When she and Prince Harry officially quit the royal family in March, Meghan Markle reportedly tearfully told a friend: “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 powers [of the institution] are unfortunately greater than me,” she is also reported to have said. She likened tabloid criticism to “death by a thousand cuts.”
Meanwhile, Prince Harry “felt at once used for their popularity, hounded by the press because of the public’s fascination with this new breed of royal couple, and disparaged back within the institution’s walls for being too sensitive and outspoken. He and Meghan didn’t want to walk away from the monarchy; rather, they wanted to find a happy place within it.”
The explosive details of Harry and Meghan’s departure from the royal family are revealed in the first extract from the tell-all biography Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family, by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, which has been published by the Times of London.
The extract was published the day after Harry and Meghan launched a new lawsuit over an alleged paparazzi intrusion at their home in Los Angeles, in which photographs were taken of their son Archie.
The book says that Harry felt “unprotected” by his family, and “as though he and Meghan had long been sidelined by the institution and were not a fundamental part of its future.”
Harry feels “that there were so many occasions when the institution and his family could have helped them, stood up for them, backed them up, and never did,” a source told the authors.
“Fundamentally, Harry wanted out,” a source close to the couple revealed. “Deep down, he was always struggling within that world. She’s opened the door for him on that.”
“The courtiers blame Meghan, and some family do,” another source said of the couple leaving the royal family.
Harry likened the negotiations around his and Meghan’s royal exit to “standing in front of a firing squad,” the book claims.
At one point, as Harry scrolled through negative comments online about his and Meghan’s behavior, he is reported to have said: “It’s a sick part of the society we live in today, and no one is doing anything about it. Where’s the positivity? Why is everyone so miserable and angry?”
After their final royal engagement, the book reveals, Meghan got the first flight back to Canada. “Meg just wanted to get home,” a friend said, the authors describing Meghan as “emotionally bruised and exhausted.” The friend added, “At that point she couldn’t imagine wanting to set a foot back into anything royal again.”
Prince William, a Kensington Palace source told the authors, remained upset that Harry and Meghan made “private” family matters public, presumably as when Harry and Meghan talked about their discontent to ITV journalist Tom Bradby. “It’s not anger,” the source said of William’s feelings. “It’s hurt.”
Harry and Meghan had taken as a significant sign the absence of a photo of them with baby Archie in the background of the queen’s 2019 Christmas Speech, in which there were visible photos of William and Kate and their children, Charles and Camilla, Prince Philip, and a black-and-white image of George VI.
While Saturday’s excerpt—more are planned for Sunday and Monday—does not contain any references to long-rumored allegations of racism within the palace experienced by Meghan, in a separate interview with The Times, Scobie, who is of Iranian and British heritage, said: “She was a biracial woman stepping into the House of Windsor. That was going to ruffle feathers. We only need look at the Duchess Difficult narrative. What is ‘difficult’? Difficult is pushy, aggressive. It’s all the things that we throw on Black women as a society regardless of what their actual personality is.”
Some of the key claims in the book are that Harry believed that some of the old guard “simply didn’t like Meghan and would stop at nothing to make her life difficult,” and that senior courtiers in other households felt that the global popularity of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex “needed to be reined in” because the royal “establishment” feared that the popularity of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex “might eclipse that of the royal family itself.”
At the Commonwealth Service in Westminster Abbey, their final official royal engagement, Harry and Meghan were left out of the procession of senior royals, which “more than disappointed” Harry.
Then there was the scant recognition between Harry and Meghan and William and Kate in the Abbey. “It should have been the one public moment where the royal family put their arms around the couple for a show of support,” a source close to Harry and Meghan told the authors. “They purposefully chose not to put them in the procession and not to be welcoming. It was most unpleasant.”
Having negotiated their exits from the royal family, the queen reportedly told Harry over a private roast lunch—”just granny and grandson,” as the authors put it—that she would always support him and he and Meghan could return to their traditional royal roles if they ever chose to. “It’s been made very clear they can come back whenever they want, when they’re ready,” a source involved with the negotiations told the authors.
Scobie tells the Times that Harry and Meghan did not speak to him and Durand on or off the record for the book, adding, “I think that you can tell from the reporting, my time around the couple is enough for me to know my subjects.”
A spokesperson for the couple told The Daily Beast: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed and did not contribute to Finding Freedom. This book is based on the authors’ own experiences as members of the royal press corps and their own independent reporting.”