In episode 4 of his and wife Meghan Markle‘s new Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan, the Duke of Sussex touches on the 2020 report that “bullying” led to the couple’s decision to step back from royal life and the subsequent statement that was released without his permission, he claims.
About the press, Prince Harry said, “There’s leaking, but there’s also planting, of sorts. So if the comms team want to be able to remove a negative story about their principle, they will trade and give you something about someone else’s principle. So the offices end up working against each other.”
According to Harry, there’s a “weird understanding, or acceptance, that happens,” in which “you can always say, ‘I didn’t know about this,’ or, ‘Don’t be ridiculous. This would never happen. Are you suggesting that I condone this?’ It’s like, ‘No, but what I am asking is, ‘Have you done anything to stop it?’ And the answer is no.”
“William and I both saw what happened in our dad [King Charles III]’s office, and we made an agreement that we would never let that happen to our office,” Harry said.
Prince Harry went on to say he “would far rather get destroyed in the press than play along with this game, or this business of trading.”
“To see my brother’s office copy — the very same thing that we promised the two of us would never, ever do — that was heartbreaking,” he added.
Prince Harry also said there was “this wedge created between myself and my brother so he is now on the institution side. Part of that, I get. That is his inheritance. To some extent that is already engrained in him, that part of his responsibility is the survivability and continuation of this institution.”
In January 2020, U.K. newspaper The Times ran a story reporting that the rift between the brothers was caused by Prince William’s “bullying.”
“Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a U.K. newspaper today speculating about the relationship between The Duke of Sussex and The Duke of Cambridge,” read the denial statement that was presented as a joint one from Harry, 38, and William, 40. “For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful.”
In episode 5 of Harry & Meghan, Harry recalled, “A story came out saying that part of the reason why Meg and I were leaving was because William had bullied us out. And once I got in the car after the meeting, I was told about a joint statement that had been put out, in my name and my brother’s name, squashing the story about him bullying us out of the family.”
“We couldn’t believe it,” he went on. “No one had asked me permission to put my name to a statement like that. And I rang M and I told her and she burst into floods of tears because within four hours, they were happy to lie to protect my brother. And yet, for three years, they were never willing to tell the truth to protect us.”
“Suddenly, what clicked in my head was, ‘It’s never gonna stop,’ ” said Meghan, 41. “Every rumor, every negative thing, every lie, everything that I knew wasn’t true and that the palace knew wasn’t true and internally they knew wasn’t true, that was just being allowed to fester.”
“So there was no other option at this point,” Harry added. “I said, ‘We need to get out of here.’ ”
During the second volume of Harry & Meghan, the royal also said that his brother “scream(ed) and shout(ed) at” him over his and Meghan’s choice at the Sandringham Summit to be “half in, half out” of their royal roles, meaning that the couple would “have [their] own jobs but also work in support of” Queen Elizabeth.
“It became very clear very quickly that that goal was not up for discussion or debate,” said Harry. “It was terrifying to have my brother scream and shout at me, and my father say things that simply weren’t true and my grandmother quietly sit there and sort of take it all in.”
“But you have to understand that, from the family’s perspective, especially from [the Queen’s], there are ways of doing things — and her ultimate sort of mission goal or responsibility is the institution. People around her telling her, by the way, that proposal or these two doing ‘XYZ’ is going to be seen as an attack on the institution, then she’s going to on the advice that she’s given,” he continued. “That was really hard.”
All episodes of Harry & Meghan are now streaming on Netflix.