Prince Harry’s childhood friends thought he was “nuts” for dating Meghan Markle after she called the group out on jokes involving sexism, feminism, and transgender people, an excerpt from an upcoming book claims.
Royal biographer Tom Bower is the author behind “Revenge: Meghan, Harry, and the War between the Windsors,” set to be released in the UK on Thursday. On Sunday, a snippet of the book focused on tensions in the relationship between the Duchess of Sussex and Harry’s school friends was published by The Times of London.
According to the excerpt written by Bower, whose Curtis Brown author profile describes him as having written “highly critical unauthorized biographies,” Markle joined Harry on a long weekend in Sandringham along with 16 of his close friends soon after news of their relationship went public in September 2017.
The group, who are not identified by Bower but whom he says were mostly Harry’s friends from his time at Eton boarding school, took part in a shooting weekend. “Like other shooting weekends, Harry was looking forward to endless banter, jokes — and a lot of drinking,” Bower wrote.
The author goes on to write that Harry had not anticipated Meghan’s reaction to the topics of the group’s jokes.
“Their jokes involving sexism, feminism and transgender people ricocheted around the living-rooms and dining-rooms. Without hesitation, Meghan challenged every guest whose conversation contravened her values,” he wrote, according to The Times of London. “According to some of Harry’s friends, again and again she reprimanded them about the slightest inappropriate nuance. Nobody was exempt.”
Representatives for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. However, Markle and Harry have shown a history of supporting LGBTQ people, including paying tribute to the community during Pride Month 2019.
Harry also previously made his stance toward sexism clear when he said the phrase “Megxit,” used often used to describe the couple’s decision to step back from royal life, was misogynistic toward his wife.
Bower says in The Times excerpt that Markle’s decision to call out these jokes left Harry’s friends questioning her and their relationship. “Meghan was a dampener on the party, they concluded. She lacked any sense of humour. Driving home after Sunday lunch, the texts pinged between the cars: ‘OMG what about HER?’ said one; ‘Harry must be f—–g nuts,'” Bower wrote.
Despite the reported tension between the group and Markle, Bower said she later joined Harry at his close friends Thomas Inskip’s wedding in Jamaica in November 2017. Some of those in attendance said she acted “princessy” and wasn’t interested in them, the author added, according to The Times.
“Their suspicion of Meghan increased; the sentiment was mutual. Meghan disliked Inskip and his crowd. Their jokes and their attitude towards the world seemed unacceptable to her,” Bower wrote. It’s unclear from the excerpt what Inskip’s role, if any, was in the jokes previously made, or whether he was in attendance at the Sandringham shooting weekend. Insider was unable to reach Inskip for comment.
It’s not the first time reports about Markle’s relationship with Harry’s friendship group have circulated. In 2019, royal biographer Angela Levin said on the CBS special, “Harry and Meghan Plus One,” that the Duchess of Sussex was “not popular” with his inner circle, who believed she “was running the show.”
Insider’s Mikhaila Friel spoke with royal commentator and former editor of The International Who’s Who, Richard Fitzwilliams, about the alleged rift, who said it could be tied to her healthy, modern lifestyle that Harry adopted after they met in 2016.
“I think these reports are linked to the undoubted fact that Harry has changed and that Meghan’s new-age lifestyle suits him perfectly these days,” Fitzwilliams said.
“From embracing feminism to practicing mediation, she has changed him, and she is also a strong presence,” he added. “She is what he needed, and he has shared some of the problems he faced over the last 20 years openly with us.”