Prince William and Prince Harry had a "fierce and bitter" showdown over the allegations that Meghan Markle had bullied Kensington Palace staff, according to a new book.
Following that brutal row, in the autumn of 2018, Prince William started moves to separate his household from the Sussexes.
He was so determined to be distanced from Meghan, says a source, that he was willing to be separated from his brother as well.
"William threw Harry out," the palace claimed.
The clash between the two princes, detailed in Robert Lacey’s book Battle of Brothers: William, Harry and the Inside Story of a Family in Tumult, appears to stem from William’s "paternalistic" attitude to royal staff, and Harry’s desire to defend his wife.
Jason Knauf, former joint communications secretary at Kensington Palace, reportedly collated a series of alleged complaints by palace staff, in which they claimed the Duchess of Sussex had subjected the top "emotional cruelty and manipulation," with one claiming they "couldn’t stop shaking" at the prospect of a confrontation with Meghan.
The Sussexes, for their part, have dismissed the claims as part of a "smear campaign" against them, says Robert Lacey.
Authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, in their book Finding Freedom, conceded that "Americans can be much more direct," when it came to dealing with staff, "and that often doesn’t sit well in the much more refined institution of the monarchy".
Buckingham Palace’s investigation into the bullying claims is still underway after more than three months, according to The Sunday Times.
There’s also a degree of confusion about Archie’s potential title. Based on rules laid down by George V in 1917, any grandchild of the Sovereign automatically becomes a princess. Theoretically, that means Archie and Lilibet will accede to HRH status when Her Majesty the Queen dies and Prince Charles takes the throne.
However, in her televised discussion with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle implied that her children would be denied titles, and hinted that the decision had been taken based on their skin colour.
When Oprah asked her "why they didn’t want to make Archie a prince?" Meghan replied: "I can give you an honest answer.
"In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time… We have in tandem the conversation of 'He won’t be given security. He’s not going to be given a title' – and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he is born.”
The two brothers will be reunited at a ceremony to honour their late mother, when Harry is set to return to the UK for a ceremony at Kensington Palace on July 1, which would have been Princess Diana's 60th birthday.
But whether they will be able to put their differences aside remains to be seen.
Battle of Brothers: William, Harry and the Inside Story of a Family in Tumult by Robert Lacey, is currently being serialised in The Times and will be published by William Collins on June 24
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