Duchess of Sussex claims Prince and Princess of Wales were ‘formal’ at their first meeting

Harry and Meghan
Harry and Meghan

The Prince and Princess of Wales were “formal” behind the scenes, the Duchess of Sussex has claimed, as the Royal family faced a barrage of criticism from the Harry & Meghan Netflix documentary.

Prince Harry accused his family of being unwilling to protect Meghan and said they did not think the relationship would last because she was an American actress.

He suggested men in the family were urged to pick potential partners that “fit the mould” but that as his mother’s son, he made decisions with his heart.

In an apparent dig at his father, the King, he said: “I’ve got a second family out there, a group of friends who literally brought me up.”

The first three episodes of the series were released with a disclaimer that it was filmed before the death of Queen Elizabeth II, adding: “Members of the Royal Family declined to comment on the content within this series.”

Sussexes Cambridges - Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
Sussexes Cambridges - Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
Sussexes / Cambridges - Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images
Sussexes / Cambridges - Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

The Duchess recalled the moment she first met the Prince and Princess of Wales, suggesting they were cold and found her natural warmth “jarring”.

They came over for dinner, I remember I was in ripped jeans and I was barefoot,” she said.

“I was a hugger, I’ve always been a hugger. I didn’t realise that was jarring for a lot of Brits.”

Footage of the then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge carrying out official engagements was shown on screen as Meghan continued: “I guess I’d started to understand very quickly that the formality on the outside carried through on the inside.

“That there is a forward-facing way of being and then you close the door and you go ‘OK we can relax now.’

“But that formality carries through on both sides. And that was surprising to me.”

However, she said she was glad that at the time she did not know much about the Royal family, which allowed her to just “authentically be myself, without so much preparedness.”

Prince Harry said that when he introduced Meghan to his family they were “incredibly impressed” but had immediately judged her and assumed the relationship would not last.

He said: “Some of them didn't quite know what to do with themselves because I think they were surprised. Maybe surprised that a ginger could land such a beautiful woman, and such an intelligent woman.

“But the fact that I was dating an American actress was probably what clouded their judgement more than anything else at the beginning.”

Meghan added: “The actress thing was the biggest problem, funnily enough.

“There is a big idea of what that looks like from a UK standpoint. Hollywood... It's just very easy for them to typecast that.”

In another episode, the Duke claimed that for male members of the Royal family, there could be a “temptation or urge” to marry someone who fit the mould rather than someone they might connect with more naturally.

“The difference between making decisions with your head or heart,” he said.

“My mum certainly made most of her decisions, if not all of them, from her heart and I am my mother’s son.”

harry diana
harry diana

He suggested the Royal family had failed to support him following the death of his mother in 1997, when he was only 12.

“Being a young boy, trying to deal with the loss of his (my) mum without much support or guidance. It didn't seem fair,” he said.

He also said that when his relationship with Meghan became public knowledge, his family had opted not to protect them from the onslaught of attention and racist commentary on social media, suggesting it was “simply a right of passage”.

He said they questioned why Meghan should be given special treatment when it was something all of their wives had experienced, seemingly unaware of the “race element”.

“The direction from the palace was just don’t say anything,” he said.

“As far as a lot of the family were concerned, everything that she was being put through, they had been put through as well,” he said. “So it was almost like a right of passage.

“Some of the members of the family were like, ‘Right well my wife had to go through that so why should your girlfriend be treated any differently? Why should she get special treatment? Why should she be protected?’”

Sandringham 2017 - Adrian DENNISADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
Sandringham 2017 - Adrian DENNISADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

The couple also discussed the moment Meghan first met Queen Elizabeth II, as Harry admitted it felt odd to admit he had to bow to his grandmother.

“How do you explain that to people? How do you explain that you bow to your grandmother? And that you will need to curtsy? Especially to an American… that’s weird.”

The Duchess said it was “surreal” and that she thought he was joking when he asked if she knew how to curtsy.

She giggled as she performed an exaggerated curtsy for the camera, as Harry looked on, seemingly unamused.

“I was like, pleasure to meet you, Your Majesty. Like, was that OK? It was so intense,” she said. I didn’t know what I was doing.”

Meghan claimed that when she joined the Royal family she wore muted tones of white, beige and camel so she would not stand out.

“There is no version of me joining this family and trying to not do everything I could to fit in,” she said. “I don’t want to embarrass the family.” Behind the scenes, “I was just turtling”, she said.

The third episode of the series begins with the interview the couple gave to the BBC's Mishal Husain when they got engaged in 2017.

Meghan told Husain the Royal family had been “so welcoming” but claimed it was an “orchestrated reality show”.

She added: “We weren’t allowed to tell our story because they didn’t want…”