Key Words: Prince Harry’s friend: Harry and Meghan were ‘driven out’ — alleges the House of Windsor is ‘poisonous’ and ‘Machiavellian’

The public-relations battle between Buckingham Palace and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex appears to have reached a new level of animosity on Sunday.

Writing in The Sunday Times, Tom Bradby, who directed an ITV film, “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey,” which aired in the U.S. on Disney’s

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 ABC last year, alleged that the couple’s plan to move to North America may have been leaked by Buckingham Palace. “It gives an indication of just how poisonous and frankly Machiavellian the modern House of Windsor has become.”

Also see: Prince Harry and Prince William issue joint statement on their turbulent relationship

Bradby alleged that the unfriendly atmosphere effectively forced the Sussexes to leave “The Firm,” as the House of Windsor is referred to by the British media. “It is pretty clear to me from conversations with both sides that this exit could suit everyone, at least in terms of narrow self-interest,” Bradby added. “But there is no doubt Harry and Meghan feel they have been driven out.”

Buckingham Palace did not respond to a request from MarketWatch for comment on Bradby’s article.

The Sunday Times quoted a source close to Buckingham Palace that denied the Sussexes had been forced out as senior members of the royal family. A statement released last week by Buckingham Palace said discussions were at an early stage and would take time. (The Sunday Times is owned by News U.K., a subsidiary of News Corp., the parent company of Dow Jones, which owns MarketWatch.)

Bradby, who attended the couple’s 2018 wedding, effectively alleged that Harry walked into a public-relations trap. Harry was persuaded to commit his plans to paper and did as he was asked,” he wrote in the 1,600-word essay, “Escape from the poisonous palace.” “The document, or its details, was shortly afterwards leaked to The Sun.” After the Sussexes released their statement in the wake of The Sun’s scoop, “palace officials claimed to have been blindsided by it,” he added.

Recommended: Queen Elizabeth on Harry and Meghan: ‘We would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the royal family’

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced on Instagram

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Wednesday that they will “work to become financially independent” and move overseas. Markle left for Canada on Thursday. Harry is expected to join her when he finishes hashing out a deal on a new hybrid royal status with his father, Prince Charles; his brother, Prince William; and grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

Since their engagement three years ago, Markle has dealt with press coverage that has been described by some as both overtly and covertly racist. Newspapers reported that the queen was “disappointed” with their announcement, and had asked the couple to hold off on issuing a statement about their plans before the financials and logistics were all worked out.

On Sunday, Bradby also acknowledged that the royal scandal is more complicated than it appears: “It is quite hard to know who is right and who is wrong in this, and foolish perhaps to even try to decide. Some other members of the family say Harry and particularly his wife come across as extremely difficult. They feel they have done their absolute best to create space for the newcomer.”

“Harry and Meghan, on the other hand, find some other members of the family (with the exception of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh) jealous and, at times, unfriendly,” he added. “The fallout began at the time of the wedding in 2018. Really damaging things were said and done. The atmosphere soured hard and early, but few meaningful attempts were made by anyone to heal the wounds.”

Harry receives an income from his father, Prince Charles, but the Sussexes are expected to give that up. Harry, who is already worth several million dollars, owes his fortune to three famous women: his mother, the late Princess Diana, who became a global superstar; his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II; and his wife, Meghan Markle, an American-born self-made former actress.

Markle told Bradby’s ITV documentary that she had a difficult time adapting to life with the often critical media attention in the U.K. “I’ve really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip. I’ve tried, I’ve really tried, I think that what that does internally is probably really damaging,” she said. “The biggest thing that I know is that I never thought this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair.”

Don’t miss: ‘The fallout began at the time of the wedding.’ How Meghan and Harry’s #Megxit will make them rich beyond their wildest dreams

In his piece for The Sunday Times, Bradby offered what may be interpreted as a warning to the House of Windsor: “We just don’t know what comes next. If their co-operation in the ITV documentary was qualified honesty, what would the real deal look like? I have some idea of what might be aired in a full, no-holds-barred, sit-down interview and I don’t think it would be pretty.”

“I suspect the royal family would carry British public opinion still perhaps only just but its international standing is a key part of its value to the British state. If that were to be tarnished, it could be very damaging indeed,” he wrote, adding, “But the family urgently needs a meaningful peace deal with the young breakaway couple, because a protracted war would be very bloody indeed.”

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