The "Major Issue" Delaying the Royals' Discussions With Harry, Insiders Say
"These matters had to first and foremost be settled privately," a source says.
Although Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey was more than two weeks ago, the shock and anger Buckingham Palace experienced in its wake has not waned. In fact, some insiders are saying the enmity between the Sussexes and Prince William has increased since the couple's tell-all, where they brought up allegations of racism regarding an unnamed family member and revealed that Meghan was so distraught over the lack of support she received from the institution, she was driven to thoughts of suicide.
But things went from bad to worse a week after the interview when Oprah's best friend, Gayle King, revealed on CBS This Morning that she'd called Harry and Meghan over the weekend and the prince told her that his post-interview conversations with his father and brother were "not productive." She went on to say, "No one in the royal family has talked to Meghan yet at this particular time and I think it's frustrating for them to see that it's a racial conversation about the royal family when all they wanted all along was for the royals to intervene and tell the press to stop with the unfair, inaccurate false stories that definitely have a racial slant."
King's statement about the royals not speaking to Meghan raised a red flag for William and has made him wonder who exactly should have a seat at the table when the royals discuss the situation, Palace sources told Best Life. "[He] is reluctant to include Meghan in conversations because there is real concern over having what is said be repeated in the media by her friends, even though the Queen wants to begin to restore family relationships by bringing everyone together to talk," an insider told Best Life. "William and the Prince of Wales know they have to begin somewhere with Harry, but there is no trust at the moment. That is the major issue that's preventing talks from moving forward." Read on for more on what's to come with the interview fallout, and for more on where things went wrong, check out The Royals Made This One "Fateful Mistake" With Meghan, Says Insider.
In the aftermath of the interview, William believed it was his duty to take the lead.
William was instrumental in helping Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles navigate their way through Megxit. Now, in dealing with the crisis that emerged as a result of the Oprah interview, he's done the same, insiders say.
William was at the center of two-day crisis talks with his father and grandmother about how to respond to Harry and Meghan's claims. He believes he must shoulder the responsibility of trying to broker some sort of truce in light of what the Queen has had to deal with in recent months. "The Duke of Cambridge believes it is his duty to step up and help his grandmother through this incredibly stressful time," said a source. "The interview first aired while the Duke of Edinburgh was in hospital and the Queen was obviously very concerned with his health. If there is drama more to come, William is going to be the one who will take the lead." And for more on William's role in all of this, check out The One Thing William Must Do to Save the Monarchy, Say Insiders.
William is particularly upset over Harry and Meghan's racist allegations against the family.
While William has been "reeling from what had happened," as one insider said, he is also "furious at what he considered to be the incredibly disrespectful treatment Her Majesty received from the duke and duchess. William knew very well that their claims made against 'the institution' were claims against the family. He simply could not understand how his brother could do that and continues to struggle with what has happened."
Royal sources say it was William who was insistent that Harry and Meghan's allegations of racism be refuted strongly in the Palace's response, but understood that denying the couple's nonspecific claims might further escalate what was already a crisis of epic proportions. "He firmly agreed with the Queen that after the statement was released, there would be nothing further about it coming from the Palace and these matters had to first and foremost be settled privately," a source told Best Life.
But the prince was the first royal to confront the issue head-on four days after the interview during an engagement with Duchess Catherine at a London school. When a reporter called out a question about the accusations of racism at the end of William and Kate's visit, he calmly said, "We're very much not a racist family." And for more royals news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
William's relationship with the Queen has "massively improved" since Megxit.
While the William and Harry's relationship has never been in a more precarious state, William has grown closer to the Queen ever since Harry and Meghan's announcement they were stepping down as senior royals. His role in the handling of the latest chapter in the royal drama has earned him even more respect from his grandmother.
"That has changed the way the Queen sees him and values his input," a courtier told The Times. The outlet also reported that William feels his relationship with his grandmother has "massively improved" in recent years and their views are "more aligned than ever." And for more on what got them to this place, find out why The Queen Was "Greatly Impressed" by Prince William in 2020, Insiders Say.
Despite everything that's happened, William and Harry remain hopeful they can rebuild their fractured relationship.
In the same Times interview, a Palace aide said, "Once he got over the anger of how things happened, he was left with the absence of his brother. They shared everything about their lives, an office, a foundation, meetings together most days and there was a lot of fun along the way. He'll miss it forever." Another friend said: "It's still raw. He's very upset by what's happened, though absolutely intent that he and Harry's relationship will heal in time."
Even with all his grievances and hard feelings with the royal family, Harry told Oprah: "I love William to bits … We've been through h*** together."
He said at the moment, he'd describe their relationship as giving each other space, but he added, "Time heals all things, hopefully." And for more on another royal facing a reckoning, check out This Royal Has the Most to Lose From Harry & Meghan's Interview, Insiders Say.
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.