It’s a rumor that hasn’t reared its ugly head since 2019 — but Meghan Markle’s explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey and the revelations she and Prince Harry shared about the royal family’s failure to offer them any basic protection from the media or otherwise are forcing us to look back on a royal theory that once loomed large. In early 2019, rumors began to spread — quietly — that Prince William had been cheating on Kate Middleton during her last pregnancy with once-good friend Rose Hanbury, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley, whom the Cambridge couple had been noted to be seeing less of by that spring. Wherever tidbits pertaining to this alleged affair did appear, though, they often seemed to disappear soon thereafter, prompting inquiring minds at the time to wonder what invisible hand might be reaching out and silencing these rumors. When In Touch published an article on the rumors that April, the hand became more visible: William’s legal team reached out to any UK outlets repeating similar details and threatened them with legal action. So, tell us again how the royal family couldn’t keep Meghan Markle’s personal life out of the tabloids?
While Harry and Meghan told Oprah that royals offered them nothing more than the advice to “lay low” when the most damaging coverage of Meghan was being splashed across the front page (and the Duchess was far from out and about), it seems that William had far more protection at his disposal when it came to rumors that damaged him and his family. Notably, William had the privilege of launching a counterattack before his rumors were even allowed to become headline news in the UK, rather than Harry and Meghan’s forced option of litigating damaging headlines retroactively.
In the Oprah interview, Prince Harry points out why he thinks Princess Diana and Meghan Markle were both rejected by the royal family.https://t.co/nDKZhljYLU
— SheKnows (@SheKnows) March 8, 2021
Given the UK’s stricter libel laws than those in the US, In Touch was the first to publish a cover story on William’s alleged affairs, which allowed the Prince to put out something of a pre-emptive strike on UK outlets following suit via his legal team. His lawyers sent out warnings about these “false and damaging allegations” and noted it would be an invasion of the royal’s privacy to repeat these claims — even a Sunday Times reporter deleted his tweet confirming that “everyone knows about the affair” after suspected intervention from William.
Daily Mail, hardly known for their propensity for dispelling rumors, ran a counter-story denying the cheating allegations too, for many a clear sign that the royals had invested in a PR campaign to keep this story from ever being legitimized. And to be clear: we’re in no way bashing the dispelling of false rumors that ought to be clarified. In fact, this is exactly what Harry wanted them to step up and do for Meghan. These affair rumors are coming up again not as an attempt to paint William in a bad light, but to prove the royal family’s true power to control the tabloid narrative — when it wants to.
When it came to Meghan Markle, the royal institution told the Sussexes it couldn’t help. Looking around them, the Sussexes simply felt that wasn’t true.
Before you go, click here to see things you never knew about Kate Middleton before she met Prince William.