Royal expert Penny Junor has questioned whether Harry and Meghan ‘colluded’ with the Finding Freedom authors and says the couple would have ‘kicked up a fuss’ about the book had they not been involved.
The controversial biography written by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand was released today and raised eyebrows for its gushing praise and intimate knowledge of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Ms Junor, author of Prince Harry: Brother, Soldier, Son, Husband, told MailOnline: ‘The authors have some extraordinarily personal and private details about Harry and Meghan, but the couple have said they didn’t speak to them directly and we have to take their word for it.
‘What seems absolutely clear, however, is that they colluded. If not, they would have kicked up a huge fuss about this book.
‘I suspect they wanted to get their story and their feelings about how they were treated out into the public arena and have done so via friends who sound as though they were very well and carefully briefed.’
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex gesture during their visit to Canada House in thanks for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada, on January 7, 2020 in London, England
The controversial biography written by Omid Scobie (left) and Carolyn Durand (right) was released today and raised eyebrows for its gushing praise and intimate knowledge of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Scobie today denied ever interviewing the couple for the book and revealed that it was their ‘many’ friends who provided insights.
Palace insiders have described the book as ‘score settling’ after Harry and Meghan left the Royal Family for a life in Los Angeles – after suddenly announcing their intentions in January in a move that left the Queen ‘hurt’.
The book gives a dramatic account of the events leading up to the Sussexes’ departure from royal life and offers new insights to Harry’s falling out with William.
The fraternal dispute is said to have erupted after the Duke of Cambridge’s referred to Meghan as ‘this girl’ and voiced concerns that his younger brother might be rushing into romance.
The authors say Harry ‘felt people working with his brother had put things out there to make William look good, even if it meant throwing Harry under the bus’.
Excerpts from the book have already revealed many inside details about the couple’s departure from the Royal Family, including how the couple considered driving straight to confront the ‘devastated’ Queen about Megxit after returning from Canada in January.
Sources close to the couple also claim in the book that royal aides feared Meghan and Harry’s popularity was eclipsing that of the Royal Family itself – and says the couple were jealous of William and Kate getting the best roles and ‘didn’t feel supported’ by the royals.
Among the fresh revelations in the book are:
- Meghan Markle formed such a close bond with Prince Charles that she considers him her ‘second father’;
- Meghan was often ‘seen carrying binders full of research on Royal protocol’ so she didn’t put a foot wrong;
- The Queen gave Meghan a royal masterclass in protocol and described Meghan as ‘very clever and good’;
- Harry felt he was ‘thrown under the bus’ by aides working for his brother Prince William;
- Royal courtiers feared the brother’s falling out ‘could spell the end of the monarchy’;
- Meghan left the UK ’emotionally bruised and exhausted’ after her last frosty event with William and Kate;
- Russian hackers stole hundreds of their personal photos in 2018 after gaining access to an online account.
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive to meet youngsters from across the Commonwealth as they attend the Your Commonwealth Youth Challenge reception at Marlborough House on July 05, 2018 in London, England
Addressing the rift between William and Harry, the book says the falling out led senior royal courtiers to fear for the future of the monarchy.
Finding Freedom author Omid Scobie says Meghan was the victim of ‘racist and sexist tropes’ in Britain and blames the monarchy for Megxit row because Royals refused to accept the Sussexes’ demands
The Duchess of Sussex was the victim of ‘racist and sexist tropes’ in Britain from commentators and royal courtiers who were resistant to change, the author of the controversial new biography Finding Freedom claimed today.
Omid Scobie’s book was finally released today after weeks of revelations from its pages telling Harry and Meghan’s side of the Megxit story.
It offers highly personal insights – although Scobie and co-author Carolyn Durand claim they did not interview Harry and Meghan, and the couple did not co-operate.
They do say, however, that ‘many’ friends gave them details for the book and that every revelation is confirmed by at least two sources.
Scobie said the authors ‘had a lens to the couple through their friends and their circle of aides’ as well as covering the couple’s private and public engagements.
Scobie and Durand have also blamed the monarchy for the bitterness of the Megxit row, saying it was the institution’s resistance to change and refusal to accept Harry and Meghan’s demands that led to the row over their departure from royal duties.
