Princes William and Harry deny stormy relationship

In Summary

• Queen Elizabeth and her heirs meet Prince Harry on Monday to thrash out a plan for him and his actress wife Meghan after they triggered a family crisis by deciding to step back from royal duties and spend more time in North America.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex react as they leave after their visit to Canada House in London, Britain January 7, 2020.
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex react as they leave after their visit to Canada House in London, Britain January 7, 2020.
Image: REUTERS

 Britain's Prince William and his younger brother Harry publicly denounced an "offensive" newspaper report about their relationship on Monday, as the royals met for crunch talks to discuss the future roles of Harry and his American wife Meghan.

The Times, citing an unnamed source, reported that Harry and Meghan had been pushed away by "a bullying attitude" of William who had not been welcoming to Meghan.

"Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a UK newspaper today speculating about the relationship between The Duke of Sussex and The Duke of Cambridge," said the statement issued by the offices for William and Harry.

"For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful." 

Queen Elizabeth and her heirs meet Prince Harry on Monday to thrash out a plan for him and his actress wife Meghan after they triggered a family crisis by deciding to step back from royal duties and spend more time in North America.

Harry's father and heir to the throne Prince Charles and his elder brother Prince William were to attend the meeting at the queen's rural Sandringham estate in eastern England, a palace source said.

The shock announcement by Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, has exposed divisions in the Windsor family and prompted soul-searching over what it means to be royal in the 21st century.

The couple consulted neither the queen nor Charles on the announcement, made on Instagram and their own website, a step seen as impertinent and premature by a family whose roots go back through a thousand years of European history.

Meghan is currently in Canada with their infant son Archie. She may join the discussion by telephone. She and Harry say they want a "progressive" new role for themselves and financial independence, which could mean working in the United States where Meghan is from.

But it is unclear how they will pull off a partial pullback from royal roles - which some media have dubbed "Megxit" in a play on Britain's tortuous Brexit departure from the European Union - or who will pay for a transatlantic lifestyle.

The couple's announcement has become a feast for British tabloid newspapers, with which Harry and Meghan have repeatedly clashed. Harry remains deeply affected by the hounding role the media played in the life and death of his mother, Princess Diana.

The newspapers have run a host of stories, based on quotes from unidentified royal insiders, about a split between Harry and William, the Duke of Cambridge, and anger at the top of the family amid suspicion of leaks and ostracism.