Prince William’s “alleged bullying” is what caused the Sussexes to step down, says royal expert

Prince William’s “alleged bullying” is what caused the Sussexes to step down, says royal expert

News of a royal rift has dominated headlines since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped down from their roles as senior working royals and decamped to California in January 2020.

It’s been widely reported that Prince Harry’s relationship with his family, in particular his father Prince Charles and brother Prince William, has been strained since he swapped Frogmore Cottage for a house in exclusive California enclave Montecito – with relations thought to have significantly worsened following his and Meghan’s tell-all TV interview with Oprah Winfrey back in March.

The Oprah interview, which, according to broadcaster ITV, was watched by 12.4 million people in the UK alone, saw the couple open up about everything from racism within the Royal Family, to allegations that Meghan had made Kate Middleton cry in the lead up to the Sussexes’ 2018 royal wedding. (Meghan revealed in the interview that it was actually the other way around, despite what the press had previously reported.)

Now, royal biographer Andrew Morton, author of Meghan: A Hollywood Princess, has claimed that Prince William and Kate Middleton actually played a key role in the Sussexes’ decision to step away.

Adding six additional chapters to his 2018 book, excerpts of which have been published in The Mirror, the author claimed that it wasn’t so much the royal institution as a whole that led to Meghan and Harry’s exit (as previously inferred due to the couple’s vague referencing of ‘The Firm’ in their sit-down with Oprah), but the attitudes of individual family members themselves.

“Far from abandoning Meghan, the Palace had a team which spent ‘hundreds of hours monitoring social media accounts' and ‘violent threats were reported to the police,'" Morton writes.

“The Duchess of Cambridge’s coolness towards Meghan, and William’s alleged bullying contributed to a devastating ‘Cain and Abel’ fallout between the brothers,” the royal biographer added. “Harry was the ‘prime mover’ in souring relations between the Sussexes and the Royal Family, but it was Meghan who ‘took the hit.’”

Morton uses the phrase “alleged bullying” in reference to a story published in The Times last January, which claimed that William held a “bullying” attitude towards his younger brother, and that the couple left because they had had enough of “constantly being told their place”.

It should be noted, though, that Harry and William rebutted the allegations, releasing a joint statement that said, as per The Guardian: "Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a UK newspaper today speculating about the relationship between the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Cambridge. For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful.”

Though recent reports have hinted at Harry and Meghan making a return to the UK for Christmas – or at least, for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year – it remains to be seen whether the ‘Fab Four’ will reconcile any time soon.

Kate McCusker

Kate McCusker is a freelance writer at Marie Claire UK, having joined the team in 2019. She studied fashion journalism at Central Saint Martins, and her byline has also appeared in Dezeen, British Vogue, The Times and woman&home. In no particular order, her big loves are: design, good fiction, bad reality shows and the risible interiors of celebrity houses.