New revelations that Kate was the one behind the Royal Family’s famous Oprah fightback statement show that she is the real steely operator in the Palace, sources say.
Details of how the late Queen approved the subtle but firm comeback to Harry and Meghan’s toxic attack on the monarchy – using the phrase ‘recollections may vary’ – have emerged in a book by royal correspondent Valentine Low.
A draft palace statement initially did not include the famous expression, and was a ‘much milder version’, though the Prince and Princess of Wales were said to have demanded it be ‘toughened up a bit’.
While Kate was ‘right behind’ her husband, it was said that she was even more firm than him on the matter.
When a courtier first suggested the ‘recollections may vary’ phrase – which was hailed as a classic iron-fist-in-velvet-glove royal manoeuvre – at least two palace officials argued against it in case it riled Harry and Meghan further.
New revelations that Kate was the one behind the Royal Family’s famous Oprah fightback statement show that she is the real steely operator in the Palace, sources say
Kate, pictured with Meghan Markle, was said to have ‘pressed home the argument’ that the famous ‘recollections may vary’ phrase should remain
But it was Kate, then the Duchess of Cambridge, ‘who pressed home the argument that it should remain’, Mr Low’s book says.
He quotes a source as saying: ‘It was Kate who clearly made the point, ‘History will judge this statement and unless this phrase or a phrase like it is included, everything that they have said will be taken as true’.’
The source said it was an example of how Kate is often far steelier than she appears: ‘She does not get as much credit as she should, because she is so subtle about it.
‘She is playing the long game. She has always got her eye on, ‘This is my life and my historic path and I am going to be the Queen one day’.’
Author Claudia Joseph recently revealed how lines of strong, indomitable women run through both sides of Kate’s family history.
Hers is a story featuring poverty and hardship in the Durham coalfields and in the working-class suburbs of London. There was also privilege, too, and links to high society.
The central theme, however, is one of strong, matriarchal figures.
Kate’s mother, Carole, made sure her three children had the best possible start in life.
She got her drive and ambition from her own mother, Dorothy Goldsmith, who set her family on the road from poverty to prosperity – earning the affectionate nickname ‘Lady Dorothy’ along the way.
Kate’s indomitable great-grandmother Edith Goldsmith was another tough woman, who smoked 20 Woodbines a day and brought up six children in Southall, then a working-class suburb for railway depot workers in west London.
Widowed in 1938, Edith was left to bring up her two youngest children – Joyce, then 13, and Kate’s grandfather Ronald, then six – in a condemned flat, juggling work at a nearby Ticklers jam factory.
Carole Middleton, Catherine’s mother, gave birth to her eldest daughter in January 1982
Dorothy Goldsmith, Carole Middleton’s mother, is pictured here at the christening of her granddaughter. Aspiring women feature on both sides of Kate’s family
Kate’s maternal great-grandmother Edith Goldsmith, pictured with dog Bonnie, had struggled to make ends meet as a widowed mother of six, but held the family together
The Middleton family tree: lines of indomitable women run through both sides of Kate’s family
And another of the Princess’s great-grandmothers, Olive Lupton, who died 45 years before Kate was born, had worked to ensure her family left behind the horrors of the First World War.
Kate’s second cousin Kim Sullivan said: ‘Prince William is a lucky man because Kate comes from a family of strong women. Hopefully, the country will benefit from her strength of character in the years to come.’
A global racism storm was sparked after the Sussexes claimed that, when Meghan was pregnant with Prince Archie, there had been ‘concerns’ expressed at the palace about his possible skin colour.
The shock allegation triggered crisis talks at Buckingham Palace, during what was a difficult time already with Prince Philip seriously ill in hospital.
Meghan told Oprah she had phoned the Queen to check his condition as he spent almost a month in hospital while being treated for an infection. He died ‘peacefully’ around a month later.
A team of courtiers had stayed up overnight on Sunday to watch Meghan and Harry’s interview which was screened on US TV in the early hours of the morning UK time.
And although senior officials locked in conference calls had debated how to respond, with a draft statement ready by 2pm, the palace remained silent.
An insider reveals in Mr Low’s book: ‘One of the reasons was that the late Queen was adamant that she was going to watch the programme first.’ That meant waiting until it was broadcast on ITV on Monday evening.
And so it was on the Tuesday when the serious negotiations began over the official response to Harry and Meghan – with William and Kate leading the fightback.
According to Mr Low’s book, being serialised in The Times: ‘They sat together on a sofa as they discussed with their officials how to deal with the Sussexes’ incendiary allegations.’
Meghan also alleged in the bombshell Oprah interview that it was Kate who made her cry, not the other way around, as had been widely reported previously.
The Duchess of Sussex went on to say that she had forgiven Kate and revealed she had bought her flowers to apologise about the incident.
While Kate was ‘right behind’ William, it was said that she was even more firm than him on the matter. Pictured: The Prince and Princess of Wales at the Queen’s Lying in State last September
The book says: ‘William and Kate were clear which side of the debate they were on. ‘They wanted it toughened up a bit’.’ Pictured: The Sussexes and Wales’ at Windsor Castle following the Queen’s death last year
A global racism storm was sparked after the Sussexes claimed in an interview to Oprah Winfrey (pictured) that, when Meghan was pregnant with Prince Archie, there had been ‘concerns’ expressed at the palace about his possible skin colour
The row with Prince William’s wife made headlines around the world after a supposed falling out over dresses for the flower girls.
Reports of the clash between the duchesses first emerged in November 2018, when sources claimed Meghan had been left displeased with the ‘stressful’ fitting.
Accounts differ as to whether the cause of the row was a disagreement on whether the bridesmaids should wear tights – Meghan reportedly believed they should not – or whether it stemmed from Princess Charlotte’s dress not fitting.
A source said at the time: ‘Kate had only just given birth to her third child, Prince Louis, and was feeling quite emotional.’
The extraordinary revelations about Kate’s role in the palace’s response to Harry and Meghan’s interview comes as William and Harry both gave separate speeches congratulating the winners of the Diana Awards during a virtual ceremony shared online on Friday.
The Prince of Wales featured first during the 43-minute online event by praising the ‘courage, compassion and relentless dedication’ shown by the young people who had been honoured.
The Duke of Sussex, who is at war with his brother over the fallout from Megxit, appeared twenty minutes later alongside a former award winner to speak about the importance of joining together with other campaigners because ‘no one is a conduit for change alone’.