Royals

The Tatler story that has dealt a devastating blow to Meghan, Duchess of Sussex

Tatler magazine has been the voice of Britain's upper classes for three centuries, and its latest story about the Duchess of Sussex does not paint her in a positive light.

By Karyn Henger
Image: Getty Images
The day Prince Harry introduced his love to the world – leading Hollywood actress Meghan Markle by the hand into the crowds at an Invictus Games event in Toronto, Canada in September 2017 – everything changed for Meghan Markle.
No longer was she simply the girl from Suits. Overnight she became hot property and the world began watching her every move.
"We don't think we've ever seen Prince Harry this happy," observers exclaimed.
Photographers went into a frenzy snapping the couple that day as they held hands, whispered in one another's ears and stole adoring looks. The images went viral. The world could not get enough.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada. Image: Getty Images
Two months later the couple announced their engagement and gave a delighted contingent of the world's press their first official photo call. An endearing televised joint interview followed.
The first hint of a PR problem came in the days preceding the couple's royal wedding in May 2018 when Meghan's father, Thomas Markle, was sprung for organising fake paparazzi shots of himself. Then he went into hospital with heart problems and couldn't attend the royal wedding. Meghan's half-sister Samantha Markle began making damaging comments about Meghan but her credibility was dubious, and the world was more interested in going back to being caught up in the romance.
This was a fairytale in the making.
On May 19 the couple were married at St George's Chapelin in Windsor; the wedding was watched by a worldwide audience of 1.9 billion. Meghan stunned in a Givenchy gown, her veil held in place by Queen Mary's diamond bandeau tiara, which was lent to her by The Queen.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their wedding day, May 19, 2018. Image: Getty Images
Many saw this as more than a good royal wedding to look forward to, though - royal observers saw this as a coming of age for Prince Harry, who had previously been far less settled than his older brother, Prince William.
Wrote one New Zealand magazine editor, "This wedding… was, at its heart, all about Harry. The boy we had watched as he walked, at the age of 12, in the funeral procession behind his mother's casket, and who endured unimaginable heartbreak over the ensuing years, had finally found true happiness.
"Seeing him wipe away tears as he held Meghan's hand at the altar and, later, lovingly kiss her on the chapel steps, made our hearts lift and we felt a sense that Diana's boy was going to be okay.
"In his American bride, Harry has found a soulmate – a woman who shares his commitment to humanitarian work, his sense of fun and who appears to be unfazed by the pressures of the couple's new roles as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex."
The good press continued as the couple began married life together, and they absolutely charmed on their first royal tour of the South Pacific, taking in Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.
They announced they were pregnant with their first child.
But simmering away in the background, Meghan's family dramas continued. Samantha Markle continued to pop up claiming Meghan had turned her back on her family. Then her father started giving interviews saying his daughter was refusing to talk to him.
Meghan retained a dignified silence, but the tide had already begun to turn.
Image: Getty Images
The royal family's newest member was ridiculed by some media for writing uplifting messages to sex workers on bananas, and when she published a cookbook to raise money for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire it was reported that courtiers disapproved.
Stories began surfacing of discontented royal staff leaving; that Meghan was "demanding" to work for; that Meghan had made Duchess Catherine cry and there was in fact a rift between the two women.
Then the stories shifted to there being a rift between Princes Harry and William, ignited by Harry's protectiveness of his new wife. Some claimed Prince Harry was hen-picked and that his new wife forced him to hang out with her friends over his.
Mean-spirited media even began criticising the Duchess for cradling her growing baby bump in a photo opportunity-grabbing kind of way.
Stories began emerging from Meghan's friends in her defence - a development that is rumoured to not have been approved by the Palace.
And all of the above has so far been dealt with by the Palace with a resounding silence.
But then came the Tatler story.
Published this week and guaranteed to be taken notice of by Britain's upper classes, it serves to back many of the claims made by the tabloid papers.
Image: Getty Images
Titled One year of Meghanomania the article's author David Jenkins writes that Palace insiders had their doubts about Meghan from the start.
"She's trouble," one Kensington Palace connection told him - adding that that's what a few people from the Palace felt.
The story claims that Harry's close friend Tom (Skippy) Inskip advised Harry not to marry Meghan "and has paid the price: banishment".
It also states that Kensington Palace staff have started calling her 'Me-Gain' and that Prince Charles said the royal couple's wedding preparations were "a nightmare".
There is a section in the story that refers to Duchess Meghan having "separated herself a bit" from Harry's social circle.
"The 'separated herself a bit' comment is telling," writes Jenkins. "Harry is now less in with his old Gloucestershire set than he used to be. Although Skippy was invited to the couple's wedding, alongside many of Harry's old friends he was edged out of the reception at Frogmore House in favour of big celebrities."
Jenkins goes on to write: "Everyone 'knows' Kate was reduced to tears by Meghan's brusqueness to her daughter, Charlotte. And everyone 'knows' that Harry upbraided William for what he felt was the Cambridges' lukewarm embrace of Meghan. And everyone has their own views on whether the Cambridges did or did not have a prior engagement when Prince Charles invited them and the Sussexes to Scotland."
What makes this story so potentially damaging for Meghan is that Tatler has been widely read by Britain's aristocratic and noble classes since 1709, and all of the people who matter to the royal family will be aware of it and the poor light it portrays Meghan in.
It remains to be seen whether a dignified silence will make this story go away. It's the biggest blow to the new royal yet. Due to give birth very soon, this could not have come at a worse time for the Duchess of Sussex.