Meghan, Harry Biography Targets Their Most Cherished Royal Bond—the Queen

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's relationship with Queen Elizabeth II is under fire in a new biography, just months after the duke said he wanted to make sure the monarch was "protected."

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have spoken more fondly of Elizabeth than any other royal, even as their interviews dropped royal bombshells on other areas of the palace.

That positioning has long been contested in the media and sustained a fresh assault in a new book by controversial author Tom Bower.

Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the War Between the Windsors, published on July 21, makes the disputed claim the Queen was relieved Meghan did not attend Prince Philip's funeral, while Bower suggested in an interview that the monarch snubbed the couple at the Platinum Jubilee.

Harry and Meghan's Relationship With Queen Elizabeth II Pre-Tom Bower

The Queen has been a contested figure in Harry and Meghan's royal exit right from the start, after briefings to U.K. newspapers suggested they blindsided her in January 2020.

The Sussexes were attempting to negotiate their way out of palace life at the time and, frustrated with the royal family's failure to engage with their plans, published a website outlining the future direction they wanted to take with little notice and without gaining the consent of the royal household.

Earlier biography Finding Freedom quoted a palace source: "The element of surprise, the blindsiding of the Queen, for the other principals (royals) who are all very mindful of this rightfully, it was deeply upsetting."

Harry and Meghan's announcement that they were quitting the palace at the time fired the starting gun on a decline in their U.K. popularity, though it is not possible to tell to whether this was caused by the simple act of their exit or the blindsiding narrative.

Queen and Meghan With Harry
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, seen at Sydney Opera House on October 16, 2018, have spoken fondly of Queen Elizabeth II, inset at the Palace of Holyroodhouse on June 28, 2022. Tom Bower's 'Revenge' challenges their relationship with the monarch. Max Mumby/Indigo and Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Harry and Meghan Protect Their Relationship With the Queen

The Sussexes gave their side of the story during their Oprah Winfrey interview in March 2021 and were eager to stress that their criticisms were not directed at Elizabeth.

Most prominently, they told Oprah off camera that the allegations of racism made during the tell-all did not relate to Elizabeth or Prince Philip.

On camera, Meghan said: "So, there's the family, and then there's the people that are running the institution. Those are two separate things. And it's important to be able to compartmentalize that, because the Queen, for example, has always been wonderful to me. I mean, we had one of our first joint engagements together. She asked me to join her."

Harry added: "I've never blindsided my grandmother. I have too much respect for her."

The Sussexes also named their daughter Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor after the queen's family nickname, derived from a mispronunciation in early childhood of Elizabeth.

The prince then presented his own relationship with the monarch as uniquely "special" in an April 2022 interview with NBC at the Invictus Games, ahead of the Platinum Jubilee.

He told Today: "Being with her, it was great. It was just so nice to see her. She's on great form.

"She's always got a great sense of humor with me and I'm just making sure that she's, you know, protected and got the right people around her."

He added: "We have a really special relationship. We talk about things that she can't talk about with anybody else. So that's always a nice piece to it."

Tom Bower on the Sussexes and the Queen

In Revenge, Bower seeks to present a different account of the queen's relationship with the Sussexes with a focus on her response to Harry and Meghan's actions.

Most prominent was the claim, disputed by a senior palace source, that Elizabeth was relieved Meghan did not attend Prince Philip's April 2021 funeral, a month after Harry and Meghan's Oprah interview.

The book read: "Philip had been her rock for the previous 70 years. To comply with COVID restrictions she would grieve alone inside the chapel.

"'Thank goodness Meghan is not coming,' the monarch said in a clear voice to her trusted aides."

A palace source told Newsweek it was unlikely Elizabeth would have been thinking about anything other than her husband in the days before the Windsor Castle service.

The book also addresses a comment made by Prince Harry during an appearance on the Armchair Expert podcast, in May 2021, though the book wrongly attributed it to his mental health documentary The Me You Can't See which came out the same month.

The duke said: "There is no blame. I don't think we should be pointing the finger or blaming anybody, but certainly when it comes to parenting, if I've experienced some form of pain or suffering because of the pain or suffering that perhaps my father or my parents had suffered, I'm going to make sure I break that cycle so that I don't pass it on, basically.

"It's a lot of genetic pain and suffering that gets passed on anyway, so we as parents should be doing the most we can to try and say 'you know what, that happened to me, I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen to you.'"

Revenge echoed a narrative in the media at the time that Harry's words were a tacit attack on the queen and Philip for their parenting of Charles.

Bower wrote: "Called The Me You Can't See, Harry denounced William whom he had previously praised as the only person he 'could trust,' and dishonored Charles whom he had previously thanked for being so 'kind,' for causing a cycle of 'genetic pain'.

"He had even criticized the Queen, despite saying she was 'hugely admired.'"

He added: "Neither considered it odd to honor the Queen yet damn her as a bad parent to Charles, or label her whole family as racist and neglectful of Meghan.

"In America, the Sussexes assumed, no one would be aware of those contradictions."

Revenge also revisits a past dispute between the Sussexes and the palace over Lilibet's name after the BBC was told Harry and Meghan did not ask her permission to use the nickname.

The book reads: "Toya Holness, Meghan's spokeswoman, claimed that Harry would
not have chosen the name if the Queen had not been 'supportive.'

"Fired up by the Sussexes' anger, Schillings announced that unless the
BBC apologized and withdrew that report, the Sussexes would sue for defamation.

"Pitching Harry against the Queen was an extreme tactic to control the Sussexes' image. The Palace supported the BBC. Faced with the factual truth, the Sussexes retreated. Schillings' threat evaporated. The Sussexes were defeated."

Bower, however, continued the revelations after the book's publication, telling GB News the Queen had given the couple seats at a Platinum Jubilee church service that they were not happy with.

He said: "I mean what was a really remarkable story I heard, was that Meghan and Harry were late to get to St Paul's Cathedral deliberately so that they could make their own grand entrance.

"As they're walking down the aisle and they get to their seats nine and ten, they say 'well everyone should move up so that we can be on the aisle itself.'"

The usher, Bower said, replied: "'No, you're to sit [in] nine and ten.'"

Harry, according to the author, replied, "who told you to tell me where to sit?" prompting the usher to say: "Your grandmother."

Newsweek has approached the Sussexes' representatives for comment.