When Meghan Markle first married into the Royal Family, it appeared as though she had found a fast friend in sister-in-law Kate Middleton.
The royal wives made up half of the ‘Fab Four’ and even attended the Wimbledon women’s singles final together in 2018.
But in his latest bombshell interview, Prince Harry says that trouble was brewing behind the scenes at Kensington Palace from the offset of his romance with the former Suits actress.
Last night, the Duke of Sussex, 38, opened up about his family’s reaction to his new relationship in an interview with his friend Tom Bradby.
Prince Harry has claimed the Princess of Wales was among the members of his family who ‘stereotyped’ his wife Meghan Markle. The royal wives pictured in June 2018
Although the Duke claims the Prince and Princess of Wales were ‘religious viewers’ of Suits, he agreed with Tom Bradby that it was ‘fair’ to say that his family ‘didn’t get on’ with his wife ‘almost from the get-go’.
He explained: ‘There was a lot of stereotyping that was happening, that I was guilty of as well, at the beginning.’
He said the ‘stereotyping’ of Meghan, in part by William and Kate, was causing a ‘barrier’ to his family, preventing them from ‘welcoming her in.’
Here Femail takes a look back at Kate and Meghan’s frosty relationship – from their awkward first meeting to the Duchess’ ‘rude’ comment that drove a wedge between the couples.
Prince Harry told Tom Bradby that the Princess of Wales was among members of the Royal Family who ‘stereotyped’ his wife Meghan Markle when they first started dating
The Princess of Wales and Duchess of Cambridge pictured attending the Wimbledon women’s singles final together in 2019
AWKWARD FIRST ENCOUNTER
Prince Harry reportedly introduced Kate to his girlfriend of six months, Meghan, in January 2017.
The then-Suits actress had already met Prince William two months prior, while the Princess of Wales was in Norfolk with her family.
The new couple had just returned from their first romantic holiday together in Norway, where they reportedly watched the Northern Lights.
A source told The Sun that Kate was ‘really looking forward’ to meeting Meghan.
The insider said: ‘They are very close and he really values her opinion on girlfriends.
‘Obviously Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, died when he was very young so Kate really fulfils that older sister/maternal role.’
Prince Harry reportedly introduced Kate to his girlfriend of six months, Meghan, in January 2017 – and the two made their first joint appearance that December
At the time it was reported the meeting had gone ‘really well’ and it had been ‘important’ to the duke that the princess liked his new partner.
However despite the reports, Meghan recounted in the couple’s Netflix series Harry & Meghan that the introduction had been awkward.
The Duchess of Sussex revealed she was ‘barefoot’ and wearing ripped jeans when she first met Kate.
Discussing the meeting , she said she did not know the ‘formality’ continues behind closed doors and that she is a ‘hugger’ – which she did not realise was ‘jarring for some Brits’.
She admitted she was ‘surprised’ there is a ‘forward-facing way of being and then you close the door’.
She said: ‘Even when Will and Kate came over and I was meeting her for the first time I remember I was in ripped jeans, I was barefoot. Like I was a hugger, I have always been a hugger I didn’t realise that is really jarring for a lot of Brits.’
‘I started to understand that the formality on the outside carried through on the inside, that there is a forward facing way of being and then you close the door and think “OK we can relax now”.
‘But that formality carries over on both sides and that was surprising to me.’
When the engagement was announced, Meghan had also paid tribute to Kate for welcoming her into the family.
‘Catherine has been absolutely amazing, as has William as well, you know, fantastic support,’ Meghan said in an interview to mark her engagement to Harry.
During their Oprah interview, Prince Harry re-iterated this sentiment – saying Megan was ‘received far better than [he] expected’.
Despite his most recent claims that William and Kate ‘stereotyped’ his wife, Prince Harry said in 2021: ‘My grandmother has been amazing throughout. My father, my brother, Kate and all the rest of the family – they were really welcoming.’
The ‘Fab Four’ façade
Prince Harry said the Royal Family ‘weren’t expecting him to get into a relationship with someone like Meghan Markle’ in his new interview. Pictured: the couples in November 2018
At first, the then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the newly engaged couple were dubbed the ‘Fab Four’ by the British press.
