Family feud. A new book excerpt claims Prince William and Prince Harry‘s rift deepened following allegations that Meghan Markle bullied a palace employee during her time as a working member of the royal family.
New details about the bullying allegations were published in U.K. newspaper The Times on Saturday, June 19, as part of an excerpt from Robert Lacey’s new book Battle of Brothers: William, Harry and the Inside Story of a Family in Tumult, out June 24. The author alleges that the Duke of Cambridge, 38, initiated the separation of his household from the Sussexes after complaints about the former actress, 39, were filed.
“Prince William went ballistic when he heard the ‘dossier of distress’ that [former communications secretary Jason] Knauf had gathered,” Lacey wrote, adding that he was “astonished and horrified.”
The second in line to the throne believed the California native had an “agenda” and was “undermining some precious principles of the monarchy,” the book claims. More importantly, William was allegedly concerned that Meghan “seemed to be stealing his beloved brother away.”
Prince Harry, 36, however, was “equally furious” that his brother was more inclined to believe staff members than his own family. He defended his wife while William felt “betrayed.” The “showdown” that followed was said to be “fierce and bitter.”
“He had seen it as his job to look out for Harry but this was the moment the protection had to stop,” Lacey wrote. “At the end of the day the British crown and all it stood for with its ancient traditions, styles and values — the mission of the monarchy — had to matter more to William than his brother did.”
As the relationship deteriorated, “William simply did not want her or Harry around anymore,” the royal expert added.
The Battle of Brothers excerpt ends by noting that Meghan and Harry’s move from Kensington Palace to Frogmore Cottage and the division of their households was one that William allegedly orchestrated. “William wished to be separated from Meghan on a day-to-day basis — and that meant being separated from his brother as well,” Lacey wrote. “‘William,’ says a friend, ‘threw Harry out.’”
When accusations of bullying were published in March, Buckingham Palace said HR would look into the matter.
“We are clearly very concerned about allegations in The Times following claims made by former staff of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex,” the palace’s statement, released via social media, read. “Accordingly our HR team will look into the circumstances outlined in the article. Members of staff involved at the time, including those who have left the Household, will be invited to participate to see if lessons can be learned.”
A representative for the Duchess of Sussex denied the claims. “The Duchess is saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma,” a rep for Meghan said in a statement to Us Weekly in March.
The rep also told The Times that the bullying accusations were part of “a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation.” (Knauf, one of several staffers who complained about Meghan, stepped down from his role as CEO of the Royal Foundation in May, two months after the claims were published.)
The alleged treatment of staff isn’t the only issue keeping the brothers apart. Last month, a royal insider told Us that the relationship between the siblings has only gotten worse amid Harry’s recent candid interviews in his CBS tell-all and more.
“William feels that Harry should discuss his issues privately and can’t comprehend why he continues to shade his own flesh and blood on TV,” the source said after the release of Harry’s docuseries The Me You Can’t See. “Of course, mental health is a serious issue, but William can’t get his head around why Harry keeps throwing his family under the bus.”
The source added: “There’s no way they’ll ever trust him after this. The damage is done.”
Us Weekly has reached out to representatives for Kensington Palace and the Sussexes for comment on the new claims.