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"It's not true the palace were blindsided": Inside claims Harry and Meghan were 'driven out'.

Early on Friday morning (Australian time), Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, sensationally announced that they were ditching their cushy jobs as senior Royals and becoming “financially independent”.

It seemed brave. A young, modern couple, unshackling themselves from an institution rooted in often-archaic traditions.

But according to a long-time friend of the Duke, the situation was less a case of the strong-willed youngest running away from home, and more spare-to-the-heir being shoved out the door.

ITV journalist, Tom Bradby, has known the Duke of Sussex for two decades. It was he whom Harry and Meghan chose to open up about their mental health struggles via the much-talked-about 2019 documentary, An African Journey. They are about as close as a journalist and Prince could/should get.

Watch: Meghan talks to Tom Bradby about struggling with the intense media scrutiny.

Video by ITV

And according to his account of the whole #megxit saga, the couple feared they were being “driven out” of the working Royal Family, fears that were confirmed when they took a six-week Christmas/New Year break in Canada while the others joined the Queen at Sandringham – as is tradition.

“It had been made clear to them in their absence there was going to be a slimmed-down monarchy,” he said on ITV News, “and they weren’t really a part of it.”

A leaner monarchy.

Prince Charles’ plans to streamline the monarchy aren’t new.

Ever since the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012 when the extended relos were snubbed from the traditional balcony appearance at Buckingham Palace, it’s been understood that the Prince of Wales intends to trim the fat, for the sake of the public purse and to minimise the risk of scandal surrounding the monarchy. (Case in point: Prince Andrew)

It’s been speculated that, once he takes the throne, he intends to limit working royalty to the line of succession: in other words, himself and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, plus his children and grandchildren.

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But the suggestion that Harry and Meghan are among those to be cut… well, that definitely is new.

Listen to Mamamia’s news podcast The Quicky on what happens when Royals decide not to be royal anymore.

Although, given the Duchess of Sussex is far from a favourite among key mastheads in the merciless – but hugely influential – British tabloid press (she’s been accused of being everything from ‘narcissistic’ to ‘diva-ish’), perhaps it’s not all that surprising that the Palace would choose to pull focus back to Prince William and co.

Of course, a palace aide has dismissed such claims: “It is strongly disputed that the Sussexes are not at the centre of any future slimmed-down monarchy,” the unnamed source told The Times.

Harry’s leaked plans: Bradby’s account of how it all played out.

There have been countless tellings of how and why Harry and Meghan’s announcement about stepping back and becoming “financially independent” unfolded, with anonymous insiders and ‘sources close to the couple/Palace’ claiming knowledge of tense back-and-forth phone calls and emergency meetings between members of the Royal family.

A common thread among it all has been that the Royals were rattled by the timing.

The Palace’s terse 2.5-line response (“these are complicated issues”) certainly suggested the couple’s statement may have come out of the blue.

But Bradby has said otherwise: “It’s certainly not true to say the palace were blindsided by this… I don’t think they got much heads-up as to the actual announcement, but they certainly knew what was going on.”

According to his version of events, Prince Harry contacted his family about his and Meghan’s plans to back away slowly and was asked to put his suggestions for what that would look like on paper. Bradby claims Prince Harry hesitated out of fear it would be leaked to the press.

“They were very insistent in order to go forward and discuss it properly it had to be put in writing,” Bradby said on ITV. “He did put it in writing and it did leak.”

On Tuesday British tabloid The Sun ran a story headlined “Prince Harry and Meghan could move to Canada for 2020 and ditch HRH titles after ‘feeling sidelined’ by Royals“. It contained many of the details that emerged in their statement on Friday (Thursday, UK time): from their plans to split time between Britain and Canada to reshaping their role in the Royal family.

Where that leak came from… only a few know that. But regardless of the source, there can be little doubt that the Duke and Duchess’ hand was forced.

Featured image: Getty.

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