Considering all of the royal drama of late, it’s safe to say that Meghan Markle has seen more than a few major changes to her life. In fact, her world presumably turned upside down after marrying Prince Harry. But there has recently been one aspect of the former actress’ life that has come under particularly close scrutiny – and it’s sparked nothing short of a media frenzy.
Mind you, Meghan’s marriage to Prince Harry had already created a number of firsts for the royal family. The Duchess of Sussex is the first British royal from the U.S. since the 1930s, for instance, and she’s a rare woman of color for the country’s monarchy. And although she’s not the first divorcee to have graced British royalty – that honor belongs to Wallis Simpson – it’s certainly unusual. It’s so out of the ordinary, in fact, that before Harry and Meghan’s wedding there was even speculation that the Queen might not attend the nuptials.
This had been because the Queen is head of the Church of England. And while the Church doesn’t turn its back on divorcees, it certainly preaches that marriage should be for life. In any case, the Queen was in attendance when Meghan wed Harry on May 19, 2018, and the ceremony was beamed live on television. The event was watched by almost 28 million people in the U.K. and a further 29 million in the USA. That’s at least ten times more viewers than even the highest-rated episodes of the actress’s hit TV show Suits.
So it’s fair to say that things are very different for Meghan now. Yet in spite of Harry’s apparent desire to keep the new duchess sheltered from the pressures of the press, it seems that the increased scrutiny on Meghan quickly became too much to bear. In fact, some 18 months before their royal wedding, Harry made a move that was extremely rare for a royal to do.
Yes, Harry released a statement – via his communications secretary – denouncing the press’ treatment of Meghan. The message stated that Meghan “has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment.” It read, “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.”
And the statement went on, “Some of it has been hidden from the public – the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend; the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker, and loved one in her life.”
So it seems that Meghan’s journey towards becoming a royal was not an easy one. At one point, for example, The Sun published a front-page story with a headline that connected Meghan to an adult video site. Yet the footage highlighted merely featured intimate scenes recorded for Suits. Clearly, then, Meghan had not been involved in anything like what was being hinted at.
As previously mentioned, Meghan quit her career as an actress when she and Harry announced their engagement. The American discussed this in her 2017 post-engagement interview with the BBC, saying she was “transitioning” out of performing and into her new role. So even though Suits was still ongoing, Meghan wouldn’t be reprising her starring part in it.
Yet Meghan had no regrets about leaving her old job. She told the BBC, “I’m excited to really get to know more about the different communities here and smaller organizations that are working on the same causes that I’ve always been passionate about. I don’t see it as giving anything up. I see it as a change. It’s a new chapter.”
Another change occurred before Meghan wed Harry, too. Yes, the former actress had to remove some of her digital footprint from the internet. She therefore closed down her blog and abandoned social media – where she had been a popular and much-followed figure. In fact, Meghan apparently made around $80,000 each year from her blog, The Tig, thanks to various endorsements.
But royals aren’t really supposed to do social media – or at least not in the same way regular people do. So although there are official accounts for the leading members of the royal family, the dukes and duchesses obviously don’t post selfies or their innermost thoughts. The accounts are simply there to keep people informed about what the royals are up to.
Yet even though Meghan removed her personal Instagram account, some have said the duchess is still bringing a breath of fresh air to a previously stuffy-seeming royal institution. For example, she often apparently breaches protocol – a set of unwritten rules that royals are reportedly expected to obey. It’s been claimed, in fact, that Meghan has altered a public speech and worn nude stockings.
Yes, the fashion rules that the royal family supposedly follow might appear quite restrictive to a lot of people. It seems that the female family members should, for instance, always cover their legs – whether by wearing nude pantyhose or something else. But Meghan apparently broke that rule for her and Harry’s engagement photoshoot.
The Queen also reportedly disapproves of at least two things: wedge shoes and bright nail polish. And although Kate Middleton – Meghan’s sister-in-law – has been spotted in wedges, she hasn’t actually worn them in the presence of the Queen. Meghan apparently followed protocol at her wedding, too, by wearing the Queen’s favorite neutral nail varnish: Ballet Slippers.