Scobie told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme how he felt Harry and Meghan had ‘clearly tried to do their best to make it work’ before Megxit took place in March.
He added: ‘They even went as far as presenting a potential roadmap for how they would navigate their roles moving forward, and ultimately it was the institution that turned back on them and told them what they had presented just wasn’t an option.
‘And so this is a couple that really wanted to make it work, but ultimately I think the setup of the royal institution just isn’t built for change on that dramatic a level.’
Scobie also claimed that Meghan was the subject of a narrative calling her ‘Duchess Difficult’ amid reports of her disagreements with palace staff.
Among the aides who left the palace in the months after the royal wedding were communications expert Samantha ‘the Panther’ Cohen and assistant Melissa Toubati.
The book claimed the couple had ‘grown dissatisfied’ with Toubati and were ‘not disappointed when she left’, despite a royal aide praising her as ‘hugely talented’.
And it claims the couple were ‘forced to let go’ of their son Archie’s night nurse during her second shift ‘for being unprofessional’, without going into further details.
Senior aides were also said to have been unimpressed by Meghan’s lavish baby shower in New York in February 2019 with ‘what looked like carefully stage-managed paparazzi walks of the duchess in big black sunglasses from her hotel to her car and a laundry list of insider party details’.
Scobie also told ITV’s Lorraine that commentary about Meghan ‘used every kind of sexist and racist trope that we attach to successful women and women of colour’.
The Queen was said to be ‘concerned’ after the brothers falling out while Harry believed he and Meghan were ‘thrown under the bus’ to protect other members of the family.
A courtier told the authors of Finding Freedom that a crisis meeting was held in 2019 to ‘protect the monarchy.’
Harry had fallen out with his brother after he voiced concerns that he might be rushing his romance with Meghan.
The book says Harry considered this remark as ‘snobbish’ and relations between the once inseparable brothers worsened when Harry and Meghan moved out of Kensington Palace and split up the so called ‘Fab Four’ by setting up their own team to market the SussexRoyal brand.
The authors said courtiers realised that if the brothers were at war the Monarchy might not survive.
One courtier was quoted as saying: ‘It’s no secret, the future of this monarchy relies solely on the four people currently in Kensington Palace. The public popularity only lies with them … When [Prince Charles] becomes King, the only way it lasts is if the four of them are not at war. We cannot have them at war.’
A source told the authors: ‘Harry was upset that it was playing out so publicly and that so much of the information being reported was wrong.
‘There had been moments where he felt people working with his brother had put things out there to make William look good, even if it meant throwing Harry under the bus.
‘It was a confusing time, and his head was all over the place – he didn’t know who or what to believe, and he and William weren’t talking enough either, which made everything a lot worse.’
The falling out culminated at the Sussexes last public engagement in March 2019 before officially leaving Royal duties.
The book claims that Harry and Meghan greeted William and Kate with smiles but claims the Cambridges ‘barely acknowledged’ them.
And the couple left the service ‘hurt’ that they had been left off the official order of service which they took as a snub.
The book tells how Meghan formed such a close bond with Prince Charles that she considers him her ‘second father’.
She is said to have found her father-in-law ‘supportive and loving’ from the moment she was introduced to him. A source told the authors that Meghan doesn’t consider Charles a father-in-law but a ‘second father’.
Charles had walked Meghan down the aisle at her Windsor wedding when her own father Thomas Markle was forced to pull out due to health reasons.
He had also embarrassed the soon to be wed couple by colluding with a photo agency for a series of staged shots, leading to a rift between father and daughter.
The book says Charles was equally fond of Meghan who a friend of the Prince described as a ‘sassy, confident beautiful American.’
The authors write: ‘Meghan had her own reasons for admiring her father-in-law, who had poignantly walked her down the aisle when her own father let her down.’
At the time, a trusted confidant said Meghan ‘found such a supportive and loving father in Charles, which has really changed her life for the better.’
Not a father-in-law but a ‘second father,’ according to the source.
A friend of Charles’s said that the Prince of Wales had ‘taken a real shine to Meghan. She’s a sassy, confident, beautiful American. He likes very strong, confident women.
‘She’s bright, and she’s self-aware, and I can see why they’ve struck up a very quick friendship.’
