William, Harry issue statement amid UK royal family rift

SANDRINGHAM, ENGLAND (AP) — Princes William and Harry slammed a newspaper report yesterday describing a severe strain in their relationship, calling the story offensive and potentially harmful as they embark on talks regarding the future of the British monarchy.

The two brothers issued the unusual statement even as Queen Elizabeth II was set to hold face-to-face talks with Prince Harry for the first time since he and his wife, Meghan, unveiled their controversial plan to walk away from royal roles. The dramatic family summit is meant to chart a future course for the couple.

Though the statement did not name the newspaper, the Times of London has a front page story about the crisis in which a source alleged that Harry and Meghan had been pushed away by the “bullying attitude from” William. The joint statement insisted that the story was “false’.’

“For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful,” the statement said.

The meeting reflects the Queen’s desire to contain the fallout from Harry and Meghan’s decision to “step back” as senior royals, work to become financially independent and split their time between Britain and North America. The couple, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, made the announcement on Wednesday without telling the Queen or other senior royals first.

The meeting at the monarch’s private Sandringham estate in eastern England will also include Harry’s father Prince Charles and his brother Prince William. It comes after days of intense news coverage, in which supporters of the royal family’s feuding factions used the British media to paint conflicting pictures of who was to blame for the rift.