Meghan Markle has proven to be one of the most contentious royals of all time. Between her community outreach and bucking against royal restrictions, many have compared her to Princess Diana. But Meghan has still managed to rub many people the wrong way, including her brother-in-law: Prince William.
Over the years, William has been both hot and cold towards Meghan. But what is the real truth about their relationship? We have all the answers.
The first meeting
Thanks to the 2020 book Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family by royal experts Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, we know more about the day that William met Meghan in 2016. As Elle reports, the book describes how Meghan was fully expecting a royal grilling from the future King of England.
“Meghan thought that William would no doubt want to know everything about her—and her intentions. She was self-aware enough to understand that the brothers were wary of women who were more interested in their titles than their well-being.”
To Meghan’s pleasant surprise, William was very warm and receiving. They reportedly got along “very well.” And William seemed particularly pleased about meeting the woman that “has put that silly grin on my brother’s face.”
Sadly, things were about to go downhill very fast.
William shares concerns with Harry
The Royal Family is notoriously tightlipped. Therefore, we mostly know what is going on around the palace when rumors start flying. And those rumors soon began to describe William cautioning Harry against marrying Meghan. As People reports, this tension allegedly kicked off almost right after Harry declared his intentions.
One possible reason for William’s concern is that he dated Kate Middleton for eight years before they tied the knot. By comparison, Harry seemed to be rushing into marriage, getting engaged to Meghan after only two years. According to Elle, the book Finding Freedom details how William “privately voiced concerns to aides about the speed at which Harry’s relationship was developing with a Hollywood actress he hadn’t known for long.”
Allegedly, this led to a rift between the brothers when William told Harry “take as much time as you need to get to know this girl.” Harry seemed to take these words of caution as a dismissal of the woman he loves. Rocky days between the brothers were ahead.
The holidays have a tendency to bring people together, and that includes William and Meghan. At a Christmas 2017 gathering, Meghan gave a gag gift (per Royal Family custom) to William.
Elle reports that, according to Finding Freedom, Meghan delighted William by gifting him “a spoon… that had ‘cereal killer’ embossed on the shallow bowl end of the utensil.” Riding that wave of goodwill, Harry and Meghan ended up staying with William and Kate for the holidays.
At this point, it looked like the perceived rift between Meghan and William was closing. But one event would tear that rift open, possibly for good. And that event was Harry and Meghan’s wedding.
A sweet wedding (and bittersweet aftermath)
Harry asked William to be his best man at the wedding (Harry played the same role during William’s own 2011 wedding). According to Us Weekly, William had fun laughing about being best man by reminding them of the time Harry turned around so he could peek at Kate’s wedding dress before William saw it. “It feels great. I’m thrilled and delighted obviously. Revenge is sweet. I’ll be looking forward to it.”
While William seemed in good spirits before and during the wedding, he and Harry (and by extension, he and Meghan) seemed to have a falling out afterward. For instance, Yahoo! reports, “It was certainly Harry’s feeling that William and Kate hadn’t rolled out the red carpet as much as they might have done. You know, there wasn’t this sort of instant welcoming of Meghan into the royal fold.”
Of course, 2020 ended up being much chillier than 2017 for Meghan and William. And we’re not talking about the weather!
Freezing Meghan out
In January 2020, Harry and Meghan shocked the world, and the Royal Family, by announcing on their website that they were stepping down as working royals. Two months later, at the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey, it was obvious to everyone that the relationship between William and the Sussexes had deteriorated completely.
Video from that day show that Harry and Meghan sat down in the pews first. When William and Kate arrived, the older duo seemed to ignore Harry and Meghan entirely. This was about as cringe-inducing as things get.
The Oprah interview made everything worse
As you might imagine, “Sussexit” made all of the tensions between William and Meghan that much worse. And if there was an easy bridge back to these two being friends, Harry and Meghan’s infamous interview with Oprah set that bridge on fire.
This was the interview where Meghan dropped several bombshell allegations, including that an unnamed senior member of the Royal Family expressed concerns about the skin color of her then-unborn child.
The backlash against the Royal Family was huge. This caused William to make the unprecedented move of getting in front of cameras and proclaiming to the public, “We’re very much not a racist family.”
In an interview with Yahoo!, royal expert and author Katie Nicholl said that the Oprah interview was a game-changer in the worst possible way. “This was sort of an unbreakable bond between the brothers. And there isn’t that closeness anymore. A lot has happened. I think there’s a lot of anger, hurt, and resentment on both sides.”
And we continued to see this anger, hurt, and resentment play out long after that interview was over.
The Queen’s death and a new beginning
In June 2022, Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Platinum Jubilee. The event marked the first time Harry and Meghan returned to the U.K. with their two children, three-year-old Archie and 11-month old Lilibet. Reportedly fearing a repeat of the Commonwealth Day 2020 scrutiny, Buckingham Palace made Harry and Meghan sit on the opposite side of St. Paul’s Cathedral from William and Kate for the services, according to Us Weekly.
Three months later, Queen Elizabeth passed away on Sept. 8. This brought the Sussexes and the Cambridges back together under the worst possible circumstances. However, People reports that William explicitly invited Harry and Meghan to walk with him and Kate around the palace in a show of unity.
While nothing is for sure, many of us can’t help but hope this was an opportunity for everyone to bury the hatchet. But if Harry and Meghan and William and Kate’s body language on their “unity walk” was any indication, there may be a long way to go yet.