William and Harry slam ‘offensive and potentially harmful’ newspaper story

The Duke of Cambridge has issued a joint statement with the Duke of Sussex, denying a newspaper claim about the brothers' relationship which they branded "offensive and potentially harmful".

William and Harry spoke out on the day the Queen called a summit at Sandringham for senior royals to discuss face to face for the first time the Sussexes' bombshell plans to forge a new role for themselves.

The statement did not name the newspaper but the Times has a front page story about the crisis, and says a source told the publication that Harry and Meghan "regarded themselves as having been pushed away by what they saw as a bullying attitude from the Duke of Cambridge".

The report goes on to say that these allegations have been contested by other sources close to the Cambridges and Harry.

A joint statement issued on behalf of the princes said: "Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a UK newspaper today speculating about the relationship between the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Cambridge.

Prince Harry and Prince William
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Prince Harry and Prince William
The Prince and Princess of Wales and their two children, Prince William, 9, and Prince Harry, 7, wave goodbye from the deck of the Royal Yacht Britannia to the people of Toronto at the end of the Royal couple's five-day official visit to the city.
The Prince of Wales arrives at Aberdeen rail station on his way to the Royal Family's retreat at Balmoral. He took his two sons, six-year-old Prince William, left, and four-year-old Prince Harry, accompanied by their nanny Ruth Wallace.
Princess Diana, Princess of Wales with Prince William and Prince Harry on holiday in Majorca, Spain on August 10, 1987. Also present were the Spanish Royal Family and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales.
Princes William and Harry are swamped by dogs at the Badminton horse trials. Royals, Full length, Animal, Dog, William, Harry ©Anwar Hussein/allaction.co.uk
Six year old Prince William shields his eyes from the Spanish sunshine as he poses for photographs on the steps of the Marivent Palace with his brother Prince Harry, mother The Princess of Wales (lower right), and father the Prince of Wales (left). With them are King Juan Carlos (centre) and Queen Sofia of Spain and their children the Infantes Cristina and Elena and Prince Felipe.
The Prince and Princess of Wales on holiday with their sons, Prince William and Prince Harry (riding pillion behind his father), on Tresco, Scilly Isles.
The young Princes William and Harry at the Polo. Photo. Anwar Hussein
Prince William, along with the Duke of Edinburgh, the Earl of Wessex, the Queen, the Princess Royal, the Prince of Wales, Prince Harry and the Princess of Wales look on from the balcony of Buckingham Palace at Trooping the Colour. Royals, Philip, Queen, Minor Royal, Edward, Anne, William, Charles, Diana, Balcony, Family shot, Half length, Uniform, Hat. ©Anwar Hussein/allaction.co.uk
The Princess of wales follows her sons Prince Harry (right), five years old, and Prince William, seven, on Harry's first day at the Wetherby School in Notting Hill, West London.
The Princess of Wales rides a chair lift up the Kriegerhorn with her sons Prince William, left, and Prince Harry, in Lech, Austria.
The Princess of Wales, accompanied by Prince William and Prince Harry, arrives at the Queen's Medical Centre to visit Prince Charles.
Princes William and Prince Harry with the Diana, Princess of Wales in Austria during their 1992 skiing holiday. At the time the Princess was going through her break up with Prince Charles, Prince of Wales.
The Prince and Princess of Wales, with young Prince William and Harry at the wedding of Duke Hussey's daughter in Bath, May 1989. Photo. Anwar Hussein
Prince William signs the traditional Entrance Book watched by his parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and younger brother, Prince Harry, at Eton College.
Diana, Princess of Wales with young Princes William and Harry at Niagara Falls, Canada in 1991. Photo. Anwar Hussein
The Prince of Wales and his sons, Princes William (left) and Harry, leave church this morning (Sunday).
The Prince and Princess of Wales with sons Prince William (right) and Prince Harry, attending the VJ Day commemorations at Buckingham Palace.
(L-R) The Prince of Wales, Prince William and Prince Harry looks on as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother waves to the crowds outside Clarence House, London, on the day of her 101st birthday. *31/08/01 The fourth anniversary of the death of the princess was, being marked privately by her sons William and Harry. The teenage princes and their father, the Prince of Wales, would remember her in their own way, said St James's Palace. Charles was finishing his autumn holiday at Birkhall on the Balmoral estates in Scotland, and William was understood to be in Scotland too. As in the two previous years, there are no official plans to commemorate the day Diana died in a Paris car crash in 1997.
Note to Editors: This picture transmitted 17 August 1998 to accompany package of stories in advance of the first anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Library filer dated 6/9/97 of (L-R) The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William, Earl Spencer, Prince Harry and the Prince of Wales following the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales, to Westminster Abbey for her funeral service. Photo by Adam Butler/PA/WPA ROTA.
Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales attend the Service to celebrate the life of Princess Diana, Princess of Wales at the Guards Chapel in London.
The Prince and Princess of Wales with sons Prince William, right, and Prince Harry relaxing in Tresco during their holiday in the Scilly Isles.
Princes William and Harry at Cirencester Polo Club in 2001. Photo. Anwar Hussein
The Earl of Spencer, Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Charles at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in September 1997. Photo. Anwar Hussein
The Prince and Princess of Wales, with Princes William (centre, r) and Harry, at the VJ Commemorations at Buckingham Palace.
The Prince of Wales and his sons Princes Harry and William (R) leave church on the Sandringham Estate after the traditional Christmas Day service, attended by the Queen and other members of her immediate family.
The Prince of Wales flanked by his sons Princes William (left) and Harry during a photocall at Prince Charles country home, Highgrove Estate in Gloucestershire, at the beginning of the two young princes summer holidays. * Earlier Prince William, 17, arrived for the photocall at a wheel of car in which he his learning to drive.
The Prince of Wales followed by Princes Harry and William arrive for the BBC Songs of Praise Millennium Service at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
The Prince of Wales and his sons, Prince William (left) and Prince Harry, pose for photographers on the Madrisa ski slopes above Klosters. They are on the third day of their traditional skiing holiday in Swiss resort.
The Queen Mother stands with Queen Elizabeth II, and great grand children, Prince William and his brother Prince Harry on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, for her celebrations on her 100th birthday.
Left-right: Prince Harry and Prince William after their Highgrove polo team beat Cirencester Park in the ladbrokescasino.com trophy at Cirencester Park Polo Club.
Princes William and Harry at the Queen Mother's funeral at Westminster Abbey, London in April 2002. Photo. Anwar Hussein

