As Prince Harry and his actress girlfriend Meghan Markle gear up to make their first public appearance at the Invictus Games in Toronto this month, engagement rumours are swirling around the couple.
This month, the typically private Markle welcomed a Vanity Fair writer to her home in Canada and dished on her private life.
She spoke of her parents’ divorce when she was little, her past life as a professional calligrapher (she did wedding invitations) and her love for her royal boyfriend.
But Markle, who was reportedly “thrilled” with the resulting cover story, also talked about handling the new fame that being a royal girlfriend – and prospective princess bride – has foisted up on her.
“It has its challenges,” she told the monthly glossy. “Some days it can feel more challenging than others. And right out of the gate, it was surprising the way things changed.”
To handle the hoopla, Markle said she turned to her close friend, tennis champion Serena Williams, who had one tip for sudden fame and paparazzi intrusions: “‘You’ve got to be who you are, Meghan. You can’t hide’.”
Serena’s right. You can’t hide. You do have to be true to yourself. And that means only one thing.
Meghan, if the opportunity comes – and the Vanity Fair story is a red flag a proposal is near, given it would have needed the approval of Kensington Palace – don’t marry Harry.
God knows, I love Prince Harry as much as the next suburban matron. The images of him, aged 12, walking in numb bewilderment and a too-big suit behind the coffin of his mother Princess Diana, still hurt my heart. I long for Harry to be happy.
But not at the expense of someone else. And being a royal wife is much tougher work than it looks from the outside.
Yes, it comes with incredible real estate, stonking wealth, Christmas lunch with the Queen and huge global fame.
It also comes with enormous restrictions. Once the vows are exchanged, newly-minted royals become public property and inherit, along with various titles, crushing expectations.
Photos of the Duchess of Cambridge always inspire two emotions in me: 1) Kate, it might be time to switch up the barrel curls, and 2) do you feel like the world’s best-dressed prisoner?
A young mother-of-two, Kate can’t take her young children to the local park. She has to take them to museums at night. They can’t drop by toy shops or go to playgroup or go on a holiday without extensive planning and a security detail.
Markle is a woman of the world who loves lying by pools in Italy, a glass of Tuscan Tignanello red wine at hand. She’s a UN Women’s advocate with a degree in international studies who unwinds at yoga and shopping with girlfriends.
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If she marries Harry, her life as a truly free woman ends. I’m not talking about the fidelity and honour bit. More that she would find it tough to wander out in jeans for a dinner with her husband, do anything impulsive or, more importantly, speak her mind. Ever.
Meghan’s life would be lived to a palace schedule, behind unforgiving walls.
Yes, by her own admission she’s mad about Harry. But the price – having to find a whole new self – could be too high. Even with the staff and great jewellery.