In a surprising move, five of Meghan Markle’s closest friends have revealed intimate details of the new royal’s life to defend her against reports she’s “difficult”.
The posse – a former co-star, a long-time friend, a Hollywood friend, a one-time colleague and a confidante – painted Meghan as a pillar of “elegance, grace, philanthropy” who is devoted to God and can “make a five-star meal out of the garbage in your refrigerator”.
Published in People magazine, the revelations include, for the first time, the duchess’s version of the headline-making rift with her father Thomas Markle.
Before his daughter’s May 19 wedding, the retired Hollywood lighting director sold posed photos, then used celebrity website TMZ as his mouthpiece after saying he missed Meghan’s big day because of a heart attack.
Prince Harry, 34, and Meghan, 37, sent a car to drive Mr Markle to the airport for his pre-wedding London flight but he “wouldn’t get in”, according to the People interviews.
Meghan sent him a letter after the wedding which reportedly said, “Dad, I’m so heartbroken, I love you. I have one father. Please stop victimising me through the media so we can repair our relationship”.
Mr Markle sent a letter of reply, which one of the friends said he closed off by requesting a photo op with her.
“He’s never called. He’s never texted. It’s super painful because Meg was always so dutiful. I think she will always feel genuinely devastated by what he’s done,” the friend said.
By spilling the “truth” on the “selfless” Duchess of Sussex, the friends aim to quash what they say is “global bullying” of the former Suits star.
But their loyalty may also make things sticky for Meghan with the Windsors.
The last time one of their own broke cover was a bruising experience: Princess Diana’s co-operation with Andrew Morton (who has also written about Meghan) in his sensational 1992 tell-all Diana: Her True Story.
Because of that, the calculated PR offensive “is likely to raise eyebrows behind palace gates”, The Telegraph said.
The newspaper cited the Queen’s mantra of ‘never complain, never explain’ as ideal: “Take a leaf out of HM’s book, Meghan, and rise above.”
While the friends insisted on anonymity to “protect” bonds with Meghan, their descriptions of events mean the duchess will know who they are – and therefore presumably gave permission for them to speak out.
Crisis management expert Nicole Reaney of Sydney’s InsideOut PR said if Meghan helped plot the story she “will land herself in risky territory” because ” ‘holding her own’ like she has previously was definitely what set her apart”.
Ms Reaney told The New Daily the duchess’s strength and favourable public image has been shaped by her ability to steer away from controversy and not continually feed the press.
“If it was coming to a point where Meghan felt her side needed to be conveyed, it would have been more powerful coming from her in a single statement or interview to let the rumours finally rest,” Ms Reaney said.
But Meghan’s camp had had enough of “lies and untruths” in past months, including a supposed feud with Kate Middleton, a tantrum about a tiara and how she drives staff away by peppering staff with requests from 5am.
“We worry about what this is doing to her and the baby,” the duchess’s former co-star told People.
“It’s wrong to put anyone under this level of emotional trauma, let alone when they’re pregnant.”
A Kensington Palace spokesman declined to comment on whether staff knew about the interviews.
One friend described how, during a recent visit to Meghan and Harry’s two-bedroom Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace, the “very self-service” duchess did her own make-up sitting next to a space heater.
When visitors stay, Meghan makes up the guest room with candles biscuits and slippers. “[The cottage] is small and she’s made it cosy. Meg cooks for herself and Harry every day – there’s no chef or butler.”
The former colleague admitted Meghan does send crack-of-dawn emails to staff, but that only proves she is an “incredibly organised, diligent, focused, hard-working person”.
In fact, Meghan goes above and beyond, said one friend: She keeps a box of hand warmers to take to palace guards when it gets cold and once ordered “an incredible ice cream and sorbet stand for the office”.