Charles liked Meghan’s energy. ‘The Prince of Wales has always been fond of people from the Arts, like Emma Thompson, who he’s been mates with for years,’ another source said.
The book says Meghan enjoyed a close friendship with Camilla and struck up a close rapport with the Queen with the former actress keen to learn everything about royal life.
The Prince of Wales’ official 70th photograph with his family is described as a planning ‘nightmare’
They had their first engagement together on June 14th 2018 on a trip to Chester with a source telling the authors the Queen had confidence in Meghan as she is ‘very clever and good at understanding what’s required.’
Writing about the visit authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand wrote: ‘The Queen was wonderful, warm, and generous toward the new Duchess,’ a source close to Her Majesty said.
‘She made sure Meghan knew what was going on and made her feel very much at home because it was her first trip.’ Indeed, before the two stepped off the train, the Queen gifted Meghan with a delicate pair of pearl-and-diamond earrings.
Meghan, an avid learner studying all she could on royal protocol, was often seen carrying binders full of research so she didn’t put a foot wrong. She took her new role incredibly seriously. That day was different, though; she was getting a royal master class in training from the Queen herself.’
Meghan left the Royal Family ’emotionally bruised’ after frosty final encounter with William and Kate
Another revelation in the book is that the Duchess of Sussex burst into tears after the ‘raw emotion’ of leaving the royal family hit home on one of her final engagements, following a frosty final encounter with Prince William and Kate.
The authors of ‘Finding Freedom’ revealed that tears flowed as Meghan said farewell to close members of her support team after Harry had joined her at Buckingham Palace following a presentation ceremony.
It was her penultimate royal engagement and Meghan had met with 22 students who had received scholarships from the Association of Commonwealth Universities. Meghan was patron having taken over from the Queen in 2019.
Finding Freedom has been released today
After the ceremony Prince Harry quietly slipped into room 1884 – where the Queen often receives her most important visitors – to see his wife.
His appearance and the reality that ‘Megxit’ was happening led to all Meghan’s pent up emotion coming out, according to the authors.
The authors wrote: ‘After the meeting it was time to move on to the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey. That was when Harry quietly slipped through the door of the 1844 Room to say hello, and the reality—and the emotions—finally set in
‘Meghan turned around to hug goodbye the last remaining people in the room, including an author of this book. With the state room almost empty except for a few familiar faces, the tears the duchess had been holding back were free to flow.
‘She embraced some of the dedicated team members whose tireless efforts—to promote the couple’s work, launch landmark projects, and deal with the near-daily crises brought on by the tabloids—had come to an abrupt end. ‘I can’t believe this is it,’ she said, hugging one the young female aides she had become close with.
‘Though Team Sussex was a much smaller operation than the more sophisticated offices at Clarence House and Kensington Palace, in the short space of a year since setting up, they had become like family.
At the end of the engagement, Harry joined Meghan and gave her a hug before she quickly changed into her clothes for the Commonwealth Service. ‘The last hat for a while, guys!’ Meghan said with a smile, her tears now wiped away.’
It was at the Commonwealth service that the frosty relationship between brothers William and Harry and their wives was laid bare.
Kate was said by the authors to have avoided eye contact with Meghan with her husband simply nodding towards Harry.
After the service Meghan booked the first flight to Canada and left the UK ’emotional bruised and exhausted’.
Harry and Meghan would snuggle up in a sofa and ‘binge watch’ the TV series ‘Game of Thrones’ as their romance blossomed
The couple also enjoyed watching the hugely popular crime drama ‘Breaking Bad’ and Disney movies such as ‘The Lion King’
The viewing tastes of the royal couple were revealed in the eagerly awaited biography ‘Finding Freedom’ which is published today.
The authors said the couple spent much of their time during the early days of their romance ‘curled up’ in Harry’s modest living room watching TV.
They said they would emerge ‘from time to time’ to visit a nearby cinema in Notting Hill and afterwards grab a bite to eat.
The authors write:’ London was starting to feel like home. On many nights, she and Harry curled up in his modest living room, binge-watching TV (Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad were favourites).
‘They also had the same taste in films. Fans of Disney, they loved to watch movies like Moana and The Lion King.
