Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's split from the royal family has become an all-out war ahead of their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey.

But were there signs from the start that the break-up - famously dubbed 'Megxit' - was almost "inevitable", as some experts claim?

Royal commentators have argued that the clues Harry, 36, wanted to leave were there even before Meghan, 39, came on the scene in 2016.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussexes' relationship with the royal family has deteriorated further even after the pair announced they were stepping back from public life in early 2020.

This week, Buckingham Palace said it will probe allegations of bullying thrown at Meghan in an unprecedented public move.

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Was there evidence the couple were unhappy right from the start?
Was there evidence the couple were unhappy right from the start?

It has been reported that Meghan had treated staff badly while she was a working royal, which forced two to quit their jobs and a third to lose their confidence.

She denies the claims and a spokesman has labelled them a smear.

The twists and turns have come just days before the Sussexes sit down with Oprah tomorrow evening, in which the couple are expected to talk about a wide range of issues, including 'Megxit'.

In a dramatic clip released this week, the duchess said she could not be expected to be silent about palace life if the royal family was "perpetuating falsehoods" about her.

The row has also emerged as Prince Philip, 99, remains in hospital after receiving surgery for a pre-existing heart condition.

The couple's split from The Firm shocked many when it was announced in 2020, but experts have argued there were always signs it was likely - or even "inevitable".

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry during their Oprah interview
Meghan and Harry have agreed to do a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey about their time in the palace

Victoria Howard, founder of royal news site The Crown Chronicles, told the Evening Standard : "It was always inevitable that this would be how it ended.

"Harry and Meghan have carved quite a niche for themselves in the US already. I think they are not going to be held back by this, it's more the personal side.

"People are rooting for them to do well and want them to be happy. They weren't and that's why it ended up the way it did."

Robert Lacey, author of 'Battle of the Brothers', echoed the idea on the Mirror podcast 'Pod Saves the Queen' - and put forward that Harry may have been considering a split even before Meghan.

The couple are expecting their second child together

He said: "There are factors that made it tending towards inevitable.

"As we know, because he's said so, Harry doesn't like what happened being called Megxit, because he’s actually said for the record, 'this was my decision, not my wife’s decision’."

Body language expert Judi James, like Mr Lacey, believes Harry always wanted to leave The Firm - and that Meghan's arrival presented him with the perfect opportunity.

Judi said: "It is possible that Harry was always destined to leave the royal family and that in Meghan he found the perfect catalyst to help him lead the life he needed, both mentally and emotionally.

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"Meghan was the ‘breath of fresh air’ the Firm needed, but being a ‘breath of fresh air’ for the royals means changing the wallpaper in the guest bedrooms, not stepping up and speaking out.

"The coded signs that pointed towards Harry’s future new life in the US - that he optimistically describes as 'stepping back, not stepping down' - have been visible for many decades though.

"And, like the tragic breakdown of the marriage of Harry’s parents, many of them have been visible in the body language rather than voiced in actual words."

Judi now has looked back at some of their public appearances and shared her opinions on whether 'Megxit' was predestined.

Judi believes a sibling rivalry could have played a part
Judi believes a sibling rivalry could have played a part

Check out our timeline below:

Sibling rivalry

Judi believes that Harry's desire to leave the royal family goes back even further than Meghan and can be traced, in part, to a supposed breakdown in his relationship with Prince William.

She said: "Would Harry ever have quit the UK if his relationship with William hadn’t broken down?

"The strong historic relationship between William and Harry seemed to thrive on competitiveness and the typical sibling banter.

"But that banter did begin to suggest the threat of future rifts as Harry moved to independent adulthood while his brother played the role of critical parent.

"A competitive Harry had to grow up and create his own power-base but with a brother moving steadily to the throne that might never have been seen as possible."

'The Diana Factor' - 2017

Judi believes Harry had a desire to protect his wife after his mum Diana's experiences with the paparazzi
Judi believes Harry had a desire to protect his wife after his mum Diana's experiences with the paparazzi

Judi picked the couple's Invictus Games appearance in 2017 as an early example of their unhappiness with the media attention.

She said: "[Harry's] desire to protect Meghan from any of the intrusion that had occurred with Diana was apparent in Harry’s body language from the early days of their relationship.

"At the Invictus Games in 2017 the emotions between the pair looked obvious but with the cameras present a side of Harry was emerging that we got to see repeatedly prior to his move to the US.

"Walking with Meghan on a private outing we can see echoes of Diana’s first press encounters when she was hounded in the street.

"Harry’s deadpan, dipped eye expression and sucked-in lips shows a dislike of the photographers and he has tucked Meghan slightly behind him and beneath his arm in a 'wing-shaped' protection gesture."

Engagement photocall - 2017

Judi believes Harry tried to hide at points during the engagement photocall
Judi believes Harry tried to hide at points during the engagement photocall

The couple announced their engagement in November 2017, after 15 months of dating.

