For two weeks all eyes have been on the “difficult relationship” between royal wives Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.
However, it seems the simmering tensions between the royal brothers, William and Harry, are actually at the heart of the frostiness between the two couples, The Sun reports.
After the news broke that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were moving to Windsor because they “don’t want to live next door to William and Kate”, The Sun has now claimed that Prince Harry has accused his brother of trying to “wreck his relationship” with Meghan after he voiced concerns over her.
The publication also reports that the rift between the two couples has intensified as Harry and William compete over palace appointments. William was reportedly not happy when Harry was given the role of youth ambassador for the Commonwealth.
From being young boys united in grief to building Britain’s modern monarchy together, the brothers could not have been closer — until now.
Royal insiders still blame Meghan, claiming the problems between the two date back to when the former Suits actress, 37, appeared on the scene.
Meghan reportedly felt rejected by Kate when she tried to befriend her sister-in-law and Harry’s overprotectiveness of his wife — and refusal to see reason — is the main cause of the chasm.
“It’s my opinion that Harry feels he couldn’t protect his mother, so he’s going all out to protect his wife. This is his way of atoning,” a source told The Sun.
“He will brook absolutely no criticism of Meghan — and he is so sensitive he often sees criticism or negativity where there isn’t any.”
Of course, like any family, the brothers have locked horns before.
William, 36, was said to be furious with Harry, 34, for getting caught on camera stripping in a Las Vegas hotel room six years ago.
And their teasing about everything from who’s the most bald to the better soldier has always been rife.
But they always turned to each other when times were tough.
The first hint of friction came after William was introduced to Meghan, 37, when she was staying at Kensington Palace.
Once she’d returned home to Canada, William reportedly sat Harry down for a chat, meant as brotherly advice.
He knew Harry was already head-over-heels for the US actress but wanted him to take it slowly.
“William told his brother they knew nothing about her background, her intentions, what she was really like,” a source said.
“He just wanted to stress that becoming part of the Royal Family is a massive undertaking and the pressure and scrutiny is unrelenting. Was Meghan the right one?”
The chat apparently did not go down well.
“Harry went mental,” the source said.
“He accused his brother of trying to finish his romance before it had begun. The brothers’ relationship has not really recovered.”
The Sun understands other senior members of the family also “had concerns” and voiced them to Harry.
“A lot of people in the family objected. Who really knows what the concerns were? Was it Meghan’s background? Her father and dreadful half-sister? Because she was an outspoken American? Divorced?” another source told the publication.
“Harry stood up for Meghan very forcibly. He really loves her.”
Meghan also faced some opposition from the Middleton family, who didn’t want to invite her to Pippa’s wedding last May. They feared Meghan’s first public appearance with Prince Harry would overshadow the bride’s big day.
Eventually she was asked but chose only to go to the evening celebration.
So it was no surprise that when she moved to London last November — and her engagement to Harry was announced — she was desperate to make things work.
She hoped that in Kate, another “outsider” who had navigated the choppy waters with aplomb, she would find a natural best friend.
But Kate, 36, was recovering from terrible morning sickness in her pregnancy with Prince Louis and was busy with George, 5, and Charlotte, 3.
“Meghan hoped Kate would show her the ropes. But, equally understandably, Kate was busy. She didn’t have as much time for her as Meghan would have liked. They were at very different places in their lives,” a source explained.
“Meghan felt quite let down. She had really tried but felt rebuffed, and so just stopped trying.”
Harry did not take this lightly and spoke to William about making Meghan feel welcome.
In February, the two couples appeared on stage together for the first time to talk about their Royal Foundation charitable work, where host Tina Daheley asked them if working together as a family caused any “disagreements”.
Meghan looked down, Kate fiddled with her hair and they left it to William, who answered with a very direct: “Oh yes.”
Harry then joked that there are so many clashes that “they come so thick and fast.”
When asked if they’d been “resolved”, William jokingly replied: “We don’t know!”
Another point of contention between the two couples is Meghan’s father Thomas Markle.
Mr Markle pulled out of walking his daughter down the aisle after it was revealed he had posed for paparazzi pictures. Calm but collected, Meghan decided her team should say nothing publicly and cut him off.
However, William — having lost his mum — couldn’t understand ignoring a parent, whatever they’d done. He thought Meghan was making a mistake.
Meghan is said to be far less intimidated by the royals than might be supposed. At a recent gathering of senior family members, including Meghan, one well-placed aide remarked: “All their IQs put together would not equal hers,” according to The Sun.
She and Harry have started spending less time at Kensington Palace after taking possession of a Cotswold farmhouse in the spring.
The bolthole is used to entertain friends like Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas, Serena Williams, and George and Amal Clooney.
William and Kate also swerved a board meeting of the Royal Foundation this week, leaving Harry and Meghan to go alone.
They also missed the Christmas Party, with one insider saying: “it ‘was a shame’ they didn’t attend.”
“Not only were Harry and Meghan there, but they went to the staff Christmas party afterwards.
“It was a very jolly affair. It’s a shame that William and Catherine did not turn up.”
Next year the brothers are splitting their household, with staff choosing which prince to work for.