The rift that could ruin CHRISTMAS

HOS­TIL­I­TIES ARE RE­PORT­EDLY AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH

New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - COVER STORY - Judy Kean

Fresh-faced and cheery, it was a scene that’s be­come typ­i­cal of Cather­ine, Duchess of Cam­bridge.

Play­fully throw­ing fake snow­balls at her hus­band Prince Wil­liam and the 200 as­sem­bled guests at Kens­ing­ton Palace dur­ing an event hon­our­ing the fam­i­lies of those serv­ing in the mil­i­tary, Kate ra­di­ated hap­pi­ness and con­tent­ment as she car­ried out her royal duty − an art she’s been prac­tis­ing for 17 years.

De­spite the con­tin­ued re­ports of a feud be­tween her­self and new sis­ter-in-law Meghan, Duchess of Sus­sex, it was Kate the con­sum­mate pro­fes­sional who turned out to cel­e­brate Christmas at the grotto that was es­pe­cially erected for the mil­i­tary fam­i­lies. How­ever, just me­tres away in Not­ting­ham Cot­tage, Meghan and hus­band Prince Harry’s cur­rent home in the grounds of the palace, there was a very dif­fer­ent story − and a very un­happy new duchess.

It’s sup­posed to be the sea­son to be jolly. But for Meghan, Christmas could see her reach cri­sis point fol­low­ing the ru­moured fall­out be­tween her­self and Kate − two ex­tremely dif­fer­ent women whose main sim­i­lar­ity was they both hap­pened to fall in love with princes.

Just a few weeks ago, Meghan was look­ing for­ward to a re­lax­ing hol­i­day with her new in-laws at San­dring­ham, and the chance to have a wel­learned rest after a huge year dur­ing which she mar­ried into Bri­tain’s first fam­ily, be­came preg­nant and took on an ar­du­ous first over­seas tour that in­cluded com­ing to New Zealand.

But now she is thought to be feel­ing un­der siege, amid re­ports that her re­la­tion­ship with Kate is so hos­tile the feisty Amer­i­can has had the mum-of-three in tears.

The flood­gates opened two weeks ago when it was re­vealed that Meghan and Harry wouldn’t be mov­ing to a Kens­ing­ton Palace apart­ment next door to the one oc­cu­pied by Kate, Wil­liam and their chil­dren Prince Ge­orge (5), Princess Char­lotte (3) and Prince Louis (eight months).

In­stead, it was con­firmed that the cou­ple, who are ex­pect­ing their first child in au­tumn next year, were plan­ning on set­ting up home at Frog­more Cot­tage on the Wind­sor Es­tate.

One of the rea­sons given was that Harry (34) re­alised he needed to spread his wings and not live in his brother’s shadow any­more. But then sto­ries be­gan do­ing the rounds that, in fact, the real rea­son for the move was that Kate (36) and Meghan (37) don’t get on, and putting some dis­tance be­tween the pair − rather than hav­ing them prac­ti­cally liv­ing on top of each other at Kens­ing­ton Palace − was deemed a good idea.

Claims of con­fronta­tions be­tween the two women be­gan to emerge. Ac­cord­ing to one source, the ten­sion started last Christmas when Meghan is said to have sug­gested she did not feel en­tirely wel­come with all mem­bers of the royal fam­ily. Prince Charles – who has a soft spot for his new daugh­ter-in-law – tried to smooth things over by getting Harry and Meghan to a din­ner at Wil­liam (36) and Kate’s home.

But ap­par­ently this back­fired, and the cou­ples re­port­edly had a “ghastly row”. Ac­cord­ing to one in­sider, things kicked off after Kate had a “quiet word” with Meghan, who then com­plained

to Harry that she had been “told off”.

“He took her side while Wil­liam de­fended Kate, who was five months preg­nant with Louis and cer­tainly didn’t want this sort of con­fronta­tion.”

A royal aide says Meghan was “down­right rude”.

How­ever, an­other source has come for­ward to say the cou­ples ac­tu­ally en­joyed a mem­o­rable first Christmas to­gether.

“They re­ally loved Christmas and had a won­der­ful time. I think the two women got on – they are def­i­nitely not best friends, but it was a re­ally spe­cial time for them all to spend to­gether.”

Nev­er­the­less, this year there’s talk that be­cause of frosti­ness be­tween the cou­ples through­out 2018, Kate and Wil­liam were plan­ning on spend­ing Christmas with Kate’s fam­ily in Berk­shire, while Harry and Meghan joined the rest of the roy­als at San­dring­ham for the tra­di­tional fam­ily Christmas there.

Then when Kate’s mum

Ca­role gave an in­ter­view, in which she talked about putting Christmas trees in each of her grand­chil­dren’s bed­rooms so they could dec­o­rate them them­selves, that seemed to be con­fir­ma­tion the Cam­bridges were giv­ing San­dring­ham a miss.

But a source says Wil­liam, Kate and their chil­dren will attend the San­dring­ham fes­tiv­i­ties, while stay­ing in their nearby coun­try house, An­mer Hall.

Meghan will have her mum Do­ria Ragland with her and while it was ini­tially thought Do­ria had been given the rare hon­our of spend­ing Christmas with the roy­als be­cause she would other­wise be alone, in­sid­ers have pointed out that per­haps it is Meghan who will need sup­port from a loved one in what could be a tricky cou­ple of days.

The Christmas bust-up last year was not the only time the women have had run-ins, ac­cord­ing to other claims. In a highly un­usual step, Kens­ing­ton Palace re­futed one ru­mour in which it was al­leged that Meghan and Kate also had words be­fore Meghan’s wed­ding to Harry on May 19 after the for­mer ac­tress was rude to Kate’s staff.

