queen as a result.
The extract reads: “Whether Harry swore at his grandmother’s aide, or about her, is not clear. But she wasn’t impressed. She reported all this to the Queen, who summoned Harry to a private meeting. ‘He was firmly put in his place,’ a source said. ‘He had been downright rude.’”
Harry and Meghan were called “bullies”, who allegedly made staff cry
In some of the most explosive claims in the book, former aides reveal that both Harry and Meghan weren’t exactly a barrel of laughs to work with. The extract features quotes from former staff who call them “outrageous bullies” who “broke people”.
Some of these claims were also alluded to in an article for The Mirror back in 2018, following the resignation of Meghan’s personal assistant, Melissa Touabti. At the time a source told the paper: “Her job was highly pressurised and in the end it became too much. She put up with quite a lot. Meghan put a lot of demands on her and it ended up with her in tears… Melissa is a total professional and fantastic at her job, but things came to a head and it was easier for them both to go their separate ways.”
However, some of the claims of bullying featured in the extract have already been refuted. In February 2021, the Duchess of Sussex’s lawyers denied claims that the pair had bullied senior former member of staff, Sam Cohen, saying that the couple were always grateful for Cohen’s support and dedication. “She remains very close to the duke and duchess,” the lawyers said.
Certain palace staff thought Meghan was disliked because she was ‘too American’
In one passage, the author discusses one of Meghan’s PA’s, Sara Latham, and how the two were a “golden combination” at first, because Latham “understood” the Duchess.
However, this was not because she sympathised with the alleged racism in the press Meghan was facing, but rather because she thought Meghan was… too American.
The snippet says: “Latham thought she understood Meghan, who believed that the press hated her and that she was a victim of racism in the media. The way Latham saw it, Meghan as an American was a victim of cultural differences rather than racism.” You can kinda see how a rift might start to appear here.
There was a fight for publicity between the Cambridges and the Sussexes
During the Sussexes tour of Africa in 2019, ITV reporter Tom Bradbury asked Meghan how she was doing - how she was really doing. The answer to which was like a sonic boom, heard across the world. “Thank you for asking, because not many people have asked if I’m OK. But it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes,” the Duchess responded.
This little admission, that Meghan was struggling against the facade of the Royal Family, was enough to warrant hundreds of headlines. Unfortunately for William and Kate, the interview clip aired for the first time during the last day of the Cambridge’s tour of Pakistan, eating up all their good press.
In the Courtiers extract, Low claims that this unsettled William. “The Cambridge team was not happy and saw it as a deliberate attempt to knock the Cambridges out of the headlines,” the extract reads. “Relations between the two households became quite tense.”
The day afterwards, William reached out to Harry to chat, but because the Duke of Cambridge couldn’t guarantee total privacy, the two failed to speak. And so the alleged “rift” only grew, and is ongoing to this day.
The full version of Courtiers is set to be published on the October 6, so strap in. It’s set to be a bombshell few weeks ahead.