A photo involving Prince George reportedly sealed the deal for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to step back from royal duties in 2020, according to a royal author.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in South Africa

Harry and Meghan had a “wake up call” in relation to a released photo (Image: Getty)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are said to have believed the Royal Family were “conspiring against them” after a photograph involving Prince William and Princess Kate’s eldest son, Prince George, reinforced their views, according to a royal author.

At the beginning of 2020, the late Queen Elizabeth II released a photo with her three heirs – the then Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George in the throne room at Buckingham Palace.

In the official photo, Prince William is standing behind Queen Elizabeth and King Charles is behind Prince George with his hand on the young Prince’s shoulder.

The late Queen stands at the front of the image in a white dress accessorised with a blue brooch and holding one of her iconic handbags. George, who was a six-year-old roya at the time, wore a stylish pair of tartan trousers and a white shirt.

Royal author Andrew Morton wrote in his book ‘Meghan: A Hollywood Princess’: “The royal couple suspected that the entire institution was conspiring against them. As they saw it, the evidence was all around them. The unspoken code was straightforward: the future of the monarchy was assured, with or without Meghan and Harry.”

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Queen Elizabeth II and her heirs

The photograph of Her Majesty alongside her heirs was taken in the throne room (Image: Ranald Mackechnie / PA)

As reported in the Mirror, Mr Morton believed despite Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s “international popularity”, they were lower down the “royal totem pole” than they had previously thought.

The royal author also claims Meghan and Harry had thought about leaving The Firm far earlier than the public had thought as talks started just six months after their wedding day.

Mr Morton said: “Harry was having conversations in a London hotel with Oprah Winfrey back in November 2018, just six months after they’d been married. So they were thinking about a different direction of travel pretty early on.”

In a move that shocked the world, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped back as senior members of the Royal Family in 2020 and their statement read: “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution.

“We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent while continuing to fully support Her Majesty the Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.

“We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages.”

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on stage

Harry and Meghan have been building a new life in America (Image: Getty)

The Montecito-based duo have been working hard on their brands since leaving the Royal Family, and are set to release two upcoming Netflix shows focusing on individual passions.

Prince Harry’s Netflix show will take viewers inside the world of an elitist sport, as the Duke will expose the “aesthetic and social” side of polo.

Whereas, Meghan’s series is set to tie in with her new lifestyle brand ‘American Riviera Orchard’ which was launched on Instagram earlier in the year, and currently has over 590K followers on the platform. Her new television project aims to “celebrate the joys of cooking and gardening, entertainment, and friendship” according to the streaming giant.

Meghan’s show is being produced by Sony Pictures Television’s The Intellectual Property Corporation, the company behind Hulu’s The D’Amelio Show, as reported in the Daily Mail.