How Harry and Meghan Forge Their Own Royal Path
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have had a whirlwind few years. The latest? The announcement that they're expecting baby No. 2, followed by an exclusive interview with Oprah on March 7, 2021.
Of course, people from all over the world tuned in to learn about why the duo stepped down from their roles as senior royals, and the truth wasn't pretty. Meghan's struggle with depression in the palace, a miscarriage and even hints toward racism were all topics the couple discussed in the tell-all interview.
In the beginning, the two played by the rules, but now they’ve broken the royal mold — and become one of the most iconic couples in the process. Here's their story.
How the Duo Met
As you can imagine, the famous pair couldn’t exactly go on Tinder and swipe right to find their mate. So, believe it or not, the two were set up on a “blind” date in the summer of 2016. (Of course, it’s a safe bet the two had at least heard of each other before.)
The two admitted to having a mutual friend that introduced them, but they wished her to remain secret to protect her privacy. However, E! News confirmed that the real-life cupid is Harry’s childhood friend Violet von Westenholz. She had become friends with Meghan through her public relations work with Ralph Lauren and thought the two would hit it off.
The relationship progressed rather quickly — so quickly in fact that Prince Harry invited Meghan to travel with him to Africa three or four weeks after their initial visit. But news of the couple dating actually didn’t come out until October of that same year.
A Relaxed Attitude Toward Being a Modern Princess
Meghan Markle wasn't like any of Prince Harry's previous girlfriends. She was not a society girl, she was divorced, and she grew up in a middle-class environment to divorced parents in sunny Southern California.
The last American who lived a life remotely close to Meghan’s was Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American socialite. She and King Edward VIII were wed in 1936, but he was forced to abdicate the throne, as the Church of England would not accept his decision to marry a divorced woman. The royal family had never fully accepted Simpson as one of their own, but times have changed, and Meghan has been welcomed into the fold with open arms.
Enduring Racism in the Press
Shortly after going public with the relationship, Prince Harry slammed the racist and sexist press coverage of Meghan with a rare official statement from Kensington Palace.
"Meghan Markle has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public — the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments … Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her,” the statement read.
“It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm. He knows commentators will say this is ‘the price she has to pay’ and that ‘this is all part of the game.’ He strongly disagrees. This is not a game — it is her life and his," the statement continued.
At the end of the sixth season in spring 2017 of “Suits,” Meghan said goodbye not only to the show, but also her acting career, blog and the fashion line she once represented. As a member of the royal family, she is limited to public appearances and working with charities, both with Harry and alone.
Even though Meghan is a known feminist, she stood up for her decision to end her career, saying, "I don't see it as giving anything up, I just see it as a change ... I feel really proud of the work I've done there [on 'Suits'], and now it's time to, as you [Harry] said, work as a team with you."
Social Media Shut Down
Around the same time, Meghan deleted her Instagram and Twitter accounts and ceased posting to her lifestyle blog, The Tig.
Individuals in the royal family do not have their own social media accounts or blogs — at least not those we know of — but Harry and Meghan are still online under @kensingtonroyal, and do sneak in a personal photo on occasion.
When their engagement was announced in November 2017 and a photo call took place in the Kensington Palace gardens, Harry was quoted saying he knew Meghan was “the one” the first time they met.
During the same month, Meghan officially left her home in Toronto (where she had been filming “Suits”) and moved to London to be with Harry.
Old and New Fur Babies
Harry and Meghan are both dog lovers, but in preparation for her move to England, Meghan made the agonizing decision to leave one of her two beloved dogs behind. She rescued a beagle, Guy, and labrador-shepherd mix, Bogart, while filming “Suits” and shared her love for the dogs all over social media. However, she had to make the sad choice to leave one of the animals behind.
Bogart, the older dog of the two, found a new home with a friend in Toronto while Meghan and Guy made the trip to London. Guy has since become a favorite of the Queen, and rode with her to Harry and Meghan's wedding. He even has his own book, “His Royal Dogness, Guy the Beagle: The Rebarkable True Story of Meghan Markle's Rescue Dog,” which details his journey from the woods of Kentucky to Kensington Palace.
Guy now also has a sibling — another rescue dog adopted by Harry and Meghan in early October. The labrador pup is said to have an unusual name, but it is not yet known.
A Royal Title
The couple’s wedding in May 2018 was one of the most-talked-about events of the year. And while everyone was abuzz for weeks about the union, one of the most traditional things about it were the titles the two were given by the Queen.
Prince Harry was officially given the titles of Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel, and is officially known as His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex. And while Meghan is technically now a princess — HRH Princess Henry of Wales — she was not given the title of "Princess Meghan." She is known as Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex. According to royal customs, as Meghan is not a British princess by blood, calling her "Princess Meghan" would be incorrect.
