Meghan-Kate Feud Rumors Hid the Real Truth, Says Royal Biographer

"The press resorted to stereotypes to avoid the fear of the truth," says famed biographer Robert Lacey.

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For years, we've all been reading headlines pitting Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton against each other. There have been countless stories about an incident in which Meghan "left Kate Middleton in tears" and others wherein body language experts assessed "what's really causing [the] 'rift.'" But according to famed royal biographer Robert Lacey, that's just because it was far more palatable to the British tabloids to write stories that centered the women as the problem than choosing to reveal what was really going on at Kensington Palace. The earliest accounts about dueling duchesses started bubbling up in the press because, Lacey explained, the British press "were avoiding what they feared would be true—that the split was not between the wives, but between the two brothers." Read on for more about what went on behind closed doors, and for Lacey's take on the broken bond, find out why William "Does Not Foresee" Reconciling With Harry.

In his explosive new book, Battle of Brothers: William & Harry—The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult, Lacey chronicles the breakdown of the princes' relationship, which started long before anyone had ever heard of Kate Middleton or Meghan Markle. But while the resentments and rivalries between Prince William and Prince Harry dated back to their childhood, it was Meghan's arrival that triggered a sequence of events that resulted in the Sussexes' exit from royal life and a fatal blow to the brothers' complicated relationship. Lacey writes that William questioned how quickly Harry had decided to marry Meghan—after all, he'd made Kate wait for a decade before proposing. The Duke of Cambridge reportedly asked his brother, "Are you sure?" which caused a massive argument that resulted in more mistrust between the brothers while their respective partners did their best to paper over the cracks.

As part of his wide-ranging interview with Best Life, Lacey revealed, "Catherine and Meghan are great pragmatists. They got on much better than people gave them credit for." In his book, he notes the women may not have been "best buddy material," but says that "each was far too canny to make an enemy of a prospective sister-in-law—it only made sense to be friends."

Despite their differences, the duchesses shared an important commonality as outsiders marrying into royalty that, according to Lacey, allowed them to appreciate and understand each other's strengths in a way that was never really conveyed by the tabloids. "They both have a healthy respect for each other alongside great loyalty to their respective partners," he told Best Life.

Still, Lacey explained, the "emotional squabbles," like the much-reported battle over the bridesmaids' tights at Meghan's wedding (Kate felt the girls should follow tradition and wear them, while the bride insisted they go bare-legged) gave the media plenty of fodder. "Meghan clearly 'won,'" said Lacey. "The press resorted to stereotypes [about Meghan and Kate] to avoid the fear of the truth [about William and Harry]."

The stories of the dust-ups between the duchesses continued, despite their best efforts to keep up appearances—even up until that very last day when the former "Fab Four" came together in March for Commonwealth Day services at Westminster Abbey, marking the Sussexes' final appearance as senior royals. While waiting for Queen Elizabeth to arrive, Meghan flashed her megawatt smile for the cameras and Kate chatted easily with Sophie Wessex. "Every time the women got together, they knew how to put on a good performance," said Lacey. "Kate is just as good an actress as Meghan."

For a look back at how much has changed between Meghan, Harry, Kate, and William, read on to see some of their more memorable moments as the Fab Four.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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Christmas at Sandringham (December 2017)

Britain's Queen Elizabeth leads the British royal family as they attend a Christmas service at St Mary Magdalene church on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. Prince Harry's girlfriend American actress Meghan Markle attended the service having been invited
Alamy

When Queen Elizabeth broke with tradition and invited Meghan as the first fiancee to join the family for Christmas at Sandringham, it must have been a bit overwhelming for the California native. William and Kate invited the couple to stay with them at Amner Hall, their nearby country house in Norfolk, to make Meghan feel more comfortable. Harry and Meghan reportedly spent time playing with the Cambridge kids, and on Christmas Day, the two couples were all smiles as they walked four astride after church. It seemed to bode well for the future.

