Meghan Markle and Harry’s fury over royal hypocrisy

They’ve blasted the way William has been treated after his ‘lies’

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton

by Katie Holloway |
Updated on

For most of us, learning a family member had tested positive for Covid-19 would be distressing to say the least. But, as the news broke last week that Prince William had been struck down by the coronavirus earlier this year, insiders say that aside from the obvious concern about William, the main emotion in Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s household was fury. In the wake of the future king’s “lies”, the pair have privately been annoyed by the “double standards” they’ve been treated with. Sources suggest this could be putting further pressure on their already-fragile relationship.

“There is upset over how William’s being treated right now,” says an insider close to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who quit their roles in the family and moved to California earlier this year, after complaining of their treatment by the public and royal press. “The cold reality is that William essentially lied to everyone and there’s no doubt whatsoever that if the boot was on the other foot, Meghan and Harry would’ve been slammed far and wide. They would’ve been accused of secrecy and dishonesty.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

But, of course, because it’s William and Kate, there’s no such scrutiny, let alone criticism. As far as the Sussexes are concerned, this is more evidence of a blatant agenda against them and this is exactly the kind of thing that drove them out of England.”

Last week, the shocking news broke that William, 38, had tested positive for the virus back in April – at a similar time to his dad, Prince Charles. He then took the surprising step of hiding his diagnosis from the public, and continued with his work, taking on 14 engagements in self-isolation, from his home. The report explained, “William was hit pretty hard by the virus – it really knocked him for six. At one stage he was struggling to breathe, so obviously everyone around him was pretty panicked. William was determined it should be business as usual though. He was determined to fulfil his engagements.”

The second in line to the throne reportedly took the decision not to tell anyone because, “there were important things going on and I didn't want to worry anyone.” Royal fans rushed to offer their sympathy and support, with one tweeting, “Prince William literally had Covid and was struggling to breathe but continued doing calls.” Another added, “I’m just so happy that William recovered.”

Check out: Meghan Markle and Harry's ups and downs


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle relationship timeline - Grazia

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July 2016: Meghan And Harry Meet

So when did the future Duke and Duchess of Sussex meet? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were introduced by a mutual friend in July 2016, originally thought to be Markus Anderson (also the director of Soho house) but who was later confirmed to be Violet von Westenholz. Meghan said in an interview that before she met the Harry she didn't know much about him 'the only thing that I had asked [our mutual friend] was, 'Well is he nice?'. According to Harry he knew Meghan was The One from 'the very first time we met.' after only two dates Harry asked Meghan to accompany him on a trip to Botswana.

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October - November 2016: Kensington Palace's Statement

In October 2016 that the Express became the first newspaper to publish news that Prince Harry had a new girlfriend. However just a month later, Kensington Palace released a statement condemning the 'wave of abuse and harassment' faced by Meghan. The unprecedented statement, which referred to Meghan as Harry's girlfriend for the first time, emphasized that Prince Harry was 'worried about Ms. Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her.' It continued 'It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm.' The palace were also forced to address speculation that Prince William was unhappy with Harry for confirming the relationship too soon, stating 'The Duke of Cambridge absolutely understands the situation concerning privacy and supports the need for Prince Harry to support those closest to him.'

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December - February 2017: Things Get More Serious

Early in December 2017 Meghan was confirmed as the most Googled actress of 2016. In the same month, the couple were photographed together for the first time in London, shopping for a Christmas tree at the Pines and Needles store and attending a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. By January 2017 a source told US weekly that Harry had introduced Meghan to Kate and Prince Charlotte and that the 'meeting went well'. Meanwhile a source told The Sun that Meghan had 'virtually moved in' with Prince Harry to his cottage on the Kensington Palace estate.

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March - May 2017: Meghan Attends Weddings With Harry

By March things were openly getting pretty serious between the two: Meghan accompanied Harry to Jamaica for a wedding for the first time (his friend's Tom 'Skippy' Inskip to Lara Hughes-Young). On April the 7th Meghan announced that she was closing down her lifestyle blog The Tig writing 'What began as a passion project (my little engine that could) evolved into an amazing community of inspiration, support, fun and frivolity. You've made my days brighter and filled this experience with so much joy.' In May, Meghan and Harry attended their first public event together at the Polo in Coworth Park (where they also engaged in some PDA). Later in May Prince Harry was seen driving Meghan to the reception of Pippa Middleton and James Matthew's wedding.

