The late Queen was worried that Prince Harry was “perhaps a little too in love” with his wife Meghan during the early days of their marriage, it has emerged.
Although Her Majesty did everything she could to make the Duchess of Sussex feel welcome, she appears to have expressed some concern about the impact on her grandson of some of the tensions within the Royal Household following her arrival, a new biography has revealed.
Gyles Brandreth, the broadcaster and a close confidant of the senior royals, has disclosed how the Queen was genuinely delighted with Prince Harry's choice of wife, and had high hopes for the contribution the American actress could make to public life.
But as a number of staff left the Sussexes’ service and claims of bullying emerged, denied by the Duchess’ legal team, the Queen expressed her worries about the effect on her grandson.
Mr Brandreth writes in an extract from his new book, Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait, published in The Mail on Sunday: “The only concern the Queen let slip in the early days of the Sussexes’ marriage was to wonder to a friend if Harry wasn’t ‘perhaps a little over-in-love’. This was as far as she came – to my knowledge at least – to ever uttering a word against the new Duchess of Sussex.”
The broadcaster says in his book that the Queen liked Meghan and did “everything to make her feel welcome”, even telling the Duchess, who had starred in the US legal drama Suits, that she could continue her career, saying: “You can carry on being an actress if you like – that’s your profession, after all."
When the Duchess said she would quit acting to dedicate herself to royal service, the Queen was “delighted”, reports Mr Brandreth, only to become concerned when her offer to have Sophie Wessex “show her the ropes” was allegedly rejected.
However, the Queen appears to have been generally relaxed about some of the issues bedevilling the Duke and Duchess’ relationship with the wider institution of the monarchy.
At one stage, according to Mr Brandreth, she reminded Prince Andrew after her son “harrumphed” about Meghan and Harry’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021, that his former wife Sarah Ferguson had previously given an interview to the same US talk show host.
And while the Duke of Edinburgh felt that the Sussexes’ interview was “madness” the Queen is reported in the book to have been more relaxed, dismissing it – and the couple’s forthcoming Netflix documentary – as “this television nonsense”.
Mr Brandreth also says that while other members of the Royal Family found the Sussexes’ decision to name their daughter Lilibet – the Queen’s childhood nickname – “bewildering” and “rather presumptuous”, the Queen remarked it was “very pretty and seems just right”.
The book reveals that when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are mentioned to other members of the Royal family, the response is a brief smile and a curt “we wish them all the best”.
Mr Brandreth’s close relationship with senior members of the Royal family dates back to the 1970s, when he met Prince Philip at a charity event, with the pair quickly hitting it off.