Last year, Meghan and Harry spent the holidays in North America with their son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor. They celebrated Thanksgiving with Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, and spent Christmas in Canada. The royals have not seen Archie since last fall and it is unclear when the couple will return to Britain (although Meghan is reportedly coming back for her trial against the tabloids in Jan. 2021.) It was recently reported that the Sussex family will celebrate the holidays this year in their new home in California. And for more on that, check out The Stunning Details on Harry and Meghan's $14.7 Million California Home.

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Working together on the Royal Foundation (February 2018)

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and the Duchess and Duke of Cambridge during the first Royal Foundation Forum in central London.
Chris Jackson / PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Meghan and Kate joined William and Harry at Meghan's first-ever Royal Foundation Forum under the theme "Making a Difference Together" in February 2018. The Royal Foundation was created in 2009 as an umbrella organization for William and Harry's charity work. Kate became the third patron after marrying William in 2011 and Meghan joined as the fourth patron after her marriage to Harry. The Foundation also supported for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, selling 130,000 copies worldwide.

However, unfortunately, as the rift between the brothers grew, the couple announced in June 2019 that they were leaving the Royal Foundation and starting their own charitable endeavor, Sussex Royal, which was later scuttled by Queen Elizabeth when they stepped away from their royal roles earlier this year. Since then, Meghan and Harry announced the formation of their own foundation, Archewell, and recently unveiled the landing page of their new website. And for more on Meghan's life in the U.S., check out The Powerful Messages Behind Meghan Markle's Post-Royal Wardrobe.

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Commonwealth Day Services (March 2018)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London in 2018
PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

In March 2018, a beaming Meghan and Prince Harry arrived at Westminster Abbey for Commonwealth Day Services with Prince William and Kate Middleton. The foursome happily stood together inside the church just four months before the royal wedding. And for more fractures in the royal family, check out This Royal Once Encouraged Prince William to Break Up With Kate Middleton.

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Attending Wimbledon (July 2018)

London, UK, 14th July 2018: Catherine Kate Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, visiting the men's semifinal at day 12 at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships 2018 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London.
Frank Molter/Alamy Live News

Meghan and Kate, both avid tennis fans, went to Wimbledon together in July 2018. The women seemed to be enjoying each other's company and chatted during the match. In 2019, they attended the competition with Kate's sister Pippa Middleton and Kate was even spotted putting her hand on Meghan's back to console her after her friend Serena Williams lost in the women's final.

But Meghan also went another day and was joined by two of her college friends, Genevieve Hillis and Lindsay Roth, raising plenty of eyebrows by wearing jeans and a fedora (both, apparently, no-nos). Then things took a tabloid-ready turn when Sally Jones, a former BBC reporter, told TMZ she was trying to take a photograph of Williams on the court when she was told by "one of Meghan's bodyguards" she was not permitted to take a photo of the duchess. Unlike other royals, who, when they have attended, sit among the other spectators, the seats surrounding Meghan and her party were cleared out so she and her pals could have some privacy. And for more regular updates on the royals and more, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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Commonwealth Day Services (March 2020)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive at Westminster Abbey to attend the annual church service on Commonwealth Day
Stephen Chung / Alamy Live News

In March 2020, no one knew what to expect for the Sussexes' final appearance as senior royals. Having accompanied his brother and Kate along with Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, down the aisle at Westminster before the arrival of the Queen in 2019, Harry was furious to discover he and Meghan would not be afforded that privilege now that the couple were no longer senior royals.

William, in an effort to broker some semblance of peace, offered that he and Kate also would forego walking in with Charles as planned. Meghan, memorably dressed head-to-toe in Kelly green for her farewell engagement, also tried to soothe her husband's nerves. According to Lacey, she whispered, "Big smiles!" to Harry, who seemed to grow upset as the ceremony went on and later glowered at the cameras as he left the Abbey. And for more on the Sussexes post-royal life, find out why Harry and Meghan Signal They May Be Ready to Give Up Their Royal Titles.

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