Prince Harry felt like a “gooseberry" when third-wheeling royal engagements with Prince William and Kate Middleton, sources claim

Before Meghan came along, Harry unwillingly tagged along with the royal couple

Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Harry
(Image credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage/Future)

Before Meghan Markle (opens in new tab) entered the picture, Prince Harry (opens in new tab) apparently felt like a "gooseberry" as he was made to tag along with Prince William (opens in new tab) and Kate Middleton (opens in new tab) during events, sources claim.

  • Before he met Meghan Markle, sources have claimed that Prince Harry was often a "third wheel" on royal engagements with Prince William and Kate Middleton, leaving him feeling like a "gooseberry."
  • The arrangement allegedly put "too much pressure" on Harry and William's relationship, creating tension that predated Meghan's arrival in Harry's life.
  • In other royal news (opens in new tab), The ‘door will always be left ajar’ for Prince Harry say Buckingham Palace insiders (opens in new tab).

In the early years of Prince William and Kate Middleton's marriage, before he had met Meghan Markle, stepped back as a senior royal, moved to America and made a scathing docuseries about his family, Prince Harry was already tiring of royal life and its many engagements. 

Prince Harry was often a "third wheel," trailing along with his brother and sister-in-law on royal engagements. This arrangement worked for a while, letting Harry bond with both William and Kate, but sources who spoke to the Telegraph claim he apparently said he felt like a "gooseberry."

A source explained, "They didn’t have proper disagreements [at the time], but there were philosophical differences in the way they went about things. 

Prince William, Prince Harry and Kate Middleton

(Image credit: KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH/AFP via Getty Images)

"William was more reserved about what you should say to the media, and worried about oversharing in the way that would put pressure on other people to do the same."

According to the sources, it had been planned that Harry would work alongside William and Kate until the death of Queen Elizabeth, at which point they would separate into two households. 

Speaking about the proposed arrangement, one source said, "It puts too much pressure on their relationship. It’s not healthy."

Another source said that, by the time Meghan Markle came into his life, "Harry was tired of the dynamic that had become established between him and his older brother."

A different source added, "A lot of this predates Meghan. But it’s fair to say her arrival changed things."

Prince William, prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton

(Image credit: Paul Grover- WPA Pool/Getty Images)

It was hoped that, after Meghan's arrival onto the scene, she would join Prince Harry and be sent out with him, William and Kate, forming a royal quartet, but it was "immediately clear that their styles were too different," an aide told the Telegraph.

Subsequently, the Cambridge and Sussex households were separated.

"There was a divorce going on but the terms hadn’t been worked through," a source said. "A lot of the talk behind the scenes was, 'we need to bring these brothers back together, they’re always better together.' They were still talking, but it was tense."

And everyone knows what happened next; the royal exit, the rapidly deteriorating relationship between Prince William and Prince Harry, and the current chapter, a Netflix docuseries.

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Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse
Royal News and Entertainment writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is royal news and entertainment writer for Goodto.com. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.