Valentine Low’s book is Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Throne. We’ve known for a few months that Low’s book would come out this fall, as royal reporters try to rush their books out before Prince Harry’s memoir blows them out of the water. Low broke a lot of the “Duchess Meghan bullied staffers” stories, meaning he has a direct line of communication to Jason Knauf and the Tory operatives running Prince William as their useful idiot. That’s how Low’s book should be read as well – it’s not *just* William smearing Harry and Meghan endlessly, there’s a political element too. The politics of white supremacy, the politics of a regressive, conservative institution expelling the progressive operatives (in this case, Harry and Meghan) and trying to delegitimize any agent of progress. Low’s book was excerpted in the Times and there’s too much to discuss, so I’m breaking the excerpt into two parts. This is Part 1. It involves Harry’s suspicions of the palace operatives even before he met Meghan, and how much worse everything got when the lazy, incompetent, racist morons of Kensington Palace had to deal with Meghan.
Before he met Meghan, Harry spoke of The Palace Syndrome: “He definitely had mistrust of the courtiers at Buckingham Palace and his father’s palace,” said one source. This could lead to tensions within his own team who were based at Kensington Palace. “He would use this phrase the whole time, ‘the palace syndrome’, when you won’t fight the battles he wants, because you have been institutionalised. Giving in to the media was a key symptom of whether you had developed it. It was a constant test of loyalty: ‘Are you going to protect me? Or have you just become one of them, who won’t fight for me?’ It was exhausting.”
Pre-Meghan tensions between brothers: They both want to get involved in the same areas, such as conservation, and that could lead to tensions. Harry would also express his frustration at the people working for him. They were holding him back. Some of his advisers spent much of their time talking him down from the various things he wanted to do because it would not fit into the bigger picture of what the three of them – William, Kate and Harry – were trying to achieve.
When the media learned he was dating Meghan: Faced with hordes of journalists intent on trawling through every aspect of Meghan’s life, Harry became determined to protect his girlfriend. Meghan, meanwhile, told him that if he did not do something about it, she would break off the relationship. A source said: “She was saying, ‘If you don’t put out a statement confirming I’m your girlfriend, I’m going to break up with you.’ ” Harry was in a panic. Another source said: “He was freaking out, saying, ‘She’s going to dump me.’ ”…Meghan wanted public validation that this was a serious relationship. She was convinced that the palace was unwilling to protect her from media intrusion. She told Harry’s staff: “I know how the palace works. I know how this is going to play out. You don’t care about the girlfriend.”
The challenge of Meghan: Harry’s staff knew that Meghan was different from other royal girlfriends. She had her own opinions and would let people know what they were. In the spring of 2017, more than six months before the couple were engaged, she told one of Harry’s advisers: “I think we both know I’m going to be one of your bosses soon.”
Security issues: In the immediate period after her arrival in London there was no straightforward mechanism for providing Meghan with full-time police protection, especially at a time when the palace was trying to slim down the level of security provided to members of the royal family. Such matters were decided by a Home Office committee called Ravec. Harry’s private secretary at the time, Ed Lane Fox…argued Meghan needed to be protected immediately. “Ed had to wage a huge battle to get them to understand that she would not be able to live her life without police protection. Meghan had no idea that this was even happening, because we did not want her to have another reason to think that she wasn’t going to be welcomed. Ed did amazing things for her behind the scenes, but none of them was really appreciated.” To Harry and Meghan, the two months that it took to get a decision about her security seemed like an age. They felt as if the powers that be were simply unwilling to provide her with the security she needed.
Early staff problems: Relations between Meghan and the team at Kensington Palace were fraying fast. In late 2017, after the couple’s engagement was announced, a senior aide discreetly raised with the couple the difficulties caused by their treatment of staff. People needed to be treated well and with some understanding, even when they were not performing to Harry and Meghan’s standards, they suggested. Meghan was said to have replied, “It’s not my job to coddle people.”
Meghan was being insulted: Meanwhile, she wasn’t dealing with the more junior staff, even people whom William and Kate – and Harry, before Meghan came along – had been quite happy to engage with. It seemed that she wanted respect and having to talk to someone a bit further down the pecking order – in a small office, where there wasn’t much of a pecking order – wasn’t treating her with respect. “She would take it as an insult,” believes one source.
This story made me laugh: At around the same time, Meghan spoke particularly harshly at a meeting to a young female member of the team in front of her colleagues. After Meghan had pulled to shreds a plan she had drawn up, the woman told Meghan how hard it would be to implement a new one. “Don’t worry,” Meghan told her. “If there was literally anyone else I could ask to do this, I would be asking them instead of you.”
Weird how there are no specifics with this story: On another occasion, when Meghan felt she had been let down over an issue that was worrying her, she rang repeatedly when the staffer was out for dinner on a Friday night. “Every ten minutes, I had to go outside to be screamed at by her and Harry. It was, ‘I can’t believe you’ve done this. You’ve let me down. What were you thinking?’ It went on for a couple of hours.” The calls started again the next morning and continued “for days”, the staffer said. “You could not escape them. There were no lines or boundaries – it was last thing at night, first thing in the morning.”
God, the staff was so incompetent: On another occasion, there was confusion over the arrangements for a London engagement by the duchess. Meghan thought that no media would be there, but it was on a press rota. It was the sort of mishap that did not go down well. The member of staff involved knew they would have to talk to Meghan about it and was dreading the prospect. After they missed a call from her, they rang back, but she did not pick up. They said: “She hasn’t called back. I feel terrified.” A short time later, they added: “This is so ridiculous. I can’t stop shaking.”
There’s so much here, especially if you want to read between the lines. Harry’s comments about “the palace syndrome” are so accurate – even before he met Meghan, he knew that he couldn’t trust anyone and that they weren’t on “his side.” Advisors also had to spend “much of their time talking [Harry] down from the various things he wanted to do because it would not fit into the bigger picture of what the three of them – William, Kate and Harry – were trying to achieve.” Meaning, Harry wanted to get moving, he had ideas and he wanted to get stuff done and William and Kate wanted to be lazy and do nothing, so they held Harry back.
I don’t think Meghan gave Harry an ultimatum about releasing a statement as much as she was completely and justifiably freaked out because the British tabloids were literally hiring private investigators to pore through her life, her bank accounts, her family. I’ve often wondered if Meghan’s fight-or-flight instinct kicked in and she had a moment of wanting to nope the f–k out of there. That’s not an ultimatum, that’s “holy sh-t, are you going to leave me out here like this with no protection?”
The security issues part is fascinating, because while Low isn’t specific about the exact timeline (“In the immediate period after her arrival in London”), it seems like he means the fall of 2017, when she wrapped on Suits and moved out of her place in Toronto. The fact that she didn’t have full-time security then is shocking, because it was clear that they would be engaged soon (if they weren’t secretly engaged already – I’ve always believed that Harry proposed that summer). Low seems to be saying that Meghan didn’t get security until, like, December 2017? And the courtiers act like she should have been grateful for it, instead of completely appalled that the institution would be happy enough to see her without protection and in constant danger the second she moved to London.
As for all of the KP staff stuff – they were rude to her, they were trying to insult her, they were incompetent and lazy. When the staff f–ked up constantly, Meghan was like “Wow, galaxy-brain stuff over here.” And they’re calling that bullying. I hope Meghan actually said this to someone: “Don’t worry. If there was literally anyone else I could ask to do this, I would be asking them instead of you.” That is delightful! If that quote is accurate – and who even knows – that alone speaks volumes of what Meghan was up against with these people, especially since it’s being cited as evidence of bullying! LMAO.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.