However, Prince Harry said during his ITV interview that it was a challenge adding Meghan into the dynamic he already shared with William and Kate.
When asked why Meghan ‘didn’t get on’ with his family from the ‘get-go-‘, he explained: ‘Lots of – lots of different reasons but I – look, as I again detail a lot, I had put a lot of hope in the idea that, you know, it’d be William and Kate and me and whoever.
‘I thought the – you know, the four of us would, you know, bring me and William closer together, we could go out and do work together, um, which I did a lot as the third wheel to them, um, which was fun at times but also, I guess slightly awkward at times as well.
‘But um yeah, I think – I don’t think they were ever expecting me to get – or to become – to get into a relationship with – with someone like Meghan who had, you know, a very successful career.’
Prince Harry told Tom Bradby that he felt ‘slightly awkward’ being a ‘third wheel’ to Prince William and Kate Middleton before meeting Meghan Markle. The trio pictured in 2012
In his new memoir, Prince Harry said William and Kate were ‘religious viewers of Suits’. Pictured: the Duchess of Sussex playing Rachel Zane in 2012
He added: ‘There was a lot of stereotyping that was happening, that I was guilty of as well, at the beginning.’
He said the ‘stereotyping’ of Meghan, in part by William and Kate, was causing a ‘barrier’ to his family, preventing them from ‘welcoming her in.’
Asked what he meant, he said: ‘Well, American actress, divorced, biracial, there’s – there’s all different parts to that and what that can mean but if you are, like a lot of my family do, if you are reading the press, the British tabloids, [Yeah] at the same time as living the life, then there is a tendency where you could actually end up living in the tabloid bubble rather than the actual reality.’
He told Bradby: ‘The idea of the four of us being together was always a hope for me. Before it was Meghan, whoever it was going to be, I always hoped that the four of us would get on.
‘But very quickly it became Meghan versus Kate. And that, when it plays out so publicly, you can’t hide from that, right? Especially when within my family you have the newspapers laid out pretty much in every single palace and house that is around.’
Appearing on This Morning today, royal correspondent Camilla Tominey said: ‘I don’t know why he thinks the press informed that narrative. Harry is being extremely naïve if he thinks everything comes from the Palace.’
In his new book, Prince Harry writes how there were signs of conflict early on in the relationship. He details how Meghan asked to borrow a lip-gloss from Kate ahead of their appearance at the first Royal Foundation forum summit in 2018
As Meghan was introduced into royal life, Prince Harry wrote there were signs of discord between his future wife and his sister-in-law.
In his book, he detailed how Meghan asked to borrow a lip-gloss from Kate ahead of their appearance at the first Royal Foundation forum summit in 2018.
He writes that Kate was surprised, but rummaged around in her bag before offering it to Meghan.
Harry goes on to claim that Meg applied a little gloss to her finger, and rubbed it across her lips, before Kate made a ‘disgusted’ face.
As People magazine reports, Prince Harry speculated that Kate was ‘on edge’ around Meghan and suspected that she was ‘going to be compared to, and forced to compete with, Meg.’
The Royal Foundation summit was William, Kate, Harry and Meghan’s joint venture and was intended to harness the star power of the four high-profile royals.
At the time, Harry said ‘working as family does have its challenges’, but insisted ‘we’re stuck together for the rest of our lives’.
Harry was quick to clarify they were ‘healthy disagreements’ and joked they ‘come so thick and fast’ when asked what the last thing they quarrelled on was.
William continued the banter, quipping: ‘Is it resolved? We don’t know!’
But Harry steered the topic back towards the serious message, adding: ‘I think it’s really good we have got four different personalities and we all have that same passion to make a difference.
‘We have different opinions and they work really well [together]. Working as family does have its challenges; of course it does. [I think] the fact that everybody is laughing shows they know ‘exactly’ what’s it like. But we are stuck together for the rest of our lives.’
But by the following June, Meghan and Harry had officially spit from the Royal Foundation.
