Prince William ‘in disbelief at what his brother has done’ as expert reveals it will be difficult for pair to repair damage

As Prince Harry and Meghan Markle face the fall out from their shock statement, the royal rebels are resolute in their decision to make a new life for themselves away from the constraints of the Royal Family.

But royal commentator Katie Nicholl exclusively tells OK! that Harry’s brother William is reeling from last week’s bombshell news and feels “deeply, deeply disappointed, very hurt and privately devastated by the way this has been handled”.

She adds, “For William, there’s a sense of disbelief at what his brother has done. It’s going to be difficult to repair the damage to their relationship.”

Harry and Meghan used their RoyalSussex Instagram account to announce their plan to “step back” as senior royals and “become financially independent” while continuing to “fully support” the Queen.

Their move signals the end of the ‘Fab Four’ and with it any hopes of seeing Harry and Meghan with William and Kate. “The hope for 2020 was that we’d see a unified royal family with the Sussexes and Cambridges teaming up again on projects,” says Katie. “Harry and Meghan have shouldered a lot of duty in the past. William and Kate will now carry that extra burden.”

Shortly after the explosive story broke, Meghan headed back to her “adopted” homeland Canada to be with her son Archie, who was being cared for by BF Jessica Mulroney, they regard their plans to split their time between North America and the UK as the “perfect compromise”.

Katie tells OK! “I don’t think LA has been completely ruled out because they were definitely looking in LA, but Canada ticks all the boxes. It’s a Commonwealth nation and that makes their strategy to work with the Royal family and represent the Queen and the Commonwealth so much easier than if they lived in America. It’s been deemed the perfect compromise by the couple.”

She adds, “They love it there too. They’re looking to escape the spotlight and to raise Archie with as ordinary an upbringing as possible. During their seven-week sabbatical in Vancouver they wanted privacy, in a beautiful location surrounded by nature and that’s what they got. Meghan has spent seven years living in the Canadian city of Toronto, and they have a ready-made friendship circle and connections out there.”

Whether their plan will be sanctioned by the palace is unclear, with the Queen on a mission for a swift split to safeguard the future of the monarchy.

“The Queen, Charles and William feel the Sussexes haven’t properly thought it through. Members of the royal family only learned about this when it was breaking on social media.”

The couple’s dreams of forging their own path wasn’t entirely a secret in the royal household and Katie confirms, “There were very early stage talks held over the phone during the Christmas period. Meghan and Harry were being listened to and there was every intention to try and accommodate their wishes. But for a reason unknown to the royals, they pressed the button and opened up a can of worms.”

She adds, “The family will do their best to try and convince Meghan and Harry that their plan needs more time, so they can map out a workable version of what they want. The Queen will make the ultimate decision, but how do you reverse something as seismic as this?”

Katie meanwhile reveals that although Charles aims to streamline the royal family in the future, he dearly wanted Meghan, 37, and Harry to stay put. “They were a necessary part of the royal machine. They’re hugely popular and the royals recognise that.”

She also notes that “nothing has been ruled in or out” concerning dropping their HRH titles. But confirming that the Sussexes will continue to live at Frogmore Cottage while in the UK with eight-month-old Archie, Katie tells OK!, “Harry has admitted there were times he wishes he wasn’t born a prince. With Meghan by his side he finally feels the confidence to break free of those royal reins.”

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