Meghan and Kate’s Wimbledon appearance showed ‘seriously fractured’ relationship

Meghan Markle: Royals 'don't want to ruffle feathers' says Nicholl

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Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, who is Royal Patron of the All England Club, is likely to make an appearance at Wimbledon over the finals this weekend. World number three Novak Djokovic is set to take on Australia’s Nick Kyrigios in the men’s singles on Sunday, and Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina and Tunisian Ons Jabeur will battle it out this afternoon. In her role as patron, Kate typically presents the winners’ trophies at the end of the fortnight-long tournament. 

The Duchess caused a flurry of excitement when she made her first appearance at Wimbledon this year with her husband Prince William. 

Kate and William were spotted in the Royal Box on Tuesday to watch the quarter-finals, but they did not return to the SW19 courts for the semi-finals, as some royal watchers expected.  

The Duchess is an avid tennis fan and is a regular fixture in the Centre Court’s exclusive enclosure. Over the years, she has been spotted with the likes of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, her parents Carole and Michael Middleton and Pippa Matthews.

But no visit drew as much attention as her joint appearance with Meghan Markle in 2019. 

It came amid reports of a rift between the two women and their husbands; the couples had recently decided to split their households, with Meghan and Prince Harry relocating from Kensington Palace to Frogmore Cottage, and their staff moving to Buckingham Palace. 

As we know now, Kate and Meghan’s relationship had already been tested a year before, when a row over a flower girl dress ensued ahead of Meghan and Harry’s Royal Wedding. According to Meghan, Kate made her cry at a bridesmaid dress fitting. According to those close to Kate, it was the other way around. 

Writing for the New Zealand Herald, royal expert Daniela Esler claimed that Meghan and Kate’s relationship appeared “seriously fractured” during their Wimbledon appearance.

She said: “Kate and Meghan fronted up to Wimbledon together, with Pippa Middleton in tow. 

“With the eyes of centre court, the UK press and live TV cameras on them, both women smiled and chatted like jolly good chums.

“The difference between their off and on-duty demeanour could not have been more marked.

“Kate and Meghan would have known there would be cameras there and the lenses would be trained on them. 

“The fact they did not seem to feel the need to put on a cheery, chummy spectacle of sorts would suggest things had already fractured seriously behind the scenes.”

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Just six months later, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that they would be stepping down from their senior positions within the Firm. 

Ms Esler wrote: “While it has been reported that a variety of factors contributed to their decision to quit as full-time working members of the Royal Family, their relationship with Harry’s family has cropped up again and again as something of a festering wound. 

“There have been claims things started to fray between William and Harry after the elder Prince failed to “roll out the red carpet” for his brother’s new girlfriend and that later, Kate was left in tears over an incident that happened before the Sussexes’ wedding.”

Meghan told Oprah Winfrey in 2021 that Kate made her cry ahead of her 2018 wedding to Harry during a dress fitting. It had previously been reported that the roles were reversed.

The Mail on Sunday’s assistant editor Kate Mansey claimed these comments damaged the relationship between the couples, particularly the friendship between William and Harry. 

Speaking to Palace Confidential on Mailplus, Ms Mansey said: “It was such a shame. It was described to me as civil which is palace courtier for what the rest of us would refer to as frosty. 

“You do wonder whether it could be their kind of gift to the Queen to make up somehow.

“But there’s been so much said obviously, Oprah.

“I do think those comments aimed at Kate were extremely damaging to the brothers’ friendship.

“Then we have this book coming out and who knows what will be in it.”

Back in July 2021, a source told The Mirror that news of Harry’s tell-all memoir set off a “tsunami of fear” among the royals.

The official press release for Harry’s book said that he’d be sharing a “definitive account of the experiences, adventures, losses, and life lessons that have helped shape him.”

It is also expected to cover his “lifetime in the public eye from childhood to the present day, including his dedication to service, the military duty that twice took him to the frontline of Afghanistan, and the joy he has found in being a husband and father.”

The book was set to be released in autumn this year, but a spokesperson for Penguin Random House told The Sunday Times in May that there isn’t a publication date yet.

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