This is Part 2 of our coverage of Katie Nicholl’s The New Royals. Part of Nicholl’s new book was excerpted in Vanity Fair’s October issue, although this excerpt seems to have been furiously rewritten the second Queen Elizabeth II passed away. In Part 2 of my coverage, Nicholl discusses the Sussexit and how it’s screwed up Prince William’s plans to lean on his younger brother forever. I don’t doubt it – the royal establishment has made it perfectly clear that Harry falling in love with a beautiful American woman and leaving his toxic f–king family was never part of their plan. In fact, their plan seemed to be “Harry needs to stay single forever, to support William.” Nicholl also casually suggests that the Duchess of Sussex really should have stuck around so she could be diversity set dressing for the monarchy, even if they treated her like sh-t from the word go. Maybe if Meghan was super-important to the monarchy, they could have treated her well? I guess not. Some more highlights from VF’s excerpt:
The Sussexes probably would have done a better Caribbean tour: Had Harry, who had been assigned a prominent role as a Commonwealth ambassador on the queen’s behalf, been on the tour with Meghan, the optics might have played out differently. Sadly, the significant role Harry and Meghan were expected to play in the life of the Commonwealth—their interracial marriage emblematic of equality, diversity, and unity—was lost when they left. The royal family is an institution based on white inherited privilege. Its future lies in the hands of three white men, and that is a fundamental problem in a diverse country such as Britain and across the countries of the Commonwealth too. Meghan played a huge part in relieving some of this tension; the loss of all she represents as a biracial woman in the royal family, as well as her energy and talent, has had a real impact.
The Third Way: Harry and Meghan press ahead with what some have called a “third way” of being royals, capitalizing on their new lives in America, their glamorous and richly endowed alternative court is a contrast to the House of Windsor. It remains to be seen whether they will ever reconcile with their family.
Harry & Meghan’s stop in Windsor before the Invictus Games: Some progress was made, however, when Harry and Meghan stopped off in Britain on their way to The Hague. Charles insisted on meeting Harry and Meghan before their audience with the queen. According to one insider, he wanted to make sure Harry wouldn’t be able to sweet-talk her the way Andrew had and get her to agree to anything without Charles’s say-so.
The meeting with Charles & Camilla: The meeting with Charles and Camilla was more awkward than their cordial tea with the queen. The Sussexes were late, and Charles had just 15 minutes with his son and daughter-in-law before he had to leave for the Royal Maundy Service at Windsor Castle, where he was standing in for the queen for the very first time. While father and son are said to have greeted each other warmly, there were moments of tension. “Harry went in with hugs and the best of intentions and said he wanted to clear the air,” according to a family friend. “He actually suggested that they use a mediator to try and sort things out, which had Charles somewhat bemused and Camilla spluttering into her tea. She told Harry it was ridiculous and that they were a family and would sort it out between themselves.”
William’s ass still hurts about the Sussexit: For Charles and William, the situation with the Sussexes hasn’t just been hurtful and upsetting on a personal level. There have been real repercussions, particularly for William, whose young family has been thrust into the spotlight prematurely. 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. 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.
Harry’s big shadow: 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. The queen, who was deeply hurt by Harry’s decision to leave his family and the country, nonetheless ensured the door was always open for her grandson and his wife and children to return. For now Frogmore House is still theirs.
Charles will continue to try to heal the rift: Those close to Charles say he won’t stop trying to heal the rift with his son, as he made sure Harry and Meghan were by the family’s side at the queen’s funeral. “He is hurt and disappointed but he has always said his love for Harry is unconditional,” says a friend, adding that Charles also wants to have a role as a grandparent to Archie and Lilibet.
Archie & Lilibet’s titles: We know titles matter to Charles, and he reportedly wants to limit them to the top tier of royals. He is also reportedly reluctant for his brother Prince Edward to take the title Duke of Edinburgh, even though it was their late father’s wish. So what is he considering in relation to his family so far overseas yet still intent on leveraging their royal links? Would Charles go as far as barring Archie and Lilibet from becoming a prince and a princess now that the Sussexes are no longer working royals? According to a source close to the king, “it depends a lot on what happens in the coming months, particularly with Harry’s book and their TV show.”
William & Harry’s strained relationship: There is still coolness between William and Harry—and on William’s part, a serious lack of trust. I asked a senior aide who has been close to William and Harry for decades what he thought about the brothers’ falling out and the prospect of two rival courts, the Sussexes and the Waleses. He offered a far more optimistic answer than some: “Actually, the more you see about how the Sussexes are approaching these things, it is much more Californian, much closer aligned to activism and celebrity than it is to royalty. The point about royalty is it’s the only institution that links together civic society, the philanthropic world, and establishment.” That person added, “The Sussexes know they’re not able to compare to them. The key point is that they’re not even trying. What they are doing is making a difference in their politico-philanthropic world, and that’s great.”
The fundamental miscalculation of all of the British commentators and biographers is assuming that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are in any way eager to reconcile or return to the UK or be back in the fold in any way. All of the commentary is predicated on that falsehood, that if this or that happens, suddenly Harry would come back, that he secretly wants nothing more than to dump his wife and children in America and come running back. Nicholl makes the same mistake as everyone else, acting as if everything is fundamentally William’s call or Charles’s call. The fact that the king and the Prince of Wales are basically supporting players to Prince Harry’s super-stardom has thrown everything into disarray. I’m also curious if Nicholl will even bother trying to present anything from the Sussexes’ side, like why they left in the first place, or how Meghan and Harry’s statements in the Oprah interview are verifiable.
Also: “There have been real repercussions, particularly for William, whose young family has been thrust into the spotlight prematurely. 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.” Again, the “long-term plan” was that Harry would never marry and William would take credit for Harry’s work and Harry would stay silent as William threw Harry to the wolves to cover up his affairs.
Oh, and I think Harry’s idea about getting a neutral third-party mediator is really great? It’s clear that the family is toxic as f–k and they all need a great deal of therapy. Why not? If Charles actually wants to have a relationship with his son and grandchildren, he might want to consider it. It’s also fascinating because Harry has not leaked one single thing about his conversations with his father, per Charles’s explicit request. Meanwhile, Charles has been openly leaking against Harry for months now.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.