How it all went a bit EastEnders between the Warring Wives of Windsor: Prince Harry’s book reveals every petty grievance and perceived slight in a royal relationship between Kate and Meghan that started badly and only got worse
- Prince Harry’s memoir details how Kate and Meghan’s relationship deteriorated
- Meghan first met Kate at dinner party hosted by the Sussexes in late 2016
- They fell out on more than one occasion, including over bridesmaid dresses
It started with a hug — and something of a snub. When Prince Harry first introduced brother William to the glamorous American who had stolen his heart, what followed was a Transatlantic culture clash.
Specifically, the off-duty Hollywood actress decided that the appropriate way to greet our future king was via a Californian hug. That ‘completely freaked him out’, Harry recalls. ‘He recoiled. Willy didn’t hug many strangers. Whereas Meg hugged most strangers.’
There followed a brief exchange of pleasantries, plus a meeting with William’s spaniel, Lupo.
But where was Kate?
‘Out with the kids,’ said William.
‘Too bad, next time,’ came the response. Then it was time to say goodbye.
It was the autumn of 2016, and Harry and Meghan’s relationship was still a closely guarded secret. Back then, the two brothers were sufficiently close to be not only living next door to one another but also sharing an office and a social life.
Indeed, that first meeting — according to Harry’s account, the encounter didn’t appear to get beyond William’s black-and-white tiled hall — came as the duo were preparing to jump in a car to head off together on what Royals call a ‘straightforward’ shooting weekend.
When Prince Harry first introduced brother William to the glamorous American who had stolen his heart, what followed was a Transatlantic culture clash (pictured: Christmas Day church service 2018)
Now, of course, that once-close relationship between the brothers is a smoking ruin. Six years on, the princes inhabit not only separate continents but also different sides in a bitter dispute that has reduced the Monarchy to a sort of cheap soap opera, featuring blazing rows, fierce vendettas, slammed doors and at least one punch-up.
Central to this fallout, as the above passage suggests, are their two very different wives.
According to Harry’s memoir, Spare, some of the most explosive disagreements between the couples revolved around misunderstandings over American attitudes and customs. Some were astonishingly petty.
Disputes appear to have broken out over everything from the correct way to seat couples at a wedding (Brits place them apart on the same table, whereas the ‘American tradition’, according to the book, is for them to be together) to whether it might be appropriate for two women to share lipgloss (Harry describes doing so as ‘an American thing’).
In one excruciating passage, Meghan is scolded for suggesting that Kate might be suffering from ‘baby brain’, having recently given birth. Harry’s wife seems to think making such remarks is ‘a girl thing’, whereas our future King primly claims such alleged overfamiliarity is ‘not what’s done here in Britain’.
It’s clear in hindsight that Kate and Meghan’s relationship never really got off the ground.
According to Harry’s memoir, Spare, some of the most explosive disagreements between the couples revolved around misunderstandings over American attitudes and customs (pictured: Commonwealth Day service 2019)
And as well as those cultural differences, the key reason for this seems to be a straightforward personality clash. Readers of Harry’s 416-page misery memoir are left in little doubt that Kate and Meghan’s awful chemistry, divergent attitudes and competing styles generated constant friction between the two households.
Take, for example, the first time the two women finally got round to meeting, during a cosy dinner party hosted by Harry and Meghan in late 2016.
On the surface, things looked convivial. William ‘seemed to like Meg’ and ‘Kate seemed to like (Harry’s emphasis) her too,’ Harry writes. ‘We’d had them over for dinner during one of Meg’s visits, and Meg cooked, and everything was good.’
Yet behind the scenes, he now shares a couple of red flags.
At one point during the meal, for example, ‘Meg ran upstairs’ to get some ‘homeopathic remedies’ for William, who was suffering from a cold.
Although he ‘seemed charmed, moved’, to be presented with vials of oregano oil and some turmeric, Kate was dismissive to the point of rudeness and ‘announced to the table that he’d never take such unconventional remedies’.
