Queen Elizabeth II's death aged 96 triggered more than a week of national mourning

KEY POINTS

  • A new book about the royal family claims the Queen confided her feelings about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal exit to a friend 
  • The Queen reportedly told the friend she was "very hurt" when the Sussexes stepped back from royal duties
  • It was "a source of sadness" to the Queen "that she got to see so little" of Harry and Meghan's children, according to the book

Queen Elizabeth II was left "hurt" and "exhausted" by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's decision to step down as senior royals, a royal book has claimed.

The late monarch reportedly opened up about her feelings regarding the situation to a close friend, who in turn spoke with royal commentator and author Katie Nicholl for her new book, "The New Royals: Queen Elizabeth's Legacy and the Future of the Crown."

"According to a friend, privately the Queen confided that she was exhausted by the turmoil of their decision," Nicholl wrote, according to an excerpt of the book published by Vanity Fair.

Nicholl's book did not name the alleged confidante but quoted them as saying: "She [the Queen] was very hurt and told me, 'I don't know, I don't care, and I don't want to think about it anymore.'"

According to Nicholl's book, "it was a source of sadness" to Queen Elizabeth "that she got to see so little of Archie and Lilibet and that Harry and Meghan were not able to join her for a weekend at Balmoral in August, when the Queen used to host a 'sleepover' for all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren."

Queen Elizabeth only saw Prince Harry and Markle's now-3-year-old son Archie and now-1-year-old daughter Lilibet a few times before the monarch passed away at the age of 96 on Sept. 8.

The Queen met Lilibet for the first time when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have been living in California with their kids since quitting royal life in 2020, traveled to London with their children for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June.

Prince Harry and Markle took Archie and Lilibet to briefly meet the Queen upon their arrival. Two days later, the family spent more time with the monarch at Windsor Castle, the day before Lilibet celebrated her first birthday.

After the Queen's passing, Prince Harry released a heartfelt statement via Archewell's website in which he thanked his grandmother and reflected on how she touched his life.

"Granny, while this final parting brings us great sadness, I am forever grateful for all of our first meetings—from my earliest childhood memories with you, to meeting you for the first time as my Commander-in-Chief, to the first moment you met my darling wife and hugged your beloved great-grandchildren," he wrote. "I cherish these times shared with you, and the many other special moments in between. You are already sorely missed, not just by us, but by the world over."

Before announcing their royal departure, Prince Harry and Markle hinted in interviews at their unhappiness as they served the monarchy. They reportedly asked the Queen if they could be part-time working royals, but she vetoed their proposition.

Royal correspondent Omid Scobie, co-author of the Sussex biography "Finding Freedom," claimed that before their exit, the couple "had had it all mapped out in their heads." However, the Queen did not agree with the planned arrangement and rejected their "one foot in, one foot out approach," Scobie claimed.

In February 2021, Buckingham Palace confirmed that Prince Harry and Markle chose not to return to royal duties and that the Duke of Sussex gave up his honorary military titles — a decision that made formal, and final, the couple's split from the royal family.

Since then, the couple has given bombshell interviews accusing the Palace of dismissing Markle's pleas for help and claiming that their very presence upset the dynamic of the royal family.

Prince Harry and Markle were in the U.K. to attend a series of charity events early this month when the Queen died.

The couple extended their stay following the late monarch's death, but they flew back home to Montecito Wednesday, two days after attending the Queen's state funeral.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrives at Buckingham Palace after the wedding ceremony of Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, in central London