A source said af­ter­wards

Kate told Meghan that the way she had be­haved was “un­ac­cept­able”. How­ever, a palace spokesper­son says, “This never hap­pened.”

The spokesper­son de­clined to com­ment on other re­ports, in­clud­ing one that al­leged Kate was left in tears after a stress­ful fit­ting for her daugh­ter Char­lotte’s brides­maid dress.

Meghan’s sup­port­ers have pointed out that she was un­der a lot of stress in the weeks lead­ing up to the wed­ding, es­pe­cially when it was re­vealed that her fa­ther Thomas had col­luded with

a pa­parazzi pho­tog­ra­pher and was then hos­pi­talised with heart prob­lems, mean­ing he couldn’t travel to the UK for the wed­ding.

There was added upset too when her re­quests to wear an emer­ald-stud­ded tiara were de­nied. Then her plans to have atom­is­ers in St Ge­orge’s Chapel be­cause of the musty smell in the church, which dates back to the 14th cen­tury, were also shut down.

Buck­ing­ham Palace pointed out that the church was a reg­u­lar place of wor­ship for the Queen – and a long string of monar­chs be­fore her – and if it was good enough for them with­out air fresh­en­ers, then it would be good enough for Meghan’s wed­ding.

After the sto­ries be­gan break­ing about a rift be­tween Kate and Meghan, a friend of Wil­liam’s told the me­dia that the prince had raised con­cerns about his brother’s girl­friend right at the very start.

“The prob­lem was that the Cam­bridges felt things had moved very quickly be­tween Harry and Meghan. Wills in par­tic­u­lar was wor­ried and felt close enough to Harry to voice his thoughts.”

And in an ef­fort to help Meghan make the tran­si­tion into royal life, Kate ar­ranged meet­ings to ex­plain the rules of the fam­ily firm.

“The Duchess of Cam­bridge was sad­dened when her ad­vice wasn’t gladly taken, adding to a sense that Meghan was will­ing to ruf­fle feath­ers.”

The ex- Suits star’s forth­right at­ti­tude has cer­tainly caused ruc­tions, par­tic­u­larly among her staff, who are said to be con­cerned about her “abrupt” and “au­thor­i­ta­tive” man­ner. Meghan’s per­sonal as­sis­tant Melissa Touabti quit her job after only six months in the po­si­tion be­cause Meghan was so de­mand­ing, says an in­sider.

Melissa (39), had pre­vi­ously worked as a per­sonal as­sis­tant for Rob­bie Wil­liams and as a nanny for Madonna and Guy Ritchie, and played a cru­cial part in or­gan­is­ing the royal wed­ding.

A friend of the French­woman says, “Her job was highly pres­surised and in the end it be­came too much. She put up with quite a lot. Meghan put a lot of de­mands on her and it ended up with her in tears.

“Melissa was a to­tal pro­fes­sional and fan­tas­tic at her job, but things came to a head and it was eas­ier for her to go her sep­a­rate way.”

A royal com­men­ta­tor says the very traits that en­deared Meghan to Harry, such as her pas­sion, in­de­pen­dence and de­ter­mi­na­tion to make a dif­fer­ence, have made it hard for her to set­tle into the royal fam­ily.

“She’s a woman who has lived her life into her 30s in her way, she’s been a rel­a­tively suc­cess­ful ac­tress, has her own hu­man­i­tar­ian in­ter­ests and her own cir­cle of friends.

“She’s very self-suf­fi­cient. Un­der­stand­ing the palace way, the def­er­ence, the pol­i­tics and the fact there is a peck­ing or­der is tak­ing a while for Meghan to get her head around.”

Tina Weaver, an­other royal com­men­ta­tor, says while Kate is rel­a­tively de­mure and very used to Bri­tish life, Meghan is like a hur­ri­cane by com­par­i­son.

“That there has been ten­sion be­tween them was to be ex­pected. The real sur­prise is any­body ever thought these two dif­fer­ent women would want each other on speed dial.”

And long-time royal writer Vic­to­ria Mur­phy says the ar­rival of a bride for Harry was bound to upset the ap­ple cart, no mat­ter who she was.

“Over the last seven years, we have be­come ac­cus­tomed to see­ing Harry, Wil­liam and Kate as the Three Mus­ke­teers. The idea that any­one Prince Harry mar­ried would just slot right in, mak­ing three a cosy four, and things would carry on ex­actly as be­fore, was al­ways a lit­tle un­re­al­is­tic.”

On with the snow! Wil­liam and Kate were all smiles at Kens­ing­ton Palace de­spite the al­leged drama. Meghan and Kate have fallen out and the new duchess has re­port­edly re­duced her sis­ter-in- law to tears.

WIVES AT WAR Cracks ap­peared in Kate and Meghan’s re­la­tion­ship at the Troop­ing the Colour event in June. But it was al­legedly a row whenKate was preg­nant with Prince Louis (above) that caused the real dam­age. Left: Harry and Meghan (leav­ing the Henry van Strauben­zee Me­mo­rial Fund’s Christmas Carol ser­vice in Lon­don) are set to move to Wind­sor Es­tate.

THE THREE MUS­KE­TEERS Wil­l­liam, Kate and Harry have al­ways been close, car­ry­ing out many royal du­ties to­gether over the years, and even cre­at­ing and launch­ing the men­tal health ini­tia­tive Heads To­gether, a cause close to their hearts.

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