Not Afraid of PDA
There's no set rule in the royal family on public displays of affection, but as "working representatives of British Monarchy," Windsor couples prefer a more professional stance during public outings. Meghan and Harry, however, don’t always pay attention to rules.
As newlyweds, they can't seem to stop hand-holding and otherwise showing just how much they love each other. Luckily, the rules are slightly more relaxed for them in that Harry is sixth in line to the British throne.
Before marrying Prince Harry, Meghan was outspoken regarding her stance on politics, but royals generally avoid expressing opinions regarding the topic in public. Members of the royal family cannot vote or favor one political cause over another.
That said, Markle has made it known that she’s a staunch feminist and spoke on the topic in New Zealand. She's also reported to have expressed support for the legalization of abortion in Ireland when the country voted to repeal its ban in May 2018. Regardless of the royal family’s non-political stance, Harry supports his wife in her views.
Forbidden Foods and Sleeping Requirements
As a royal, Meghan has had to change her menu of favorite food items to get in sync with royal palates. Off the list for Meghan, Harry and all the royals are garlic (due to the smell), shellfish, tap water and raw meat (including the delectable foie gras) to prevent any illnesses while in public.
Also, when eating with the Queen, nothing can be consumed before she's started eating or after she's finished, and if there's something she doesn't like, it won't be on the menu — ever.
It also is considered bad form to go to bed before the Queen, so if Meghan or Harry are thinking of making it an early night on those evenings spent with the Queen, they may have to power through with a little caffeine. Zarife Hardy, a coach from the Australian School of Etiquette, said the Queen is a night owl "who reportedly tucks in at midnight," according to Harper's Bazaar.
Selfies and Hugs
While on tour in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga in October 2018, Meghan and Harry hugged fans and posed for selfies throughout the trip. The royal family has a policy against this, and while it may seem strict, it's relaxed compared to the way it was decades ago when members of the royal family were not even allowed to greet their subjects.
Meghan also signed autographs on the trip, which is another no-no, as a signature could easily be forged.
Meghan and Harry’s Pregnancy Protocol
Later on in October 2018, Meghan and Harry announced their first pregnancy to the world. Harry even referenced the baby while in New Zealand saying, "From myself, my wife and our little bump, we are so grateful to be here. We bring blessings from my grandmother, the Queen, and our family."
As with everything else regarding the royal family, there was, of course, protocol to be followed during Markle's pregnancy. Meghan, however, opted to still have a baby shower (a big royal no-no).
When the baby was born, Harry and Meghan did not technically have custody of their child; the Queen did. She also has custody of William and Kate's kids: George, Charlotte and Louis. This practice dates back to the time of King George I in the early 1700s.
He created the law in response to his own poor relationship with his son, the future King George II, when it was decided that “the right of supervision extended to his grandchildren, and this right of right belongs to His Majesty, King of the Realm, even during their father’s lifetime."
Meghan’s Controversial Family
Everyone has complicated relationships with their families, and Meghan Markle is no stranger to them. She gets along fine with her mother, Doria Ragland, a yoga instructor from Los Angeles, but her relationship with her father, Thomas Markle, is strained. He has been prone to staging photos for money, giving controversial interviews to the press, and he caused a considerable amount of drama for Meghan and the royal family during the couple's wedding with the “will-he-or-won't-he-show-up” drama.
Thomas has said that he will hire lawyers for the right to see his grandchild if he can’t reach his daughter on his own. Harry has been said to be supportive of Meghan throughout her family drama. "Meghan has few very close friends, and Harry has made sure that she knows she’s loved and supported," one royal source said. "Meghan is really settling into royal life. She’s been welcomed by Harry's close friends."
Holidays With the In-Laws
Harry and Meghan celebrated the holiday season with the Queen in December 2018, who also invited Meghan’s mother, Doria, to her Sandringham estate in Norfolk for Christmas.
A royal source said the move “showed respect” and was an acknowledgment that Meghan had no other close family with which to celebrate.
The Birth of Baby Archie
The couple welcomed their baby, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, on May 6, 2019.
The entire world celebrated the baby, who was seventh in line to the British throne at the time of his birth.
Stepping Down as Senior Royals
Living in the royal spotlight took its toll on the couple. After all, the British press did not ever seem to be on their side.
So, in January 2020, the couple announced they were stepping back from their roles as "senior royals" and opted to make their home in Montecito, California.
Baby No. 2 on the Way
After suffering a miscarriage in the summer of 2020, the couple had some exciting news to tell on Feb. 14, 2021 — they're expecting their second child, a baby girl.
A Tell-All With Oprah
The couple sat down with Oprah on March 7, 2021, to discuss why they stepped down from their role as senior royals.
It wasn't pretty. Meghan discussed having suicidal thoughts and issues with depression while in the palace. Plus, she touched on the royal family's attitude towards the color of her son's skin, implying that they didn't give him a title because of issues with race.
Only time will tell how the royal family reacts to the latest as the couple prepares for their second baby on the way.