Queen was aware ‘monarchy was coming undone’ after Harry’s wedding

Harry and Meghan negotiating royal titles ‘a complete contradiction’

Less than a year after Prince Harry married Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, the couple confirmed they would be separating their work from Prince William and his wife Kate, Princess of Wales, and setting up their own household. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who were expecting their first child, also decided to move out of Kensington Palace and into Frogmore Cottage before the baby arrived. The announcement, which came in March 2019, reinforced ongoing speculation that the ‘Fab Four’ were no more. Now, a royal documentary has claimed the late Queen Elizabeth II was aware that relationships were crumbling around her, but had “no choice but to hold fast and continue”.

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The Real Crown: Inside the House of Windsor was released on itvX on Thursday. Its final episode touched on the breakdown of relations between the heir and spare — Prince William and his younger brother.

Reports regarding the so-called royal rift began to surface around the time of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding, with claims escalating in the months leading up to the confirmation that the Sussexes and then-Cambridges would be splitting their households.

“William and Harry decide to stop many of their joint ventures and follow their own projects; it’s as though the fault lines are spreading and causing cracks within the Royal Family,” the documentary’s narrator Adjoa Andoh said. “Despite the Queen’s careful guidance, the monarchy is coming undone. But at 93, she has no choice but to hold fast and continue.”

Her Majesty was said to have attempted bringing the brothers together, but gave up after her efforts came to no avail.

Author of the book The New Royals – Queen Elizabeth’s Legacy and the Future of the Crown, Katie Nicholl claimed the monarch was “exhausted” by her grandsons’ rift.

Appearing on an episode of GB News’ Dan Wootton Tonight in September, Ms Nicholl said: “She was exhausted by it all, she realised there was nothing more she could do to forge a reconciliation between William and Harry.

“It is terribly sad that the twilight years of her reign, when she should have been enjoying her time, spending time with her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren was really marred by this awful family rift, which, let’s be honest, doesn’t look like it’s got any chance of being healed.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s dramatic exit from royal life dominated royal reporting during the final years of Queen Elizabeth’s life.

Harry and Meghan had announced their intention to step back from public duty in January 2020. While their initial plan involved continuing their work on behalf of the monarch, after the infamous Sandringham Summit — which saw some of the senior royals come together to discuss the departure — it was confirmed that the Sussexes would no longer represent the monarchy.

After carrying out their final official engagement in March 2020, the couple relocated to North America, ultimately settling in Montecito, California.

The Queen made it clear that the Duke and Duchess could not be ‘half-in, half-out,’ as Ms Nicholl wrote in her recent book: “If Harry and Meghan chose to leave, they could not reap the benefits of being royal.”

“And according to a friend, privately the Queen confided that she was exhausted by the turmoil of their decision,” Ms Nicholl wrote. “She was very hurt and told me: ‘I don’t know, I don’t care, and I don’t want to think about it anymore,’ says that person.”

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Later, the book described how King Charles III and Prince William were affected by the Sussexes’ exit, with the Prince of Wales struggling to forgive his brother.

“He always expected Harry would be his wingman; there was a long-term plan in place for the brothers to work together and support one another,” Ms Nicholl wrote. “After Harry announced their departure, William summoned aides to address the future, in what has been referred to by some in William’s circle as the ‘Anmer Summit’.

“But William and Kate also felt a sense of relief, that ‘the drama was gone’ when Harry and Meghan left, as a source told me. To this day, William still cannot forgive his brother.

“The brothers’ estrangement also threatens to cast a shadow over Charles’s reign and possibly William’s. Charles knows his public reputation could suffer if he is seen to be turning his back on his youngest son.”

Her comments came months ahead of the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla, which is due to take place on May 6.

Harry has confirmed he will cross the pond to witness his father’s crowning moment, a decision finally made public after several months of speculation.

Following the confirmation, it was reported that William and Harry have no plans to reconcile. Editor of Majesty Magazine, Ingrid Seward, told the Sun she believes that Harry and William have “really tight schedules” and that addressing their relationship is “for another time”.

The apparent unwillingness to make amends comes after the publication of Harry’s memoir Spare, in which the Duke revealed his father asked both him and William to “not make his final years a misery” after Prince Phillip’s funeral in April 2021.

All episodes of The Real Crown: Inside the House of Windsor are available to stream on itvX here.

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