Harry: I would never blindside my grandmother

PA Reporters
·4-min read

The Duke of Sussex denied he had “blindsided” the Queen with the bombshell statement about him and wife Meghan stepping back as senior royals.

Harry said he would never do that as he has “too much respect” for his grandmother, and suggested that the story probably could have come from “within the institution”.

He also said his father, the Prince of Wales, stopped taking his calls while he and wife Meghan were in Canada in the build-up to the announcement.

Duchess of Sussex
The Queen with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex during a group photo at the Queen’s Young Leaders Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace (John Stillwell/PA)

Asked by Oprah Winfrey during their televised interview about why they left, Harry blamed a “lack of support and lack of understanding”.

The chat show queen said she wanted “clarity” and asked Harry: “Was the move about getting away from the UK press…because the press is, you know, is everywhere, or was the move because you weren’t getting enough support from the firm?”

He replied: “It was both.”

Watch: Prince Harry has a ‘really good’ relationship with The Queen

Winfrey asked “did you blindside the Queen?” with the announcement they were leaving the family, and Harry replied: “No, I would never blindside my grandmother, I have too much respect for her.”

Asked where that story came from, Harry said: “I hazard a guess that it probably could have come from within the institution.”

Meghan said it had been discussed with the Queen “several times” over the course of two years, adding: “But even the night before, days before…the statement coming out. I remember that conversation.”

Fiftieth anniversary of the Investiture of the Prince of Wales
The Queen with the Prince of Wales, and (rear, left to right) the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at a reception at Buckingham Palace in London to mark the 50th anniversary of the investiture of the Prince of Wales (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Winfrey asked how they knew the Queen was not blindsided, adding that the “way it was presented through the press is that suddenly you made this announcement, she didn’t know it was coming”.

Harry said while in Canada he had “three conversations with my grandmother and two conversations with my father, before he stopped taking my calls”.

He said Charles asked for him to put his plan “in writing”, adding: “I put all the specifics in there, even the fact that we were planning on putting the announcement out on the 7th of January.”

Asked why his father had stopped taking his calls, Harry said: “Because I took matters…by that point I’d took matters into my own hands.

“It was, like, I needed to do this for my family. This is not a surprise to anybody. It’s really sad that it’s got to this point.

“But I’ve got to do something for my own mental health, my wife’s and for Archie’s as well, because I could see where this was headed.”

Royal Accounts 2019-20
The royal family, including (left to right) the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, the Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Elizabeth II, the Duchess of Sussex, the Duke of Sussex, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cambridge, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace (Victoria Jones/PA)

Speaking about his father, Harry said: “I feel really let down because he’s been through something similar, he knows what pain feels like, (and) Archie’s his grandson.

“But at the same time – I will always love him – but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened and I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship.

“But they only know what they know, or what they’re told.”

Harry also described how their security detail was removed when they stepped back from being senior members of the royal family.

Gripping Meghan’s hand, he said: “Their justification was a change in status. I pushed back and said is there a change of threat or risk?

“Eventually, I got the confirmation that no, the risk hasn’t changed but due to our change of status – we would no longer be ‘official’ members of the royal family.”

Harry told Winfrey: “My family literally cut me off financially and I had to afford security for us…in the first quarter of 2020.”

He said he had what Diana left him and “without that we would not have been able to do this”.

Watch: Duchess of Sussex's first meeting with The Queen was an unplanned affair