United Kingdom

Royal aides want Harry and Meghan to give up their titles

Palace aides have called on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to give up their titles following Prince Harry's latest 'disgraceful' assault on the Royal Family.

In a withering condemnation of the couple's continued attacks on the Royals, senior courtiers told The Mail on Sunday of a growing sense of 'bewilderment and betrayal'.

They are particularly incensed over Harry's 'shocking' criticism of Prince Charles's parenting skills and, by implication, those of the Queen and the late Prince Philip.

'People are appalled that he could do this to the Queen when the Duke of Edinburgh is barely in his grave,' said one aide. 'To drag his grandfather into this is so shocking and disrespectful.

The Duke of Sussex waves to the crowds as he appears on stage at the Global Citizen VAX LIVE concert this month

Meghan Markle spoke to viewers of the Vax Live concert during her first TV appearance since the Oprah Winfrey interview

'The Duke of Sussex has now spent a significant amount of time emphasising that he's no different to anyone else and attacking the institution which he says has caused him so much pain. There is a growing feeling that if you dislike the institution that much, you shouldn't have the titles.'

Laying bare the toxicity that now exists between the Sussexes and the wider Royal Family, another source said: 'They should put the titles into abeyance, so they still exist, but are not used, like they agreed to do with their HRHs. 

'They should just become Harry and Meghan. And if they refuse to do that, they have to explain why not.'

While it is understood that no formal moves are planned to strip the couple of their titles, the pressure for them to be relinquished demonstrates how deep the sense of betrayal has become in the Palace.

His latest outburst means tensions are expected to be high when Harry returns to Britain for the unveiling of a new statue of his mother, Princess Diana, on July 1.

Harry has left senior Royals baffled by his 'woeful lack of compassion' in the expletive-filled 90-minute interview last week with actor and podcaster Dax Shepard. In particular, there is fury that he spoke out just a month after his grandfather's funeral.

Palace aides have called on Duke and Duchess of Sussex to give up their titles

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex wave to the crowds after their wedding at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle

The 36-year-old says he and Meghan, who are expecting their second child, moved to the millionaires' enclave of Montecito in California to break the cycle of 'genetic pain'.

'He's treated me the way that he was treated,' he said of his father. 'There's a lot of genetic pain and suffering that gets passed on anyway. Isn't life about breaking the cycle? There's no blame.

'But certainly when it comes to parenting, if I have experienced some kind of pain or suffering because of the pain or suffering that, perhaps, my father or my parents had suffered, I'm going to make sure I break that cycle so I don't pass it on.'

Referring to his father's 'unhappy' time at Gordonstoun school in Scotland – which Charles described as 'Colditz in kilts' – Harry added: 'Suddenly I started to piece it all together and go, OK, so this is where he went to school. This is what happened. I know this bit about his life. I also know that's connected to his parents. So that means that he's treated me the way that he was treated, which means how can I change that for my own kids?'

He compared life in The Firm to 'a mixture between The Truman Show and being in a zoo' – a reference to the 1998 Jim Carrey film about a man who is oblivious to the fact that his entire life is a TV show.

'I've seen behind the curtain,' he added. 'I've seen the business model. I know how this operation runs… I don't want to be part of this.'

His comments have torpedoed hopes that his reunion with Charles and Prince William at the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral last month could bring a reconciliation after the Oprah Winfrey interview in which he and Meghan accused the Royal Family of institutional racism and refusing to help the Duchess when she was suicidal.

Harry also used the interview with the US chat show host in March to describe how he felt 'really let down' by his father who, he claimed, had refused to take his calls after Megxit.

But a close friend of Charles last night said: 'If you follow Harry's logic and treat the Royals just as ordinary people, then the Prince is a single parent who's been doing his best for years. Can you imagine how it feels to have that effort judged so harshly, so publicly?

'Harry talks about compassion. But where is the compassion for his father? Where is your compassion for your own family who have just buried a much-loved member? And where is your compassion for your grandmother who has just lost the man she's loved all her life?'

Harry and Meghan agreed not to use their HRH titles when they stepped back as working members of the Royal Family, but have used Duke and Duchess on the money-spinning projects they have launched since moving to the US, including multi-million-pound deals with Netflix and Spotify.

'Their titles are obviously their biggest selling point here,' said one Hollywood producer.

'Without them they are just A-list celebrities like George Clooney. Their attractiveness is based on the allure of those titles.'

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry, Prince Charles and Prince William attending a requiem mass for Hugh van Cutsem at Brentwood Cathedral in 2013

The Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles attending the wedding of Princess Eugenie at St. George's Chapel in Windsor in 2018

Prince Harry speaks at the Global Citizen: VAX Live concert on May 8, 2021

Royal aides have expressed concern that the couple have lost touch with reality by continually focusing on themselves when millions of people have lost jobs and loved-ones during the pandemic. 

During last week's Armchair Expert podcast, Harry said he did not view his comments as 'complaining' but instead sharing a vulnerability that would have a 'positive impact' on others struggling with mental illness.

But another Royal source said: 'When people have lost jobs and loved ones, it's really not the time to be preaching from your £11 million home about how the rest of us should live.' 

Prince Charles walks behind the Duke of Edinburgh's coffin during his funeral last month

Royal aides have previously spoken of a 'genuine desire' to build bridges with the Sussexes, but noted that 'it's impossible to rebuild something while someone keeps chopping it down'.

Harry had appeared on the podcast to promote The Me You Can't See, a mental health series he has produced with Ms Winfrey, and which launches on Apple TV+ on Friday. 

During the interview, he said he felt a deeper connection 'to the emotionally free and systemic free people' he worked with in Africa and within the Commonwealth than those he met within the confines of the Palace.

Last night, a Royal aide said: 'If that is what he truly believes then why not give up the titles?'

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