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Royal Reporters Chart Harry And Meghan's Journey In 'Finding Freedom'

Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, wave to crowds outside Windsor Castle after their wedding in May 2018.
Aaron Chown
WPA Pool/Getty Images
Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, wave to crowds outside Windsor Castle after their wedding in May 2018.

Travel with me for a moment, back to happier times. It's May 19, 2018, in a live broadcast from St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, 16 months after they first met, a handsome British prince marries a beautiful American actress in a ceremony unlike any previous royal wedding. (They had a gospel choir!)

/ Dey Street Books
Dey Street Books

Ah how lovely it all was — how sweet and happy they were.

Within a year, there's a baby. Within two years, there's a rupture, a big one — the Duke and Duchess of Sussex decide royal life isn't for them.

It's a whirlwind story detailed in the new book, Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family, by longtime royal beat reporters Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand.

"I think time and time again, we felt that there were sides of the story that were often missing," Scobie says. "The mission here was really to paint a different perspective of a story that many feel that they already know."

The Duke and Duchess say they were not interviewed for the book and did not contribute to it — though many royal watchers are skeptical. But Durand says, "Harry and Meghan have made a statement about the book. I think that's quite clear."

Interview Highlights

On Meghan Markle's personality

Carolyn Durand: Megan is quite driven. She's focused. She's absolutely passionate about her charitable and humanitarian work. She's someone that Harry had really found a kindred spirit in when they met and they fell in love. once the two become a couple.

On whether the tabloid treatment of the duchess was a wake-up call for Prince Harry

Omid Scobie: Well, I think Harry's journey to wokeness has been very public. We've sort of seen him learning and educating himself along the way. But, you know, this experience of witnessing Meghan face racist remarks and commentary would have been the first time that he ever saw someone in his life, or someone that he was particularly close to, affected by it in a certain way.

And, you know, we talk about some of the more obvious examples in some of the media coverage. But I think the things that have flown under the radar are some of the sort of othering of Megan that we've seen. We've sort of seen her repeatedly, that she's "not one of us." And now what do they mean by "not one of us"? And I think there are things like that, which Harry's really had to become more attuned to, and learn to see when it happens in front of him. And Meghan would have been the person that guided him on that journey.

On tensions between Princes Harry and William

Scobie: It's one of the early stories to come out of this book was this conversation that took place between Harry and William, where William seemingly gives sort of brotherly advice to Harry about sort of perhaps watching the speed at which his relationship with Meghan was progressing. And I think there have been some people who have commented that that might have been a moment where Harry was too sensitive. But I think we need to really look at the overall picture here and what led up to that moment. Harry was already aware of some of the murmurings that were taking place behind his back within the royal household about Meghan. He'd also experienced some of his own friends speaking about Meghan or making negative remarks behind her back, that word had traveled back to him about. So when William sat down and had that conversation with him, that was the starting point.

On the supposed rivalry between Meghan and Kate Middleton

Durand: Well, I think that, you know, as women, we see this all the time where we try and pit two women against each other. And certainly that narrative of dueling duchesses was attractive to the U.K. tabloids.

Scobie: But, of course, what we did find along the way was a friendship between the two that never really progressed, that never reached a place of great warmth or depth. And I think that's something that Meghan really longed to have happen.

On what led to the decision to step back as working royals

Durand: Harry really was looking out for his family. His wife felt aggrieved, and they thought that the best decision that they could make was step back, have a little bit more privacy, but still be in a situation where they could carry on. Their mission [is] to devote themselves to the causes that were so important to them.

On how they'll support themselves now

Scobie: I think it's quite funny when we hear people talking about, will they have enough money or not? Firstly, Harry is, of course, a very wealthy individual. He brings that to the picture — as well, Meghan, already an accomplished actress, probably living very comfortably off royalties coming in from Suits. It's still one of the most-streamed shows on Netflix. But of course, they do have a proper working model laid out for them. Up ahead, we've seen them sign on as smart speakers with the Harry Walker Agency. What's important to note is despite all the rumors or the reports about them cashing in on their royal titles, really the work that they do continues as normal. Everything they do will continue to have that same social impact that it had before. And that's really the most important thing to them.

This story was edited for radio by Danny Hensel and Melissa Gray, and adapted for the Web by Petra Mayer.

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Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.