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September 2017: The First Official Public Appearance

Welcome to Meghan the style Icon: at the opening of Prince Harry's Invictus Games in September Meghan wore a maroon midi dress with a pleated chiffon skirt by one of her favourite Canadian brands, Aritzia with a burgundy biker jacket by Mackage. The next day the couple were photographed sitting together at the wheelchair tennis and 'broke with royal protocol' by holding hands and kissing at the closing ceremony. On the 5th of September In an interview with Vanity Fair, Meghan stated: 'We're a couple. We're in love. I'm sure there will be a time when we will have to come forward and present ourselves and have stories to tell, but I hope what people understand is that this is our time.'

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September-November 2017: Meghan Leaves Behind Rachel Zane

Late 2017 we saw the end of everyone's favourite legal powerhouse Rachel Zane (sob). In November 2017, shortly after Meghan met the Queen, the actress was reported to be leaving her role in Suits after seven seasons.

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November 2017: The Engagement

After months of speculation, Prince Charles announced the engagement of his younger son Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after 15 months of dating On November 27th 2017 . The engagement ring, said to be designed by Harry, is made of two stones that belonged to Princess Diana. The couple later appeared at a photocall, with Markle wearing a white dress coat by Canadian brand Line The Label (whose website subsequently crashed). When asked by waiting photographers if the proposal was romantic, Harry joked 'of course!' Speaking about his late mother, Princess Diana, Harry said 'I think they'd be thick as thieves. She would be over the moon, jumping up and down, so excited for me... It's days like today when I really miss having her around and miss being able to share the happy news. With the ring, I'm sure she's with us, jumping up and down somewhere else.' it was announced that the wedding would take place on May the 19th, 2018.

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December 2017: The Fab Four

In December 2017 Meghan, Harry, Kate and William were photographed together attending the Christmas service at Sandringham. Pictures of the two couples earned them the title 'The Fab Four'. Meanwhile in the following months Meghan earned a reputation for breaking royal protocol on official visits by hugging fans of the couple and kissing them on the cheek.

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February 2018: Kate And Meghan Appear In Public Together

In February 2018, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle had their first royal engagement together for the Royal Foundation Forum with Prince Harry and Prince William. Harry stated of the two couples 'We have different opinions and they work really well [together]. Working as family does have its challenges; of course it does. The fact that everybody is laughing shows they know exactly what's it like… But we are stuck together for the rest of our lives.'

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May 2018: The Lead Up To The Wedding

In the lead-up to the wedding it was confirmed 2,640 people would be invited to the grounds of Windsor Palace to watch the royal wedding. Photos of Meghan and Harry's wedding invitations were released, bearing Harry's legal name 'Henry'. Meghan and Harry made a number of public appearances together including to the Invictus game tryouts in April and attend the Queen's birthday at the Royal Albert Hall. Meghan's final episode of Suits is also aired, marking the official end of her acting career.

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May 2018: Meghan's Family Drama Begins

On May the 14th, three days before the wedding Meghan's father, Thomas Markle sr. who was confirmed to walk Meghan down the aisle pulled out, following an embarrassing incident in which he staged paid paparazzi photos. Thomas Markle later suffered a heart attack, and his son Thomas Markle Jr. penned an unflattering open letter to Harry criticizing Meghan and encouraging him to pull out of the wedding. The day before the wedding, Kensington Palace announced Prince Charles would walk Meghan down the aisle, stating 'The Prince of Wales is pleased to be able to welcome Ms. Markle to The Royal Family in this way.'

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May 2018: The Royal Wedding

Meghan and Harry wed on the 19th of May for a combined audience of 11.5 million people who tuned in to watch the ceremony. Meghan's gown was made by Clare Waight Keller, artistic director of the fashion house Givenchy which she later changed for a silk crepe dress by Stella McCartney. Her mother Doria Ragland attended the ceremony along with a host of celebrities including Meghan's former Suits cast and her close friends, George and Amal Clooney.

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May - October 2018: Married Life

Throughout May of 2018 Harry and Meghan made their first official appearances as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. For her inaugural attendance to the Trooping of the Colour Meghan wore an off-the-shoulder dress, reportedly breaking royal protocal. In the following months the newlyweds made a number of public appearances including to Ireland to meet the country's officials. They also took a rumoured trip to visit George and Amal Clooney in Lake Como.

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October 2018: The Royal Baby Announcement

Speculation began during Princess Eugenie's wedding that Meghan was pregnant owing to her loose coat. The rumours were confirmed when Kensington Palace announced on the 15th of October 2018 that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were expecting a child. The announcement also coincided with the first day of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's official tour.

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October 2018: Meghan And Harry's First Royal Tour

In October Meghan and Harry departed for their 16-day Autumn royal tour visiting Australia, Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand (obviously featuring some serious style moments from the newly-appointed Duchess of Sussex/Style). By November, sources were telling news outlets that the couple were preparing to move to Frogmore cottage in Windsor in 2019. The couple spent the anniversary of their engagement, November the 27th apart, due to Harry being in Zambia.