‘And thanks to the arrival of awards season in the United States, Meghan was also in possession of a stack of screeners sent out to voters and SAG-AFTRA members. Because Meghan was a member, the pair were able to view the year’s best cinema from the comfort of their own home.
‘They emerged from time to time, visiting the Notting Hill movie theatre the Electric Cinema to see Hidden Figures or grabbing a bite to eat.
They had their tried-and-true spots, including Soho House, the site of their first meeting, and the Sands End, a rustic style gastropub in Fulham owned by Mark Dyer. The former Welsh Guards officer—who accompanied Harry on his gap year—had always been on hand to offer the prince advice and support.’
The book reveals that while in London Meghan was able to fly under the radar and make regular shopping trips to Whole Foods in Kensington High Streeti n West London.
The book reveals that while in London Meghan was able to fly under the radar and make regular shopping trips to Whole Foods in Kensington High Street in West London.
The couple had flown out for the nuptial of Harry’s close friend Thomas Inskip and had purposely booked a secluded room at the Round Hill Hotel in Montego Bay.
As they embraced on the balcony a photographer was able to get his shots – despite Harry being assured all 110 acres of the resort would be closed to the public.
Meghan was also photographed in her tiny swimsuits’ frolicking in the sea with the prince, according to the book.
Harry was ‘apoplectic with rage and told palace aides to make sure the photos were never published.
‘Do whatever needs to be done’ Harry is reported in the book as saying.
The authors continue: ‘In their villa bedroom, Harry was angry and shouting while Meghan was concerned. She more than understood his feelings about media intrusion, how that deep distrust had formed after his mother’s death and had never gone away, bubbling up each time a reporter took their efforts to get a story too far.
‘But she had never seen him like this. In past incidents with the paparazzi, Meghan had usually been able to find the right words to soothe his anger.
‘Often, she was the only one able to calm Harry down when he got into one of his moods. In Jamaica, however, he remained frustrated for days. He was in such a state that even his buddies remarked on his dour mood.
‘Although Meghan had never seen this side of Harry before, she wasn’t put off by it. Instead, she was sad to see him so affected.’
The book also details how Harry cut off contact with his friend Inskip after he voiced concern that he was rushing into romance with Meghan.
The pair later got back on speaking terms.
The book also revealed the Prince of Wales’ official 70th birthday photograph with his family was a ‘nightmare’ to plan because his sons blew ‘hot and cold’ with their father.
But the book also comments on how when Charles contracted Covid-19, Harry immediately telephoned his father to find out how the 71-year-old was doing.
Co-authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand wrote in the book: ‘The boys can be hot and cold with their father’ disclosed a source, who gave the example of planning the photo session for Charles’ 70th birthday, which they called ‘an absolute nightmare’.
‘Neither William nor Harry made much of an effort to make themselves available’, the source said.’
Charles’ 70th birthday in 2018 was marked by the release of two official images, featuring the heir to the throne sat on a bench with Prince George on his knee, and sat next to him was the Duchess of Cornwall and Princess Charlotte.
Stood behind the prince and his wife were William and Kate, with the duchess holding Prince Louis, and Harry and Meghan.
The book also claims how the relationship between Charles and Harry was more complicated than a traditional father and son bond.
Meghan is praised in the book for her packing skills during a trip to Africa with Harry
The authors wrote in Finding Freedom: ‘While Charles may be father to Harry, he’s also their boss, and that makes the relationship complex for a number of reasons’, a source added.
‘Charles is extremely focused on his public image, and there have been times Harry has felt that has taken precedence over everything else’, the source said.’
The book looks back over the events of the last few years, from when the couple first met and fell in love, their decision to step down as working royals in order to have financial freedom and the first few weeks of the coronavirus lockdown.
But the relationship between Harry and his father is understood to have moved on from the start of the year when the duke sat down to negotiate with the Queen, Charles and William about his future role.
When Charles caught coronavirus in March, the concern aroused in his son is thought to have brought the pair closer.
The book says: ‘The doctors described the Prince of Wales as in ‘good spirits’ and his symptoms as mild, it was still enough to fill Harry with worry.
‘He immediately called Charles at Birkhall, his Scottish home where he was now quarantined. Harry regularly checked in on his father until he was out of quarantine and recovered – as well as Camilla, who isolated herself as precaution.’