A cardboard box takes center stage these days in the London office of the historiador Robert Lacey, perhaps the greatest expert that exists today on the British royal family. A reputation that has led him to be the historical advisor to The Crown series. In that box are printed several chapters of his latest book, which he himself sent to the Buckingham Palace. They have been returned with a note explaining that no one in the palace has read it. It doesn’t surprise him at all. “This rejection on their part reflects two things: their insistence on wanting to show that there is no problem and the confirmation that they are not handling this situation as they should,” explains Lacey. The elephant continues in the middle of the room.
That problem Lacey alludes to is the (non) relationship between princes William and Harry, who since the Dukes of Sussex decided to leave the British royal family and move to North America almost a year ago “probably only communicate through their advisers,” suggests the historian. The details of this break are in his book Battle of Brothers.
Mujerhoy: What really happened between the two of them?
ROBERT LACEY: It’s once again about the eternal struggle between love and duty. As heir, Guillermo learned the lesson of duty and carries it so strictly that when he met Kate Middleton it took him nine years to marry; what she needed to learn the trade. He believes his brother should have done the same, but when Harry met Meghan Markle he preferred to be guided by love. As happened in 1936, with the abdication of Henry VIII, duty has returned.
And what role has Meghan played in all of this?
Everyone believed that Harry would marry a nice, quiet English girl named Henrietta, Gabriella or something like that; that he would go to live in the country, attend to some commitments and stay in the shadows. But neither he nor Meghan respond to that archetype. She is a self-made woman. Of all the members of the royal family who are millionaires and celebrities, only one has generated his own fortune and is solely responsible for its success: Meghan. She already was before she met Harry and that’s probably why Guillermo asked his brother to slow down with her.
Could they have avoided reaching this current critical situation?
Completely. Both sides. In fact, there are three responsible parties. Harry and Meghan are guilty of acting impulsively. Guillermo is it too, for not being willing to adapt. But there is a third figure which is the court of Buckingham; private secretaries didn’t make it easy for Meghan when she arrived. When looking for those responsible, I point in all directions. Although this is not how most Brits think, who see Harry and Meghan as the villains and William and Kate as the heroes of this story.
However, in his book we discover a Guillermo very different from the image that is had of him.
In Battle of Brothers I tell how Camilla was in shock after marrying Carlos when she saw the aggressive tone with which Guillermo sometimes addressed his father. He was very frontal, he never beat around the bush. The stereotypes that weigh on both brothers have been a determining factor for the break: Guillermo has always been the nice and serious one, while Harry appeared as the pimp. However, Guillermo, who has not made any public statement after his brother’s departure, is acting like his grandmother: looking away and hiding things under the rug, waiting for them to fix themselves.
And where is Kate Middleton in the middle of all this?
At the beginning of the estrangement, the newspapers spoke of the bad relationship between Kate and Meghan as if it were a catfight. The reality is that they are both highly intelligent, ambitious and supportive of their partners. Beyond what is said, I think they have a lot of respect for each other.
What will happen in the near future?
This situation can be compared with what happened after the abdication of Eduardo VIII in 1936; It has also caused a crisis that affects the British royal family – which will probably survive it – but in a different way. Then the Duke of Windsor left and was silent. However, Harry and Meghan, who are in exile now, are not going to shut up. They are carrying out their crusades, they are reaching out to people directly through their social media … Even though they are planning to return to the UK for a while to stay close to family, I don’t think they are doing it in a work sense.
So will we ever see them on British soil again?
Definitely. The main reason why they have signed a millionaire contract with Netflix is to return to the treasury the two and a half million from the taxpayer they spent on the reform of their residence in Frogmore Cottage. They will go to Windsor, where the family reunites. Queen Elizabeth II has always liked Meghan and Harry is her right eye. If they have not visited the country during this 2020 it is because the pandemic has altered their plans.
If Diana were still alive, would they have reached this point?
At the beginning of the book I explain that Diana always asked her children to speak frankly. If he hadn’t died so prematurely, he would have instilled that habit in them. And if he were by his side he would also have had the ability to mediate between the two brothers. One of the problems that Harry and Guillermo have is that Prince Charles has not been what is called a “full-time father”, something of which Diana could have been described. She would have kept them together.