Before she died on Sept. 8, Queen Elizabeth maintained a good relationship with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex even after they quit their roles as senior working royals in 2020, with Markle saying that Prince Harry’s grandmother had always been “wonderful” to her.
However, Lady Elizabeth Anson, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth’s who was known for organizing royal parties and events, is quoted in Vanity Fair royal correspondent Katie Nicholl’s new book as saying that the late monarch was “very hurt” by her grandson’s decision.
“‘Megxit’ was a source of particular pain to the Queen in the last years of her life,” Nicholl wrote in an excerpt of “The New Royals: Queen Elizabeth’s Legacy and the Future of the Crown” that was published by the Mail on Sunday.
Lady Elizabeth, who “spoke with the Queen frequently” around the time of Prince Harry and Markle’s royal departure, reportedly told Nicholl, “I don’t think the Queen ever truly understood Harry’s decision to leave. Turning one’s back on duty is completely alien to the Queen, and she has been very hurt by it all,” according to the extract.
In her book, Nicholl also claimed Prince William was “angry” and King Charles III was “distraught” over the couple’s decision, but Prince Harry “wasn’t prepared to back down over Meghan.”
Lady Elizabeth, who died in November 2020, suggested that some of Prince Harry’s behavior had already left his grandmother “bewildered” even before he met Markle, according to the royal author.
The late Queen was reportedly concerned about Prince Harry opening up about his emotional struggles in interviews, fearing that it “risked shattering the mystique vital to the survival of the monarchy,” Nicholl wrote.
In an interview with The Telegraph in 2017, Prince Harry said he “shut down all his emotions” for almost two decades after his mother, Princess Diana, died in a Paris car crash.
He shared that his brother Prince William encouraged him to seek help and that he only addressed his grief when he was 28 after feeling that he was “on the verge of punching someone” and was anxious during royal engagements.
“I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well,” Prince Harry confessed at the time. “I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and sort of lies and misconceptions and everything are coming to you from every angle.”
Lady Elizabeth suggested that the Queen was concerned that her grandson was “feeding an insatiable feast” in revealing so much of himself, according to the book.
“When I said to the Queen, ‘I think it’s no bad thing he’s opened up,’ she replied, ‘I’m afraid I can’t agree with you. [The media] will want to know more and more,'” Lady Elizabeth told Nicholl of her conversation with Queen Elizabeth following Prince Harry’s interview.
After he and Markle quit royal duties, Prince Harry opened up about his experience with royal life and his mental health struggles in a sit-down with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021, an interview on Dax Shepard’s “Armchair Expert” podcast in May last year and “The Me You Can’t See,” a mental-health docuseries he produced along with Winfrey.