This Is Why Meghan Markle Is Staying Silent About Her Family Drama

Following another explosive interview from Thomas Markle last week, Harry and Meghan are reportedly escaping to Balmoral. Royal writer Robert Jobson reports on the couple’s new strategy to combat the Duchess’s errant father...

Meghan Markle

by Robert Jobson |
Published on

Balmoral, the royal family’s Scottish holiday home, is the Queen’s favourite place. It’s where she’s unburdened by official duties for two months every summer, and where she walks on the moors with her dogs, rides on the 50,000 acre estate and drives around in her beloved Land Rover. For the other guests, there are picnics, home cinema evenings, games and bracing walks. It is a place to relax, recharge the batteries and reflect.

So it’s perhaps no surprise that, amid the unending stream of headlines driven by Meghan’s father Thomas, Prince Harry is said to be taking his new wife there this month for a break. Last week, Thomas gave yet another unprecedented interview, in which he spoke of hanging up on Harry during a row over his cooperation with the paparazzi and being ignored by Meghan. It led many to wonder if this is the biggest crisis to hit the royal family since Diana.

Many also wondered why Meghan and Harry are refusing to speak to Thomas to control it. The reason? ‘Both want to avoid direct contact with Thomas as they don’t trust him,’ said a royal courtier. ‘Harry and Meghan are leading the strategy, and the other royals are bowing to them at the moment as they don’t want to muddle the thinking. Royal lawyers, who they have consulted about the best way to approach this, have advised caution. The couple are hoping that if they don’t say anything to him, there will be less for him to tell the press. They’re praying the situation exhausts itself.’

The subject will no doubt be in the air at Balmoral, where Meghan will come face to face with the Queen and other members of the family (every morning, the family sit together for breakfast, where pressing family matters are often discussed). But there will no hard feelings towards the new Duchess. Charles, in particular, has gone out of his way to embrace his daughter-in-law and make her feel welcome. The Queen will, of course, have sympathy for her grandson’s wife. After all, Meghan can hardly be held responsible for her father and half-sibling’s indiscretions. Nobody in the family blames her.

Balmoral
Built for Queen Victoria in 1850, Balmoral is a private sanctuary for the Windsors ©Zak Hussein

‘Meghan has played by the rules at every turn, and has kept a close, very private circle since she met Harry,’ said a source. ‘Despite her father talking about her, her private life is watertight: she has given very little away about who she is and keeps herself very much to herself. Her intention is to stick firmly to that strategy, and the other royals respect her for it.’

Many may wonder what the Queen will say to Meghan. Privately, she and Prince Charles are understood to be irritated by the ‘wishy-washy’ way aides paid to advise Harry and his wife have performed so far. But Her Majesty has never been one to interfere directly in private grief. She believes time is a great healer. The Prince of Wales, too, will always wait to offer advice until asked directly, particularly when it comes to his sons and their personal lives. If Harry or Meghan choose to ‘consult up’ and take the counsel of either the monarch or Charles, it will be for them to arrange.

Besides, Balmoral is no stranger to royal crises. It was over breakfast, after all, that in 1992, when Sarah Ferguson’s marriage to Prince Andrew was faltering, surreptitiously taken photographs were published of John Bryan, an American financial manager – apparently sucking on the toes of a topless Sarah in Southern France. (The Queen was not amused, and her private secretary told the Duchess that she might feel better if she left immediately for London.) Balmoral was also the backdrop for the royals as the tragedy of Diana, Princess of Wales’ death played out.

So for a few fleeting moments, when dancing the Eightsome Reel at the annual Ghillies Ball, Meghan may well forget her family squabbles. But many observers feel that, if she doesn’t want the now toxic relationship with her father to define her early royal career, she must take steps of a different kind to resolve it. And fast.

Click through to see a timeline of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's relationship...

