Here’s Part 2 of our coverage of Valentine Low’s book, Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown. Judging from the first excerpt in the Times, the book probably should have been called Somebody Call the Waaaambulance: How Lazy, Incompetent British People Lost Their Collective Minds When A Black American Woman Expected Them To Work. There is story after story of the Duchess of Sussex telling people that their work isn’t good enough (when it’s clear that it wasn’t good enough), or Kensington Palace staffers completely f–king up tasks and being scared to tell Meghan that they f–ked it up. There’s also more bullsh-t about the g–damn tiara, as if we haven’t heard about that a million times. Once again, it’s perfectly clear that Angela Kelly took it upon herself to massively disrespect both Meghan and Harry, and then when Harry told Kelly off, Kelly ran to QEII to cry about it, then Kelly began a smear campaign about it. More highlights:
The Angela Kelly beef: Meghan then needed to make sure her hairdresser had an opportunity to rehearse with it before the day itself. Unfortunately, on the day her hairdresser, Serge Normant, was in town, Angela Kelly was not available, so neither was the tiara. In Harry’s view, this was Kelly being obstructive. According to the book Finding Freedom, Kelly had ignored repeated requests from Kensington Palace to set up a date for a hair trial. And Harry was furious. “Nothing could convince Harry that some of the old guard at the palace simply didn’t like Meghan and would stop at nothing to make her life difficult,” wrote the book’s authors. But there is another version: that Harry and Meghan were naive at best, entitled at worst, to expect others to jump to their command when they had not even bothered to make an appointment.
Angela Kelly is awful: Harry then began ringing others to put pressure on Kelly to bend the rules and in the course of his less than diplomatic efforts is said to have used some fairly fruity language. Whether Harry swore at his grandmother’s aide, or about her, is not clear. But she wasn’t impressed. She reported all this to the Queen, who summoned Harry to a private meeting. “He was firmly put in his place,” a source said. “He had been downright rude.”
Why did personal assistant Melissa Touabti leave? Palace sources have said that the clashes between Meghan and Touabti centred on the free gifts that some companies would send to Meghan. Deliveries were constantly arriving at Kensington Palace. “Clothes, jewellery, candles… It was absolutely nonstop,” said a source. Touabti was apparently punctilious in following the household rule that members of the royal family cannot accept freebies from commercial organisations. Her approach did not go down well with Meghan.
They’re desperate to make the South Pacific tour sound bad: Although she enjoyed the attention, Meghan failed to understand the point of all those walkabouts, shaking hands with countless strangers. According to several members of staff, she was heard to say on at least one occasion, “I can’t believe I’m not getting paid for this.”
Finally, their own office: The palace wanted to set them up with an office within Buckingham Palace. Harry and Meghan wanted their own arrangement, probably at Windsor Castle, near their new home of Frogmore Cottage. If they were stuck in Buckingham Palace, subservient to the whole palace machine, they would be no better than other lesser royals such as the Duke of York or the Earl and Countess of Wessex. But there was no way that the palace would fund the establishment of a separate satellite operation. It was a decision by the Queen and the Prince of Wales, both of whom were keenly aware of the need to avoid unnecessary extravagance.
Things fall apart in 2019: By August 2019, things were “awful and tense” within the Sussex household. There were also clues that Harry and Meghan did not see their long-term future as working members of the royal family. Their Africa tour was coming up, but there was nothing in the diary after that. Meanwhile, staff were increasingly aware of the presence in the background of Meghan’s business manager, Andrew Meyer, and her lawyer, Rick Genow, as well as her agent, Nick Collins, and Keleigh Thomas Morgan of Sunshine Sachs. The US team had been very busy, working on deals not only with Netflix but also a deal for Harry’s mental health series for Apple+ with Oprah Winfrey and Meghan’s voiceover for a Disney film about elephants.
The ITV documentary from their African tour: The trailer came out while William and Kate were on a tour of Pakistan. The resulting coverage inevitably overshadowed reporting of the last day of the Cambridges’ tour. The Cambridge team was not happy and saw it as a deliberate attempt to knock the Cambridges out of the headlines. Relations between the two households became quite tense.
Leaky Peg: William, back home after the Pakistan tour, appears to have been taken aback at such a stark portrayal of his brother and sister-in-law’s unhappiness. He realised they were in crisis. The day after the documentary aired, William whatsapped his brother to ask if he could come and see him. This put Harry and Meghan into a spin. What should they do? Initially, Harry was in favour. Then he spoke to his brother again and asked him who he would tell. William explained that he would have to clear his schedule, which would mean telling his private secretary. At that point, Harry said don’t come. He was so concerned that William’s team would leak the visit to the press that he would rather they did not come than risk it getting into the papers. It highlighted once again the dysfunction at the heart of so many royal relationships and that members of the royal family so rarely pick up the phone and speak to each other directly.
The “royals can’t accept freebies” rule was only enforced for Meghan, by the way. Kate accepts freebies constantly and she also accepts deep discounts. Charles has a long history of accepting literal suitcases full of cash and, as Prince of Wales, he was up to his neck in all kinds of shady loans and financial shenanigans, which are a lot worse than “Meghan wanted to keep some candles she was sent.” Besides, I think it’s pretty clear that every staffer within KP was compromised – they all lost the plot at having to deal with someone organized and hardworking.
The part about Meghan’s LA people being in the background in 2019 is… interesting but there’s a heavy dash of bullsh-t. Harry and Meghan were exploring other options that year, and Harry was already working on the AppleTV series, The Me You Can’t See. But I do believe Meghan was in contact with her LA people that year, because… she knew that they would need a plan for what was next, because it was clear that they would leave. What’s curious to me is how did KP staff know that Meghan was in contact with her old entertainment lawyer? At that point, the Sussexes were out of KP. Was KP monitoring her phone calls?
One of the strangest things about Low’s book, from what I can see of it thus far, is that Low pretends that Meghan’s behavior towards KP staff exists in a vacuum. In the same time frame as many of these “incidents,” KP staffers briefed the media against the Sussexes, proudly sharing their nicknames for Meghan, like “Me-Gain” and “Degree Wife.” All the royal courts were not hiding the fact that they were smearing her on a daily basis, while they all knew she was heavily pregnant AND suicidal. There was also the Middleton Manor operation, in which Meghan was used as a foil for perfect Kate. On top of all that, we also know that William was actively briefing against Meghan and Harry to hide his own rose-bush trimming. Instead of Low actually showing journalistic initiative and pursuing those avenues, he’s little more than a stenographer for the courtiers.
Photos courtesy of Backgrid.