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Shows of royal fraternal unity have been rare enough in recent days, however, on Monday Prince William and Prince Harry united against their common enemy: the press.
Royal press officers leapt into action—a mere 11 hours after it appeared online—to deny a story in the U.K. paper of record, The Times, alleging that Harry and Meghan took their momentous decision to quit the royal family after “two years” of being “bullied” and “told their place” by other senior royals, including Prince William.
The Times was the clear target of the statement released this morning by Buckingham Palace, just hours before the brothers were due to gather with their father and grandmother for crunch talks at Sandringham.
It said, on behalf of the brothers: “Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a UK newspaper today speculating about the relationship between The Duke of Sussex and The Duke of Cambridge. For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful.”
The Times also reported in a second story, which is not apparently being contested, that the decision to quit was being driven by Meghan, who told her husband “This isn’t working for me.”
The article disputed by the palace alleged that the couple felt pushed out of the royal family by Kate Middleton and Prince William’s “bullying attitude.”
The Times says that a source commented that the Cambridges were “not very friendly... quite early on they decided, right, ‘We are going to tell these people their place and we are going to push them away.’”
The source said: “If you are Meghan and Harry and you have had two years of constantly being told your place, constantly bullied as they would see it, constantly being told what you can’t do, Meghan has been thinking, ‘This is just nuts. Why would anyone put up with this?’”
The Queen has called the Prince of Wales, Prince William, and Prince Harry to talks at her country house in Sandringham today. Meghan is expected to dial in to the discussion from Canada, where she fled after spending just a few days in England after their six-week sabbatical in North America.
The Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, will not be attending the meeting. Harry’s 98-year-old grandfather, who was hospitalized over Christmas, is said to have taken a heavy fall while showering in recent weeks.
Philip is said to have reacted by saying “What the hell are they playing at?” when told Harry and Meghan had decided to quit the royal family.
While officials are playing down the prospect of a deal being announced today, the Queen has made it known that the Sussexes’ future should be settled within days, not weeks.
The Sussexes want to divide their time between Britain and Canada, step back from royal duties, keep their titles, and withdraw from pooled media arrangements, but keep much of their funding and Frogmore Cottage, the house in Windsor that was controversially renovated for $3 million at taxpayers’ expense.
Sources have told The Daily Beast that Prince Charles will not agree to such terms and there has been a steady hardening of media and public opinion in the U.K. against Harry and Meghan, which could be exacerbated if they retain financial privileges.