Emotional bridesmaid dress conflict
Meanwhile the duke also revealed new details about Kate and Meghan’s disagreement over Charlotte’s bridesmaid dress
Bridesmaid dress-gate! How reports of Kate and Meghan arguing ahead of wedding unfolded
May 2018 – Meghan Markle and Prince Harry tie the knot in St George’s Chapel in Windsor
The bridesmaids, including Jessica Mulroney’s daughter Ivy and Princess Charlotte, have bare legs
November 2018 – The Telegraph’s royal editor Camilla Tominey wrote she had ‘spoken to two separate sources who claim Kate was left in tears following a bridesmaids dress fitting for Princess Charlotte’.
May 2020 – Tatler reports the two argued over protocol around young bridesmaids’ tights
March 2021 – Meghan confirms there was a disagreement in her bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview but says the Duchess of Cambridge actually made her cry.
Royal expert Katie Nicholl says Kate ‘never wanted’ reports of a rift to come out in the press and has found the situation ‘mortifying’
January 2023: Harry’s memoirs reveal new rifts between the Sussexes and the Wales’
In his new memoir Spare, Prince Harry backed up Meghan Markle’s claim that her sister-in-law made her cry ahead of their May 2018 wedding.
In October 2018, it was reported that a conflict over Princess Charlotte’s bridesmaid dress had left Kate in tears.
One unnamed friend claimed Kate wanted to follow ‘protocol’, with the bridesmaids, including Charlotte, then three, wearing tights – but Meghan disagreed.
In his book Revenge, Tom Bower claimed unnamed sources told him the Duchess of Cambridge and Duchess of Sussex disagreed over the length of Princess Charlotte’s hemline and the fit of her dress.
He also claimed Meghan’s ‘insistence’ was ‘supported’ by bridesmaid Jessica Mulroney, adding: ‘Some would say that Meghan compared Ivy [Mulroney’s daughter] favourably against Charlotte’.
The Duchess of Sussex later disagreed in her bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview, claiming it was the other way around and adding: ‘She [Kate] was upset about something, but she owned it, and she apologised. And she brought me flowers’.
Asking Harry about Kate and Meghan’s disagreement, Tom Bradby said: ‘Your version of it in this book is it was the other way round, Meghan was the one left in tears, Kate came round the next day with flowers to apologise and you’re careful to say there’s a witness.’
In response, Prince Harry admitted that ‘tensions were high’ at the time and blasted the Palace for not issuing a statement regarding the story.
He continued: ‘They were more than happy to put out statements for less volatile things. My understanding is the reason they didn’t want to come out and say it wasn’t true would therefore lead to ‘Well if it wasn’t that, was it the other way round?’ When in fact you didn’t need to confess that it was the other way round. Right, tensions were high.’
Meghan’s ‘rude’ comment
The Princess of Wales and Duchess of Sussex pictured at the Wimbledon women’s singles final in 2018. Prince Harry says William called Meghan ‘rude’ for accusing his wife of having ‘baby brain’
In his memoir, Prince Harry also recounts him and his wife being invited to have tea with the Prince and Princess of Wales in July 2018 in a bid to clear the air after a series of disagreements.
After making polite conversation about their recent honeymoon and the Wales’ three children, the Duke says Meghan decided to raise the question of their relationship and tensions going back to when she started dating Harry.
She suggested there had been crossed wires when Kate thought Meghan wanted to use her connections in the fashion industry – but in fact she already had her own.
Meghan suggested that these problems had been magnified by the wedding preparations and the discussions over bridesmaids dresses.
Harry wrote that there were further issues – including William and Kate feeling disgruntled they hadn’t received a gift for Easter.
Harry then claims that Kate became upset and demanded an apology from Meghan for offending her when she mentioned her hormones after giving birth and suggesting it had affected her memory.
Harry wrote in his new memoir that ‘Meg said that she had never intentionally done anything to offend Kate
Meghan initially said she couldn’t remember but then added she could remember what the disagreement was about.
Harry claimed Meghan said Kate had forgotten something, and she had told her it didn’t matter because it was probably because of her ‘baby brain’ hormones.
Harry said Kate then said the two were not close enough for Meghan to talk about her hormones. Meghan then said she spoke to all her friends that way.
