It Was Princess Kate Who Pushed for the “Recollections May Vary” Line in Palace Statement About Sussex Oprah Interview, New Book Claims

Kate is, according to insiders, far tougher than she outwardly appears.

Kate Middleton with a steely expression in a blue polka dot dress
(Image credit: Getty)

It was three words that reverberated around the world: On the heels of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021, Buckingham Palace released a statement that stated, of Harry and Meghan’s claims in the interview, “recollections may vary.” Now, a new book says, it was Princess Kate who pushed for that memorable line to be included, multiple outlets report.

In the paperback edition of Valentine Low’s book Courtiers—and per The Daily Mail—behind the scenes, Kate was even “steelier” than Prince William in helping devise the Palace response to Harry and Meghan’s claims of racism in the interview. The couple were united in wanting a “toughened up” statement and told Her late Majesty so. 

Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle at a walkabout after the death of Her late Majesty the Queen

(Image credit: Getty)

A draft statement was ready by 2 p.m. the day after the interview aired on Sunday in the U.S., but the Palace remained silent. “One of the reasons was that the late Queen was adamant that she was going to watch the program first,” an insider told Low for the book. That meant waiting until it was aired on ITV on Monday evening in the U.K. On Tuesday, serious negotiations began over the official statement about the matter, and William and Kate led the charge.

“They sat together on a sofa as they discussed with their officials how to deal with the Sussexes’ incendiary allegations,” Low writes, per The Times. The draft statement initially did not include the “recollections may vary” line and was a “much milder version”: “William and Kate were clear which side of the debate they were on,” the book details. “They wanted it toughened up a bit.” The two were adamant that “this does not stand,” the book continues. 

Meghan Markle still from Oprah interview

(Image credit: Getty)

While Kate was “right behind” William, she was apparently even more firm than he was on the matter. When a courtier first suggested the “recollections may vary” line, at least two Palace officials argued against it, not wanting to rile Harry and Meghan further. But it was Kate “who pressed home the argument that it should remain,” Low writes.

“It was Kate who clearly made the point ‘History will judge this statement and unless this phrase or a phrase like it is included, everything that they said will be taken as true,'” a source says. The source says it is but one example of how Kate is often tougher than she appears—“She does not get as much credit as she should, because she is so subtle about it,” the insider says. “She is playing the long game. She has always got her eye on ‘This is my life and my historic path, and I am going to be the Queen one day.’”

Kate Middleton in profile

(Image credit: Getty)

The toughened-up draft went to Buckingham Palace for approval and the late Queen replied with a “yes” couple of hours later. It went out Tuesday night and made its way into the lore of royal history.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.