Then there are little things to consider, such as what bags to wear. In fact, Meghan was once criticized for carrying a tote bag instead of a clutch – because royals supposedly usually only carry clutches. It was also said that members of the family carry clutch bags so that they don’t have to shake hands with anyone unless they want to.
Meghan’s also seemingly broken the rules by showing affection to Harry in public. You see, the royals aren’t usually big on public displays of affection. Even Prince William and Kate Middleton are hardly ever photographed holding hands – let alone anything else. Yet Meghan and Harry go so far as to – gasp! – kiss while other people are watching.
Meghan’s done something even more shocking for a royal in recent years, though: she’s dared to have political opinions. Royals seemingly aren’t supposed to express views on what’s going on around them, after all – even if it’s something they’ve got strong feelings about. But thanks to some now-deleted tweets, we know what Meghan’s opinion on abortion is.
For you see, when visiting Dublin in 2018, Meghan spoke to people about the abortion referendum in Ireland. The vote on this issue had ended some months before, with the procedure eventually being legalized. So, following Meghan’s visit to the country, then-politician Catherine Noone tweeted, “The Duchess and I had a chat about the recent referendum result. She watched with interest and was pleased to see the result.”
Noone quickly backtracked, however, seemingly realizing that she had revealed too much. She added a second tweet, saying, “I should say she seemed pleased. She was interested and very measured, not political at all.” Both these tweets are now gone, but – if true – they make it easy to guess Meghan’s thoughts on the referendum at the time.
It’s perhaps unsurprising, then, that many commentators think Meghan has changed the royal institution – especially since becoming a mother. Yes, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor – who was born on May 6, 2019 – is the first biracial child born into the royal family. So later in 2019 an anonymous source supposedly told CNN that Meghan and Harry had “single-handedly modernized the monarchy.”
But Meghan has reportedly changed the family in other ways, too. According to Robert Jobson, author of the biography Charles At Seventy: Thoughts, Hopes And Dreams, Harry and his father had had a strained relationship before Meghan came into the family. Yet it seems that all the men needed was a woman’s touch to help put things right.
Talking to Grazia in 2018, Jobson said, “The sons have had difficulties with Charles, which the public may be surprised to know. In particular, I know that he was upset and wounded when he wasn’t mentioned as someone who had raised his children in a documentary, Diana, Our Mother: Her Life And Legacy, last year.”
Yet apparently, Meghan had managed to get father and son to patch things up again. And one thing’s for certain: Harry gave a touching speech when Charles celebrated his 70th birthday in 2018. So, according to Jobson, “Meghan has certainly helped. She is someone who has been divorced, and who has had family issues herself.”
As Jobson continued to explain, “[Meghan] has made Harry look at things from a different perspective and has shown him that relationships aren’t always black and white with parents or family. Plus, she gets on very well with the Prince of Wales. She has improved the relationship and built bridges between them. In a way, she has been a peacemaker.”
Reportedly, a second source anonymously spoke to Grazia, and they said, “Meghan has really changed Harry. In the short time that they’ve been together, she’s made him far more emotional and open about his feelings. She actively indulges the idea that he’s a boy who grew up without a mother and that attitude helps.”
Funnily enough, there are even claims that Meghan may have reinforced Harry’s sense of fashion. His beard, for instance, may now be a permanent fixture thanks in part to her influence. And although Harry certainly didn’t dress badly before Meghan, these days his outfits are evidently more stylish and snappier. They sometimes happen to match Meghan’s, too.
Meghan has apparently helped Harry embark on a much healthier lifestyle as well. According to reports, she’s even gotten him to stop eating so much junk food and try a vegan diet. She may also have persuaded him to stop smoking and to take up yoga. So it seems that Meghan’s had an impact on the royal family – but what about the influence they’ve had on her?
Well, as discussed, one particular way that Meghan seems to have reacted to the change in her life has drawn some interest. And that’s the apparent alteration in the way that she talks. Yes, some experts have made the case that Meghan now gives a different pronunciation to some words – making them sound more British.
