Finding Freedom details everything from their first date to their decision to step down as working royals

By Stephanie Petit
August 11, 2020 09:49 AM
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are the subjects of a new book that sheds light on the couple's quest for "freedom."

The buzzy new book Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family was published in the U.S. on August 11, revealing new details on everything from the couple's first date to their decision to step down as working royals for a new life in Los Angeles with 1-year-old son Archie.

Authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand conducted 100 interviews with "those who know Harry and Meghan best, close friends and even Buckingham Palace aides," Scobie said during an appearance on Good Morning America. He also denied claims Harry and Meghan were involved with the book. (A spokesperson for the couple said in a statement, “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed and did not contribute to Finding Freedom. This book is based on the authors’ own experiences as members of the royal press corps and their own independent reporting.")

Check out the biggest revelations from the new book below.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Press Association/AP Images

Their First Date Details 

Meghan and Harry's blind date took place at Soho House's Dean Street Townhouse in London. A source told Scobie and Durand that the future Duke and Duchess of Sussex chatted over drinks for nearly three hours. The night ended with each going their separate ways without a kiss.

"Almost immediately they were almost obsessed with each other," a friend told the authors. "It was as if Harry was in a trance."

They returned to the same spot for dinner the following night, sneaking into a staff entrance and being waited on by one staff member to ensure privacy.

"Harry knew they would be together at that point," the friend said. "She was ticking every box."

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty

Prince Harry's Secret Instagram Account

Shortly after the couple's first date in London, Meghan began following the account @SpikeyMau5 — featuring a profile photo of a mouse-shaped helmet — on Instagram. Turns out, this was Prince Harry's secret social media page. The name combines his nickname "Spike" with one of his favorite DJs, Deadmau5.

Who Said "I Love You" First

Three months into their relationship, which included secret dates and flights across the Atlantic Ocean between Meghan's Toronto home and Harry's base in London, Prince Harry was first to tell Meghan "I love you." She immediately replied, "I love you too."

Meghan's Controversial Necklace

In the early days of her romance with Prince Harry, Meghan was photographed in an Ani + Wren 14-carat gold chain bearing the initials "H" and "M." In the new book, the authors report that the necklace sparked blowback from palace aides.

"She was advised that wearing such a necklace only served to encourage the photographers to keep pursuing such images — and new headlines," Scobie and Durand write.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Meghan Meets William

Meghan was ready to be "grilled" by her future brother-in-law — however, William reportedly said, "I was looking forward to meeting the girl who has put that silly grin on my brother’s face."

Controversy Surrounding Prince Harry's Statement

Prince Harry issued a rare, personal statement both confirming that he was dating Meghan and slamming what he called racist and sexist abuse she has endured since their relationship was revealed. Harry insisted on releasing it despite that his father, Prince Charles, was on an official trip to Bahrain (the statement dominated the news cycle for days). Charles was made aware of the statement just 20 minutes before it was released.

Meghan Meets Kate

Kate and Meghan first met during a visit to Kate and Prince William's Kensington Palace home, but Kate is an "extremely guarded person" who keeps a tight group of friends, a friend explains in the book. Tensions were eased by a birthday gift Meghan gave to Kate, a soft leather Smythson notebook, and Meghan's adoration for Princess Charlotte.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Samir Hussein/WireImage

Prince William's Concerns

Prince William cautioned his younger brother against moving too fast in his relationship with Meghan, provoking hard feelings.

"Don’t feel like you need to rush this," William told Harry, according to sources in Finding Freedom. "Take as much time as you need to get to know this girl" — and Prince Harry reportedly took offense to William calling Meghan "this girl."

"Harry was pissed off," another source said. "Pissed off that his brother would ask such a thing. Some felt it was an overreaction. But then, this totally sums them up as people—William the calm and rational one, and Harry, who can’t help but take things far too personally."

Pippa Middleton's Wedding

When Kate's younger sister got married in 2017, Prince Harry planned to bring Meghan as his date — she had even picked out an outfit and Philip Treacy hat specially for the occasion. However, after a tabloid story comparing Pippa and Meghan's backsides, it was decided that Meghan would skip the ceremony. She did, however, quietly attend the reception.