Gallery

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle relationship timeline - Grazia

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle1 of 17

July 2016: Meghan And Harry Meet

So when did the future Duke and Duchess of Sussex meet? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were introduced by a mutual friend in July 2016, originally thought to be Markus Anderson (also the director of Soho house) but who was later confirmed to be Violet von Westenholz. Meghan said in an interview that before she met the Harry she didn't know much about him 'the only thing that I had asked [our mutual friend] was, 'Well is he nice?'. According to Harry he knew Meghan was The One from 'the very first time we met.' after only two dates Harry asked Meghan to accompany him on a trip to Botswana.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle2 of 17

October - November 2016: Kensington Palace's Statement

In October 2016 that the Express became the first newspaper to publish news that Prince Harry had a new girlfriend. However just a month later, Kensington Palace released a statement condemning the 'wave of abuse and harassment' faced by Meghan. The unprecedented statement, which referred to Meghan as Harry's girlfriend for the first time, emphasized that Prince Harry was 'worried about Ms. Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her.' It continued 'It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm.' The palace were also forced to address speculation that Prince William was unhappy with Harry for confirming the relationship too soon, stating 'The Duke of Cambridge absolutely understands the situation concerning privacy and supports the need for Prince Harry to support those closest to him.'

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December - February 2017: Things Get More Serious

Early in December 2017 Meghan was confirmed as the most Googled actress of 2016. In the same month, the couple were photographed together for the first time in London, shopping for a Christmas tree at the Pines and Needles store and attending a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. By January 2017 a source told US weekly that Harry had introduced Meghan to Kate and Prince Charlotte and that the 'meeting went well'. Meanwhile a source told The Sun that Meghan had 'virtually moved in' with Prince Harry to his cottage on the Kensington Palace estate.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle4 of 17

March - May 2017: Meghan Attends Weddings With Harry

By March things were openly getting pretty serious between the two: Meghan accompanied Harry to Jamaica for a wedding for the first time (his friend's Tom 'Skippy' Inskip to Lara Hughes-Young). On April the 7th Meghan announced that she was closing down her lifestyle blog The Tig writing 'What began as a passion project (my little engine that could) evolved into an amazing community of inspiration, support, fun and frivolity. You've made my days brighter and filled this experience with so much joy.' In May, Meghan and Harry attended their first public event together at the Polo in Coworth Park (where they also engaged in some PDA). Later in May Prince Harry was seen driving Meghan to the reception of Pippa Middleton and James Matthew's wedding.

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September 2017: The First Official Public Appearance

Welcome to Meghan the style Icon: at the opening of Prince Harry's Invictus Games in September Meghan wore a maroon midi dress with a pleated chiffon skirt by one of her favourite Canadian brands, Aritzia with a burgundy biker jacket by Mackage. The next day the couple were photographed sitting together at the wheelchair tennis and 'broke with royal protocol' by holding hands and kissing at the closing ceremony. On the 5th of September In an interview with Vanity Fair, Meghan stated: '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.'

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle6 of 17

September-November 2017: Meghan Leaves Behind Rachel Zane

Late 2017 we saw the end of everyone's favourite legal powerhouse Rachel Zane (sob). In November 2017, shortly after Meghan met the Queen, the actress was reported to be leaving her role in Suits after seven seasons.

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November 2017: The Engagement

After months of speculation, Prince Charles announced the engagement of his younger son Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after 15 months of dating On November 27th 2017 . The engagement ring, said to be designed by Harry, is made of two stones that belonged to Princess Diana. The couple later appeared at a photocall, with Markle wearing a white dress coat by Canadian brand Line The Label (whose website subsequently crashed). When asked by waiting photographers if the proposal was romantic, Harry joked 'of course!' Speaking about his late mother, Princess Diana, Harry said 'I think they'd be thick as thieves. She would be over the moon, jumping up and down, so excited for me... It's days like today when I really miss having her around and miss being able to share the happy news. With the ring, I'm sure she's with us, jumping up and down somewhere else.' it was announced that the wedding would take place on May the 19th, 2018.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle8 of 17

December 2017: The Fab Four

In December 2017 Meghan, Harry, Kate and William were photographed together attending the Christmas service at Sandringham. Pictures of the two couples earned them the title 'The Fab Four'. Meanwhile in the following months Meghan earned a reputation for breaking royal protocol on official visits by hugging fans of the couple and kissing them on the cheek.

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February 2018: Kate And Meghan Appear In Public Together

In February 2018, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle had their first royal engagement together for the Royal Foundation Forum with Prince Harry and Prince William. Harry stated of the two couples 'We have different opinions and they work really well [together]. Working as family does have its challenges; of course it does. The fact that everybody is laughing shows they know exactly what's it like… But we are stuck together for the rest of our lives.'

