When news broke that Prince Harry was in a relationship with Meghan Markle – a UN Women’s Advocate who is as passionate about humanitarian work as the royals themselves – inevitable comparisons were drawn between her and Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana.
But this week, those comparisons have become even more stark with the publication of a new biography, Meghan: A Hollywood Princess, by the author Andrew Morton. Charting Meghan’s journey from Pasadena, California, to St George’s Chapel in Windsor next month, Morton claims that the young Meghan not only saw Diana as a ‘role model’ and had her biography on her bookshelf, but that she also ‘wants to be Diana 2.0’. Aged 16, he says, she apparently sat with friends watching reruns of Charles and Diana’s wedding, trying to absorb the news that her 36-year-old idol had been killed in a car crash in Paris.
But in an exclusive interview with Grazia, Morton is clear that, despite their shared ideals, Meghan is cut from a different cloth. ‘She’s very smart, she knows what she’s got to do,’ he said. ‘The thing about being a member of he royal family is that it’s not a sprint, it’s a lifetime obligation. She will spend some time thinking about how she wants to portray herself.
‘There is no doubt that she is going to be focusing on female issues and be a champion for young women. She wants to make a real difference.’
And he added, ‘Diana was very shy and reticent when she started. The turning point was in 1987, when she went and shook hands with an Aids patient. This was incredibly controversial at the time and frowned on by the palace and started her on a very different journey. But Meghan has been hardwired for that journey since she was a kid.’
Like many royal observers, Morton, who developed an unrivalled insight into the House of Windsor after gaining Princess Diana’s trust to write the shocking ‘true story’ of her failing marriage in 1992, is certain that Meghan will present a ‘sea- change’ for the British monarchy. And he should know: as confidante to the Princess of Wales during the most traumatic period of her life – the collapse of her marriage to Prince Charles – he heard at close quarters just how tough life in the royal spotlight can be, not only for Diana, but also for her sons, William and Harry. He is convinced Meghan’s brand of outspoken warmth is going to create royal waves.
‘Traditionally, royal men make the speeches, royal women have looked good in frocks. Meghan’s not going to be shy about speaking in public. She’s not going to be intimidated or cowed by the royal system.
‘The British people aren’t used to this kind of forthright woman being a member of the royal family. It’s a different style to what’s gone before, it’s not so reticent.
‘[Her style] is more modern in the sense of women showing [they] can have it all – they can look good but also talk the talk. That’s the difference. She’s already showed herself to be articulate on the podium.
‘A friend of Meghan’s told me, “She is going to bring a lot of diversity and new ideas, new ways of doing things. She is not just going to blend into the royals.”’
‘Meghan: A Hollywood Princess’ is out 12 April
NOW READ: Prince Harry And Meghan Markle's Relationship Timeline
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle met in London in July 2016.
They were introduced by mutual friend Markus Anderson, who is the director of Soho House.
In October 2016, the Express became the first newspaper to publish news that Prince Harry had a new girlfriend.
On November 8th 2016, Kensington Palace released an unprecedented statement which referring to Markle as Harry's girlfriend for the first time.
In the statement, Prince Harry condemned the 'wave of abuse and harrassment' faced by Markle, saying that he was 'worried about Ms. Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her.'
'It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm,' the statement continued.
The couple were papped together for the first time in December 2016, shopping for a Christmas tree in London at the Pines and Needles store.
Later that week, they were seen on London's West End, catching a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
In February, Prince Harry wore a his 'n' hers bracelet on the cover of Town & Country magazine, just weeks after Markle was pictured wearing the same one on Instagram.
In March 2017, Meghan joined Prince Harry in the Caribbean for the wedding of his friend's Tom 'Skippy' Inskip and Lara Hughes-Young.
It was the first time that Markle accompanied Harry to a wedding, marking another milestone occasion for the couple.
The first public event attended by the couple was the polo at Coworth Park in May 2017.
Later in May, Markle attended the party portion of Pippa Middleton's wedding to James Middelton.
Prince Harry was seen driving her to the event after the church ceremony.
The couple made their first official public appearance in September, when Markle attended the opening of Prince Harry's Invictus Games.
Meghan wore a maroon midi dress with a pleated chiffon skirt by one of her favourite Canadian brands Aritzia.
She teamed it with a matching burgundy biker jacket by Mackage.
Although Prince Harry was sat next to First Lady Melania Trump at the event, rather than his girlfriend, she was only seated a few rows behind him.
The couple were photographed together the following day at the wheelchair tennis.
Much was made of Markle's choice of outfit: ripped jeans and a white blouse called 'The Husband'.
The couple 'broke with royal protocol' by holding hands and appearing affectionate while at the Invictus Games.
Prince Harry reportedly spent time with Meghan's mother Doria while at the Games too.
The couple indulged in some PDA at the closing ceremony.
Prince Harry was photographed kissing Meghan.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Meghan referred to Harry as her boyfriend numerous times, saying: 'We're a couple. We're in love. I'm sure there will be a time when we will have to come forward and present ourselves and have stories to tell, but I hope what people understand is that this is our time.'
In late September 2017, it was reported that Meghan had met the Queen, prompting speculation that the relationship was getting serious.
In early November 2017, it was reported that Meghan Markle was leaving Suits after seven series.
In mid-November 2017, bookies suspending betting on an impending royal engagement, as speculation grew that an announcement was about to be made.
On November 27th 2017, Prince Charles announced the engagement of his younger son Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after 15 months of dating.
The couple later appeared at a photocall, with Markle wearing a white dress coat by Canadian brand Line The Label. The website has subsequently crashed.
The engagement ring, by Cleave and Company, was reportedly designed by Prince Harry himself, using two stones that belonged to Princess Diana.
When asked by waiting photographers if the proposal was romantic, Harry joked 'of course!'