The biography of Harry and Meghan contains a string of incendiary claims about how they were shunned by the Firm.
Dubbed the ‘gospel according to the Sussexes’, Finding Freedom was said to have been written with the couple’s blessing and its authors had access to their inner circle.
Spanning 24 chapters, the book contains page after page of score-settling and vicious swipes at the Royal Family, courtiers and the media. Indignation and rancour are particularly directed towards William and Kate for supposedly cold-shouldering the Sussexes from the start of their relationship.
Even the Queen, who did much behind the scenes to ease their journey away from royal life, is rebuked for apparent slights towards the couple.
The astonishing book has sparked fresh recriminations over who was to blame over the bitter fallout from Megxit.
Others in the Royal Household have hit back, attacking the biography as a partial account designed to put a gloss on Harry and Meghan’s behaviour.
Courtiers who have read extracts from the book have been quick to insist that the version of events peddled by friends of the Sussexes is false.
Here, the Mail outlines some of the most astonishing allegations – and examines whether they stand up to scrutiny.
‘Viper’ courtiers blamed for stifling their schemes
Senior courtiers who Princess Diana used to refer to as ‘men in grey suits’ are described as ‘vipers’.
The book claims the so-called ‘old guard’ tried to undermine the couple and ‘were concerned that the global interest in and popularity of the Sussexes needed to be reined in’.
Harry and Meghan believed ‘few inside the palace were looking out for their interests’ and felt that most courtiers could not be trusted with their sensitive information.
They believed that these ‘men in grey suits’ were stifling their attempts to launch their initiatives, and when they tried to air these frustrations ‘the conversations didn’t lead anywhere’.
One source said Harry felt that some of the old guard at the palace ‘simply didn’t like Meghan and would stop at nothing to make her life difficult’.
Senior courtiers who Princess Diana used to refer to as ‘men in grey suits’ are described as ‘vipers’. Pictured: Meghan’s first function with the Queen – plus the men in grey suits
The book concludes that Meghan was ‘totally foreign’ to this group of advisers, who ‘could sometimes be even more conservative than the institution they guarded’.
The description of senior palace courtiers as ‘vipers’ has sparked some amusement in royal circles, conjuring up the image of a group of bikers in leather jackets.
‘Maybe thirty years ago there would have been an issue, but that’s just laughable to suggest now,’ said one insider.
The source said it was obvious ‘why it would suit the narrative of the book’, but insisted the description is ‘just not true’.
Another insider said: ‘The fact is that Meghan was welcomed with open arms and everyone did their best to offer their help about how to navigate such a tricky public role – advice she would often choose to ignore.
‘They did the best they could in often trying circumstances.’
The ‘A-team’ of staff who dwindled away
In an interview yesterday, one of the book’s authors dismissed the notion that Meghan was pushy towards her staff – despite numerous departures.
Omid Scobie said Meghan’s high-profile career as an actress and the fact that she was a divorcee left her ‘ripe for exploitation’.
But insiders have often hinted at the couple’s high-handedness. The duchess was surrounded by an ‘A-team’ of high-achieving women all wanting to promote their boss’ world vision. But one by one, they all departed.
First, the couple’s assistant Melissa Toubati ‘quit’ in November 2018, six months into the job, after allegedly being reduced to tears by her boss.
‘That’s so not what happened,’ Mr Scobie said. He then cited legal reasons for refusing to elaborate.
A few weeks later, the couple’s private secretary, Samantha Cohen, left after 17 years with the Royal Family. Last January, Meghan’s female bodyguard departed after just six months.
Archie’s first nurse did not survive her second night before being ‘let go’ for ‘unprofessional and irresponsible’ conduct, according to Mr Scobie.
Royal biographer Robert Jobson claimed in his book, Charles At Seventy, that Meghan’s wedding preparations were so stressful that Harry became ‘petulant and short-tempered’ with members of staff.
Charlotte’s dress ‘tears’
The authors insist there were no tears from Kate over Meghan’s ‘strict demands’ surrounding her wedding (pictured)
The authors insist there were no tears from Kate over Meghan’s ‘strict demands’ surrounding her wedding.
It was claimed in November 2018 that Meghan had reduced her sister-in-law to tears over Princess Charlotte’s bridesmaid’s dress. The Daily Telegraph reported that two sources said the Duchess of Cambridge was crying after a dress fitting with Charlotte, pictured below at the wedding with her mother.
