For years it was rumored that Prince William had told Prince Harry to slow down his romance with Meghan Markle, and that that conversation had strained the princes’ relationship. Meghan and Harry started dating in the summer of 2016, going out for the first time in July 2016; Harry proposed to Meghan in November 2017.
In Spare, Harry’s forthcoming memoir, Harry is now confirming that conversation happened—and that William hadn’t ever been the most supportive of him dating Meghan.
Us Weekly reports that in the book, Harry says that William discouraged him from proposing to Meghan too quickly and was dismissive of her being a serious prospect because of her being an American actress.
“It’s too fast, he’d told me. Too soon [to propose],” Harry shared, per Us. “In fact, he’d actually been pretty discouraging about my even dating Meg. One day, sitting together in his garden, he’d predicted a host of difficulties I could expect if I hooked up with an ‘American actress,’ a phrase he always managed to make sound like a ‘convicted felon.’”
Harry went on to write that William refused to spend the night before his wedding to Meghan with him, despite being Harry’s best man and it being what Harry did before William’s wedding to Kate Middleton. “He’d been scheduled to join us for the evening,” Harry recalled. “But, like Meg’s father [Thomas Markle], he’d canceled last minute. He told me, just before he attended tea with Granny. ‘Can’t do it, Harold. Kate and the kids.’ I’d reminded him that this was our tradition, that we’d had dinner before his wedding, that’d we’d gone together and visited the crowds. He held fast. ‘Can’t do it.’”
“I’d always believed, despite our problems, that our underling bond was strong,” Harry wrote. “As we drove off, I asked him to come have dinner with me. I mentioned maybe staying the night, as I’d done before his wedding. He’d come for dinner, he said, but wouldn’t be able to stay.”
When first meeting Meghan, William had an icy reaction to the Suits actress’s greeting, despite him and Kate being a big fans of the show. Meghan hugged him, having not been told by Harry that she needed to curtsy during such a causal meeting. “[It] completely freaked him out,” Harry wrote of the move, “He recoiled. Willy didn’t hug many strangers. Whereas Meg hugged most strangers.”
Harry added in the memoir, per Us, that his brother and father King Charles III were not happy about the statement he put out when news of him and Meghan dating became public in November 2016 and Meghan was the subject of racist attacks in the British tabloids.
Harry asked for the sexist and racist attacks to stop in the statement, which read in part, “Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her. It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm. He knows commenters will say this is ‘the price she has to pay’ and that ‘this is all part of the game.’ He strongly disagrees. This is not a game—it is her life and his.” (Those attacks did not stop, and they in part led Meghan and Harry to eventually step back from their senior royal family roles and leave England.)
“Pa and Willy were furious,” he wrote of their reaction to the statement. “They gave me an earful. My statement made them look bad, they both said. Why in hell? Because they’d never put out a statement for their girlfriends or wives when they were being harassed.”
William’s opinion of Meghan didn’t become much rosier, even after Harry and Meghan got married in May 2018. Harry alleged in his memoir that William physically assaulted him over a 2019 discussion they had about Meghan where William called her “difficult,” “rude,” and “abrasive.”
In his and Meghan’s Netflix docuseries, Harry spoke about William’s press office planting negative tabloid stories about them, and both he and Meghan suggested that William authorized his aide to speak against Meghan in her lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday‘s publishers.
Senior News and Strategy Editor
Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.