Prince William and Prince Harry slammed a newspaper report Monday describing a severe strain in their relationship, calling the story offensive and potentially harmful as they embark on talks regarding the future of the British monarchy.
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. The meeting reflects the queen’s desire to contain the fallout from Harry and Meghan’s decision to “step back” as senior royals, work to become financially independent and split their time between Britain and North America. The couple, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, made the announcement Wednesday without telling the queen or other senior royals first.
While both brothers are keeping quite tight-lipped amid the drama, it has been shared by royal sources that William has expressed his sadness to his friends. “I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives and I can’t do that any more; we’re separate entities,” William told a friend, according to The Sunday Times. “All we can do, and all I can do, is try and support them and hope that the time comes when we’re all singing from the same page. I want everyone to play on the team,” he said.
“They are on different paths now,” said a source. “It’s just the reality of the situation.”
The meeting at the monarch’s private Sandringham estate in eastern England will also include Harry’s father Prince Charles and his brother Prince William. It comes after days of intense news coverage, in which supporters of the royal family’s feuding factions used the British media to paint conflicting pictures of who was to blame for the rift.
Prince William is expected to travel to Sandringham from London and Harry from his home in Windsor, west of the British capital. Charles has flown back from the Gulf nation of Oman, where he attended a condolence ceremony Sunday following the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said.
Meghan, who is in Canada with the couple’s baby son Archie, is likely to join the meeting by phone.
With much at stake, the talks could be a step toward a changed monarchy.