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November 2018 - Present: Feud Rumours

As Meghan and Harry embarked on life as newlyweds there was less plainsailing, as controversy continued to follow closely on their heels. Meghan's family have continued to be the subject of unflattering media headlines and Thomas Markle gave interviews to the media about his distanced relationship with his daughter. Meanwhile Samantha Markle (Meghan's half sister, who also claims to be penning a book about the Duchess) was put on a fixated persons list after showing up at Kensington palace in January. Rumours of a froideur between Meghan and Kate were sparked shortly after Meghan and Harry's nuptials by reports that Meghan reduced Kate 'to tears' during challenging dress fittings with Princess Charlotte. In February, Thomas Markle leaks a handwritten letter from Meghan to the media in response to friends of the Duchess defending her in an interview and following numerous staff changes, rumours arise that Meghan and Harry's staff refer to Meghan by the nickname 'The difficult Duchess'.

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March 2019: The Royal Households Split

In March 2019 it was confirmed that the Sussex and Cambridge's 'royal households' will split, meaning the couples will no longer share staff. Royal spokespersons confirm that Kate and William's staff team will stay in Kensington Palace while Meghan and Harry's staff will be based in Buckingham Palace, reflecting the location of their new residence of Frogmore cottage in Windsor. Representatives are quick to confirm this is a planned move, and not due to rumors of growing tensions between the couples.

While a third said, “This amazing man will one day be our king #proud.” Even more defended Wills when royal reporter Richard Palmer accused the heir of a “cover up”, and lying about whether he had it, tweeting, “If the future King contracts a potentially fatal virus that the entire world is worried about during a lockdown and he and those around him cover it up, that raises serious questions about whether we can trust anything he or his advisers say. Another royal journalist Robert Jobson tweeted, "William's decision to LIE about contracting COVID-19 earlier - for whatever reason - is appalling. Kensington Palace were asked several times by the media and were told categorically no."

One furious reply slammed, “It is HIS health and HE is entitled to keep that to himself therefore he isn’t ‘covering up’ anything.” Another complained, “Prince William didn’t act irresponsibly by going out to infect others. He acted responsibly by not alerting the nation considering Prince Charles and Boris had it at the same time. ”

It was a strikingly different tone to the one Meghan, 38, and Harry, 36, were faced with when they’ve previously kept things from the public.

They were heavily criticised for having a private christening for their son Archie last year, and headlines screamed of them “seriously misleading” everyone when they delayed the announcement of his birth. And insiders say it’s this kind of double standard the couple finds so infuriating.

“Harry and Meghan aren’t surprised to see William receiving such soft treatment, but that doesn’t mean they find it acceptable,” says the source. “As usual, everyone’s treating the Cambridges like heroes and bastions of all things ethical. Meanwhile, Harry and Meghan would’ve been slammed for doing the same.”

It’s the latest in a long line of problems that have arisen between the “fab four”, since Meghan and Harry’s wedding in May 2018. As heat’s previously reported, the rebel couple have apparently long felt overshadowed by Kate and Wills, with the rivalry addressed head on in the recent biography, Finding Freedom. Authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand spoke to over 100 sources close to Harry and the former Suits actress, detailing months of in-fighting and resentment.

Things looked particularly bad in March, as they were seemingly “snubbed” by the future king and queen at their final official engagement, on Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey. The situation got worse again during lockdown, when Harry and Meghan were criticised for moving to LA and not doing enough to help, while Kate and Wills were lauded nationwide for their volunteer work. Will's worked on a crisis helpline during lockdown, while Kate took part in the Royal Voluntary Service's NHS Volunteer Responders scheme. The couple also later donated £1.8 million to mental health charities and to help front-line emergency workers. For their part, Meghan and harry have taken part in many zoom charity calls and have delivered food to the needy and helped communities in LA.

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But sources say this latest problem is less about the ongoing feud and more about feeling like second class citizens in the royal family.

We’re told, “This isn’t about having a grudge against the Cambridges. In fact, when the news broke about William’s diagnosis, Harry and Meghan got in touch to express their well wishes and to say how thankful they are that everything turned out OK.

“But incidents like this really show the hypocrisy of royal life. It feels like there’s one rule for William and Kate and another for Harry and Meghan. They’re sick to the back teeth of it. Harry’s decided they won’t be returning for Christmas, as he’s not ready to suck it up and endure sniping or guilt-tripping of any kind. Of course he feels moment of sadness and homesickness that play havoc with his conscience, but this past week has really shown him they made the right choice in leaving. This has reinforced that they definitely did the right thing.”

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