But Judi says that Harry and Meghan looked uneasy - hinting at a different future.

She said: "There were subtle body language signs that it was Meghan doing the motivating here with a rather more press-reluctant Harry.

"Harry’s barrier rituals were almost constant, with his right arm held across his waist and at one point his right hand tucked partly inside his jacket in what looked like a desire to hide rather than perform.

"Meghan, meanwhile, showed a capacity for a more maternal-looking approach, placing one loving, possessive hand on Harry’s chest and even rubbing his arm in what looked like a gesture of reassurance.

Judi added Meghan would grow to become more protective, as seen in her mannerisms in the recent Oprah clips.

The 'Fab Four' launch - 2018

Harry, Meghan, William and Kate were dubbed the 'Fab Four'
Harry, Meghan, William and Kate were dubbed the 'Fab Four'

Harry and Meghan's first official engagement with Prince William, 38, and wife Kate Middleton, 39, saw the quartet - dubbed the 'Fab Four' - take the stage at a Royal Foundation launch event.

Judi says that Meghan's star power on stage showed a different future for the couple, so she could escape the "red tape".

She said: "The launch of this new royal team saw that ‘team’ sink without trace almost before it had got off the blocks.

"When Meghan spoke, she was a show-stopper, giving a brief CV of her experience working with causes and campaigns and speaking with pace, energy and a sense of urgency to get things done and achieve change.

"How all that energy was ever going to sit within the slow-moving traditions of royal protocol was anyone’s guess.

"Meghan had been given the platform to achieve change but she had also inherited rules and red tape to prevent it."

Meghan's meetings with the Queen - 2018

Judi believes that Meghan wasn't prepared to play a "role for life"
Judi believes that Meghan wasn't prepared to play a "role for life"

Judi says she believes that Harry and Meghan prefer to announce events in their own style - like their recent baby photo.

She thinks that Meghan struggled with directions from other royals, including the Queen, so struck out on her own.

Judi said: "You can only imagine any modern woman being taken aside and shown how to act and move in public by her grandmother-in-law.

"For a grown woman in her late thirties with a successful career under her belt, her smiles might have belied the challenge that she felt.

"As an actress Meghan must have taken all the body language rules in her stride but this wasn’t a role in 'The Crown' where she could switch off, it was a role for life.

"The barefoot in the grass baby announcement photos in the US probably reveal the kind of body language the couple prefer to use."

Breaking with baby tradition - 2019

Judi said the photocall "did seem to fly in the face of royal tradition"
Judi said the photocall "did seem to fly in the face of royal tradition"

Meghan gave birth to baby Archie in May 2019.

There were claims at the time that she and Harry had coordinated the photocall after the birth for US television, although this was denied.

But Judi says: "There was a feeling at the time of Archie’s birth that Harry and Meghan were beginning to do things their own way and on a more global scale.

"[The photocall] did seem to fly in the face of royal tradition.

"It was Harry cradling the baby throughout while Meghan appeared to stand guard in a more protective role over her ‘two boys’."

Meeting celebrities - 2019

The Sussexes mingled with celebrities on the red carpet at 'The Lion King' premiere
The Sussexes mingled with celebrities on the red carpet at 'The Lion King' premiere

The Sussexes stepped out onto the red carpet for the premiere of 'The Lion King' in July 2019.

The pair, who lent their support to film's conservation campaign #ProtectThePride, were seen greeting celebrities - when Meghan made a choice comment.

This provided a "big verbal clue" about the couple's plans, according to Judi.

She said: "Watching her with celebrity ‘royals’ like Beyonce in the US, it was easy to see Meghan was more comfortable with the tactile approach of hugs, hand-holding and other signs of open affection and approval.

"As Meghan clearly basks in the motivational encouragement, flattery and support in this Hollywood line-up, she appears to provide a big verbal clue about problems in the UK, voicing her pain when she says ‘Thank you, they don’t make it easy’.

The moment of truth - 2019

Meghan Markle spoke to ITV journalist Tom Bradby in 2019
Meghan Markle spoke to ITV journalist Tom Bradby in 2019

An interview with ITV journalist Tom Bradby saw Meghan get emotional when asked if she was 'okay'.

Judi believes this was the 'moment of truth' from which the Sussexes would eventually leave the royal family.

She said: "The moment the royal masks dropped to provide what might have been a ‘no going back’ turning point was during the Tom Bradbury interview in South Africa.

"Having brought us to tears with footage of young women and children leading the most dreadful lives, Harry and Meghan then turned the spotlight back onto themselves for a dramatic ‘reveal’ of what looked like hidden agonies.

"The royal mantra of ‘Never explain, never complain’ appeared well and truly smashed here and, with what appeared to be no suggestion of hope about healing or coping, a return to ‘business as usual’ seemed unlikely."

Meghan and Harry's interview will be screened on CBS at 1am UK time on Monday, March 8. It will be shown for a UK audience at 9pm later the same day.