Who are Thomas Van Straubenzee and James Meade the ‘REAL best men’ at William’s wedding claims Harry


Prince Harry claims his brother’s ‘real’ best men at his wedding to Kate in 2011 were his mates James Meade and Thomas Van Straubenzee – and that he was forced to go along with the ‘bare faced lie’ in his leaked autobiography. 

According to the 38-year-old Duke of Sussex, his rift with Prince William, 40, meant the older royal ‘didn’t want [Harry] giving a best man’s speech’.

Instead, Harry writes, he acted out the role to spare the blushes of Meade and Van Straubenzee, who gave the traditional best man speech at the reception.

The Duke claims that while he was officially considered his brother’s best man and even travelled with his father and future King to Westminster Abbey in a Bentley that day, it was all for show.

Prince William has know Mr Van Straubenzee since childhood where he attended Ludgrove School in Berkshire. They are pictured with Kate Middleton in 2016 at Ascot Racecourse

Prince Harry (right) has claimed in his leaked memoir Spare that he was not Prince William's (left) real best man, as his brother did not want him to give a speech (pictured at the 2011 Westminster Abbey wedding of William and Kate)

Prince Harry (right) has claimed in his leaked memoir Spare that he was not Prince William’s (left) real best man, as his brother did not want him to give a speech (pictured at the 2011 Westminster Abbey wedding of William and Kate)

Thomas Van Straubenzee has been close friends with both brothers for years. His relationship with the royals dates all the way back to their prep school days at Ludgrove.

Van Straubenzee is the global head of the private office of estate agent Knight Frank, and accompanied the Prince to New Zealand on his gap year.

He is also godfather to the Wales’ daughter Princess Charlotte.

The businessman and property consultant, whose parents are Captain Alexander van Straubenzee and Claire Fenwick, used to holiday with William in Cornwall when they were children, and, before his marriage to Charlotte’s former teacher from St Thomas’s Battersea Lucy Lanigan-O’Keeffe, 32, in 2020, had a reputation for loving a night out.

The couple share a young son, Albert. 

Thomas van Straubenzee, 38, a lifelong friend of Prince William, tied the knot with Lucy Lanigan-O'Keeffe, 32, a teacher at Charlotte and Prince George's school, Thomas's Battersea, in 2020

Thomas van Straubenzee, 38, a lifelong friend of Prince William, tied the knot with Lucy Lanigan-O’Keeffe, 32, a teacher at Charlotte and Prince George’s school, Thomas’s Battersea, in 2020

Prince William and Thomas (pictured together in 2014 at Polo match in Coworth Park) have been friends since prep school, and Thomas is Charlotte's godfather

Prince William and Thomas (pictured together in 2014 at Polo match in Coworth Park) have been friends since prep school, and Thomas is Charlotte’s godfather

Mr van Straubenzee, works as a partner in the private office of estate agent Knight Frank, has known William since prep school, with his family being known as one of the royal family's closest and most loyal allies. He is pictured (left) riding in a carriage with the Queen at Ascot in 2017

Mr van Straubenzee, works as a partner in the private office of estate agent Knight Frank, has known William since prep school, with his family being known as one of the royal family’s closest and most loyal allies. He is pictured (left) riding in a carriage with the Queen at Ascot in 2017

His family’s royal links go back decades — old family friends of Princess Diana, she was even the nanny of Tom Van Straubenzee’s cousin briefly and was also said to have dated his uncle, Willie, after divorcing Prince Charles.

Van Straubenzee is said to be interested in music, wildlife and conservation. 

As well as his brother Charles, who is also said to enjoy a close bond with the princes, Thomas had another younger brother, Henry, who was killed in a car accident in 2002.

William and Harry were said to be devastated by the death of Henry, who was killed instantly when the car in which he was a passenger hit a tree outside Ludgrove prep school. 

Thomas Van Straubenzee (pictured at a charity polo match in Cirencester in 2018) gave a speech at Prince William's wedding reception

Thomas Van Straubenzee (pictured at a charity polo match in Cirencester in 2018) gave a speech at Prince William’s wedding reception

James Meade, who went to Eton with Prince William, was the other real best man, according to Prince Harry's memoire (pictured: James Meade attends the wedding of Lucy Meade and Charlie Budgett in Chippenham in 2014)

James Meade, who went to Eton with Prince William, was the other real best man, according to Prince Harry’s memoire (pictured: James Meade attends the wedding of Lucy Meade and Charlie Budgett in Chippenham in 2014)

Following Henry’s death, his family set up the Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund, of which Thomas is a patron.

The charity works to fight poverty in Uganda through education, and both William and Harry are patrons.

His friendship with the princes made headlines in 2011, when he was mugged at knifepoint in Battersea while talking on the phone to Harry, and the concerned Prince drove across town to check on him.

In 2013, Van Straubenzee married Lady Melissa Percy, the Duke of Northumberland’s daughter, at her family’s ancestral home Alnwick Castle, which doubles as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. Princes William and Harry were among the guests. 

The couple divorced three year’s later in 2016, with Thomas’ disputed ‘unreasonable behaviour’ allegedly cited as the reason for the relationship breakdown.

Prince William and his wife Kate on their wedding day on April 29, 2011. Prince Harry has sensationally claimed that despite appearances, he was not the real best man on the big day

Prince William and his wife Kate on their wedding day on April 29, 2011. Prince Harry has sensationally claimed that despite appearances, he was not the real best man on the big day

James Meade is one of William’s closest friends, with a union dating back to Eton

James Meade is one of William’s closest friends, with a union dating back to Eton

Meanwhile James Meade, who Harry claimed was the other ‘real’ best man at Prince William’s wedding, went to Eton with the older royal. 

He is the son of Olympic gold medallist equestrian Richard Meade. 

James is also close with the Princess of Wales, whom he even accompanied to the Badminton Horse Trials after her brief split from William in May 2007.

Known to his friends as ‘Meadey’, he once took part in a charity boxing match at Boodles Boxing Ball in 2008 – watched by William and Kate, under the nickname ‘the Badger’.

He and his wife Lady Laura Marsham, daughter of the 8th Earl of Romney, are both godparents to Princess Charlotte.

The couple have been married since 2013, when William was an usher at their wedding. 

Meade reportedly used to take the Prince drinking at the Cuckoo Club in Piccadilly in their youth, where he reportedly always encouraged the royal heir to hit the dance floor. 

Prince Harry’s Nazi uniform gaffe – which he has since claimed was encouraged by both William and Kate – happened at a ‘Colonials and Natives’ themed bash which was held in a marquee at the Meade house in honour of James’s birthday. 

Prince Harry partially blamed both his brother Prince William and sister-in-law Kate for his infamous appearance at a costume party wearing a Nazi uniform

Prince Harry partially blamed both his brother Prince William and sister-in-law Kate for his infamous appearance at a costume party wearing a Nazi uniform

In other claims, the Prince tells how William was meeting people who had assembled on the Mall by Buckingham Palace while ‘tipsy on last night’s rum’ just hours before his wedding to Kate.

Harry recalls he said to him: ‘You smell of alcohol’, before he offered him mints as he lowered the windows of the car, describing the smell of ‘the aftermath of last night’s rum’ on his ‘tipsy’ brother’s breath.

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