A new biography of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex has offered a unique insight into what led the couple to step down from royal duties.
Finding Freedom, by royal reporters Carolyn Durand and Omid Scobie, describes the wall of resentment that slowly built up between Harry and Meghan and the rest of the royal family.
Neither Harry nor Meghan have contributed to the book; it is based on the authors’ own experiences as members of the royal press and incorporates quotes from sources close to the couple.
Extracts from the biography are being serialised in The Times and The Sunday Times ahead of its publication in August.
From the rumoured rift between Meghan and the Duchess of Cambridge to how the Duke of Cambridge allegedly told Harry not to rush things with Meghan, here’s everything we know so far about Finding Freedom.
Meghan felt she ‘gave up her entire life’ for the royal family
The book states that Meghan told a friend in March that she had given up her “entire life” for the royal family and was hurt by reports that leaving the royal family was purely her idea.
“The courtiers blame Meghan, and some family do,” a source is quoted as saying in Finding Freedom.
But the source adds that Meghan sacrificed a lot to slot into royal life.
“As Meghan 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,’” the book states.
Prince William wanted to make sure Harry ‘wasn’t blinded by lust’ with Meghan
The Duke of Cambridge was cautious of his brother’s relationship with Meghan at the start, the book claims, and was keen to make sure that Meghan had the right intentions with Harry.
“After all, these are two brothers that have spent their whole lives with people trying to take advantage of them,” the source is quoted as saying in the book.
“They’ve both developed a radar to detect that type of person, but as William didn’t know a whole lot about Meghan, he wanted to make sure Harry wasn’t blindsided by lust.”
Harry had fallouts with his inner circle over potential prejudice
In the early days of their relationship Prince Harry was given a closer picture of the ugly realities of racism than he had ever previously seen, the book’s authors say.
And when those close to him began to question the suitability of his relationship, he was quick to consider whether their critiques came from a place of prejudice.
The authors write: “When some questioned his new relationship, and whether she was suitable, he would wonder, ‘Is this about race? Is it snobbery?’
“An old friend of Harry’s spent an afternoon gossiping about Meghan, making disparaging remarks about her Hollywood background. Word got back to Harry, and the prince immediately cut him off.”
Reports of a rift between Meghan and Kate were not true
Finding Freedom claims there was no feud between the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex – they simply had nothing in common.
The book states that the press were too quick to blame the decision of the Sussexes to move to Windsor – removing themselves from the Kensington Palace umbrella – on the “duelling duchesses”, the authors say, when it was Harry who felt suffocated by his brother.
Ms Durand and Mr Scobie write: “The truth was that Meghan and Kate just didn’t know each other that well.”
They address one particular rumour that Meghan made Kate cry during a bridesmaid’s dress fitting for Princess Charlotte, stating that it is completely false.
Reports that Meghan’s “strict demands” had left Kate in tears “puzzled” those who were present, the book states.
A source who was there said: “Some of the children weren’t cooperating, and there was a lot going on.
“Everyone tried to help where they could, but it’s never easy with kids at fittings. There were no tears from anyone.
“And in the end, the fitting was fine. Kate and Meghan were both a little stressed but professional in the room, and there were other people there.”
Prince William told Harry not to rush things with Meghan
William is said to have sat Harry down at the start of his relationship with Meghan and urged him to take things slowly with her.
“Don’t feel you need to rush this,” he said, according to sources.
“Take as much time as you need to get to know this girl.”
The words “this girl” are said to have irritated Harry, leading him to describe his brother as a snob.
“Harry could see through William’s words. He was being a snob,” a source close to Harry is quoted as saying in the book.
Palace staff were wary of Meghan
The book details how several members of the royal family did not trust Meghan, or have faith in her relationship with Harry.
“At least two other family members also voiced concerns to each other over the pace at which Harry’s relationship had moved,” the book states.
Meanwhile, when Meghan and Harry started dating, one senior royal allegedly referred to the Suits actor as “Harry’s showgirl”.
Another is reported to have told an aide, “She comes with a lot of baggage,” while one high-ranking courtier was overheard telling a colleague, “There’s just something about her I don’t trust.”
Meghan felt like her father was a victim of the media
The authors write that an unnamed “trusted confidant” of Meghan expressed to them that she blamed the media for “corrupting” her father, Thomas Markle, from whom she is estranged.
According to the source, Meghan told them: “My dad never sought this out. I really believe that he’s the victim, and now I feel sad because I believe he’s been fully corrupted.”
Harry and Meghan felt like they took a ‘back seat’ in royal family
The book states that the couple grew frustrated that they “often took a back seat to other family members” when they were part of the royal family.
“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 book reads.
Prince Harry told Meghan Markle “I love you” three months after they started dating
The Duke of Sussex told his future wife that he loved her three months into their relationship, the co-authors of Finding Freedom have claimed in their new book.
According to a friend of Meghan, Prince Harry was the first to profess his love, with the former Suits actor “immediately” replying “I love you, too”.
“For Meghan, she was all in. Nothing could get her to slow down, not even a friend who cautioned her about getting involved with Harry,” the book states.
“Three months into their relationship, a Meghan friend said [sic], they had already begun swapping the words ‘I love you’.”
This prompted the couple “to begin talking in non-oblique terms about their future”, it added.
Meghan reportedly left “clues” on social media hinting at her relationship with Prince Harry, including a photograph on Instagram of a Love Hearts sweet inscribed with the words “Kiss Me” alongside the caption “Lovehearts in London” on the night she and Prince Harry went on a date.
Meghan 'used to tip the paparazzi off' about stories before meeting Harry
In the latest extract from Finding Freedom, the authors claim that Meghan used to tip the press off with stories about her when she was an actor in the US legal drama Suits.
The book reads: “While Meghan, before she met Harry, had occasionally set up a paparazzi photo here and there or let info slip out to the press, she did everything in her power to protect the privacy of her relationship with the prince.”
Harry 'refused' trial period prior to leaving the royal family
Prince Harry was reportedly so intent on quitting royal life that he refused the offer of a trial period when he initially raised his wishes to step down.
According to a source quoted in the book, the prince “was adamantly opposed to the review process”.
However, another source close to the couple did not rule out a return to royal life.
“Do I rule out them taking on roles for the family in the future? Absolutely not,” they said.
“But a full-scale return soon is not likely. That is not down to animosity or anything like that. They have not yet reached what they were seeking to do.”