As University of Toronto linguistics professor Marisa Brook told the BBC in February 2019, “She’s developed a style to be used when directly talking with the British public.” The professor also believes that Meghan might have adopted a U.K. lilt to deflect judgment from the people she meets.
But this seemingly doesn’t mean that Meghan is faking it – just that she wishes to do her royal duties effectively. Prof. Brook went on, “These are situations where people might be judging her in public instantly, where it really benefits her to sound British and aristocratic. If it’s conscious, I don’t think it makes her manipulative or a poser.”
A couple of linguistic experts spoke to the Mirror in February 2019 about the matter as well. University of Essex sociolinguist Dr. Ella Jones said, “Someone with lots at stake in trying to ‘fit in’ or sound like they belong to a new in-group – British royalty, in the case of Meghan – might find accommodation happens quite naturally and quite quickly.”
And phonetics professor Jane Setter told the same newspaper, “In a social role like the one Meghan is now in, where she has to meet lots of people and basically make a good impression on them in a short space of time, the ability to do this is very useful. But it would be weird to take this too far. I don’t think British people would accept her if she suddenly started sounding like she was in the cast of EastEnders – or spoke like the Queen.”
Since Meghan was once an actress, it perhaps makes sense that she would quickly be able to adapt to new accents. But not all royal family fans seem to approve of the apparent change. So while some on Twitter labelled it “cute” that Meghan now has a slightly different accent, others said they were left confused.
Interestingly, though, scholars from Lancaster University and the University of Reading did a scientific study on the Duchess’ change in voice. Yes, the aforementioned Prof. Jane Setter, plus Dr. Adrian Leemann and Dr. Sam Kirkham, analyzed some of Meghan’s speeches from both before and after she got together with Harry.
And of their study, the three linguists told the Daily Express, “We compared three vowels: the vowels in words like ‘thought’ and ‘talk’ and in words like ‘lot’ and ‘sock’ – which are often merged together in California English – and the vowel in words like ‘price’ and ‘bite,’ using three to four examples of each vowel for each of the videos at different points in time.”
In the end, the researchers concluded, “Our preliminary analysis shows that Meghan Markle’s articulation of the word ‘thought’ remained virtually identical between 2015 and 2019, while her production of ‘lot’ actually became more similar to ‘thought’ over this period – which is closer to the pattern we might expect in California English. This is arguably the opposite of what we’d expect if Markle was sounding more British.”
There’s also the case of whether or not Meghan actually wants her accent to change. In 2018, in fact, royal journalist Duncan Larcombe told Elle magazine that Meghan was “very keen to preserve her American accent and has no desire to start talking and sounding like she was born and bred in upper crust English circles.”
It could be argued, then, that much of Meghan’s behavior as a duchess seems to come from trying to keep a balance between Meghan the royal and Meghan the person. But, of course, it doesn’t help that she is often prey to an unrelenting press in the U.K. and abroad. It got so bad, in fact, that Harry and Meghan took the unusual step of suing the Mail on Sunday for publishing a private letter.
At the time, Harry released a statement, speaking of his anger. And in it, he claimed that certain tabloids had released “relentless propaganda,” some of which was “knowingly false and malicious.” What’s more, Harry added that Meghan was “the same woman she was a year ago on our wedding day.”
Interestingly, before Meghan married Harry, her Suits co-star Wendell Pierce warned her that her world would be changed forever. And, of course, he was right. Hopefully, though, any more changes will be ones that Meghan can embrace and accept – whether good or bad.
Yet what of Harry’s brother, William, and his relationship? Well, he and Kate have now been husband and wife for the best part of a decade and have three children. However, people have noticed that ever since Harry got married himself, things seem to have changed between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. But why?
Before eventually tying the knot, Kate and William went through several ups and downs during their relationship. They first met in 2001 while studying at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. Reportedly, William was first attracted to Kate when he saw her on the catwalk at a fashion show held for charity.
And while Kate had been friends with William at the time, their relationship is said to have merely been platonic. However, when the future duchess wore a daring, completely sheer dress that showed off her underwear on the catwalk, William was apparently awestruck. According to Vanity Fair, the prince was even compelled to say to a friend, “Kate’s hot!”
