Michelle and Barack Obama Are 'Not Advising' Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Their Royal Exit

Sources close to Michelle and Barack Obama tell PEOPLE that reports they have offered advice to — or even been in contact with — Prince Harry and Meghan Markle over their “step back” from the royal family are “totally false.”

“The rumors of them having anything to do with this are totally false. The former president and first lady are not advising the couple and have not been in contact with them,” says one source close to the Obamas, when asked whether they have been in touch with the royals’ recent, controversial decision. The Obamas spent Christmas in Hawaii and remain there on a family holiday, after a busy December traveling throughout Asia as part of their Obama Foundation work on education and leadership training.

Another Obama source, reacting to rumors that they played any role in the Sussexes’s bombshell plans, says, “There’s no truth to it.”

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Both Obamas, while in the White House, worked with Harry on their shared interests in helping wounded military veterans. Harry met with Michelle on a number of occasions, including at the previous Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida.

And, though Mrs. Obama submitted written answers to Meghan’s interview questions for the September issue of British Vogue that she guest-edited last summer, the two women have only met twice — more than a year ago — when Meghan popped backstage in December 2018 during the London stop of Mrs. Obama’s sold-out book tour for her memoir, Becoming, and last spring during Mrs. Obama’s second stop in London for the book tour.

Harry and the former president previously spoke in December 2017 for a special radio program, during which the royal interviewed Obama about their common focus of building leaders for the next generation as well as Obama’s hopes for his post-presidential life. The sit-down was recorded in September 2017 when Obama joined Harry in Toronto for the Invictus Games — which was also the first public outing for the prince and Meghan before they announced their engagement.

The Obamas also became friends with Prince William and Kate Middleton throughout their time in office.