Between the lines

The Palace Papers: what Tina Brown’s ‘bombshell’ book reveals about the royals

New tell-all account gives insiders’ views of palace rows and scandals

Undoubtedly the most famous family in the world, the Windsors have become accustomed to having their private affairs pored over by the press and public. 

Now a “bombshell” book containing “countless shocking claims about the royals” has promised to tell all about palace life, the Daily Mirror said, following the key players who have shaped the British monarchy in the last 25 years.

Written by former Vanity Fair and New Yorker editor Tina Brown, The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor – the Truth and the Turmoil is based on hours of interviews with more than 120 royal “insiders”. Here are five of the most scandalous revelations.

The Queen worried William was a ‘brat’

As a toddler, Prince William was reportedly an ill-behaved child and was even dubbed a “holy terror” by his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, according to Brown. 

The future king became a “cause of concern” to the Queen when he “showed signs of being a brat” as a toddler, Brown said. The monarch reportedly “complained to her husband that their grandson was ‘out of control’ and needed a stricter nanny.”

The Queen “was not amused that he loved to say: ‘When I am king, I am going to make a new rule that…’”.

At the age of four he allegedly had a habit of “yapping” at his nanny, Barbara Barnes, telling her: “No one tells me what to do! When I am king I will have you punished,” Brown wrote.

William and Harry had ‘Olympic rows’

The souring relationship between the two princes has been well documented in recent years following Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle. But the pair resented each other before then, Brown claimed, adding that their “jokey persona” when together often “concealed resentments greater than is widely known”, according to Town & Country.

One sore spot for Prince Harry was reportedly over royal patronages, as the younger brother struggled to find his place in the family after leaving the army.

“From Harry’s point of view, William was simply ‘hogging the best briefs’, a friend of both of them told me. The younger prince seemed not to have gotten the memo that the future king would always get the juiciest patronages,” wrote Brown. 

At the time, Prince Harry was reportedly a “very, very angry man” and the two brothers would have “absolutely Olympic rows” over the matter. 

Queen was blindsided by Andrew’s infamous interview

In November 2019, Prince Andrew recorded what was widely dubbed a “car crash” interview with the BBC in which he addressed his long-standing friendship with the late paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. 

Following the widespread criticism that followed, Andrew stepped back from royal duties

While the interview is reportedly a “source of regret” for Andrew, according to Town & Country, it seems he had the interview approved by the Queen “under false pretences”. Brown claimed that the interview was only cleared as his mother believed it was a discussion about his royal duties and his Pitch@Palace business initiative. 

“Expecting just that, Her Majesty, I am told by a source close to her, watched the broadcast alone in her private sitting room at Windsor after enjoying a light dinner on a tray,” Brown said. “One only hopes she did not upend her favourite champagne nightcap.”

Philip: lowering flag at Diana’s death was a ‘humiliation’

After a public outcry following the death of Princess Diana in 1997, the Queen “capitulated at last to the crowd’s and the tabloids’ demand to lower the Union Jack over Buckingham Palace”, wrote Brown. But Prince Philip saw the move as “a great humiliation”.

The relationship between Prince Philip and Diana seemed to sour after the princess gave her own tell-all interview to Panorama in 1995. During the interview, she publicly disclosed Prince Charles’s affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. 

According to royal biographer Ingrid Seward, Philip “would make himself scarce” when Diana brought Princes William and Harry to Windsor Castle, said Town & Country.

Harry and Meghan felt snubbed by Christmas broadcast 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to step down as senior royals was made after their photograph was not displayed during the Queen’s Christmas broadcast, Brown said. The pair reportedly felt that that snub symbolised that they had been “kicked to the margins of the monarchy”.

“Her Majesty eloquently made the point in her speech by saying nothing,” wrote Brown. “The subtext was all in the flotilla of carefully arranged family photographs positioned on her writing desk, a grouping that, in case anyone thinks is accidental, has been artfully changed every year since the monarch’s first televised seasonal message in 1957.”

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