In fact, an anonymous insider interviewed for Katie Nicholl’s 2010 book William and Harry suggested that the catwalk moment changed everything for William and Kate. As reported by Nicholl, that individual claimed, “It was clear to us that William was smitten with Kate. He actually told her she was a knockout that night, which caused her to blush. There was definitely chemistry between them, and Kate had really made an impression on William.”
The source added, “[Kate] played it very cool, and at one point when William seemed to lean in to kiss her, she pulled away. She didn’t want to give off the wrong impression or make it too easy for Will.” If royal reporters had been around at that moment, who knows what they would have made of that?
Kate and William subsequently began dating, but it wasn’t always easy to avoid press intrusion. In order to keep their relationship secret, then, the couple reportedly left the house they shared with classmates at separate times. The pair were also careful about holding hands – especially when members of the public could see.
But, eventually, the news got out. There was a lot of media attention surrounding Kate – so much so, in fact, that she had to file a complaint via her lawyers. And as a result, she and William split up in 2007, although they got back together again soon afterwards. Fortunately, it seemed that nothing could keep them apart for too long.
And Kate and William duly announced their engagement in November 2010, with the prince having proposed in private the month before. The pair smiled in the official photographs to mark the occasion, too, even if the snaps were still quite formal and sedate. One image, however, seemed to throw off all the royal trappings and show Kate and William for what they were: a young couple in love.
In 2014 Mario Testino – the man who took the official engagement photos – told The Daily Telegraph that he hadn’t been “totally satisfied” with the pictures at first. His mind was somewhat changed, though, when he captured one touching moment between the royal couple. Testino explained, “when I’d finished the shoot, [Kate and William] were about to leave, and they suddenly hugged in front of a radiator. It was spontaneous emotion. You could see they were completely in love.”
Finally, ten years after they had first met, William and Kate were married in Westminster Abbey. It was a momentous occasion – one watched by millions of people around the planet. And while appearing on the balcony to wave to the gathered crowd, William gave a quick smooch to his new wife. Then, after onlookers shouted “Kiss her again” to the prince, he gamely complied.
Typically, royals don’t get overly passionate even at a wedding – and certainly not in the church. Before William and Kate’s marriage, the Very Reverend Dr. John Hall, Dean of Westminster, told Yahoo News, “There will be no kiss during the wedding ceremony. We don’t do that in the Church of England. That’s sort of a Hollywood thing, ‘You may now kiss the bride.’ It doesn’t happen here.”
Nevertheless, in the run-up to the wedding, a number of newspapers reported that William and Kate had practiced their balcony kiss in advance. In an entirely unromantic move, the lip-lock was even apparently scheduled into proceedings. The second kiss on the day, however, appeared to be much more of a spur-of-the-moment thing.
And after the wedding, William and Kate settled into married life. They also started a family, with their first child Prince George coming along in 2013. But there was no kiss on the steps of the hospital when the two showed off their new arrival, even though they were most likely thrilled. Instead, they simply held George and smiled for the cameras. What’s more, royal watchers observed that as close as the couple seemed to be, they rarely showed it in public. Yet, as it turned out, there was a good reason for the royals’ restraint.
William and Kate chose not to show affection in public for one simple reason: they were at work. Just as a married couple may decide not to hold hands around the office, Kate and William didn’t do so when the cameras were on, either. After all, even when celebrating the birth of a new baby, they were representing the entire monarchy.
“The duke and duchess are almost always seen in photographs taken during official engagements, so they are at ‘work,’ and it would be unprofessional to hold hands,” HELLO!’s royal correspondent Emily Nash told the magazine in 2017. “They also need to shake hands with a huge number of people as they meet them, so aside from being on duty, it wouldn’t be very practical!”
“We know [the duke and duchess] are very affectionate and that sometimes comes across during more lighthearted moments, at sporting events or similar, but you wouldn’t expect them to put that on show while in more formal situations,” Nash went on. However, in 2017 that royal rule was suddenly broken. Prince Harry and his new wife Meghan, you see, were happy to show PDA (Public Displays of Affection).
