Prince Harry has angered many inside the palace with the disclosures in his memoir, Spare, but his decision to include a conversation between Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton in the run-up to Harry and Meghan’s wedding could be the most controversial. In describing the now-infamous bridesmaid’s dress incident, Harry included a few terse words from Kate about how Princess Charlotte cried over her ill-fitting dress, along with a few responses from Meghan looking for a solution.
Last week, sources close to Prince William told Vanity Fair that he was angry that Harry had turned on Kate, whom he was once close with, and for revealing that Charlotte was in tears. This week, a royal insider told Us Weekly that Buckingham Palace “does not love” that the private messages have been made public. “They claim it’s just part of the story, and in any event, it’s egregious of Harry to publish these abbreviated excerpts,” the insider continued, adding that the texts “clearly show that there are two sides” to every story. “Harry feels strongly it’s important to get the true account of what happened out there.”
It’s worth noting that in Spare, Harry doesn’t say he is sharing any text messages verbatim, only the fact that Kate and Meghan had texted about the issue with the dresses. Then, he writes, “They set up a time to speak that afternoon.” The words that follow, which some outlets have quoted as text messages, are actually snippets from the conversation that Harry subsequently implies he didn’t witness. The confusion seems to stem from a Page Six report from the day before the book was released, and a subsequent Daily Mail graphic that recreated them onto an iPhone to illustrate the story.
Still, it’s clear that Harry is unveiling the details of private conversations, which has been the main driver of criticism against him. Now, conversation about the bridesmaid incident is growing exponentially. We even got some input from Ajay Mirpuri, the tailor on standby to alter the dresses, who told the Daily Mail that he didn’t see a fight but did fix all six dresses. Obviously, thrumming underneath the outcry about certain segments of the book is a real frustration that we’re litigating all of this again. Let’s call this “bridesmaid-incident fatigue.”
It’s understandable to feel tired of this by now. It all happened a long time ago, and Meghan and Harry will be celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary in May. The world didn’t first hear hints about the incident until six months after their wedding, and Vanity Fair’s first article about the controversy ran over 1,500 days ago, in November 2018. In his interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby earlier this month, Harry had a fairly straightforward reason for rehashing it again. “There’s been over 25 versions of that story now,” he said, but for years, they weren’t disputed by the palace. “My understanding is the reason they didn’t want to come out and say it wasn’t true would therefore lead to, Well, if it wasn’t that, was it the other way round? When, in fact, you didn’t need to confess that it was the other way round.”
In the book, Harry expands on his motivations for sharing the story, and based on his explanation, there’s a case to be made that the bridesmaids incident is actually the crucial moment for understanding why Harry is so angry at his family, specifically William, King Charles III, and Queen Consort Camilla. It’s less about the substance of the incident itself—of course, it’s not at all vital to know about Charlotte’s original reaction to the dress—but about who knew it happened and how it got out.
In Spare, Harry first tells the story of the initial conversation, then says that later he “arrived home and found Meg on the floor sobbing,” adding that Kate visited the next day “with flowers and a card that said she was sorry.” He returns to the event later, after the original story that mentioned it ran in The Telegraph. Harry writes that Meghan hadn’t read the story but she did hear about it, and it upset her that the story claimed that she made Kate cry when the opposite was true. “As long as I live,” he writes, “I’ll never forget the tone of her voice as she looked me in the eye and said: Haz, I made her cry? I made HER cry?”