In the time vortex that is 2020, it’s easy to forget anything that happened before coronavirus came along and ruined everything. But there were two whole months of this year that came and went pre-pandemic, and we spent approximately 50% of that time talking about Meghan and Harry’s decision to step back from the Royal family. Yes, all of this happened in 2020, no matter how long ago it feels.
In the few months since the Sussex fam officially peaced the f*ck out of their royal duties, they’ve kept a pretty low profile. They’re chilling in LA these days, and thanks to the pandemic, they, like the rest of us, have barely been leaving the house. Back in April, they volunteered for a food delivery organization, Meghan narrated a Disney nature documentary, and last week, they filed a lawsuit over paparazzi photos of their 14-month-old son that were taken with a drone. You know, just average pandemic things.
But now, Harry and Meghan are back in the headlines in a major way, because of a new book that allegedly tells the behind the scenes story of their time in the Royal family. Finding Freedom, which came out today, is written by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, “two top royal reporters who have been behind the scenes since the couple first met,” and the sneak peeks at the book have already revealed a lot of interesting information. (Of course, Meghan and Harry haven’t authorized the book, so take this all with a grain of salt.) Here’s what we’ve learned so far.
crazy that at the beginning of 2020 Meghan and Harry were still royals and I was still wearing a bra every day
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) July 29, 2020
They Were Secretly Engaged
Harry and Meghan announced their engagement in November 2017, and said that he had popped the question earlier that month, while they were making dinner at home. Lame, but okay. But in the new book, the authors say that the couple “became secretly engaged in August,” and chose not to tell anyone for a few months. If this timeline is accurate, it would mean that they got engaged after just over a year of dating, so maybe they didn’t want the engagement to seem so rushed? It seems odd to tell such a specific lie about when they got engaged, but idk, royal society is weird. The authors also say that Harry told Meghan he loved her after just three months of dating, so clearly things were moving quickly from the beginning. (And I’m just trying to get a guy to meet my friends after three months…)
The Palace Didn’t Love Meghan
This may not be shocking news, but Finding Freedom includes some quotes that are pretty rough. Scobie and Durand say that they once heard a member of the Royal family call Meghan “Harry’s showgirl,” which is a major yikes. According to the book, members of the family’s staff also had negative things to say about her, including that she “comes with a lot of baggage,” which I imagine is referring to her previous divorce. Another more vague complaint, was reportedly that there was something about her they “don’t trust”. Whether these things were petty gossip or straight-up racism, no wonder Meghan was ready to get out of that place.
William Really Did Warn Harry About Meghan
It’s long been rumored that a rift between William and Harry began when William warned his brother about moving too fast with Meghan, and according to the book, this mythical conversation between the Royal brothers really did happen. Scobie and Durand say that William reached out to Harry when he started getting serious with Meghan, and told him to “take as much time as you need to get to know this girl,” so that he was not “blindsided by lust.” Apparently, Harry was “pissed off” about this, which like, duh. This convo reportedly went down in 2016, and by the following summer (when Harry and Meg allegedly got engaged), the relationship between the brothers had almost completely deteriorated. The advance excerpts from the book don’t mention anything about Prince William’s alleged cheating scandal, but I imagine that only would have made things worse between him and his brother.
Meghan & Kate Didn’t Hate Each Other
One of the most persistent rumors that followed the family was that of a bitter feud between the Royal sisters-in-law. In Finding Freedom, Scobie and Durand say that this was never really the case. They clarify that Meghan and Kate “struggled to move past the distant politeness of when they first met,” but that they were “not at war with each other,” as the media suggested. They write that “Meghan and Kate just didn’t know each other that well,” and for what it’s worth, “Kate did little to bridge the divide.”
Honestly, this sounds like a very normal relationship between in-laws. Like, it sucks that they weren’t closer, but sometimes two people just aren’t meant to be ~sisters~. It’s exciting to imagine some kind of Bride Wars rivalry, but it makes sense that these are two adult women who probably never spent that much time together outside of official family functions—especially if their husbands were at odds with each other.
The Decision To Leave Was Harry’s
Meghan was almost always treated poorly by the British press, so it makes sense that they blamed her for the couple’s decision to step back from their royal duties. But according to the new book, the choice was Harry’s. They write that while Meghan’s presence “opened the door” to leaving, she was willing to do “whatever it takes” to stay. But Harry was done with the whole royal experience. The authors say that he told a friend, “I don’t need to have that movie moment where we get out of a car and wave to a hundred photographers before going into a building.” Instead, he wanted to “focus on what really matters.”
UPDATE: Now that the book is finally out, there’s even more palace goss to get into. Again, take it all with a grain of salt, but here are more things we learned from Finding Freedom.
The First Date
It’s not like, shocking that Meghan and Harry had a bougie first date, but I find it amusing that they met for the first time at the Soho House. Well, not the Soho House, but their Dean Street location in London. Apparently, they “chatted over drinks” for three hours, but didn’t kiss that night. But obviously things went well, because they came back to the same place for dinner the next night. Considering Harry can obviously get a reservation anywhere, I’m not sure I’d be impressed with him taking me the same place two dates in a row, but whatever, I guess he liked the privacy.
Pippa’s Wedding Drama
Kate Middleton’s sister Pippa got married in the spring of 2017, and Harry planned to bring his then-girlfriend Meghan as his date. But not long before the wedding, there was a tabloid story comparing Meghan and Pippa’s “backsides.” LMAO, really. Because of the, um, press coverage, it was decided that Meghan should skip the ceremony, but she still got to (quietly) attend the reception. Honestly, being a part of this family sounds f*cking exhausting. When I get married, people are welcome to talk about my ass as much as they want, as long as they’re only saying nice things.
Family Photo Drama
Back in 2019, this official photo was released in honor of Prince Charles’ 70th birthday. The photo is super cute, but apparently Harry and William did not want to be there at all. According to Finding Freedom, the scheduling for the photo was “an absolute nightmare,” because “the boys can be hot and cold with their father,” and didn’t really make finding time for the pics a priority. I’m not sure anyone loves taking family photos, but the funny thing about this is that it’s literally a Keeping Up With the Kardashians storyline. Remember when Kim said that Kourtney was the least interesting to look at? That whole argument was about scheduling the photoshoot or the family Christmas card. Maybe the Kardashians really are American royalty?
The Fired Nannys
Remember last year, when the Sussexes went through three different nannies in a matter of weeks? There was a lot of speculation that Meghan and Harry were just difficult to work for, but it sounds like there are clear explanations. In the book, Scobie and Durand write that baby Archie’s first night nurse was fired on her second night on the job for “being unprofessional and irresponsible.” What???? I need MANY more details on what this means. Another night nurse was hired, but ultimately, Meghan and Harry decided they didn’t want someone else taking care of their baby at night. So that’s when nanny number two was let go, and someone else was hired to help out with Archie during the day. I feel like there’s still more to this story, but whatever.
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Images: Samir Hussein/WireImage