‘Harry’s bloody book!’
Despite a plethora of problems and crises, behind-the-scenes at the royal households, the royal autobiography to end all royal autobiographies has become a persistent talking point.
There is now a widespread acceptance that Prince Charles, Camilla and Prince William are likely to be left battered and bruised in a literary sense in Harry’s forthcoming burn-all-bridges-to-seek-revenge tell-all.
Harry and Meghan’s silence over the Queen’s announcement the Duchess of Cornwall is to become Queen Consort upon her death spoke volumes.
And relations between the Sussexes and the Cambridge’s remain ice cold, amid the recriminations from the Oprah interview, in which Meghan claimed it was Kate who made her cry at the now infamous bridesmaid dress fitting.
But courtiers are equally obsessed with another question: Why are Harry and Meghan unlikely to come for the royal outcast Prince Andrew?
Their views on the disgraced Duke – who recently settled a highly damaging civil case with his accuser Virginia Giuffre – would be particularly newsworthy in the US, where the Jeffrey Epstein scandal was big news.
DAN WOOTTON: Harry and Meghan’s silence over the Queen’s announcement the Duchess of Cornwall is to become Queen Consort upon her death spoke volumes. (Pictured: Harry and Meghan at Global Citizen Live in New York last September)
But there is a growing sense that Harry has decided to spare the Yorks the same sort of scathing treatment being prepared for his father and brother and their wives, at least in part due to his close relationship with cousins Princess Beatrice and Eugenie.
Courtiers point to the fact Oprah – close friends with the couple – seemingly never asked about the Andrew/Epstein scandal in the highly controlled CBS interview.
In fact, the only time the Duke came up was when Meghan raised the family in a positive manner when revealing she first met the Queen during a visit to his home, the grace and favour mansion at Royal Lodge in Windsor.
She said: ‘There wasn’t a huge formality the first time I met Her Majesty The Queen.
‘We were going for lunch at Royal Lodge, which is where some other members of the family live, specifically Andrew and Fergie, and Eugenie and Beatrice would spend a lot of time there.
‘Eugenie and I had known each other before I knew Harry, so that was comfortable.’
Despite the absence of any direct criticism of Andrew or Fergie – who Harry and Meghan are known to view fondly – the relationship was tested in the wake of the Oprah interview.
At a society event in London last year a few weeks after the broadcast, close friends of Beatrice and Eugenie told me they were stunned by their vocal criticism of the Sussexes for dragging their family’s reputation through the mud.
If the two sisters had turned on their beloved cousin Harry, it showed just how much the Royal Family had given up on the Sussexes.
But something changed over the past few months.
Relations thawed enough for Eugenie to fly to the US with her husband Jack Brooksbank in February – the first time a royal had visited the prince in his new home.
DAN WOOTTON: Relations between the Sussexes and the Cambridge’s remain ice cold, amid the recriminations from the Oprah interview, in which Meghan claimed it was Kate who made her cry at the now infamous bridesmaid dress fitting. (Pictured from left: William, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Kate, while in front, Charles and Camilla at Prince Philip’s service)
Eugenie also attended the Superbowl with Harry in a sign the pair wanted to be photographed together in public.
The feeling among courtiers is that the York’s – especially Beatrice and Eugenie – will be able to act as a bridge between the Sussexes and the Cambridges in the future.
But there is also simmering astonishment that self-proclaimed social warriors Harry and Meghan will avoid criticism of Andrew’s friendship with known paedophile Epstein, while attacking other relatives.
A royal insider tells me: ‘The fear factor around this book is off the scale. Of course, the households publicly say they are not interested and have no plans to comment on any royal book because so many are published; but there’s never been a situation quite like this.
‘Even when the Princess of Wales cooperated with Andrew Morton, she had the veneer of deniability. These are Harry’s own words. They might want to remain above the fray, but that could become impossible depending what bombshells are unleashed.
‘Clarence House and Kensington Palace now accept their principles will be in the firing line. There is an expectation that the Queen and Prince Philip will be lovingly praised.
‘But there is also an increasing confidence that Prince Andrew and his former wife will be left alone. Harry and Meghan are thought to be very conscious of the impact the Epstein scandal has had on Beatrice and Eugenie. They won’t want to add to the pile on.
‘Meghan is also very fond of Sarah, the Duchess of York, who she feels has had a not too dissimilar journey.
‘They’re not expected to bear the brunt of Harry’s anger and frustration with the royal establishment.’
Last July, I first revealed in a column for MailOnline the ‘growing sense of shock and fury’ among the royal palaces and Harry’s own family members about his tell-all plan.
A senior royal source told me after the announcement: ‘This is the no going back moment – the final nail in the coffin of the Royal Family’s relationship with Harry.
DAN WOOTTON: There is now a widespread acceptance that Prince Charles, Camilla and Prince William are likely to be left battered and bruised in a literary sense in Harry’s forthcoming burn-all-bridges-to-seek-revenge tell-all. (Pictured: Kate, William, Charles and Camilla at the James Bond premier in London last September)
‘The emotional turmoil as they wait over a year for publication is going to be torturous.’
What has angered courtiers most is that Harry and Meghan know, whatever they say in the book, Prince Charles and William, as heirs to the throne, will find it almost impossible to fight back.
Charles was given no prior warning of the book announcement and was immediately concerned about what his son would say about Camilla.
The deal with Penguin Random House will see Prince Harry getting at least £14.7million ($20m) upfront for the book, with at least a million of that believed going to the ghostwriter J.R. Moehringer, although he has promised for the proceeds to go to charity.
Announcing the book, Harry said: ‘I’m writing this not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become.
‘I’ve worn many hats over the years, both literally and figuratively, and my hope is that in telling my story – the highs and lows, the mistakes, the lessons learnt – I can help show that no matter where we come from, we have more in common than we think.’
Prince Charles and William might soon be wishing the one thing they have in common with Prince Andrew is the fact he doesn’t feature much in Prince Harry’s ultimate revenge tome.