Prince William and his younger brother today showed a united front to deny 'offensive' claims Harry and Meghan feel that they have been pushed out of the Royal Family by the Duke of Cambridge's 'bullying attitude'.
The two brothers issued the unusual statement even as Queen Elizabeth II was set to hold face-to-face talks with Prince Harry for the first time since he and his wife, Meghan, unveiled their controversial plan to walk away from royal roles. The dramatic family summit is meant to chart a future course for the couple.
Though the statement did not name the newspaper, the Times of London has a front page story about the crisis in which a source alleged that Harry and Meghan had been pushed away by the "bullying attitude from" William. The joint statement insisted that the story was "false.''
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"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," the statement said.
It came after a source told The Times the falling out between the brothers began around the time of the Sussex's wedding in May 2018 when Prince Harry believed Prince William did not do enough to welcome Meghan into the family.
The newspaper also reported the couple felt constrained by their royal roles within the palace, where Prince William will always take precedence as the heir to the throne.
"If you are Meghan and Harry and you have had two years of constantly being told your place, constantly bullied as they would see it, constantly being told what you can't do, Meghan has been thinking 'This is just nuts, why would anyone put up with this?'" the source said.
On Monday Prince Harry faced a showdown with his grandmother, the Queen, father, Prince Charles and brother, Prince William, over the future role he and wife, Meghan, will hold in the family.
The Duchess of Sussex was not present and opted to dial in from Canada, where she returned last week to be with their son, Archie.
It's the first time the family has met face-to-face following the Sussex's bombshell announcement that they would "step back" as senior royals and work to achieve "financial independence".
The shocking statement was reportedly rushed out after the Sun newspaper reported the couple were considering moving to Canada and possibly even walking away from their HRH titles.
At the time, Buckingham Palace responded with a terse statement saying: "Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through."
Senior royal staffers reportedly spent the weekend locked in talks over how the future for the couple could work.
Key issues up for negotiation include their royal titles, duties, security arrangements, any commercial deals and funding arrangements as well as where the couple will live and their immigration status.
Last week the couple returned to London and visited Canada House to thank them for their hospitality during a six-week break over Christmas when the couple stayed in Vancouver.
Three days later Meghan returned to Canada where she had left their eight-month-old son, Archie, with his nanny. The couple have also reportedly taken their two dogs to Canada.
Ahead of the summit The Times newspaper reported Prince Harry would be "heartbroken" at having to cut ties with his family, but Meghan had warned: "It's not working for me".
"She wants to leave," the friend said.
"Harry is under intense pressure to choose. It is sad. He loves the Queen. He loves this country.
"He loves all his military stuff and I think it will genuinely break his heart to leave.
"I don't think that's what he really wants. I think they want some halfway house."
News of the Sussex's decision has sent shockwaves through Britain, with a sense of sadness the rift between the two brothers has become so deep.
Friends and royal aides have spoken of the "hurt" and "disappointment" inside with family. ITV journalist Tom Bradby wrote in the Sunday Times the couple felt they had been "driven out" and said the damage began around the time of the wedding in May 2018 when "damaging" things were said.
He also claimed a bitter split could lead to a no-holds-barred interview with the couple that would be toxic for the royal family.
"I have some idea of what might be aired in a full, no-holds-barred sit-down interview and I don't think it would be pretty," Bradby wrote in The Sunday Times.
He said Harry and Meghan found other royals "jealous and, at times, unfriendly," making it clear that did not include Queen Elizabeth II nor her husband, Prince Philip.