William then called Meghan ‘rude’ to her face and ‘pointed a finger at her’ and explained: ‘These things are not done here’.
In an excerpt, which lays bare the rift between the Sussexes and the Waleses, Meghan then told William: ‘If you don’t mind, keep your finger out of my face’.
Defending his wife, Harry wrote: ‘Meg said that she had never intentionally done anything to offend Kate and that if she had, she begged her to let her know so she could avoid a reoccurrence’.
The Duchess of Sussex is then said to have declared that she had not wanted to offend Kate.
Meghan ‘number two’ to Kate
On Christmas Day in 2018, Kate and Meghan put on a united front as they chatted and smiled on the way to church. Meanwhile, reports began to emerge Meghan was ‘very sensitive’ about being ‘number two’ to Kate
At the end of 2018, it was announced Meghan Markle was expecting the couple’s first baby.
That Christmas, the wives put on a united front when they were pictured happily chatting together as they headed to the service at St Mary Magdalene church on the Sandringham estate.
Meanwhile, reports began to emerge Meghan was ‘very sensitive’ about being ‘number two’ to Kate.
Royal author Tom Quinn has claimed that during her time in the Firm, Meghan rowed with Kensington Palace staff over ‘getting the sort of attention she deserved’.
Speaking to the Daily Star Online, Mr Quinn said Meghan argued with Kate’s staff after they turned down her royal requests, revealing: ‘It was almost as if in that one encounter, it encapsulated for Meghan the problem that she had, that she’s a princess and she’s number two.’
Weeks after the wives put on a united front, reports emerge that Meghan Markle was ‘very sensitive about not being treated with the same respect that she feels Kate is’
Mr Quinn, who wrote Kensington Palace: An Intimate Memoir From Queen Mary To Meghan Markle, claimed the incident took place while Harry and Meghan were living at Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace.
The royal author said he had spoken to ‘someone who was there’ and was left ‘really uncomfortable’ after Meghan rowed with a member of Kate’s staff.
He said the duchess had asked the staff member to do something, but they told her: “I’m really sorry I can’t do that because I work for Kate”.
Tom claimed Meghan ‘really felt she had been put in her place’ and said that, as a ‘princess’, she had ‘assumed that when you ask staff to do something, they are going to do it.’
Tom claimed Meghan went on to row with the member of staff, leaving Kate ‘horrified’.
He said the duchess had been so upset by the staff member’s behaviour because she feels conscious about being treated with the same respect as Kate.
He added: ‘She’s very sensitive about not being treated with the same respect that she feels Kate is, so can react badly and doesn’t take it lying down.’
The royal author went on to say that the ‘alien environment’ where ‘people behave towards you’ on the status of who will be the monarch next was ‘alien’ to Meghan.
Distant public appearances
In July 2019, Kate and Meghan attended a charity polo match to watch their husbands play. Omid later said they ‘barely exchanged a word’ at the event
In July 2019, Kate and Meghan attended a charity polo match to watch their husbands play.
Kate and Meghan were supporting William and Harry, who were pictured competing in the King Power Royal Charity Polo Day for the Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Trophy at Billingbear Polo Club in Wokingham.
They were each pictured playing with their children, but barely interacted as they watched the match.
In his biography, Finding Freedom, Omid Scobie detailed: ‘The two duchesses’ relationship had struggled to move past the distant politeness of when they first met.
‘Their cordial but distant rapport was apparent when the pair appeared alongside each other at the King Power Royal Charity Polo Day the previous summer.
‘While the doting mothers were photographed next to each other with their children, the two appeared to barely exchange a word.’
For their second Wimbledon appearance together in 2019, the Princess of Wales and Duchess of Sussex were joined by Kate’s sister Pippa Middleton
However days later, Kate and Meghan appeared in public together again at the 2019 Wimbledon women’s singles final for the second time in a row – but on this occasion, they were joined by the Princess of Wales’ sister Pippa.
Kate made her way to the grounds ahead of Meghan, to attend a lunch for club members and former champions in her role as patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club before the game.
The two women appeared chatty and jovial as they watched the match – putting to bed any feud rumours.
