Prince William (right) is first in line to the British throne. His younger brother Prince Harry (left) is in fifth place. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Prince Harry was allegedly “paranoid” about his staff at Buckingham Palace when he first began dating Meghan Markle.
The claim was made by royal author Valentine Low, who has written a new book titled “Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown.” Low alleged that the Duke of Sussex became increasingly distrusting of palace staff and “had this obsession with the media.”
Kinsey Schofield, royal expert and host of the “To Di For” podcast, told Fox News Digital that the youngest son of King Charles III “has always been suspicious of palace staff” due to his position in the line of succession. Harry, 38, is fifth in line to the throne and has been coined “the spare” by the press. His older brother Prince William is first in line followed by his three children: Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
“I’ve been told that ever since Harry was a teenager, the palace prioritized Prince William‘s reputation over Prince Harry‘s,” Schofield explained. “For instance, there’s a story about a paper calling the palace communications team for comment on a negative William story. The palace’s strategy was to offer up a negative Harry story to kill the William story from running. I don’t know how often this strategy was utilized, but I have heard from a former employee that this happened. Of course, the palace is going to do everything it can to protect the heir.”
“The Prince and Princess of Wales are the future and the priority,” shared Schofield, referring to William and his wife Kate Middleton. “While it seems harsh, it’s also common sense.”
While Harry has been wary of palace staff, his concerns allegedly grew after he married Markle. The former “Suits” star, 41, became the Duchess of Sussex when she married the British prince in 2018.
“I think it’s more about Prince Harry growing up with a mom that insisted that her sons be treated equally and then losing that advocate,” said Schofield. “Prince Harry was relatively unproblematic in the years leading up to his relationship with Meghan Markle. His bad boy days were behind him, and he had accepted his role as the handsome and silly third wheel to Prince William and his wife on royal engagements.”
“There were some clashes with staff but for the most part, Harry’s team was very cheerful and enjoyed working with him,” she continued. “The clashes typically involved Prince Harry wanting to pursue the same campaigns that Prince William was passionate about. Prince William was given priority. I think the staff was so taken aback by how assertive Meghan Markle was… immediately. No honeymoon period there. But behind the scenes, Harry had been venting his frustrations to Meghan and now she was here to steer the ship.”
Just a few days before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey aired in 2021, a former aide accused Markle of bullying. The Times of London reported allegations that the duchess drove out two personal assistants and left staff feeling “humiliated.” At the time, a spokesperson for the duchess told Fox News Digital she was “saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma.”
In June of this year, palace officials announced that the details of an independent review investigating the allegations would remain private.
In 2020, the couple announced they were stepping back as senior members of the royal family. They reside in California with their two children. However, Schofield suspects that Markle may be gearing up for her latest big role. The couple has signed deals with Spotify and Netflix.
“I believe Meghan’s next big pursuit will be to become a spokesperson for a luxury beauty brand,” said Schofield. “… Don’t forget, the duchess also has a book deal. She will use those books to brand herself as a thought leader. Whispers about political aspirations have subsided. However, I think if she found the right mentor… it is an avenue that she would continue to pursue.”
“Prince Harry is completely content working behind the scenes,” she added.
In his book, Low alleged that Harry carried out “loyalty tests” on his employees to ensure he was being protected.
“It was a constant test of loyalty: ‘Are you going to protect me? Or have you just become one of them, who won’t fight for me?’ It was exhausting,” Low wrote. “His mistrust of the courtiers in the other households; the constant loyalty tests of his own staff: All of this was there before Meghan arrived on the scene.”
“But after she turned up, it would get significantly worse,” Low continued, alleging that the palace staff who worked with the couple called themselves the “Sussexes Survival Club.”
“It was a very difficult experience for many of [the employees],” he alleged. “Some people told me they were completely destroyed, they felt sick, they were shook.”
In August, Markle told The Cut that “just by existing,” she and Harry “upset the dynamic of the hierarchy” when they were in the U.K. The duchess admitted it was not easy to “forgive” when asked if there was room for forgiveness between her, Britain’s royal family and her own family.
“I think forgiveness is really important. It takes a lot more energy to not forgive,” she said. “But it takes a lot of effort to forgive. I’ve really made an active effort, especially knowing that I can say anything.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.