The so-called Sandringham Summit was held in January 2020. It was scheduled at the last minute after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their exit, and they only announced their exit because Clarence House and/or Kensington Palace leaked the plan which Prince Harry sent his father. I suspect Harry knows who leaked what, but he didn’t specify who did the leaking, only that he knew the plan would be leaked. What we knew at the time (obviously) was that Harry attended the summit alone, as Meghan had flown back to Canada, because they left Archie there. What we didn’t know was that Prince Charles, Prince William, Queen Elizabeth and the royal staff waited until Meghan left the UK before they decided to do a sit-down with Harry. Meghan and Harry addressed this in Netflix’s Harry & Meghan:
Harry: I’d sent an email to three most senior private secretaries saying let’s get together and have a meeting, let’s talk about this. Because what was playing out in public was crazy. That meeting was rejected.
Meghan: After the announcement, I had to get back because Archie was in Canada
Harry: It was only once Meg had left and gone back to Canada that it was then arranged that there was going to be a meeting at Sandringham the following Monday.
Meghan: Imagine a conversation, a roundtable discussion, about the future of your life, when the stakes are this high and you as the mom and the wife and the target in many regards, aren’t invited to have a seat at the table.
Harry: It was clear to me that they planned it so that you weren’t in the room.
It’s absolutely disgusting. We knew that at the time, that Harry was dealing with all of these terrible people all by himself, but the fact that they made it so obvious about not wanting Meghan to be there, not wanting Meghan to have a voice or a seat at the table about her future and her children’s future. The institution is fundamentally broken. While it goes unsaid, it was also clear that William, Charles and probably the Queen too, they all believed that if they could get Harry alone, they could manipulate him and bully him even more at the summit. Harry says this about the summit in Harry & Meghan:
It was terrifying to have my brother scream and shout at me and my father say things that simply weren’t true and my grandmother, you know, quietly sit there and sort of take it all in. But you have to understand that from the family perspective, especially from hers, there are ways of doing things and her ultimate sort of mission, goal slash responsibility is the institution. People around her telling her that proposal, these two doing x, y, zed, is going to be seen as an attack on the institution, then she’s going to go on the advice that she’s given. It was really hard. The meeting finished without any solidified action plan. I think from their perspective they had to believe that it was more about us and maybe the issues that we had as opposed to their partner, the media, and themselves and that relationship that was causing so much pain for us. They saw what they wanted to see. The saddest part of it was this wedge created between myself and my brother so that he’s now on the institution’s side. Part of that I get, I understand, that’s his inheritance. To some extent it’s already ingrained in him that part of his responsibility is the survivability and the continuation of this institution.
“Have my brother scream and shout at me” – so much for “William was sad and didn’t say much at the summit,” which is what we were told for years. Harry’s own words: William was screaming at me at the summit, in front of everyone. William is a contemptible rage monster.
So for much of the summit, everything was being debated and Harry still believed that there could be some middle ground, some half-in solution where, as he said, he and Meghan would still work for the monarchy for free, and they could just pursue careers outside of the UK and get away from the racism and misogyny of the institution and the media. While the people within the summit were probably always going to reject that half-in proposal, the real breaking point came – in the middle of the summit – when Kensington Palace issued a denial about “William bullying Harry” and KP signed Harry’s name to it, even though he had not signed off on any part of it.
That day, a story came out that part of the reason why Meghan and I were leaving was because William had bullied us out. Once I got into the car after the meeting I was told about a joint statement that had been put out in my name and my brother’s name squashing the story about him bullying us out of the family. No one had asked me permission to put my name to a statement like that. I rang M and I told her and she burst into floods of tears. Within four hours they were happy to lie to protect my brother and yet for three years they were never willing to tell the truth to protect us. There was no other option at this point. I said ‘we need to get out of here.’
“Within four hours they were happy to lie to protect my brother and yet for three years they were never willing to tell the truth to protect us.” So, specifically, it was a lie to say that William did not bully Harry. KP lied about Harry signing off on a joint statement, all to protect angry, screaming, bullying William. And that was the breaking point. I get that.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, WENN and Backgrid.
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