Kate Middleton turns 41 on Monday — the day before her brother-in-law Prince Harry’s heavily publicized memoir “Spare” finally goes on sale.
It will probably not be the happiest of days for the princess.
“Harry and Meghan do always have a knack of picking their timing,” said one highly placed royal source who knows Prince William and Kate. The Prince and Princess of Wales, the source said, have been left “reeling” from Harry’s bombshell book.
But it wasn’t always like this. In fact, when William popped the question to Kate after eight years together, his younger brother Harry was thrilled, saying in 2010 about his brother’s wedding: “It means I get a sister, which I have always wanted.”
The woman whom Harry once spoke about in glowing terms is presented as cold and uncaring in his book, however.
“Kate, William and Harry were such best buddies, they were inseparable,” said the Wales source. “These are the words of a man so literally blinded by love he can’t see straight.”
But in “Spare,” Harry blames Kate for taking his beloved brother “Willy” away from him, writing that after their April 2011 wedding: “The brother I’d escorted into Westminster Abbey that morning was gone — forever. Who could deny it?
Contradictorily, Harry writes how he’d long dreamed of forging a working partnership with William, Kate and his own wife – even before he met and fell in love with the “Suits” star in 2016.
“I also said I couldn’t wait for them to meet her, that I looked forward to the four of us spending lots of time together, and I confessed, for the umpteenth time, that this had long been my dream — to join them with an equal partner. To become a foursome,” Harry writes.
Instead, Kate and Markle were never close friends.
From the moment her relationship with the prince was revealed, Markle was publicly compared to Kate, Britain’s future queen: the English Rose against the outspoken American actress.
Inside Harry’s new memoir
According to Harry’s book, as attention shifted to Markle, Kate felt that she was being “forced to compete with Meg.” He details how Kate “grimaced” when Markle asked to borrow some lip gloss at their first “Fab Four” event, a Royal Foundation Forum appearance in February 2018.
The Duke of Sussex writes that the outing marked the beginning of women being divided by the press after journalists “sensed” tension during the panel.
“I think it had Kate on edge while putting her and everyone else on notice that she was now going to be compared to, and forced to compete with, Meg,” Harry writes.
He adds that Kate was furious in 2018 when Markle accused her of having “baby brain” following the birth of Prince Louis and demanded that Markle apologize.
After this, Harry said the couple came together over tea at Kensington Palace in June 2018 to try and reconcile.
However, the prince alleges that Kate told her new sister-in-law: “You talked about my hormones. We are not close enough for you to talk about my hormones!”
Harry, now 38, recalls how an “offended” Kate gripped her chair so tightly that her fingers turned white.
“I can imagine Harry and William coming to blows, to be honest. I think William is quite hot-headed,” said the Wales source. “But Kate has been one of Harry’s biggest supporters, so this is really heartbreaking.”
Despite the hurtful comments, the source insisted that William and Kate won’t be torn apart by the book, saying: “They’re so united, they’re made of such strong stuff.” Still, “everyone is pretty shocked, they’re reeling. Let’s be honest, it’s been blow after blow after blow.
“It’s so disrespectful, so hurtful, and [the book is just delivering the last blow. It’s like when you’re in the boxing ring and there’s the knockout punch — there’s no way back.”
In Harry and Markle’s infamous 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Markle, now 41, confirmed that she felt she had been held to a different standard than Kate.
Winfrey shared a media story in which Kate was celebrated for cradling her baby bump — while a later story about Markle doing the same thing had the headline: “Meghan Can’t Keep Hands Off Baby Bump for Pride or Vanity.”
“I don’t know why. I can see now what layers were at play there,” Markle told Winfrey.
“[The press] really seemed to want a narrative of a hero and a villain.”
While Markle has been happy to speak out, Kate has stuck to the royal family’s oft-repeated motto – “Never complain, never explain” – and, like her husband and the rest of the relatives, remained quiet.
Markle herself claimed in the recent Netflix docu-series “Harry & Meghan” that Kate was “formal” behind closed doors.
“Even when Will and Kate came over and I was meeting her for the first time, I remember I was in ripped jeans, I was barefoot,” she said.
The Duchess of Sussex added that she has “always been a hugger” and did not realize how “jarring” it was for “a lot of Brits.”
But an insider retaliated by telling People magazine that Kate is a hugger, adding: “She is warm and friendly and greets everyone with a big hug and kiss. It comes naturally to her to be like that.”
There was also a row over the bridesmaid dress for Princess Charlotte, William and Kate’s daughter, for the Sussexes’ wedding in May 2018. While reports said that Markle made Kate cry, but Markle told Winfrey it was the other way around; Harry writes that he arrived home after the incident to find his fiancée on the floor, sobbing.
“I was horrified to see [Meghan] so upset, but I didn’t think it was a catastrophe,” he writes, downplaying the situation. “Indeed the next morning Kate came by with flowers and a card that said she was sorry.”
As Page Six has written before, Kate has a strong family support with her parents, Carole and Mike Middleton, as well as her sister, Pippa, and brother, James, and the family has embraced William. Harry, meanwhile, seems to have bonded with Markle’s mother, Doria.
Asked about what Harry’s book means for his relationship with William and Kate, the source who knows the Welsh said: “I hope there will have been moments of conscience for Harry when he was writing this. I think there was a moment when people thought it would be a smarter, less provocative, less tabloid book, but here we are.”