PRINCES William and Harry yesterday furiously denied ‘offensive and potentially harmful’ newspaper claims that the Duke of Cambridge had bullied his brother.
The pair issued a rare joint statement after The Times quoted a royal insider who alleged Meghan and Harry had decided to step back from their duties because of ‘what they saw as a bullying attitude from the Duke of Cambridge’.
It was also claimed the couple felt ‘tethered’ by their responsibilities in the UK and were desperate to move abroad.
The allegations follow multiple reports of a rift between William and Harry following his wedding to Meghan in 2018.
But the brothers said: ‘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.
‘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.’
Palace insiders said the comments were a reflection of how ‘deeply, deeply unhappy’ both brothers were about the report. The statement, issued before the Queen’s crunch summit to discuss Harry and Meghan’s future, did not explicitly name the newspaper concerned.
Meanwhile, sources close to William told the Daily Mail that he ‘didn’t recognise’ a quote in The Sunday Times, which reported that he had told friends: ‘I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives and I can’t do that any more — we’re separate entities.’ But the insider said the sentiments were ‘fairly close’ to his thinking.
Last October, Harry admitted during an ITV documentary that there were tensions between him and his older sibling.
He told the programme, filmed during the Sussexes’ tour of southern Africa last autumn, that he and William were now ‘on different paths’ and have ‘good days’ and ‘bad days’ in their relationship.
Reports last week claimed the brothers clashed even before Harry’s wedding when William advised his sibling to heed the advice of their mother Princess Diana not to ‘marry in haste’.
It is thought the decision to quickly deny the bullying allegations shows the brothers are keen to give the impression that things between them are amicable behind the scenes, despite their differences.
The brothers and their wives have all worked together on the Heads Together mental health campaign — backed by £3million from the Royal Foundation.
Last May the foursome helped launch a text messaging service called Shout to encourage those experiencing a ‘tough moment’ to contact trained volunteers.