Finding Freedom: Royals ‘quietly pleased’ Meghan Markle did not ‘create spectacle’ at Philip’s funeral and everything else we learned from new epilogue

New chapter in the Sussexes’ controversial biography sheds light on how they spent the past year

Olivia Petter
Tuesday 31 August 2021 09:55 BST
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The paperback version of Finding Freedom, an unauthorised biography of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, has been released with a new epilogue written to reflect how the couple spent the past year.

Authored by royal rota journalists Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, the book is based on a series of interviews with unnamed sources allegedly close to the couple and the rest of the royal family.

Harry and Meghan’s legal team has previously said that Scobie and Durand do not speak for them, and that they “did not collaborate with the authors on the book, nor were they interviewed for it”.

The new epilogue charts what has happened to the Sussexes in the last 12 months since the hardback version of Finding Freedom came out. It examines everything from their life in Santa Barbara, California and Meghan’s miscarriage to the Oprah Winfrey interview and alleged family tensions at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in April.

Here’s everything we learned about Harry and Meghan, according to claims made in the new edition of Finding Freedom.

Meghan felt like the Oprah Winfrey interview was ‘cathartic’

The authors state that for Meghan, doing the interview felt “cathartic”, according to a friend of hers.

“All the things she had kept to herself or been too afraid to say [as a working member of the royal family] she felt safe to finally share. It was liberating,” they added.

How Harry and Meghan reacted to the Queen’s statement on the Oprah interview

Following the interview, the palace released a statement.

“The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” it began.

“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.

“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members.”

However, according to a close source who is quoted in Finding Freedom, the wording of the statement bothered the Sussexes.

“Those  three  words,  ‘recollections may vary’ did not go unnoticed to the couple”, the book states, “who a close source said were ‘not surprised’ that full ownership was not taken.”

Harry and Meghan were ‘furious’ about being photographed at medical centre after miscarriage

In July last year, paparazzi photos were obtained showing Harry and Meghan leaving a medical centre in Beverly Hills. The pictures, which were published by the Daily Mail, accompanied a story criticising the couple for getting into a “gas-guzzling” Cadillac SUV.

The report focused on the couple’s use of the Cadillac Escalade, quoting online reviews that described the vehicle as being “as far from environmentally friendly as you can get”.

According to the authors of Finding Freedom, the couple were “furious” when they discovered the photographer had been tipped off about their presence at the medical centre, which Meghan had visited around the time that she had a miscarriage.

They wrote: “What should have been a deeply personal moment quickly became the top story on the Daily Mail Online, with a dozen photos of the masked couple getting into a Cadillac SUV.”

‘No amount of hurt’ between Prince Harry and Prince William could have impacted Diana statue unveiling

On 1 July, Harry and William reunited at Kensington Palace to mark what would have been Princess Diana’s 60th birthday. Diana died at the age of 36 in August 1997 in Paris.

Harry’s friend, who was not named in the book, told Scobie and Durand that “both brothers are deeply devoted to carrying on their mother’s legacy and no amount of hurt feelings would ever get in the way of that”.

“It is an absolute priority and even amidst this other stuff, they simply wouldn’t proceed without one another together,” they added.

In a joint statement at the time, Harry and William said they hope the statue will “be seen forever as a symbol of [Diana’s] life and her legacy”.

Prince Harry was ‘refused’ the opportunity to have a wreath laid on his behalf on Remembrance Day

Prince Harry spent 10 years in the military but gave up his military posts, including his role as Captain General of the Royal Marines, when he relocated to California and stepped down from his role in the royal family.

In Finding Freedom, the authors claim that a red poppy wreath had been ordered for Prince Harry with the Royal British Legion so it could be laid on his behalf at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day in 2020.

“But as the day came and went, Harry’s gesture remained in its box at the charity’s headquarters in Kent,” the book states. Scobie and Durand go on to allege that Harry’s request was denied because he was no longer a “frontline royal”, with a “close source” to the Duke adding that he was “saddened and disappointed by the decision”.

The source added: “Ten years of service and a lifetime commitment to the military community and this is how it’s been acknowledged by his family.”

Harry and Meghan ‘considered’ naming the person who made racist comment about Archie’s skin colour

In the book, the authors claim that the couple considered publicly sharing the name of the person who made racist comments about their son’s skin colour.

The claim came to light in the couple’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, during which Meghan alleged that there were “concerns and conversations about how dark [Archie’s] skin might be when he’s born”.

She was asked by Oprah who was having those conversations and replied: “That was relayed to me from Harry from conversations that family had with him.”

While the couple didn’t name the person during the interview, an anonymous source has told Scobie and Durand “that the couple had considered sharing this detail” but they decided not to.

Those close to Meghan feel like the Palace ‘tried to undermine’ her before the Oprah interview aired

In the epilogue, Scobie and Durand discuss the timing of an article in The Times which claimed that bullying allegations had been made against Markle by a former aide in October 2018.

The newspaper reported that the duchess drove out two personal assistants and left staff feeling “humiliated”. It said an official complaint was made by Jason Knauf, the then-communications secretary to Meghan and Harry.

A spokesman for the duchess said at the time that she was “saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma”.

The allegations were reported four days before the Oprah interview was due to air. “Though the duchess was used to defamatory reports, this front-page story was more worrying,” write the Finding Freedom authors, who claim that the allegations gave the Sussexes more confidence in their decision to leave the royal family.

A friend of the couple, meanwhile, told the authors: “It felt like certain individuals at the Palace were doing their very best to undermine and discredit anything they worried the couple may or may not say during the interview.”

The Sussexes had a low-key celebration for their second wedding anniversary

The epilogue claims that Harry and Meghan had a low-key celebration for their second wedding anniversary last May, when lockdown restrictions were still in place in California.

Instead of going out, the couple chose to spend the day remembering their 2018 nuptials with people who had been involved in the ceremony, and concluded the festivities with a Mexican takeaway from a local restaurant. They also exchanged cotton-based gifts, as is traditional for second wedding anniversaries.

Harry and Meghan took a mortgage out for their home in Santa Barbara

The authors states that the couple took a mortgage out in order to purchase their nine-bedroom home in Santa Barbara, California.

Several members of the royal family were ‘quietly pleased’ Meghan could not attend Prince Philip’s funeral

Meghan did not attend the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in April, with a palace spokesperson saying at the time that she had made “every effort” to try and travel from the United States, but had not received medical clearance from her doctors to do so given how far along she was in her pregnancy with the couple’s second child.

In Finding Freedom, the authors claim that several members of the royal family were “understood to have been ‘quietly pleased’” that Meghan did not attend because they “didn’t want a circus” or, as one senior royal source said, “the Duchess creating a spectacle”.

Prince Philip’s funeral helped to ‘break the ice’ between Prince Harry and members in the royal family

The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral saw Prince Harry and Prince William reunited face-to-face for the first time in almost 15 months. Despite reports that Prince William had requested to stand apart from Prince Harry during the funeral procession, the brothers were seen chatting on the day following the proceedings, which many took as a possible sign of reconciliation.

In Finding Freedom, a close source to Harry described the funeral as “surreal” for him, while another noted that, in terms of his relationship with the rest of the royal family, there had been “progress” and “efforts on all sides”. Another added that there is more to be done in terms of mending relationships, but the visit Harry made to the UK for the funeral had “broken the ice”.

Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand ,is published in paperback on 31st August (HQ, £9.99)

The Independent has contacted Buckingham Palace for comment

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