Meghan and Harry's Tell-All Is the "Final Straw" for William, Insiders Say
The upcoming Oprah interview has drawn comparisons to Diana's disastrous sitdown with the BBC.
Queen Elizabeth was "shocked and saddened" by Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's response last week to her official statement about her decision to strip the Sussexes of their ceremonial titles and patronages. But there is one member of the Royal Family who was and still is "absolutely furious" over it. A royal source told Best Life that Prince William was "seething with anger" over what he perceived to be "absolute disrespect of Her Majesty in a very public way." Harry and Meghan's stinging words came shortly after their announcement that they would be sitting down with Oprah Winfrey for a Mar. 7 tell-all interview on CBS, which the insider said is "the final straw" in the brothers' already fractured relationship. The Sussexes' decision to do the interview is drawing comparisons to Princess Diana's explosive 1995 sitdown with Martin Bashir that proved disastrous for both the princess and the royals. It was a choice she came to regret. Nearly three decades later, William simply cannot fathom why any member of the Royal Family would open themselves up to that kind of scrutiny and drag the rest of the family into it, knowing how devastating it could be for all parties involved.
No one had been told Diana was doing that infamous BBC interview, including William and Harry. The headmaster at Eton College, where William was studying at the time, arranged for the prince to watch it alone in his office. When Diana arrived to talk to her son the day after the premiere of the interview—during which she questioned Prince Charles' suitability to be king and talked of his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles—William refused to see his mother. "He loved his mother very much," said an insider. "But at the time, he thought the interview was a stunning betrayal. He could not understand why Diana would publicly say the things she did about his father and the monarchy."
The source continued, "Harry choosing to do a no-holds-barred interview with the most famous interviewer and personality in the world has resurrected all those memories for William." According to the insider, Harry's decision has pushed the brothers' once-strong bond "into the abyss." "If there is going to be any kind of reconciliation between the brothers, it will be very far down the line now, if ever," the source said.
Read on for the stunning reasons behind what could be an irreparable break between the brothers, and for more on the latest with the House of Windsor, check out Prince Harry Is Preparing to Rush to Prince Philip's Side, Say Insiders.
William has always been wary of the media, while Harry has seemingly started to embrace it.
Diana's death fostered a deep mistrust and dislike of the media in William, so much so that the Palace had to, at his request, negotiate an agreement with the press that the prince be left alone during his time at St. Andrews University on the condition he would make himself available for periodic press calls, which he reportedly hated. When he and Kate graduated and his then-girlfriend was being hounded by photographers, he filed a formal complaint with the Press Commission. Today, the prince still keeps the press at arm's length, but he has learned to give the media just enough access to his own family and the royals so as to protect them while satisfying his duty as heir.
Harry has filed numerous lawsuits against the media for what he considers harassing and untrue stories written about Meghan and their relationship. He also told Tom Bradby in the now infamous ITV interview that every time he sees a wall of flashbulbs, it brings him back to his mother's tragic death. But now living in America, Harry has seemingly adopted more of a celebrity's mindset towards the press.
William spoke about the media for the very first time in the 2017 documentary Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy. His poignant remarks may hint at why he reportedly feels angry and confused over Harry's decision to do the interview with Oprah. "Harry and I lived through [the media's obsession with Diana and its fatal consequence], and one lesson I've learned is you never let [the media] in too far, because it's very difficult to get them back out again," he said. "You've got to maintain a barrier and a boundary, because if both sides cross it, a lot of pain can come from it." And for more on the tragedy of the People's Princess, check out The 6 Biggest Unanswered Questions Surrounding Princess Diana's Death.
Tensions between William and Harry started long before Meghan came along.
In the fall, royal historian Robert Lacey told Best Life that the toxic combination of William and Harry's traumatic upbringing due to their parents' "loveless, arranged" marriage and their mother's shocking death caused some long-simmering feelings of resentment that culminated in a rift so deep, it imperils the very future of the monarchy.
"Most everyone thought the dual traumas of their parents' marriage and their mother's tragic death were in the past," Lacey told Best Life in Oct. 2020. But that proved not to be the case. "They are the legacy of all that heartache," he added. And for more on what Lacey thinks Diana would've done about their divide, check out Diana Would Have Healed William and Harry's Rift, Says Royal Biographer.
Harry reportedly took William's early concern about his relationship with Meghan as an insult and sign of disrespect.
When Harry began to date Meghan in 2016, William reportedly reminded his brother of the advice their mother had once given them. A royal insider told Best Life in Mar. 2020, "Both William and Harry knew how deeply unhappy their mother was over her disastrous marriage to Charles. She wanted that to be a cautionary tale for them. Diana and Charles were alone together a little over a dozen times before they were married. They both had second thoughts, but felt a duty to go through with it. Diana told William and Harry to make absolutely sure the woman they wanted to marry was 'the one' and not to rush or be forced into anything."
William reportedly reminded Harry of their mother's warning, according to Daily Mail, asking his brother: "Are you sure you're doing the right thing?" My sources confirmed that Harry was deeply hurt and offended by William's question. "Harry felt that William was dismissive of his relationship with Meghan from the start," my source said. "That never changed, things only got worse." And for more royal news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
William and Harry seemingly interpreted Princess Diana's life advice very differently.
William and Harry seemingly internalized Diana's advice to take time to find the right person and marry for love very differently. William and Kate Middleton started dating at university and were together for eight years before getting engaged; Harry and Meghan were in their 30s when they met and dated for two years before they married. "Harry set out to marry for love at any cost, while William took his mother's words quite seriously and took his time to make sure royal life would suit Catherine and she would be a good fit within the family," said a royal insider. "As the future king, both love and duty figured equally in his mind." And for more on William's future as king, check out Can the Monarchy Survive Without Queen Elizabeth?
Any glimmer of hope of a reconciliation between William and Harry has now been dashed.
Lacey—whose book Battle of Brothers: William & Harry—The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult chronicles their complicated relationship—told Best Life in October that there were hopes that the one-year review of the Sandringham Summit, which had originally been scheduled for next month, "might produce some sort of reconciliation." But instead, according to another royal source, the Sussexes' early decision to finalize their split from the Royal Family in such a public way and their plans to air what is expected to be an interview full of bombshell revelations to a worldwide audience has made that "impossible anytime in the foreseeable future." And for more facts about their mother, check out Here's the Truth Behind the Biggest Myths About Princess Diana.