"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."

There has been much speculation about the relationship of the brothers who, a few years ago, were working closely together on charitable projects and lived yards from each other at Kensington Palace.

But Harry has conceded that the siblings are moving in different directions and their relationship, although close, has come under real strain.

Harry and Meghan made clear in their statement last week that they want to step back from being senior royals, become financially independent and split their time between North America and the UK.

In a documentary, filmed during the Sussexes' tour of southern Africa last autumn, the duke said he and William were now "on different paths" and have "good days" and "bad days" in their relationship.

Duke and Duchess of Sussex statement

The decision to quickly deny the allegation of bullying reveals that the brothers want to let the public know they may have their differences but behind the scenes things are amicable.

Meghan, who is in Canada, is likely to join the discussions between the Queen, Charles, William and Harry via telephone as the foursome talk through a range of options that have been prepared.

Ahead of the meeting, the royals will have been given written proposals produced by their offices and others, including relevant government departments from the UK and Canada, where it is thought the Sussexes will establish a second home.

Meghan, who is in Canada with son Archie, hopes to join the discussions by telephone. Toby Melville/PA Wire

Harry and Meghan are said to have left the Queen and senior royals feeling "hurt" by their shock announcement.

Last Thursday, the Queen, the Prince of Wales and William gave orders for their households to work with the Sussexes' team to quickly find a "workable solution" to their desire to change the direction of their royal lives, but still support the Queen.

Key issues will be money – how the couple will make a living without compromising their position in the royal family – and security, as Canada may be asked to pay to keep the couple safe while they live abroad.

Members of the media gathered outside the visitors' centre at the Sandringham Estate, Norfolk, waiting for developments to be announced about the royal summit. Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Members of the media wait outside the visitors' centre at the Sandringham Estate for news from the summit (Steve Parsons/PA)

It is understood that all aspects are up for discussion, including their titles of His and Her Royal Highness.

A royal source said: "As we have said previously, making a change to the working life and role in the monarchy for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex requires complex and thoughtful discussions."

Timings for the meeting have not been released by Buckingham Palace but a large media presence that had gathered outside the gates of the Queen's private Norfolk home in anticipation of developments were later moved on to a nearby visitors' centre.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who is not thought to be part of the discussions, was seen being driven in the area, but it is likely the private secretaries of the four senior royals will join the meeting at some point.

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