Prince William thought Harry blindsided the Queen in an 'insulting and disrespectful way'

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·6-min read

Watch: Prince William and Prince Harry's first conversation was 'unproductive'

Prince William thought his brother Prince Harry blindsided the Queen in an "insulting and disrespectful way" when he announced plans to step back from senior royal life, a friend has said.

According to The Sunday Times, for William, 38, the fallout over the Sandringham Summit where senior royals hammered out the 'Megxit' deal is "still raw" and was at the forefront of his mind when the two couples reunited at the Commonwealth Day service in March 2020.

But William does miss sharing an office and working life with his younger brother and is "absolutely intent that he and Harry’s relationship will heal in time". 

Friends, aides and former colleagues of the future king have been speaking to defend him in the weeks after the Oprah Winfrey interview with his brother Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

The Duke of Sussex denied blindsiding the Queen during the interview over his intention to step back as a senior working royal, even suggesting the conversations about a new role had been going on for two years.

He and Meghan dropped several bombshells on the royal institution during the course of the interview, including an allegation of racism in conversations about the colour of their baby's skin before he was born. 

It forced William to have to defend his family as "very much not a racist family" during a visit to a school in the days after the programme aired. 

William was also portrayed by his brother as being "trapped" in the royal institution, but friends told The Sunday Times that's far from the truth.

A friend insisted William "has a path set for him and he’s completely accepting of his role". 

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, (2nd R) and Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (R) sit behind Britain's Prince William (L), Duke of Cambridge and Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (2nd L) inside Westminster Abbey as they attend the annual Commonwealth Service in London on March 9, 2020. - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has been the Head of the Commonwealth throughout her reign. Organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, the Service is the largest annual inter-faith gathering in the United Kingdom. (Photo by Phil HARRIS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by PHIL HARRIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
William felt Harry blindsided the Queen, and it was on his mind during the Commonwealth Day summit, says a friend. William with Kate, with Harry and Meghan behind, in March 2020. (Phil Harris/AFP)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 25:  Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge talk to Charlie Mayhew of Tusk Trust as they attend the UK Premiere of 'African Cats' in aid of Tusk at BFI Southbank on April 25, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool /Getty Images)
Prince William and Kate talking to Charlie Mayhew of Tusk Trust in 2012. Mayhew says William is accepting of his role. (Chris Jackson - WPA Pool /Getty Images)

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Charlie Mayhew, chief executive of the conservation charity Tusk, which William works with, praised the Duke of Cambridge as "very aware of his destiny coming down the track". 

Adding of a younger William's personality, Mayhew said: "He had a sincerity, but never without wicked humour. His teasing is merciless."

Friends and former aides also remarked on William's own privacy battles in the early stages of his relationship with Kate and when they started having their children.

Former aide Miguel Head said William wanted to take on the role of an air ambulance pilot so that he could find out his own talents and abilities for himself.

He said that when he had children he developed a "visceral determination to give them a life of consistency and privacy that were missing for large parts of his own childhood".

It may remind of Harry's words about the life he is living in California, where he is able to take their son Archie to the beach and for bike rides, something he claimed he was less able to do as a child.

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The article comes after Prince William remarked on his commitment to mental health, in a message for Comic Relief on Red Nose Day.

William thanked people for their generosity throughout the year, as £74 million was raised for charity during the pandemic.

He said: "I’m particularly pleased that Comic Relief continues to fund so many projects that support people’s mental health, which has come under particular strain over the past year.

"This is a subject that is very close to my heart and it’s wonderful to know that your support tonight will make sure that there is help at hand when things become too much for people. Thank you for your compassion and generosity.

"Mental health is complex – and for those incredibly hard-working people on the front line it’s a challenge they’ve sadly encountered all too often."

Meghan said in her interview with Winfrey that she was unable to access the support she needed when she was suffering suicidal thoughts, saying that the "institution" told her it would not look good if she sought help.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 18: (L-R) Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry greet members of the public as they embark on a walkabout ahead of the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 18, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Jonathan Brady - Pool/Getty Images)
Prince William and Prince Harry greeting members of the public on a walkabout ahead of the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan in May 2018 in Windsor. (Jonathan Brady - Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 13: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge is greeted by CEO of Centrepoint, Seyi Obakin, as he arrives to visit Centrepoint's new Apprenticeship House in south London on November 13, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Isabel Infantes - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prince William with CEO of Centrepoint, Seyi Obakin, in November 2019. (Isabel Infantes - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The palace did not respond to the claim specifically in its comment after the interview.

But William, Kate and Harry were passionate as a trio through the Royal Foundation about ending the stigma around talking about mental health, setting up Heads Together before Meghan joined the Royal Family.

Harry also sought counselling on the advice of his brother, and spoke about it to the journalist Bryony Gordon on her podcast, Mad World.

Friends have been rallying around the duke as the family deals with the ongoing fallout two weeks on from the Winfrey interview.

Seyi Obakin, chief executive of Centrepoint, who has known William for 12 years, said of him: "I have never seen a hint of racism. Never. I have worked with him in close proximity for years. He has met my family. He’s never treated us with anything other than decency, dignity and respect."

The palace statement on behalf of the Queen said the issues raised in the interview would be dealt with privately.

The long-term impact on the royal household is yet to be felt, but the brothers will have to reunite in the summer, for the unveiling of their mother's statue in the gardens of Kensington Palace.

The unveiling is set to be on 1 July, which would have been Diana's 60th birthday.

However an earlier reunion for William and Harry, and for Harry, Meghan and the wider family, was called into question on Friday when Buckingham Palace cancelled the large scale Trooping the Colour birthday parade for the Queen for the second year in a row.

The event may be replaced with a smaller version at Windsor Castle, as happened last year, but details are not yet known.