Meghan Markle Felt "Emotionally Bruised" After Her Final Royal Engagement, New Biography Claims
Plus, nine other revelations about the Sussexes's exit in Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family.
When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry made the unprecedented decision to step down from the royal family, and soon thereafter, move across the pond to pursue a new life in Los Angeles, it came as a huge surprise to the public and even those closest to the couple. Soon after, a media frenzy ensued, with many blaming the Duchess for the outcome, unfairly dubbing the Sussexes separation from the monarchy, "Megxit." But according to a new book, Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Royal Modern Family, there are two sides to every story.
In a 368-page tell-all that promises to go "beyond the headlines," royal correspondents and co-authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, attempt to shed light on the events leading up to Meghan and Harry's exit — including the harsh scrutiny they've endured in the press, feuds within the family, and feelings of distrust among palace courtiers.
While a spokesperson for Meghan and Harry revealed that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex "did not contribute" to the book's pages, Scobie and Durand based their findings off interviews with more than 100 sources close to the couple and palace staff, as well as from their "unique access" as members of the media.
“The aim of this book is to portray the real Harry and Meghan, a couple who continue to inspire many around the world through their humanitarian and charitable work but are often inaccurately portrayed,” Scobie and Durand said in a joint statement per Town & Country.
“Our mission has been motivated by a desire to tell an accurate version of their journey and finally present the truth of misreported stories that have become gospel simply because of the amount of times they have been repeated. It is thanks to our sources that we have been able to share the definitive story of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.”
Finding Freedom doesn't hit shelves until Aug. 11, but three excerpts have already been published by The Times U.K. ahead of its release. Here, the seven biggest bombshells so far.
Prince Harry knew Meghan was the one after only their second date.
Harry and Meghan's romance reportedly began as a tale of love at first sight, according to Scobie and Durand. The pair were set up on a blind date at Soho House's Dean Street Townhouse in the summer of 2016, and a source described them as being "in their own little world" for three hours. They made plans for the following night.
Harry was immediately dazzled by Meghan, telling a friend, "Wow. The most beautiful woman I’ve seen in my life."
"He definitely didn’t hide the fact he was keen," said a friend of Meghan’s. "He wanted her to know he was very interested."
"Almost immediately they were almost obsessed with each other," a source revealed. "It was as if Harry was in a trance." After their second date, Harry was convinced he'd spend forever with Meghan. "Harry knew they would be together at that point. She was ticking every box fast," a friend told the authors. Meghan was equally as smitten, and phoned a friend, asking, "Do I sound crazy when I say this could have legs?" Three months into their whirlwind courtship, Harry told Meghan he loved her, and she replied: "I love you, too."
They got secretly engaged three months before their announcement.
Shortly after announcing their engagement in November 2017, the couple told reporters Harry asked Meghan to marry him while making roast chicken at home earlier that month. But in Finding Freedom, Durand and Scobie write that Duke and Duchess of Sussex "became secretly engaged in August 2017." No other details were revealed about how exactly Harry popped the question, but during that time, the pair took a trip to Botswana to celebrate Meghan's 36th birthday and their one-year anniversary.
Harry also apparently had gone to Africa to source the perfect conflict-free diamond in May 2017, six months before the engagement was announced.
"Unbeknownst to most, [Harry] already had an engagement ring in the works," the authors wrote. "That May, Harry travelled alone to Botswana in his role as patron of Rhino Conversation Botswana. While in Africa, he did a little secret diamond scouting with a close friend who helped him to source the perfect conflict-free stone."
Harry was "incandescent with rage" at the racist media coverage about their relationship.
"Is this about race? Is it snobbery?” Harry reportedly asked himself about the British media's scrutiny of his relationship with Meghan.
“For the prince, Meghan was his personal introduction to the ugliness of racism. While it might have been new territory for Harry, bias — both unconscious and intentional — had always been a part of Meghan’s life,” write Scobie and Durand, adding that the prince was "incandescent with rage" over Meghan's treatment in the press.
In fact, Harry was so fiercely protective that he reportedly dropped one of his longtime friends (rumored to be Tom Inskip) who was critical of Meghan's background. "Word got back to Harry and the prince immediately cut him off," reveal Scobie and Durand. "Harry, sensitive to even the slightest hint of prejudice, had fallouts within his own circle."
Before going public with their relationship in November 2016, Harry penned a statement that confirmed he was dating Meghan, and in it, he condemned "the racial undertones of comment pieces" about Meghan's biracial identity. The timing of his bombshell announcement reportedly overshadowed Prince Charles and Camilla's royal tour of the Gulf, leaving his father "disappointed." But Charles understood that his son reached his "tipping point."
Harry felt "unprotected" by his family and palace staff.
Sources say Harry grew frustrated when the palace refused to comment on negative (and oftentimes racist) stories about Meghan in the tabloids, but would dispute false reports about other royals. "Traditionally, the palace has had no comment when it comes to rumors, but the Sussexes felt it wasn’t afraid to bend the rules if it was to correct a story about higher-ranking family members," write Scobie and Durand, citing an example of when "a spokesman went on the record in July 2019 to deny claims by a cosmetic clinic that Kate had had 'baby Botox.'"
