Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ‘hurt’ the Queen by unilaterally mapping out their future royal roles without her approval, an explosive biography has claimed.
Her Majesty is said to have been ‘blindsided’ by the launch of the SussexRoyal website which accompanied their Megxit announcement in January.
Royal aides told the authors of Finding Freedom, which is being serialised in the Times and Sunday Times, that sussexroyal.com fleshed out details for a ‘half-in-half-out model’ which had not been rubber-stamped by the Queen.
It derailed the carefully choreographed departure announcement planned by Buckingham Palace, which was caught off guard by the website.
The book claims the Palace was forced to rip up its prepared statement and instead rush out a short press communique insisting nothing had been finalised.
The Duke and Duchess’s decision to ‘clarify’ their pared-back roles without getting it signed off by the Queen, 94, was ‘deeply upsetting’ for her, according to courtiers.
A senior member of the household was quoted in the book as saying: ‘The element of surprise, the blindsiding of the Queen, for the other principals who are all very mindful of this, rightfully, it was deeply unsettling.
‘The family is very private and bringing it into the public domain, when they were told not to, hurt the Queen.
‘It was laying out what the Sussexes wanted in a statement without consulting with Her Majesty first – and she’s the head of the institution.’
Her Majesty’s private secretary Edward Young was reportedly incandescent that the Palace had been kept in the dark about Harry and Meghan’s intentions.
Finding Freedom, which chronicles the behind-the-scenes wrangling leading up to the couple’s dramatic exit, claims Harry and Meghan were forced to release their statement because of leaked stories of their desire to settle in Canada full-time.
Royal sources told authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand they denied briefing the article, and instead blamed Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, for the leak, claiming they wanted to force a formal announcement of their decision to quit the Family.
The Sussexes, who deny being behind the story, used their Instagram on January 8 to break the news they were stepping back as senior royals and wished to become financially independent.
At the end of the statement, they also posted a link to sussexroyal.com, which they had set up to ‘clarify’ their position.
Springing their desired blueprint for a future relationship with the Family was a ‘huge headache,’ one courtier told Scobie and Durand.
The book claims that aides struggled to marry up the couple’s plans with the rigid structures of the monarchy.
Ultimately, the biography says the Queen refused to accommodate her grandson’s vision of a stripped-back role and said he should completely cut ties with the monarchy.
‘The rules don’t bend for anyone,’ a senior courtier told the authors of Finding Freedom.
Journalists Scobie and Durand are fans of the couple and have set out to ‘correct the record’ and shift the spotlight on to their charitable ventures.
The Sussexes say they did not contribute to the book, but Scobie and Durand’s account is based on extensive insight from friends of the couple.
A spokesman for the couple said last night: ‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed and did not contribute to Finding Freedom. This book is based on the authors’ own experiences as members of the royal press corps.’
Sources have told the Mail that the biography will lay bare the ‘pressure cooker’ of anger and resentment the couple felt as working royals.
It chronicles the tensions sowed between the so-called Fab Four of William, Kate, Harry and Meghan, once seen as the future of the monarchy.
And the fallout following the memorable Sandringham Summit is also plotted in the pages of the biography.
The co-author of the biography last night accused officials at different royal households of throwing each other ‘under the bus’.
Omid Scobie said those working for royals ‘might throw a nugget’ to stop negative media attention.
‘You’ve got Clarence House, Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, and the different offices within Buckingham Palace. They’re very loyal to their principals but that often means throwing others under the bus,’ he told The Times.
‘Let’s say, for example, hypothetically, a negative story about Prince Charles is about to run. Perhaps someone working for Charles might throw a nugget about the Cambridges or another member of the royal family, to keep that story out of the press.’ He added: ‘There’s a lot of bargaining on behind the scenes. Harry and Meghan have been victims of that.’
Mr Scobie, 33, stressed the book had ‘no interviews with Harry and Meghan’, although he hopes it will ‘correct the record’ about the pair.
‘It’s not all from Harry and Meghan’s perspective, but I do think that for the first time we do actually get to hear what’s been going on in their minds,’ he told The Times.
Mr Scobie spent two years writing the book with American journalist Carolyn Durand, beginning shortly after the Sussexes’ wedding.
‘The book doesn’t claim to have any interviews with Harry and Meghan. And nor do we,’ Scobie told The Times. He also said there were no off-the-record talks, saying ‘my time around the couple is enough for me to know my subjects’.
The Sussexes made a last-ditch attempt last night to distance themselves from the book.
The authors have boasted of it being written ‘with the participation of those closest to the couple’ and of having spoken to members of Harry and Meghan’s ‘inner circle’.
The pair are believed to have instructed members of their staff to find out what the writers were planning to include and a number of meetings and dinners were held.
But a spokesman for the couple said last night: ‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed and did not contribute to Finding Freedom. This book is based on the authors’ own experiences as members of the royal press corps.’
Scobie, the royal editor of US magazine Harper’s Bazaar, met Durand while she was working for US news network ABC. They hope the book puts the focus back on the couple’s charity work and social activism, such as Harry’s Invictus Games involvement.