A sombre Duchess of Cambridge was seen leaving Kensington Palace today as her husband prepared to meet his want-away brother Harry for crunch talks at Sandringham.
Prince William is at Sandringham with the Queen and Prince Charles but his wife is in London caring for their three children.
The Cambridges appear to have badly fallen out with the Sussexes who are said to have blamed Prince William’s ‘bullying attitude’ for forcing them out, an insider has claimed.
But William and Kate are said to be bereft that Harry and Meghan have quit ‘without a thought’ for them or Harry’s nieces and nephews.
When it was put to Harry last week that he needed to discuss his plans with William at least before ‘pressing the nuclear button’, he made clear he hadn’t any intention of doing so.
Neither had it occurred to him that there would also be ramifications for the young Cambridge children, George, six, Charlotte, four, and Louis, just one. The siblings have only seen their cousin Archie, eight months, once or twice since he was born.
‘He is so caught up with his own problems and just hadn’t thought through how it would affect everyone else,’ said a source with intimate knowledge of the week’s events.
Kate looked serious as she left Kensington Palace today as her husband comes face to face with his want-away brother in Norfolk today
Harry is understood to be in turmoil over his decision to ‘abdicate’ which will be the subject of crisis talks held by the Queen at Sandringham today (pictured: the Sussexes and the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace in 2018)
Friends say the rift between the two is so deep now that it is unlikely to be repaired for the foreseeable future.
Harry is understood to be in turmoil over his decision to ‘abdicate’ which will be the subject of crisis talks held by the Queen at Sandringham today.
Meghan Markle has driven the extraordinary move for the pair to step down, a source told The Times, saying: ‘She wants to leave … She thinks: “It’s not working for me.”
‘Harry is under intense pressure to choose. It is sad. He loves the Queen. He loves this country. He loves all his military stuff and I think it will genuinely break his heart to leave. I don’t think that’s what he really wants. I think they want some halfway house.’
The Sussexes are said to be frustrated by ‘constantly being told their place’ over the last two years, a couple that knows the pair well told The Times.
They are said to have felt ‘tethered’ and that the Cambridges’ had been competitive and decided from the outset, ‘We are going to tell these people their place and we are going to push them away.’
However, sources close to both the Cambridges and Sussexes strongly contested the claims that the couple feel ousted by Prince William.
The Queen leaving a church service at Sandringham on Sunday
Senior royals are gravely disappointed by Harry’s decision to pull the plug on his position ‘without a thought’ for William and his family, insiders revealed.
The 35-year-old is said to be so caught up in his own misery he hasn’t considered the fall-out for the brother he was once inseparable from – and his little niece and nephews.
It was reported on Saturday that the Duke of Cambridge had spoken of his sadness at the broken bond with Harry. ‘I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives and I can’t do that any more; we’re separate entities,’ he told a friend according to the Sunday Times.
‘I’m sad about that. All we can do, and all I can do, is try and support them and hope the time comes when we’re all singing from the same page. I want everyone to play on the same team.’
Privately, William and Harry have always felt the public perception of them as Diana’s ‘boys’ wedded together for the rest of their lives by tragedy was an anachronism. Pictured together at Thorpe Park in 1993
Prince William accompanies his brother on his wedding day in May 2018 (left). It was reported yesterday that the Duke of Cambridge had spoken of his sadness at the broken bond with Harry (right)
While sources close to William say he ‘does not recognise’ the quote in the Sunday Times, it is widely acknowledged it is ‘fairly close’ to what he is thinking. ‘Sadness, I’d say is the overwhelming emotion,’ said one source.
Harry and Meghan announced their intention to step down as senior royals on Wednesday
‘This is his brother, for God’s sake. He loves him. And he is desperately sad – and worried – that it has come to this. There’s an acknowledgement that things are very estranged at the moment. But maybe time and a little distance will heal that.’
While understandably concerned for his brother, William is also said to be worried about the increased workload Harry’s stepping down will bring for other family members.
Although now seventh in line to the throne, Harry and Meghan would still have undertaken more than 200 public engagements each year.
And even in the slimmed-down monarchy their father is hoping for, the Sussexes would have had a significant role. Privately, William and Harry have always felt the public perception of them as Diana’s ‘boys’ wedded together for the rest of their lives by tragedy was an anachronism. They have always had each other’s back, but have always had different ways of handling things – and different paths.
One source said the rot began after Harry left the military in 2015 and began to feel frustrated at his rather rootless existence compared to William’s clearly defined career path.
Prince Harry decided to pull the plug on his royal role ‘without a thought’ for William and his family, according to insiders. Pictured arriving together for the Grenfell Tower National Memorial Service at St Paul’s Cathedral in 2017
It was Kate who brought the brothers together, particularly as they collaborated on their mental health campaign, Heads Together.
But others say it was just a plaster on a long-festering wound that was ripped off when Meghan came on the scene and Harry had his own family to defend.
The Mail understands while William feels both he and his brother have been deeply affected by Diana’s death, Harry seems unable to move on with his life.