Harry and Meghan have been photographed holding hands many times, in fact, and they even shared a pretty intense-looking kiss during a charity polo match in July 2018. It was all quite unexpected, but the media loved it. “Meghan and Prince Harry holding hands at a royal engagement is a refreshingly modern approach to their new role both as a couple and as representatives of the royal family,” specialist in royal etiquette Myka Meier told People magazine in 2017.
Meier added that generally public affection is “simply a matter of preference for each couple and is also likely dependent on the nature of the event.” Though older royals like Charles and Camilla have sometimes been seen holding hands, “a more serious engagement would warrant a more serious level of professionalism, which each royal is sure to follow.”
It’s worth noting, of course, that said professionalism used to be somewhat austere. In a 2017 biography called Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life, author Sally Bedell-Smith considered the affection – or lack of – that the Queen and Prince Philip have historically shown each other when in the public eye. She wrote, “In the manner of the upper class, neither of them were physically demonstrative.”
However, Kate and William surprised fans in October 2018 with some PDA of their own. Kate had recently returned from maternity leave after giving birth to Prince Louis and was accompanying Prince William to London’s Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit. And during the event, William was spotted putting his hand on his wife’s back and later on her leg – a rare occurrence indeed for the royal couple.
But that wasn’t all. A few days after the summit, Kate and William attended the wedding of Princess Eugenie, and again they seemed to be getting much closer than normal. Reporter Kirsten Aiken wrote on Twitter, “Commentary team oohs and aahs over an apparently rare PDA by William and Kate (mind you, they’re only holding hands!).”
Judi James, a body language interpreter, also had something to say about Kate and William’s behavior. “They managed to outdo Harry and Meghan here,” she told newspaper the Daily Mirror. “Kate reached across to place a hand on the arm of her husband’s chair, and he put his own hand over it in a very romantic gesture.”
And James analysed the body language on display at the summit too. “Kate seems to have increased in confidence here at their first public outing together since the birth, and William is unusually tactile, flashing some sweet “pinging” smiles at his wife to suggest he’s incredibly pleased to have her back at his side,” she said to another newspaper, the Daily Express.
But what could have triggered this change in the duke and duchess’ public relationship? Well, James suggested to the Daily Mirror that it may have been “prompted by the very tactile displays from Harry and Meghan.” Some royal watchers even thought that they may have been subtly trying to one-up them. A tweet after Princess Eugenie’s wedding, for instance, claimed that William and Kate were aiming to “upstage” the newer couple at the event.
There have been rumors of bad blood between the royals, too. In 2018, for instance, gossip magazines reported that Meghan and Kate had squabbled before the former actress’ wedding to Harry. According to anonymous sources, the origin of the conflict was Princess Charlotte’s bridesmaid dress; the disagreement, it’s said, also left Kate in tears.
And Kate and Meghan’s alleged feud continued to make headlines. In November 2018, in fact, it was reported that Harry and Meghan were moving out of Kensington Palace – and thus away from William and Kate. An anonymous source further claimed to the Daily Mail that a rift between the royal women was the cause of said relocation.
Furthermore, the supposed “close friend of the Cambridges” told the publication that the two duchesses don’t see eye to eye. “Kate and Meghan are very different people,” they claimed. “They don’t really get on.” That same month, though, another source suggested to The Sun that the problem didn’t in fact lie with the royal wives; instead, it was actually William and Harry who were fighting.
Then in April 2019 Metro spoke to a body language specialist about one of William and Harry’s most recent public appearances. On that occasion, both princes had attended an engagement with environmentalist Sir David Attenborough – but although they had arrived in the same car, they’d immediately parted ways afterwards.
With that in mind, Peter Clayton told Metro, “Normally when they arrive at an event, the brothers always walk together – even if it is behind their father. When they greet the organizers or supporters, they usually have a small laugh to ensure they approach the line smiling and looking jolly. But the behavior is now very different.”
Clayton continued, “If you didn’t see [William and Harry] step out of the car together, you would think they had arrived in separate cars – such is the distance between them. There isn’t any attempt to look at each other, and they appear to be intent on maintaining that distance.” Nevertheless, the body language guru added, “Whatever has happened, I hope they can put it behind them quickly, because I have always really admitted how the two princes have always stuck together and been such good friends.”
