The Duke of Sussex and Duke of Cambridge have issued a furious denial over a newspaper report speculating on causes of any rift between them, branding it “offensive and potentially harmful”.
A strongly worded statement by William and Harry’s senior spokespeople said: “Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a UK newspaper today speculating about the relationship between the Duke of Sussex and the the Duke of Cambridge.
“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 does not specify which report it refers to. But Monday’s Times cited a source claiming Harry and Meghan regarded themselves as having been pushed away by what they saw as a “bullying” attitude from the Duke of Cambridge.
The statement came as the the Queen hosted a crisis summit at Sandringham with Charles, William and Harry, to decide the future of the Sussexes.
It is unusual for palace aides to issues such vehement public denials about the personal feeling of the royals. But it is clear the royal family wishes to avoid a repeat of any narrative such as the so-called “War of the Waleses”, which accompanied the breakdown of Charles and Diana’s marriage.
The Times reported a source, said to be close to the couple, as saying the William was insufficiently welcoming to Meghan when she first started dating Harry. The claim was that the attitude was born out of the competitive nature of William’s relationship with his younger brother.
The last year has seen repeated reports that have hinted at a rift between the brothers. Harry then appeared to confirm the speculation when he told an ITV documentary in October that the brothers were on “different paths”.
The Queen, Charles, William and Harry are meeting face-to-face to thrash out a solution over the future of Harry and Meghan. Meghan, who is in Canada, was expected to join the discussion via conference call.
The couple announced in a bombshell statement on Wednesday their intention to “step back” from frontline royal duties, split their time between the UK and North America, work towards becoming “financially independent” , and retain Frogmore Cottage in Windsor as their official residence while in the UK.
It is the first time the senior royals will have met in person since the crisis broke, as the Queen has been in Norfolk, Charles in Scotland, William at Kensington Palace in London, and Harry at Windsor.
They will discuss a range of proposals drawn up by aides following consultations over how a accommodate “new progressive roles” for the couple.