The Mail has also spoken to sources who support the claim that Kate was deeply upset. Dismissing the story yesterday, the book described the claims as ‘puzzling’ and questioned whether someone from the palace could have been behind the tale.
It said aides should have ‘set the record straight’ because it was a ‘ridiculous story’ that was ‘so false’.
‘Some of the children weren’t cooperating, and there was a lot going on,’ the source said. ‘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.’
Kicking up a stink at the chapel?
According to royal sources, Meghan disliked the musty odour of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle and asked for air fresheners to be deployed before her wedding guests arrived.
This was said to have horrified Buckingham Palace officials who pointed out that the chapel was a regular place of worship for the Queen – and successive monarchs since 1475 – and if it was good enough for them, it would be good enough for her.
But a passage in Finding Freedom dismisses this notion. The truth, it says, was that discreet Baies scented air diffusers (pictured) for the chapel provided by Diptyque had been approved by all parties involved.
The fuss over the odour was first revealed by the Daily Mail several months after the wedding. Insiders at both Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace confirmed that the request had been made by the duchess’s office for the scented diffusers and that it hadn’t gone down well. Those sources stood by their account last night.
According to royal sources, Meghan disliked the musty odour of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle (her wedding day, pictured) and asked for air fresheners to be deployed before her wedding guests arrived
‘Ignored’ by Wills and Kate at the Abbey
During one of their final engagements as senior royals, Meghan was ‘purposefully snubbed’ by Kate in front of a global TV audience, the authors claim.
Shortly after arriving at Westminster Abbey in March to mark the 70th anniversary of the Commonwealth, Harry and Meghan ‘both greeted William and Kate with smiles’ but got ‘little response’.
William nodded at Harry and allegedly ‘ignored’ his sister-in-law.
‘For the minutes before the Queen’s arrival, William and Kate sat with their backs to the couple, only turning around to chat with Prince Edward and Sophie, next to the Sussexes,’ the authors wrote.
‘Meghan tried to make eye contact with Kate – the duchess barely acknowledged her.’
In an interview with The Times, Mr Scobie said: ‘To purposefully snub your sister-in-law… I don’t think it left a great taste in the couple’s mouths.’
Royal watchers point out the ‘icy encounter’ was the first time they had all seen each other since the ‘Sandringham Summit’ showdown over the Sussexes’ role two months earlier, and a formal event was not the moment to rebuild bridges.
During one of their final engagements as senior royals, Meghan was ‘purposefully snubbed’ by Kate in front of a global TV audience, the authors claim. Pictured: The family leave Westminster Abbey after attending the annual Commonwealth Service in March
Staying solo at the polo
The book claims Meghan and Kate’s ‘cordial but distant rapport’ was apparent when the pair appeared alongside each other at the King Power Royal Charity Polo Day last summer.
The book claims Meghan and Kate’s ‘cordial but distant rapport’ was apparent when the pair appeared alongside each other at the King Power Royal Charity Polo Day last summer (pictured)
Although the duchesses were pictured with their children, the ‘two appeared to barely exchange a word’, it was claimed.
The authors wrote: ‘The state of affairs between the two women was just an offshoot of the real issue at hand: The conflict between Harry and the institution.’
The picture of disillusion
The couple were dismayed when no photograph of them and their son Archie was displayed during the Queen’s Christmas speech last year.
According to Finding Freedom, they considered it a snub that their photo was absent from the desk in the Green Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace, pictured above, from where the Monarch gives her traditional annual address.
Already feeling they ‘had long been sidelined by the institution and were not a fundamental part of its future’, the couple considered the episode to be ‘yet another sign that they needed to consider their own path’.
Photographs of the duke and duchess had featured in the Queen’s address in 2018, but she opted last year to display images of her father King George VI, Prince Charles and Camilla, and a family shot of the Cambridges. The book quotes palace sources as saying they wanted to illustrate the line of succession.
Yesterday, sources scoffed at the suggestion that it was the absence of their picture from the Queen’s desk that prompted Harry and Meghan’s decision to go.
The couple were dismayed when no photograph of them and their son Archie was displayed during the Queen’s Christmas speech last year