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May 2018: The Lead Up To The Wedding

In the lead-up to the wedding it was confirmed 2,640 people would be invited to the grounds of Windsor Palace to watch the royal wedding. Photos of Meghan and Harry's wedding invitations were released, bearing Harry's legal name 'Henry'. Meghan and Harry made a number of public appearances together including to the Invictus game tryouts in April and attend the Queen's birthday at the Royal Albert Hall. Meghan's final episode of Suits is also aired, marking the official end of her acting career.

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May 2018: Meghan's Family Drama Begins

On May the 14th, three days before the wedding Meghan's father, Thomas Markle sr. who was confirmed to walk Meghan down the aisle pulled out, following an embarrassing incident in which he staged paid paparazzi photos. Thomas Markle later suffered a heart attack, and his son Thomas Markle Jr. penned an unflattering open letter to Harry criticizing Meghan and encouraging him to pull out of the wedding. The day before the wedding, Kensington Palace announced Prince Charles would walk Meghan down the aisle, stating 'The Prince of Wales is pleased to be able to welcome Ms. Markle to The Royal Family in this way.'

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle12 of 17

May 2018: The Royal Wedding

Meghan and Harry wed on the 19th of May for a combined audience of 11.5 million people who tuned in to watch the ceremony. Meghan's gown was made by Clare Waight Keller, artistic director of the fashion house Givenchy which she later changed for a silk crepe dress by Stella McCartney. Her mother Doria Ragland attended the ceremony along with a host of celebrities including Meghan's former Suits cast and her close friends, George and Amal Clooney.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle13 of 17

May - October 2018: Married Life

Throughout May of 2018 Harry and Meghan made their first official appearances as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. For her inaugural attendance to the Trooping of the Colour Meghan wore an off-the-shoulder dress, reportedly breaking royal protocal. In the following months the newlyweds made a number of public appearances including to Ireland to meet the country's officials. They also took a rumoured trip to visit George and Amal Clooney in Lake Como.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle14 of 17

October 2018: The Royal Baby Announcement

Speculation began during Princess Eugenie's wedding that Meghan was pregnant owing to her loose coat. The rumours were confirmed when Kensington Palace announced on the 15th of October 2018 that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were expecting a child. The announcement also coincided with the first day of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's official tour.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle15 of 17

October 2018: Meghan And Harry's First Royal Tour

In October Meghan and Harry departed for their 16-day Autumn royal tour visiting Australia, Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand (obviously featuring some serious style moments from the newly-appointed Duchess of Sussex/Style). By November, sources were telling news outlets that the couple were preparing to move to Frogmore cottage in Windsor in 2019. The couple spent the anniversary of their engagement, November the 27th apart, due to Harry being in Zambia.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle16 of 17

November 2018 - Present: Feud Rumours

As Meghan and Harry embarked on life as newlyweds there was less plainsailing, as controversy continued to follow closely on their heels. Meghan's family have continued to be the subject of unflattering media headlines and Thomas Markle gave interviews to the media about his distanced relationship with his daughter. Meanwhile Samantha Markle (Meghan's half sister, who also claims to be penning a book about the Duchess) was put on a fixated persons list after showing up at Kensington palace in January. Rumours of a froideur between Meghan and Kate were sparked shortly after Meghan and Harry's nuptials by reports that Meghan reduced Kate 'to tears' during challenging dress fittings with Princess Charlotte. In February, Thomas Markle leaks a handwritten letter from Meghan to the media in response to friends of the Duchess defending her in an interview and following numerous staff changes, rumours arise that Meghan and Harry's staff refer to Meghan by the nickname 'The difficult Duchess'.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle17 of 17

March 2019: The Royal Households Split

In March 2019 it was confirmed that the Sussex and Cambridge's 'royal households' will split, meaning the couples will no longer share staff. Royal spokespersons confirm that Kate and William's staff team will stay in Kensington Palace while Meghan and Harry's staff will be based in Buckingham Palace, reflecting the location of their new residence of Frogmore cottage in Windsor. Representatives are quick to confirm this is a planned move, and not due to rumors of growing tensions between the couples.

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