Their Invictus Games Secret

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Danny Lawson/PA Images/INSTARimages.com

The couple made their public debut at the Toronto Invictus Games in September 2017 after over a year of dating, holding hands and smiling as they headed to watch wheelchair tennis. But there was a secret reason for their look of love: they were already engaged, according to the new book.

Meghan hinted at the big news in a subtle way — she wore a classic white button-down shirt dubbed the "Husband Shirt" from her designer friend Misha Nonoo's collection — yet their secret went undetected.

Meghan's Wedding Tiara 

Among the behind-the-scenes insights in the book is Harry's frustration in dealing with the Queen's longtime dresser, Angela Kelly. Scobie and Durand write that Harry felt Kelly was dragging her feet in helping Meghan obtain access to her chosen tiara for a hair trial in advance of the big day on May 19, 2018.

Several U.K. tabloids had previously reported that the Queen had rejected Meghan's first choice of tiara. Finding Freedom reports that in fact, there were no disagreements between Meghan and the Queen about her chosen tiara. Rather, the conflict existed between Harry and Kelly. (The hair trial, the book reports, ultimately went forward with no hesitation from the Queen.)

The Couple's First Dance as Husband and Wife

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Ben STANSALL - WPA Pool/Getty

The newlyweds danced to Wilson Pickett's 1968 hit “I’m in Love” at their evening wedding reception at Frogmore House near Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018. The soulful R&B song, which was written by Bobby Womack and recorded by Pickett, begins, “I'm in love, yes I am."

The song set the tone for the night as guests danced the night away to tunes such as The Temptations’ “My Girl” and a selection of Stevie Wonder favorites.

Their Dog's Name

Shortly after they wed, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex welcomed a black Labrador rescue into their home. Until now, the name of the pooch has been a mystery. The couple even joked themselves that "people keep getting her name wrong."

The authors reveal that the high-energy pup's name is Pula — named after the official currency of Botswana, the country in Africa where Harry took Meghan when they first started dating. Pula means "rain" in Setswana — and since rain is very scarce in Botswana, it’s considered valuable and a blessing.

"Nightmare" Family Photo Shoot

Portraits of Prince Charles with his wife, two sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren were released for his 70th birthday in 2018 — but the books alleges that Prince William and Prince Harry were not excited to get together for the photo session.

"The boys can be hot and cold with their father," a source said, calling the planning for the photo "an absolute nightmare."

"Neither William nor Harry made much of an effort to make themselves available," the source said.

Baby Sussex's Birth Plan

Although Meghan welcomed son Archie at a London hospital, she initially considered a home birth.

"I know there were stories about a home birth, and it was certainly something that was discussed early on, but Meg knew it would be a hospital birth for a few months. All she cared about was having the baby in the safest way possible," a source said. "She was more and more nervous as she approached the due date, so I would say in some ways it was a relief for her to be doing it in a traditional hospital."

Archie's Name Was Picked Out Early

According to Finding Freedom, Meghan and Prince Harry knew all along that they were welcoming a son — and they had decided on his name long before his arrival.

Archie's name wasn't announced to the public for two days — because the couple wanted to tell Queen Elizabeth before the rest of the world found out.

Archie's Nanny

Meghan and Prince Harry hired a night nurse, who they fired during her second night on the job for "being unprofessional and irresponsible," the book claims. Although they hired a second night nurse, "neither found themselves comfortable sleeping through the night without going to check on Archie regularly." In the end, the couple chose to take on night duty themselves and hire a nanny for during the day.

Meghan and Harry's Royal Exit

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Buckingham Palace had little warning when it came to the details of Duke and Duchess of Sussex's announcement that they were stepping down from their royal roles in January, primarily a website post laying out the intricacies of the departure.

"Flustered Buckingham Palace aides ditched their original statement and put out a short media release fifteen minutes after the Sussexes released theirs," according to Finding Freedom.

Prince Harry's Biggest Disappointment

Prince Harry being stripped of honorary military appointments was a "tough pill to swallow, and the one that has been the most painful for Meghan to witness him go through," a source said. "It's the one that made Harry emotional."

"It was so unnecessary,” Meghan later told a friend about the decision. "And it’s not just taking something away from him; it’s also the entire military veteran community. You can see how much he means to them, too. So why? The powers [of the institution] are unfortunately greater than me."