It was an odd remark (if true), given that the Royal Family are longstanding fans of complementary medicine (their preferred homeopathic pharmacy, Ainsworths, has a Royal Warrant).
It’s clear in hindsight that Kate and Meghan’s relationship never really got off the ground (pictured at Windsor Castle, following the death of Queen Elizabeth)
But that wasn’t the only discordant note Harry detected that night. There were also, he says, ‘marked differences in how the two women dressed, which both of them seemed to notice’. Meg went barefoot and wore ripped jeans, while her dinner guest Kate was ‘done up to the nines’.
The next encounter between the women featured in Spare came in February 2018, three months after Harry and Meghan had announced their engagement, when the two couples shared a stage at an event called the Royal Foundation Forum.
Although this was widely regarded as a success — ‘afterwards, one journalist dubbed us the Fab Four,’ writes Harry — we learn that there was actually an ‘awkward moment backstage’ that day, when Meghan asked Kate if she could borrow her lipgloss.
‘Kate, taken aback, went into her handbag and reluctantly pulled out a small tube,’ writes Harry. ‘Meg squeezed some on to her finger and applied it to her lips. Kate grimaced. Small clash of styles, maybe? Something we should’ve been able to laugh about soon after. But it left a little mark.’
There was also, he suggests, bad feeling over a newspaper article suggesting that Meghan’s choice of a black dress at the event (Kate wore purple) was intended to indicate support for the #metoo movement, at a time when Hollywood actresses were wearing black on Oscar-season red carpets to show solidarity with victims of sexual assault.
There was also, he suggests, bad feeling over a newspaper article suggesting that Meghan’s choice of a black dress at the event (Royal Foundation Forum in London 2018)
‘I think [the article] had Kate on edge, while putting her and everyone else on notice that she was now going to be compared to — and forced to compete with — Meg,’ Harry claims.
At this point, it should be stressed that, to quote the late Queen, recollections may vary. Harry’s book offers a heavily one-sided take on events and, as the somewhat paranoid nature of the above anecdote demonstrates, often contains wild speculation about what others might have been thinking.
A study of contemporaneous events also shows that the book leaves out — perhaps deliberately — key events which suggest Kate and William did make at least some effort to extend a hand of friendship to Harry and his future bride.
Readers are not, for example, told that the couple had spent Christmas 2017 as guests at Anmer Hall, the Cambridges’ Norfolk home near Sandringham. The generous gesture helped navigate a minor issue of protocol: they were unmarried at the time, so staying together under the Queen’s roof was taboo.
Be that as it may, it is widely agreed that things between the wives became seriously tricky in the days leading up to Harry and Meghan’s wedding in May 2018, thanks to a stupendously silly row over the bridesmaid’s dress that Princess Charlotte was required to wear.
According to the version of events Harry shared this week, Kate was squarely to blame.
Things between the wives became seriously tricky in the days leading up to Harry and Meghan’s wedding in May 2018
He alleges that she sent a series of pushy text messages to Meghan, arguing that the French couture dress, which had been ‘hand-sewn from measurements only’, needed to be completely remade because it was ‘too big, too long, too baggy’ for her three-year-old daughter, who had ‘cried when she tried it on at home’.
Meghan responded by asking Kate to bring the dress to the Palace, where her personal tailor, Ajay, was standing by to carry out alterations. Kate was not keen. There followed a litany of chippy texts in which Kate is said to have criticised ‘the way Meg was planning her wedding’ by mentioning ‘something about a party for the page boys’.
The whole thing was apparently so traumatic for the bride-to-be that when Harry arrived home later that day, he ‘found Meg on the floor, sobbing’. The following morning, ‘Kate came by with flowers and a card that said she was sorry,’ he adds.
Despite the gesture, their relationship seems never to have recovered. This seems especially tragic given the huge affection Harry once had for Kate. Prior to meeting Meghan, he describes her as ‘carefree, sweet, kind’. Recalling her wedding to William, he says: ‘I loved my new sister-in-law. I felt she was more sister than in-law, the sister I’d never had and always wanted.’
