When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex married in the fairy-tale setting of St George’s Chapel, Windsor, in 2018, their love story seemed destined for a happy ending – as the progressive royal couple set to shake up The Firm.
Fast forward five years, following family fall-outs, grief, career about-turns and a new start in a new country for Prince Harry, the devoted couple are resolutely ignoring rumours that their relationship is under strain.
And they’re determined more than ever to make a success of their marriage and their life in America.
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A source exclusively tells OK! that Harry and Meghan are becoming fed up with the negative speculation.
“The Sussexes’ marriage is fine,” the source insists. “The reports of a separation stemmed from Harry making a solo trip to Africa, but that’s a work trip. It’s not a sign of trouble in their marriage.
“Even if there were struggles, Harry would want to make it work. He has invested so much time into their relationship and adores his family. Coming from a broken home himself, that’s extra motivation for him to keep his family together.”
Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams agrees. He tells us, “The fact that they both come from broken homes is a very significant and pivotal part of both Harry and Meghan’s make-up.”
The couple have said that the emotional fallout of their parents’ divorces bonded them in the early days of their relationship. In their tell-all Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan, released earlier this year, they revealed how they shared an ambition not to “repeat the same mistakes” their parents made.
“There’s so much, I think, from anyone’s childhood that you bring with you into the present, especially when you’re the product of divorce,” Meghan said.
Harry added, “I think most kids who are the product of divorced parents have a lot in common, no matter what your background is. Being pulled from one place to another, or maybe your parents are competitive, or you’re in one place longer than you want to be, or another place less than you want to be. There’s all sorts of pieces to that.”
Taking a swipe at the way he and William were raised by King Charles and the late Diana, the former Princess of Wales, he said, “I think it’s such a responsibility as human beings that if you bring a small person into this world… you should be doing anything you can to make the world a better place for them.
“But equally, what’s most important for the two of us is to make sure that we don’t repeat the same mistakes that our parents made.”
Speaking to OK!, relationship expert and royal commentator Lara Asprey explains why the couple’s childhood experience of divorce is so significant in their own marriage.
“They’ve both had this traumatic experience, which they don’t want to repeat for their own children’s sake,” she claims.
And she believes the wellbeing of Prince Archie, four, and Princess Lilibet, two, will be their priority. “There are signs that their paths are splitting. Harry’s got projects in Botswana and Meghan’s eyeing up her own career, pulling them in different directions,” adds Lara.
“Time will tell. But I do think for now they’ll fight tooth and nail to stay together. They want their kids to have stability and not come from a broken home themselves.
"Harry always does whatever he can to keep his family safe, although unfortunately I think he’s the product of a bit too much therapy. There’s a lot of therapy talk coming from him but not much understanding of himself. I think he’s slightly lost.”
Richard adds that the couple’s experience of bitter break-ups will motivate their continued efforts to raise their young children in a happy, stable environment, away from the public gaze.
“On the one hand, they sometimes have to release pictures and occasional news about their children – just as they did in a very controlled way in their Netflix series. But on the other, privacy is absolutely essential for very young children.
“Archie and Lili are already having a different experience from their father, at least, as both of them are growing up in a happy home.
“Harry clearly didn’t feel his home life was happy, although I would make a point that hasn’t often been made even by Harry himself, which is that both his parents were devoted to him. But of course it was their relationship with each other that was the determining factor when it came to his negative experience of divorce.”
Meghan, too, was deeply affected by tensions at home from a young age. “Her circumstances are more complicated,” says Richard. “Her parents, Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, separated when she was two and divorced four years later. She was then raised by both of them but after the age of nine, her father cared for her.”
Meghan expressed her raw emotions about her parents’ divorce in a poem she wrote for a school project. Reflecting on how she felt pulled in two different directions, it ended with the emotional line, “Life would be easy if there were two of me.”
Rumours of relationship strains in the Sussex’s marriage emerged after news that Harry would be returning to Botswana on a solo work trip.
Having previously called Africa his “second home”, he has many links to the continent, including setting up the charity Sentebale, in 2006, to help children and young people with HIV. He and Meghan spent their third date camping in the wild in Botswana.
Earlier, there was also speculation that Harry’s book Spare may have driven a wedge between the couple. Some suggested that Meghan was not happy with its revealing and deeply personal content and that prompted Harry to promote it without her by his side.
When Harry returned to the UK for his father’s coronation in May, he did so alone, while Meghan remained in the US with their children. Her absence coincided with Archie’s fourth birthday.
And with the couple no longer on the official royal payroll, the collapse of their $20 million contract with Spotify in June left some suggesting the duke and duchess would be feeling the pinch.
While quality time as a couple might be a rare thing with two children under five, Harry and Meghan are sure to mark Meghan’s 42nd birthday on Friday.
“I do think they’ll probably want to use Meghan’s birthday as a means to reconnect,” says Lara. “I do get the impression that Harry will always want to please his wife in whichever way possible.”
And Richard notes that the next year could be very significant for Meghan’s career after she signed with top Hollywood agent William Morris Endeavour.
“Meghan might well announce her next move on her birthday,” he says. “But otherwise we’ll have to wait and see what her new agent comes up with. Don’t forget, the Sussexes do have a habit of surprising us.”
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