The first excerpt of royal reporter Omid Scobie and ELLE.com royal contributor Carolyn Durand’s book Finding Freedom was released tonight in The Times. It paints the most intimate picture yet of how hard the Duchess of Sussex tried to fit into the royal family before she and Prince Harry ultimately made the decision to step back from their senior roles. Harry, not Meghan, was a driving force in the decision—and it only came after months of frustration and friction with royal family members and staff.
Meghan and Harry, according to Scobie and Durand, struggled to understand “why so few inside the palace were looking out for their interests,” since they were so popular. “While they both respected the hierarchy of the institution, it was difficult when they wanted to focus on a project and were told that a more senior ranking family member, be it Prince William or Prince Charles, had an initiative or tour being announced at the same time—so they would just have to wait.”
The reporters added that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex could only trust a “handful” of people working in the palace and beyond the core team, “no information was safe.”
Over time, according to the reporters’ sources, the couple felt they were being patronized by some family and staff members. Nothing changed when they brought up their grievances, and the announcement that they were stepping down “was a direct result of their growing impatience,” Scobie and Durand wrote. “If other members of the family and those working with the households had taken their requests more seriously, it wouldn’t have reached that point.”
Sources close to the Sussexes concede the way they were forced to go about their announcement—keeping the family and even their own team in the dark about their website—”created a lot of ill will in the household and especially in the family.” Even the queen and Prince Philip were “devastated.” Members of the court and even some some family blamed Meghan for the split and resulting rift.
But leaving was a joint decision, and Harry had long wanted to distance himself from the public eye. “Fundamentally, Harry wanted out,” a source close to the couple told the reporters. “Deep down, he was always struggling within that world. She’s [Meghan] opened the door for him on that.”
In reality, the Duchess was gutted that her efforts to fit into her royal role didn’t work. She tearfully told a friend in March,“I gave up my entire life for this family. I was willing to do whatever it takes. But here we are. It’s very sad.”
Plus, Harry was stripped of his honorary military appointments, something that was “most painful to Meghan witness him go through,” a source close to the couple said. “It’s the one that made Harry emotional.”
Meghan and Harry did their final series of royal events in March. At their last event, the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey, the two learned they were removed from the procession of senior royals despite taking part in it in previous years. Inside, Kate Middleton barely acknowledged Meghan.
The Duchess flew back to her son in Canada on the first flight after the service. “Meg just wanted to get home,” a friend said. “At that point she couldn’t imagine wanting to set a foot back into anything royal again.”
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