Regardless of such reports, however, only a few really know how the royals interact with one another behind closed doors. After all, that’s generally not the sort of information that Kensington Palace tends to release to the public. As a result, then, many perceptions of the Windsor clan come from – that’s right – their public displays of affection and their general body language towards one another.
Let’s take a look at this body language, then. For instance, when Kate and Meghan got together for Christmas 2018 with the rest of the royals, they appeared to be happy and smiling. But were they just hiding a dislike of each other for the cameras? Well, body language specialists thought not. “See how they’re laughing [and] how they’re all walking in sync?” expert Patti Wood told Marie Claire. “It’s really difficult to do that if you really, really don’t like somebody.”
Even the ways in which royals use their accessories apparently hold some significance. Take Kate as she appears in this photograph, for example. Here, she isn’t seen holding hands with William; instead, she is positioning her clutch bag between herself and her husband. But according to experts, this is actually a good sign when it comes to Meghan, who is walking on Kate’s other side. You see, it means that there is nothing coming between the sisters-in-law – in both a metaphorical and a physical sense.
“Kate has her purse in between her and Will,” Wood told Marie Claire. “I don’t typically like that, but I think because of the controversy in the media around her relationship with Meghan, she might just be making an effort to make sure that [the] relationship looks good and there’s no blocking or barrier between them.”
Yet rumors of a feud between Kate and Meghan persisted into 2019. Perhaps, then, this continued speculation drew none other than Sarah Ferguson to comment on the situation in February of that year. And in doing so, the Duchess of York – who was once set in competition against Princess Diana – drew attention to the often coarse nature of internet speculation. “It seems,” she wrote in an open letter for Hello magazine, “that online, anything goes.”
“Women, in particular, are constantly pitted against and compared with [one another] in a way that reminds me of how people tried to portray Diana and me all the time as rivals, which is something neither of us ever really felt,” Ferguson went on. “People feel licensed to say things online that they would never dream of saying to someone’s face. And that encourages others to pile in.”
It’s worth noting, too, that if there really is tension between Meghan and Kate – or between Harry and William for that matter – there has nevertheless been no concrete evidence of this as yet. There’s also no legitimate indication that anyone wants to upstage the other members of the family. Plus, if public displays of affection are an issue, then Charles and Camilla ought to be taken into consideration. In a photoshoot for the December 2018 issue of Vanity Fair, for example, Camilla is seen pictured with a hand on her husband’s leg.
What’s more, some royal commentators believe that Charles and Camilla may tweak the rules a little when Charles ascends to the throne. “Times have changed,” biographer Penny Junor told Good Housekeeping in 2018. “Charles is still so besotted with Camilla – even after all these years – that it would be hard for him not to show his natural affection.”
Still, Harry and Meghan are certainly the royal couple who seem the most comfortable with displaying affection in public. And things were no different during their recent Australasian royal tour. Indeed, Harry often held the hand of his pregnant wife while the pair were out and about. And even while clapping politely at events, Meghan had her arm wrapped around Harry’s.
Some people, however, even complained about the amount of personal contact between Harry and Meghan, reported The Sun newspaper. Apparently, for instance, a user of website Mumsnet said, “For the love of God, could they stop holding hands? They’re not on a date, they’re carrying out official business!”
Meanwhile, James suggested that William and Kate may also have grown closer due to the birth of Prince Louis. “Their smiles together have changed, and their affection and love signals are much more intense and open than ever before, suggesting the birth of their third child has somehow thrown them back into the honeymoon stage,” she told the Daily Express.
And they’re not the only ones, it seems. Harry and Meghan appear to be deliriously in love at every public appearance too. During their royal tour, they even ventured out alone while in New Zealand’s Whakarewarewa Forest for a private moment. There, Harry took a beautiful photograph of pregnant Meghan clutching her belly.
But although Kate and William are less demonstrative with their feelings, they still clearly adore each other. And a lack of regular PDA doesn’t definitively speak to what goes on behind closed doors. Besides, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are almost never seen touching, and they’ve been together for over 70 years!