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Queen Elizabeth II was concerned when her grandson, Prince Harry, and his wife Meghan Markle decided they were ready to quit royal duties.
In 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they were stepping back as senior members of the British royal family. The press quickly labeled the move “Megxit” and the nickname stuck.
According to former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown, the reigning monarch could “see how unhappy Harry and Meghan were,” but the royals wanted the couple’s exit to set the “right precedent.”
Brown recently wrote a bombshell book about the royals titled “The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor – the Truth and the Turmoil.” It explores “the scandals, love affairs, power plays and betrayals” that have rocked the royals during the last 20 years and features new revelations based on Brown’s access to palace insiders.
According to Tina Brown, Queen Elizabeth II was aware how unhappy the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were with royal life. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
A palace source told Brown that the queen, 96, felt “genuinely very conflicted” about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s desire to step back from royal life. The book alleged that the couple’s intention to leave “was clear from as early as the autumn of 2018.”
“The family saw the split coming only months later, in the summer of 2019,” the source alleged. The queen, knowing how unhappy her grandson was, wanted to be supportive.
“They could all see how unhappy Harry and Meghan were,” the insider explained to Brown. “Everybody was supportive of them leaving. But they wanted it done in an orderly way. And they also wanted it done in a way that set the right precedent. William’s got three kids. The precedent they set for this generation would affect his children. He’s very mindful of that. So they wanted it done properly.”
Tina Brown has previously written a book about Harry’s mother, Princess Diana. (Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Brown claimed that while it was Harry, 37, who decided to quit, the move was made “in acceleration from Meghan.”
“I thought one of the best things that Meghan could do for Harry was to take him out of royal life because he was just so unhappy for so long,” said the source. “He needed a wife to come in and say, ‘Actually the best thing for you is that I take you out of this.'”
However, the source pointed out that the couple’s initial suggestion of a part-time arrangement would create a conflict of interest as members of the royal family.
“If, say, the high-visibility couple tacked a few days of shooting a paid Netflix documentary onto the back of a Foreign Office-funded Commonwealth tour, there would be an uproar – just as [Prince] Andrew saw when he mixed business sidebars with his trade ambassador trips,” Brown wrote. “Ethics issues of this kind have killed many a promising political career and are red meat for the media.”
Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and Queen Elizabeth II at the Queen’s Young Leaders Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace on June 26, 2018, in London. (John Stillwell/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
In March 2021, Harry told Oprah Winfrey in a televised interview that he tried to arrange a chat with the queen, but suggested that a palace aide blocked the meeting.
“That announcement that we put out on 8 January in 2020 – the contents of that were put into a letter to the institution – to my father, which was then shared at the end of December, when we were in Canada,” Harry explained.
“And to then get back on the 6th after my grandmother had said, ‘The moment you land come up to Sandringham, we’d love to have a chat, come and have tea – why don’t you stay for dinner because it’s going to be a long drive, and you’re going to be exhausted,'” he continued.
“The moment we landed in the U.K. I got a message from my private secretary, Fiona at the time… cutting and pasting a message from the queen’s private secretary, basically saying, ‘Please pass on to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex that he cannot come to Norfolk. The queen is busy, she’s busy all week… do not come up here,’” Harry added.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in conversation with Oprah Winfrey, in an image provide by Harpo Productions. (AP)
One palace aide alleged to Brown that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were attempting to blur the line between Elizabeth’s role as grandmother and reigning monarch in arranging an informal meeting to discuss an issue about their involvement with the royal family.
“Such conversations would have to be done in the spirit of Elizabeth II as sovereign, so there would’ve been agendas,” a palace source claimed to Brown. “Talking points would’ve been agreed on beforehand between private secretaries… What the Sussexes tried to do was circumnavigate that and go and see her because, on her own, she famously says yes. She caves.”
Harry later insisted to Winfrey, 68, that he “would never blindside my grandmother.”
“I have too much respect for her,” he added.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Queen Elizabeth II attend a ceremony to open the new Mersey Gateway Bridge on June 14, 2018, in Widnes, England. (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
A palace spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment concerning Brown’s book. However, a spokesperson previously told Fox News Digital that the palace doesn’t generally comment “on such books.” A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex also didn’t immediately reply to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Markle, a former American actress, became the Duchess of Sussex when she married Harry in May 2018 at Windsor Castle. The couple welcomed a son named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor in 2019.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s departures from royal duties began in 2020 over what they described as the British media’s intrusions and racist attitudes toward the former “Suits” star, 40. The family now resides in the coastal city of Montecito, California.
In the wake of quitting royal duties, they gave an explosive TV interview to Winfrey in which the couple described painful comments about how dark Archie’s skin might be before his birth. The duchess talked about the intense isolation she felt inside the royal family that led her to contemplate suicide.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex reside in California with their two children. (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Buckingham Palace said the allegations of racism made by the couple were “concerning” and would be addressed privately.
In June 2021, several months after the interview, the couple welcomed their second child, a daughter named Lilibet “Lili” Diana Mountbatten-Windsor.
The name pays tribute to both the queen, whose family nickname is Lilibet, and Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.