After Another Nightmare Week For Meghan Markle, Now Kate Middleton Is Stepping In To Help

Last week the Duchess of Sussex made a 'last minute' appearance at the polo, rumoured to be an attempt to stop the backlash.

Meghand and Kate polo

by Polly Dunbar |
Updated on

For royal watchers, last week gave plenty to observe. Carrying a slumbering baby Archie, the Duchess of Sussex joined the Duchess of Cambridge and her children on Wednesday to watch Harry and William play in a charity polo match.

It was a conspicuous show of unity – and came days after a slew of negative stories about the former Hollywood actor in the press, focusing on her outing to watch her friend Serena Williams at Wimbledon the previous week. In fact, Kate has been drafted in to look after Meghan and support her through this difficult period. The pair even attended Saturday’s Wimbledon’s Women’s Final together – a repeat of last year’s outing which won favourable headlines.

‘There’s no animosity between Meghan and Kate,’ a source tells us. ‘But they haven’t become close in the way royal aides had hoped for. Being thrust into the public eye to such an extent is stressful, and Kate was positioned to be the perfect confidante. But, while they are comfortable in each other’s company, they’re not yet close.’ Palace aides are now hoping that more joint appearances may help create the opportunity for Kate to give Meghan advice on how to handle royal life.

Last week, it emerged that Meghan’s security team had asked people to refrain from taking photos of her, arguing she was there in a ‘private capacity’. One man in front of her was told to stop taking a picture, despite the fact he was actually taking a selfie. Cue headlines branding her ‘Princess Privacy’ and articles questioning whether sitting amid 1,200 other people and live TV cameras is really ‘private’.

The Sussexes have also recently faced attacks for their decision not to reveal the names of Archie’s godparents and to keep his christening private – shortly after it was revealed that the renovation of their home, Frogmore Cottage, cost the taxpayer £2.4m. According to PR expert Mark Borkowski, last week’s trip to the polo was the start of an attempt to change the script. ‘It was Harry and Meghan trying to show they’re united with the rest of the family,’ he tells Grazia. But will it calm complaints of mixed messages? Royal commentator Robert Jobson says the outing highlighted inconsistencies. ‘With the christening they argued Archie is a private individual, but then Meghan was photographed with him at the polo,’ he says. ‘That’s confusing.’

As the criticism intensified, broadcaster Jeremy Vine perhaps summed up the views of many when he tweeted, ‘Meghan Markle needs to sack her PR team. Her reputation is being incrementally ruined by their haplessness. She doesn’t deserve any of this.’ For Meghan, a new mother living thousands of miles from her home country, family and most of her friends, the chorus of disapproval is thought to be distressing. Robert says that some of the criticism Meghan has received is unfair. ‘I think it was understandable at Wimbledon to ask people shoving cameras close to her face to move away – you can imagine how she might have felt like she was in a zoo.’

So what’s really happening behind the scenes – and is she being badly advised? Sara Latham, communications director to the Sussexes since March, has an exceptional CV as the former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton during her 2016 presidential campaign. The American PR guru reports directly to the Queen’s communications director, Donal McCabe, who was also appointed in March. ‘Sara’s very experienced and I’m sure she’s giving Harry and Meghan good advice, but it’s whether they’re paying attention,’ says Robert. The announcement by their team that Meghan had gone into labour, before it was later revealed she’d already given birth, would seem to indicate that the couple and their aides aren’t always in sync.

The fact both Latham and McCabe are new to the job may be playing a part. ‘There’s no senior figure like Paddy Harverson [former communications secretary for Charles and Camilla, as well as William and Kate] who can create unity and build long-term relationships with the media,’ adds Mark. Ultimately, however, he believes the problem lies in the conflict between what the Palace and press want from Meghan and Harry and what the couple themselves want. ‘They’re building their own powerful brand, centred on their charity work, and using social media to send their message,’ says Mark. ‘They aren’t playing the game. With Archie’s christening, they drew a line about privacy, but it was very poor PR, coming after the public had discovered the cost of their home refurbishments. I imagine now the team at the Palace will be reminding them that they’re public figures with responsibilities and need to act as a team with the rest of the family, but ultimately, if they want to do things their own way these incidents will continue.’

At the time of going to press, it was being reported that Meghan has turned down a column in both the US and UK versions of Vogue – suggesting she intends to focus on her royal responsibilities. ‘In time, hopefully, they’ll find a balance that works for everyone,’ says Mark.


Prince Harry And Meghan Markle's 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.

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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.

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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.'

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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.

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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.'

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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'.

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March 2019: The Royal Household's 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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