Tom Bradby is the documentarian who made Harry & Meghan: As African Journey last year, the documentary about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s African tour, which featured candid, emotional interviews with both royals. There were repercussions for the Sussexes’ documentary and their emotions, and it was clear that the first year of marriage had been incredibly hard on them because of outside forces. Obviously, Bradby got a front-row seat to the Sussexes in transition – now we know that they were already discussing their future plans and how they would likely need to step away from all of it. Bradby gave an interview this week, and I guess this is closer to the Sussex narrative on things, which is a nice respite from all of the narratives coming from Kensington Palace, honestly. Some highlights from Bradby’s interview:
Sussexit is mostly about personal stuff within the family: It “is just really bad personal splits — that’s the honest truth… There’ve been a lot of fallouts; a lot of harsh things were said around the time of the wedding. And it’s gone a bit too far. And certainly the rest of the family find Harry and Meghan very difficult and, from Harry and Meghan’s point of view, they’re just being driven out as they see it. And it’s sad.”
The toxicity: “There are going to be so many complications, so many controversies. There needs to be a peace deal really soon because this is so toxic, there’s so much anger and, to be honest with you at the moment it looks like it might get worse, not better.”
The declaration of independence: “It was, in effect, a declaration of independence…My impression is they’re pretty philosophical about it. [It’s] ‘We are making a break for independence and freedom here. You wanted a slimmed-down monarchy. There’s no place for us in it. We need to learn to live on our own. We want to get on and do that.’ They’re philosophical as in it’s up to [the royal family] — protection, Frogmore, everything else, the titles. You want to take it all away, fine. That’s okay. But it’s sort of up to you. We’d like to be involved, we’d like to do our charities, we’d like to support the Queen and we’d like to do stuff through the Commonwealth, but we accept that we’ve got no right to do that anymore.”
The battle with the media: “Not their battle with the media itself…But the split within the family about it. In their eyes, they’re on a moral mission to take on the media or the tabloid media and the excesses of it. Their view is, ‘If we don’t stand up to it, who’s going to? We have to take a lead on this.’ They think their family kowtows to the media and plays the game — the ‘game that killed my mother’ as Harry would put it. So a bit of it is about that. The rest of the family thinks this is mad — you can win a battle against the media but not the war.”
The Sussexes only announced when Sussexit was leaked to Dan Wooten: “Harry has been talking to his family for some weeks about all this. And certainly as I understand it what happened is he was asked by members of his family — or at least his officials — to put some of these ideas in writing. He said, ‘I really don’t want to do that because it normally leaks.’ And they were very insistent in order to go forward and discuss it properly it had to be put in writing. He did put it in writing, and it did leak. So yes, I don’t think [the royal family] got much heads-up as to the actual announcement, but they certainly knew what was going on. I think [Harry] felt once it had been leaked all bets were off.”
Meghan & Harry felt cut adrift by the royal family: “A lot of old friends of the couple took [Meghan’s words in the documentary] primarily to be aimed at the royal family, not the media… The atmosphere has been fractious within the family ever since those close to Prince Charles pushed out the Queen’s long-standing and well-regarded private secretary Sir Christopher Geidt two years ago,” he said. Geidt had long smoothed over any grievances between the boys and the rest of the family, particularly their father Prince Charles, with whom William and Harry have a complex relationship. “Central authority weakened, the rest of the family increasingly doing their own thing. There have been many battles within the family since then. As an outsider, it would take the wisdom of Solomon to work out who is right, who is wrong.”
The War of the Windors: “Some argue Harry and Meghan were too independent, too difficult, but their friends feel they have been driven out. Those close to the couple say that if the royal family is to be slimmed down, this is the right, indeed only, step. But complicated it will be. This is a new war of the Windsors. It’s not over yet.”
People told Harry “to put some of these ideas in writing. He said, ‘I really don’t want to do that because it normally leaks.’ And they were very insistent in order to go forward and discuss it properly it had to be put in writing. He did put it in writing, and it did leak.” Yep. Leaked to Dan Wooten, who is tight with the Kensington Palace communications office. What do you know. Anyway… Bradby is right, there are complications on complications and I think the Sussexes did it the right way: they told the palaces what they want and now they’ve stepped back and they’re letting the chips fall where they may. As much as we’ve been talking about William’s petty little games, I am starting to wonder if Charles has some regrets about how he handled everything, and I wonder if he’s actually quite upset at the thought of Harry and Meghan leaving.
Photos courtesy of WENN.