How quickly things deteriorated. After the Sussexes’ honeymoon, they appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony for the Trooping the Colour ceremony, their first public appearance as newlyweds.
‘Everyone present was in a good mood, upbeat,’ Harry writes. ‘But then: Kate asked Meg what she thought of her first Trooping the Colour. And Meg joked ‘colourful’. According to Harry, ‘a yawning silence threatened to swallow us all whole’.
Prior to meeting Meghan, Harry described Kate as ‘carefree, sweet, kind’
Soon after Trooping, says Harry, William and Kate invited him and Meghan to tea and ‘to clear the air’. It presages an extraordinary passage in the book during which these grown adults first express petty jealousy over William and Kate’s interior decorations and then, over tea, engage in a playground-style argument over various frivolous disagreements.
The Cambridges were ‘apparently upset’ that Meghan and Harry hadn’t given them Easter presents. ‘Was that a thing?’ Harry asks. He says he and Meghan apologised. ‘For our part, we chipped in that we weren’t too pleased when the couple changed their seats at the wedding reception. ‘We’d followed the American tradition, placing couples next to each other, but Willy and Kate didn’t like that tradition, so their table was the only one where spouses were apart.’
William alleged that Harry and Meghan had done the same thing at the wedding of Kate’s sister, Pippa Middleton. Then Kate complained that Meghan ‘hurt my feelings’ during an incident where ‘I couldn’t remember something and you told me it was my hormones’. She allegedly added: ‘You talked about my hormones. We’re not close enough for you to talk about my hormones!’
In a scene that resembles an upscale version of EastEnders, readers are told that William pointed at his brother’s wife. ‘It’s rude, Meghan. It’s not what’s done here in Britain.’ Meghan then replied: ‘Kindly take your finger out of my face.’
At the end, ‘We all hugged,’ Harry writes, adding: ‘Kind of.’
But far from clearing the air, matters just kept getting worse. Staff shared by the two couples fell out. Or as Harry put it ‘there was frequent bickering in the office’ in which ‘sides were taken’ in a manner that ‘poisoned the atmosphere’.
Kate complained that Meghan ‘hurt my feelings’ during an incident where ‘I couldn’t remember something and you told me it was my hormones’
Later that year, reports began emerging about the bridesmaids’ dresses row, but with a twist: it was claimed that it was Kate who cried. So on December 10, 2018, the two couples had a ‘second summit’ — and ‘on our turf’, as Harry puts it. This time there was no small talk.
Kate, says Harry, acknowledged that the stories ‘were totally false . . . I know Meghan that I was the one who made you cry’. After what Harry describes as some ‘supportive-sounding evasions’ from his brother about why the Palace had not denied the story, the couples speculate who might have leaked it.
Finally, says Harry, William conceded that at a dinner with his father and Camilla, ‘he might’ve let it slip that there had been strife between the two couples’.
Harry adds dramatically: ‘I put a hand over my face. Meg froze. A heavy silence fell. So now we knew.
‘I told Willy: “You of all people should have known.”‘
A few months later, the couples announced that their offices would separate. Some efforts were then made to present a united front. In July 2019, two months after Archie’s birth, William publicly demonstrated his affection for his brother’s family by inviting them to a charity polo event at which they would be photographed together. And in October that year they collaborated on a PR film about mental health, directed by Richard Curtis.
However, perhaps not surprisingly, Spare neglects to mention either of these incidents, nor any other subsequent event that might present things in a more positive light. Instead, it is suggested to readers that the die has been cast: the differences between Harry and William, and perhaps most importantly their wives, are simply too great.
Megxit, in other words, is inevitable.
All of which brings us back to the day William and Meghan first met.
Recalling his brother’s awkward reaction to being hugged, Harry says: ‘Maybe Willy expected Meg to curtsy? It would have been protocol when meeting a member of the Royal Family for the first time.’
There is no further evidence offered in support of this claim — it is, instead, one of many speculative projections that litter his book. But the fact he makes it underlines how utterly doomed the not-so-merry wives of Windsor were from the start.
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