Adding to his disappointment, Harry suspected other royal households were leaking stories about him and Meghan to the press. "There were just a handful of people working at the palace they could trust," the book claims. "A friend of the couple’s referred to the old guard as 'the vipers.' Meanwhile, a frustrated palace staffer described the Sussexes’ team as 'the squeaky third wheel’ of the palace." Ultimately, Harry believed 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."
Prince William warned Harry not to be "blindsided by lust" while dating Meghan.
As soon as Harry began dating Meghan, everyone seemed to have something to say about his new relationship. A senior courtier reportedly called the former actress "Harry's showgirl," while another told a colleague: "There's just something about her I don't trust." However, it was a comment made by his brother Prince William that angered Harry the most.
William reportedly advised his younger brother to "take as much time as you need to get to know this girl," urging him not to be "blindsided by lust." Harry was "pissed off" by Will's snobbery, according to Scobie and Durand.
"In those last two words, 'this girl', Harry heard the tone of snobbishness that was anathema to his approach to the world," the book reads, adding that their conversation about Meghan was the beginning of the rift between the two brothers. Months later, Will and Harry "hardly spoke," and Harry stopped visiting his nephew Prince George and niece Prince Charlotte by the summer of 2017.
Meghan got in trouble for wearing a necklace with Harry's initials.
At one point during the period where Meghan and Harry were simply dating, Meghan wore a now-infamous necklace with the initials "M" and "H" on it. Apparently though, "she was advised that wearing such a necklace only served to encourage the photographers to keep pursuing such images — and new headlines," according to Scobie and Durand. This reportedly upset Meghan, and she "felt frustrated and emotional." The book explains, "While she knew the aide had good intentions, the surreal experience of having someone from her boyfriend's office tell her what kind of jewelry to wear or not to smile at a photographer was too much."
Meghan and Kate were never actually feuding.
Despite not having a close friendship, Meghan and Kate weren't the ones feuding within the royal family. Instead, it was Harry and William who experienced a fracture in their relationship, and after Harry and Meghan wed, "the gap between the brothers only widened." Scobie and Durand reported, "William and Kate’s feelings seemed obvious to the Sussexes that summer and beyond. Among all the friends and family Harry and Meghan hosted at their house in Oxfordshire between May 2018 and March 2019, the Cambridges failed to visit."
Meanwhile, Meghan and Kate "were not at war with each other," Finding Freedom claims. The "Dueling Duchesses" narrative that played out in the tabloids was fabricated, and Meghan never made Kate "cry" at a bridesmaid fitting ahead of her wedding. They were cordial, but not BFFs. "Meghan would agree with the assessment that the duchesses were not the best of friends," the book reports. "Their relationship hadn’t progressed much since she was Harry’s girlfriend. Although Meghan might have understood Kate’s wariness to strike up a meaningful friendship, they were still no closer by the time she was a fellow senior working member of the royal family and the wife of William’s brother. Flowers for her birthday were nice, but Meghan would far rather have had Kate check in on her during the most difficult times with the press."
Sources claim Kate felt she didn't have much in common with Meghan "other than the fact that they lived at Kensington Palace."
Harry and Meghan got approval from the Queen for Archie's name.
After Archie's birth, it took a few days for the public to learn his name because the couple wanted to tell Queen Elizabeth first and get her approval.
"This wasn’t out of ceremonial necessity but simply because Harry was respectful of his grandmother," the book's authors wrote.
Harry, not Meghan, was the one who wanted to step down.
Many blamed Meghan for the Sussexes decision to step down as senior members of the royal family, but according to Finding Freedom, Harry was actually the one who wanted to cut ties with the monarchy. "Fundamentally, Harry wanted out... Deep down, he was always struggling within that world. She’s opened the door for him on that," a source told the authors. "Meghan simply emboldened him to make the change. She supported him no matter what."
Meghan, on the other hand, reportedly wanted to make it work, tearfully telling friends about the couple's resignation 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."
Meghan felt "emotionally bruised" following her final royal engagement.
Meghan and Harry left everyone in the dark about their decision to exit the royal family, which reportedly "created a lot of ill will in the household." Finding Freedom claims the tension was palpable during the Sussexes' final engagement at Westminster Abbey on March 9, with sources saying that Kate snubbed Meghan. "Although Meghan tried to make eye contact with Kate, the duchess barely acknowledged her," Scobie and Durand write.
By the end of the event, Meghan felt so "emotionally bruised and exhausted" that "she couldn't imagine wanting to step a foot back into anything royal again."
Pippa Middleton was afraid Meghan would overshadow her at her wedding.
According to the book, Harry's then-girlfriend Markle was "somewhat of a reluctant addition" to the guestlist for Pippa Middleton's (Kate Middleton's sister) wedding. "Both the bride and her mom, Carole, privately harbored concerns that the American actress’s presence alongside Harry might overshadow the main event," they wrote. Apparently, though, Meghan was aware of this and wore a "decidedly unflashy long black gown." At the reception, Pippa apparently had all of the couples sit apart. Apparently, all went well because soon after the wedding, Meghan attended Wimbledon with Kate and Pippa Middleton and "had a wonderful time" a source claimed.