A friend of the late Queen Elizabeth has dismissed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s reported decision to stop spilling royal secrets, saying the couple should have held their peace in the last months of the queen’s life when it was clear the queen was dying and was in great physical pain.
The friend’s furious response came after a story in British tabloid The Sun claimed that Harry and Meghan will stop making content slamming the royal family, with an anonymous source saying: “That period of their life is over as there is nothing left to say.”
The bereaved friend’s outraged reaction represents a rare insight into the closely guarded and highly secretive circumstances surrounding the death of Elizabeth, who died in Scotland in September 2022 as a result, The Daily Beast understands, of bone cancer.
The friend of the late queen’s told The Daily Beast: “For the last years of her life, certainly from when her husband died [in April 2021], the queen was in a lot of pain. In the final months, of course, it got very much worse; by the time of the Platinum Jubilee (June 2022), she couldn’t see very much, she couldn’t hear very much, and she was easily confused. She barely moved from her apartments in Windsor Castle. Appearing on the balcony at the jubilee required a titanic effort.
“That was the time for Harry and Meghan to bite their tongue. Instead they produced this unending stream of incredibly hurtful films and interviews attacking her life’s work. For Harry to announce he was writing a memoir when his grandmother was not just recently widowed but actually dying herself, as he must have known she was—well, the cruelty of it takes the breath away.
“The idea that they are now going to take a vow of silence after all the damage they have done, even if it was true, which I very much doubt, will do nothing to assuage the anger and disgust some of her friends feel about what they did to the queen in her final years.”
Although the palace refused to comment at the time, and her death certificate simply cited “old age,” her friend Gyles Brandreth subsequently reported that the queen had been suffering from bone marrow cancer at the time of her death. The bereaved friend told The Daily Beast they did not know the exact type of bone cancer with which the queen was afflicted, but said they saw no reason why Brandreth should be incorrect.
Bone cancer can cause severe, chronic pain and can make it difficult to move around, which would mesh with the palace’s default description of her health in the months before her death that she was suffering “episodic mobility problems.”
However, sources have told The Daily Beast that she also found it increasingly difficult to focus or concentrate on complex matters for more than a few minutes, and that the ongoing pain of her condition was partly responsible for her withdrawal from many aspects of public life. Although she was never photographed in a wheelchair, she used one regularly to get around the palace, a source previously told The Daily Beast.
Harry seemed to hint at a clear knowledge of his grandmother’s vulnerability when he told the Today show’s Hoda Kotb in an April 2022 interview, that he had visited her with Meghan and controversially said, “I’m just making sure she’s, you know, protected, and got the right people around her.” The remark irritated other members of the family who felt Harry and Meghan’s actions, including their Oprah Winfrey interview, had in fact been a major cause of unhappiness and stress for the queen.
The anger expressed by the friend in the new remarks mirrors, to some extent, a highly critical assessment of Harry’s behavior given by King Charles’ best friend, Lord Nicholas Soames, in an extraordinary interview with the London Times in the days before the coronation, that was to some extent buried by the mountain of coronation coverage.
Soames excoriated Harry for “hurtful” behavior of “the cruelest” kind toward his father, saying that publishing a memoir and giving interviews attacking the family had deeply wounded and upset the king.
Soames said: “In respect of Prince Harry… I can’t put myself in the position where my own son, if he did something like that to me, it would just be the cruelest.” Later in the interview, asked how Queen Camilla felt about Harry, Soames dodged the question saying he hadn’t discussed it with her, returning instead to how Harry’s public attacks on the family had affected Charles, saying, “Of course it was hurtful, you could see it, written all over his face. Put oneself in his position. It was just painful beyond words.”
The new claim by the bereaved friend also meshes with a report in January in the Daily Telegraph which said that Harry and Meghan’s “ambushing” of the family, “had an impact” on the queen’s health and that the prospect of the book “was playing on her mind in her last months.”
One source, described as a “friend of the late queen” told the Telegraph: “This stuff was shoved in her face on an almost weekly basis. It had an impact. She had lost Prince Philip, and then the constant ambushing of the Royal family by a much-loved grandson did take its toll. At that stage in your life and your reign, you just don’t need that on top of everything else.”
Next week, Harry’s readiness to either continue or desist from attacking his family may be tested when he becomes the first senior member of the royal family to testify in court in well over a hundred years. Harry alleges that he was subject to illegal surveillance by Mirror Group Newspapers and has claimed, in a separate suit, that he was excluded from family discussions about the issue because he was seen as a “hothead.”
He also publicly revealed that his brother was secretly paid a large cash settlement by News Group Newspapers, the Rupert Murdoch-owned publisher of The Sun, to boost his own case.
The offices of the king and Prince Harry did not respond to requests for comment.