Few could deny it had been something of a tumultuous few months for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — they have had a baby, toured southern Africa and taken on the tabloid press with furious zeal.
As the couple on Monday embark on an extended break, Buckingham Palace aides and their closest confidantes reveal that they have been imploring them to “slow down” for months.
“There was no maternity leave, there was no summer break,” one insider told The Sunday Telegraph.
When their son, Archie, was born in May, the couple had only just moved into Frogmore Cottage, their home in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
It was “somewhat chaotic” as builders continued to complete the refurbishment and the family got used to their new routine, while at the same time maintaining a hectic schedule.
“The Duchess was working on the Vogue edit and the Smart Set collection, and remained very engaged with the office,” a source said. In March, the Sussexes broke away from Kensington Palace to create their own household, and three months later announced they were cutting ties with the Royal Foundation, established by Prince William and Prince Harry in 2009. That created a “whirlwind of activity”, including all the paperwork required by the Charity Commission and the search for board members.
Meanwhile, most of the other working Royals were taking a summer break.
And, in the background, there were meetings with lawyers as they prepared to defy Buckingham Palace convention and take on the tabloids, seemingly deciding to dispense with their advisers to go it alone.
There followed the television interviews, and an excoriating statement issued by Prince Harry, saying: “I lost my mother, and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”
The statement and the ITV documentary overshadowed what had been a successful tour, while also raising concerns about the mental health of both the Duke and the Duchess.
The couple will split their time over the next six weeks between the UK and the US, celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with the Duchess’s mother, Doria Ragland.
A source close to the couple said it was “plain for all to see” that the Duchess had been a victim of a media campaign to “try to destroy her”.
The Duke will on Sunday attend the inaugural OnSide Awards at the Royal Albert Hall, to recognise the achievements of young people, volunteers and staff.
After that, the couple will disappear from public view.