However, Meghan would later pour cold water on the outing. In her 2021 Oprah interview, she was also asked about a memorable joint-outing to Wimbledon, where the pair put on a united front and were pictured laughing together.
Referring to a day the pair spent together at Wimbledon at 2019, she asked: ‘Did you feel welcomed by everyone? It seemed like you and Kate at the Wimbledon game where you were going to watch a friend play tennis?’
‘Was it what it looked like? You are two sisters-in-law out there in the world, getting to know each other. Was she helping you, embracing you into the family, helping you?’
However Meghan appeared to dodge the question, saying: ‘My understanding and my experience of the past four years is it’s nothing like what it looks like.
‘It’s nothing like what it looks like. And I remember so often people within the Firm would say, “Well, you can’t do this because it’ll look like that. You can’t” so, even, “Can I go and have lunch with my friends?”. No, no, no. You’re oversaturated. You’re everywhere. It would be best for you to not go out to lunch with your friends.”
By that autumn, in her documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, Meghan said ‘not many people had asked if she was okay’.
A source told Us Weekly that Kate hated seeing Meghan and Harry ‘so miserable’ and hoped ‘William and Harry will eventually heal the rift and let bygones be bygones.
‘The way she sees it, life’s too short to make enemies — especially with loved ones. She’s very levelheaded like that. Kate’s a family girl.’
Omid Scobie claimed Meghan was ‘disappointed’ that Kate didn’t offer a ‘stronger shoulder of support’
On January 8, 2020, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced they were stepping down as senior royals – news that sent shockwaves through the institution.
The following day, Kate’s family arrived at Kensington Palace to celebrate the mother-of-three’s birthday as planned – but royal commentators were in awe of what was unfolding with Megxit.
Royal expert Russell Myers told the Mirror at the time: ‘The world is talking about only one thing, Harry and Meghan’s decision to go on their own and leave their roles in the royal family.
‘Kate will be celebrating her birthday privately at home with the family and she certainly would prefer it that way given the whole furore over the Sussexes’ decision to press the nuclear button on their royal careers
A royal source told The Sun that, following the official Sandringham summit, Kate and Meghan, who was in Canada, did join in with some of the talks on more than one occasion – which is another sign of a real thaw in their relationship. Things are better.’
At the couple’s final royal engagement, The Commonwealth Day service – Meghan and Harry’s final official engagement – was ‘not exactly the warm reunion we were hoping for’, according to body language expert Judi James
At the couple’s final royal engagement, The Commonwealth Day service –Meghan and Harry’s final official engagement –was ‘not exactly the warm reunion we were hoping for’, according to body language expert Judi James.
Meghan was seen to mouth ‘hi’ and give a small wave to William and Kate, followed by a ‘hello’, as the then-Cambridges took their seat near the High Altar in the row in front of the Sussexes.
Meanwhile, Mr Scobie claimed Meghan was ‘disappointed’ that Kate didn’t offer a ‘stronger shoulder of support’.
Speaking on The Heirpod podcast, the co-author of Harry and Meghan’s bombshell biography Finding Freedom, claimed the Duchess of Sussex and the Duchess of Cambridge were ‘never at war’ – but their relationship lacked any ‘depth’.
‘They were never at war and never the duelling duchesses. They were just two women who had this very surface level friendship,’ he said on his podcast.
‘They were able to connect and bond to trips to Wimbledon – we saw them there a couple of times.
‘But certainly where more depth was required or perhaps a stronger shoulder of support from the Duchess of Cambridge’s side, we saw that that didn’t happen, over and over again.’
He continued: ‘And it was one of the things that really left Meghan a bit disappointed in that friendship… as there were times that she really would’ve appreciated that extra support internally.’
The author suggested that the then-Duchess of Cambridge might’ve been too busy to help the Duchess of Sussex.
‘People have asked why Kate may have not been there in that situation and I really don’t know but it’s clear at the time her priorities weren’t there,’ Mr Scobie said.
‘We do see her as an incredibly dedicated wife, mother and member of the Royal family and maybe that’s a lot for one person to juggle.’
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