"It was, in effect, a declaration of independence," Tom Bradby said
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at Canada House on January 07, 2020 in London, England

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s bombshell decision to step back from royal life has created “a new war of the Windsors,” says journalist and author Tom Bradby, who is friends with the couple.

Speaking on his ITV News program in the immediate aftermath of the couple’s stunning announcement on Wednesday, Bradby — who toured southern Africa with the royal couple for the emotional ITV documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey — added, “It was, in effect, a declaration of independence.”

Bradby — who also interviewed the couple after their November 2017 engagement at Kensington Palace — hinted that the couple may have made their decision long before they toured South Africa, Angola, Malawi, and Botswana in the fall of 2019.

“The documentary I made with Harry and Meghan in Africa last year was inevitably only half of the story,” Bradby added on the ITV 10 O’Clock news. “I sensed at the time that what I was witnessing on that trip was possibly a long, sad farewell to this royal life; in part, to us?”

“Many people will ask why of course,” he continued. “So much privilege, so much power, so much good being done. Why leave it all behind?”

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at Canada House on January 07, 2020 in London, England
Commonwealth Day 2019
Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
| Credit: Richard Pohle - WPA Pool/Getty

Bradby himself provided part of the answer: During An African Journey the Duke and Duchess of Sussex both opened up about their treatment by the British tabloid press, with Prince Harry emotionally revealing that he thinks about the fate of his mother, Princess Diana, “Every single time I see a camera, every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash.”

When Bradby asked Meghan “how she’d found the last year,” she emotionally answered: “It is a very real thing to be going through,” adding poignantly, “Thank you for asking — because not many have.”

“A lot of old friends of the couple took that primarily to be aimed at the royal family, not the media,” Bradby said on Wednesday, before revealing that a subtle change of Buckingham Palace staff may be the real cause of the decision.

“The atmosphere has been fractious within the family ever since those close to Prince Charles pushed out the Queen’s long-standing and well-regarded private secretary Sir Christopher Geidt two years ago,” he said.

Geidt had long smoothed over any grievances between the boys and the rest of the family, particularly their father Prince Charles, with whom William and Harry have a complex relationship.

“Central authority weakened, the rest of the family increasingly doing their own thing,” Bradby said. “There have been many battles within the family since then. As an outsider, it would take the wisdom of Solomon to work out who is right, who is wrong.”

Remembrance Day
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

For now, Bradby confirmed that Harry and Meghan intend to continue with their charity commitments and their work for the Queen — particularly within the Commonwealth. This, however, will only be resolved after “intense negotiations within the royal family.”

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“Some argue Harry and Meghan were too independent, too difficult, but their friends feel they have been driven out,” Bradby said. “Those close to the couple say that if the royal family is to be slimmed down, this is the right, indeed only, step. But complicated it will be. This is a new war of the Windsors. It’s not over yet.”