Meghan Markle attended her first solo event as the Duchess of Sussex on Tuesday, celebrating the opening of the Oceania exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts. It comes four months after her royal wedding to Prince Harry and is being hailed as proof of Markle’s swift and successful transition into the British royal family.
Yet her outing came in the wake of reports that her new life as HRH The Duchess of Sussex was making her feel increasingly isolated and lonely.
People magazine in the States last week ran a cover story with the headline: ‘Meghan, Grace Under Pressure’, detailing how she is coping with her new role and how she has had to cut ties with most of her former friends.
Just days later, one of Princess Diana’s former confidantes, Lady Colin Campbell, then claimed that Meghan, 37, was ‘too lefty’ in her political views for 34-year-old Harry’s friends and had alienated herself.
Meghan is undoubtedly handling her new role perfectly in public, behind the scenes there are difficult times. ‘Losing touch with close personal friends has been a bittersweet reality for Meghan since officially becoming a royal,’ said a source. ‘Not just because of the geographical aspect of where her new life is, but she’s also had to take a forensic look at who is in her circle and whether there is anyone left who might betray her trust.
‘Mutual friends of both hers and Harry, people like Markus Anderson, she’s still in touch with, but most of the others outside of that circle, who Meghan once had on speed-dial, have found they are unable to directly reach out to her now.’ It is well-known within royal circles that when you marry into ‘The Firm’, friends can find themselves culled. One former close friend of Kate Middleton told Grazia: ‘Once things got serious with William, many friends started falling by the wayside, with phone calls and messages unanswered. It was sad, but everyone understood.’
Speaking to Grazia last week, the Queen’s former press secretary, Dickie Arbiter, said, ‘Meghan has now got a very different lifestyle. She’s 3,000 miles away from her old life in Toronto and even further from her mother in Los Angeles, so it’s not like she can just pop in and see an old friend for a glass of wine. She and Harry are also on duty all the time – if they’re not out on the road, they’re gearing up for the next engagement. The royals are very careful about who they socialise with because people are very quick to blab. There is a nucleus of friends who are very close.
‘Meghan’s free spirit has been somewhat clipped because of what she’s married into, but it gets better as you get used to it.’
It hasn’t helped that the last six months have been overshadowed by the ‘Markle debacle’ – with various members of Meghan’s family, mainly her father, Thomas, speaking out in the press in criticism. To add to the drama, last week Thomas gave an interview claiming he was being targeted with kidnap and death threats. All this has made for what seems like a lonely three months since her wedding on 19 May.
‘What has been striking for Meghan is the loneliness she has felt since joining The Firm and how isolating it can be at times,’ continued our source. ‘Her summer at the remote Castle of Mey in Scotland was quite a shock. She used to be impulsive and adventurous when it came to her summer vacations, often running o to exotic locations with her close friends. But a lot of these friends she is now no longer in close contact with.’
One person Meghan is clearly still close to is her mother, social worker and yoga teacher Doria, 62, whose calm presence at her side last week was clearly comforting for the Duchess of Sussex. As previously reported in Grazia, sources have claimed that Meghan is hoping her mother might spend more time in the UK to support her.
‘It would mean so much to have her mother on-hand,’ said a source.