Harry and Meghan Could Lose Their Titles Over New Tell-All, Says Insider
The book may prompt the Queen to "consider making changes to their agreement," which will be up for review.
The new biography about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Finding Freedom, about their exit from the Royal family, is set to be released on August 11. But over the course of the past few days, excerpts from the book have started to emerge in The Times of London, offering the Sussexes' version of the events leading to their stunning departure from royal life. Now, the shocking revelations have Palace insiders claiming the tell-all could cost the couple their HRH titles.
In early July, a source told me the publication of the book had the Royal family "bracing for the worst" and it appears that's exactly what they got. In the excerpts released thus far, Finding Freedom authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand depict Harry and Meghan as victims of the Palace caste system that could not handle their superstardom and did everything in their power to marginalize them within the family.
In a statement, Harry and Meghan publicly denied giving an interview to the authors of the tell-all and say they "didn't contribute" to Finding Freedom. However, their comments failed to address whether or not they had given their closest friends permission to participate, which seems entirely possible given the countless intimate details of their lives included in the tome.
A Palace insider told me that fall out from the book over allegations that Prince William, Kate Middleton, and Prince Charles were not wholly supportive of the couple is "certainly enough to create incredible disappointment in the family over the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's actions and prompt Her Majesty to consider making changes to their agreement when it comes up for review next year."
The one-year "probationary" period outlined in the agreement, which was reached in March, was designed to give Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles time to step back from the drama and allow Harry and Meghan to embark on their new lives while offering them the chance to return to the royal fold if they changed their minds. But, according to sources cited in the Daily Mail, the couple's "bombshell book [may] have put an end to any hope of their returning, in a working role at least."
One stipulation of Harry and Meghan's exit agreement that will be looked at closely next March will be Harry and Meghan's HRH titles, said my source. While Harry is a prince and HRH by birth, Meghan received the title Her Royal Highness (HRH) The Duchess of Sussex when she married Harry in May 2018. Under the terms of the agreement, it was stipulated the couple will no longer use the HRH parts of their titles. Instead, they've agreed to be known as Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. It was a subtle but important distinction that meant the titles had not officially been taken away.
In England, HRH titles can be bestowed or withdrawn at will by the monarch. Constitutional expert Iain MacMarthanne told Express: "In its extreme form nothing within the British constitution is binding. … Consequently, what has been given, can be taken away." So it remains entirely possible, according to the constitution, that Meghan and Harry could lose their HRH titles in the future.
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Princess Diana lost her HRH title in her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996, something she bitterly fought against at the time. Losing the title was more than window dressing, because it meant that, despite being the mother of the future king, Diana was giving up any connection to the Royal family, including any future claim to the British throne.
The reason why Diana is alleged to have lost the title may foreshadow what fate could await Harry and Meghan. In her book The Diana Chronicles, author Tina Brown revealed that there had been much discussion on the issue of Diana's title, but the way in which the princess tried to back the Queen into a corner about it backfired badly. Before the terms of her divorce were finalized, Diana spoke to her reporter Richard Kay, telling him that she wanted to keep the title but that it had been the "sticking point" that was holding up the negotiations. Diana had thought her overwhelming popularity would force the issue, but she was wrong.
And that's not where the similarities between the "Megxit" agreement and Diana's relationship with the Palace end. The Queen's former press secretary Dickie Arbiter told the Daily Mail, "I think [Finding Freedom] has their fingerprints all over it," referring to Harry and Meghan. "We had a similar scenario in 1992 when Diana swore blind she hadn't helped Andrew Morton [write his biography Diana: Her True Story] and yet, a year later it came out that she had indirectly helped him, so history is repeating itself."
"The Queen does not like to be manipulated," said my source. "Diana miscalculated badly in those final years having done everything she could through the media to play the victim. It appears the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have taken a page out of her book and are likely going to have the same result. Their constant whinging [whining] in the press about being mistreated and their attempts to monetize their royal status will not be looked upon favorably when their exit agreement comes up for review next spring. If they are so determined to distance themselves from the family, losing their HRH titles should be of little or no consequence." And for more on Diana, check out 23 Facts About Princess Diana Only Her Closest Friends Knew.
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.