Timeline: When did public favour turn so dramatically against Meghan Markle?
It seems like only yesterday we were fawning over the royal engagement interview, praising her as the feminist who would shake up the too-traditional British royal family; but instead, there are endless reports of tears, tantrums and lots of headwear-led drama.
When did the world turn against Meghan Markle?
November 2016: Harry confirms relationship with damning statement
After weeks of speculation and dashes between London and Toronto, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle confirmed they have been in a relationship for six months. The barrage of media attention around Meghan, then working as an actress on Suits, prompted one of the most notable - and divisive - statements in modern royal history. Harry released a statement via Kensington Palace lambasting the media attention for its “wave of abuse and harassment” and for its criticism of being “racist and sexist” at its core. It was a public statement of support for his future wife and the first hint that this couple would be doing things their own way from now on.
September 2017: Meghan and Harry go public in Toronto
After more than one year of dating, endless reports about their relationship and daily paparazzi shots of Meghan heading to yoga class with her mother, the couple made their public debut at Toronto’s Invictus Games. This particular moment, watching a game of wheelchair basketball, would inform much of their DNA as a couple: their hand-holding was a slap in the face of royal protocol which dictates PDAs are off-limits, and she arrived wearing a pair of ripped Mother jeans, a white boyfriend t-shirt and a pair of tortoiseshell sunglasses that are still being restocked around the world. Yes, the ‘Meghan effect’ was in full swing, but those ripped jeans were more than just a style statement, but rather an indication that, as a 36-year-old woman, she wasn’t changing for anyone.
November 2017: They’re engaged!
By now, Meghan has ditched her lifestyle blog The Tig, closed her social media accounts and ended her brand partnerships with a vegan leather company. She has also left Suits after seven years to move to Nottingham Cottage with Harry. Aside from her much-dissected Vanity Fair interview the month previous, Meghan’s Hollywood affiliations were effectively cut in favour of royal ones; and with good reason - they were secretly engaged. As is tradition, they gave a lengthy sit-down interview with the BBC about their love story. They met on a blind date; he proposed over a roast chicken; Queen Elizabeth’s corgis fell in love with her at first sight and they went to great lengths to show just how normal they are! During the impossibly-in-love moments, there were a few comments that didn’t sit right with viewers, namely underplaying her understanding of the impact of the British royal family.
Hello 2018, welcome to family drama!
During this time, members of Meghan’s family began coming out of the woodwork, none of whom seemed to have anything nice to say. Her half-sister Samantha never met an interview she didn’t like, but the true blow came in the form of her father Thomas Markle Sr. In May, he was proven to be in cahoots with a paparazzi in Mexico in order to sell pictures of him preparing for the royal wedding. The Mail on Sunday, who broke the story, said the motivation behind running it was because the British press were instructed to ease off on Mr Markle. He was privately complaining to his daughter about the media attention, but in fact, was working with a photographer to court public favour and rehash his image. It was, supposedly, Samantha’s idea. The family drama went on for months and wound up courting a lot of public sympathy in Meghan’s favour as it was viewed that her family was betraying her at every opportunity.
April 2018: Cracks start to show
The public support was somewhat short-lived after endless ‘sources’ became to reveal stories of Meghan’s alleged social ambition at any cost. Now that she was a few weeks from formally becoming a member of ‘The Firm’, she was subject to the same frustrations as other oft-scrutinised royals: be seen and not heard when it comes to criticism, even when you’re swimming in it. Andrew Morton’s biography A Hollywood Princess had a few juicy tidbits - like the fact that she left her first husband after her career took off and returned her wedding rings in the post -- but it lacked the punch it promised. It did however state that Princess Diana was her childhood idol, in contrast to her engagement interview and was proof enough for some that she was duplicitous.
May 2018: Wedding bells
On an exceptionally sunny day on May 23 in Windsor, Meghan and Harry exchanged vows at St George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle. Her father had pulled out of walking her up the aisle just two days before he was due to fly to the UK, claiming he had a heart attack. Her mother Doria was the only family member at the ceremony and held herself like a queen next to a literal one. People travelled from all over Europe and the US for a glimpse at the newlyweds during their much-hyped procession in the town before dancing the night away at Frogmore House, where George Clooney poured people Casamigos tequila shots and everyone made emotional speeches.
Summer 2018: Tours, tantrums and tiaras
The newlyweds chose Dublin as their first port-of-call for a brief tour. It was equal parts geographically convenient, a Brexit strategy and a test run for their lengthy tour to follow that winter. Over the summer, as they got used to their new joint royal roles, they made a few public appearances, had a secret honeymoon and enjoyed lots of downtime sprinkled with their duties. It’s clear Meghan was finding her feet: over the summer she was undergoing ‘duchess lessons’ by an experienced courtier, one of the staff members who left working for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in recent months. Her expensive wardrobe was also criticised by some as being too lavish.
October 2018: Baby makes three!
After weeks of speculation, the royal couple announced they’re expecting their first child, prompting a general outpouring of well wishes. What didn’t thrill people so much was the news that they announced it at Harry’s cousin Princess Eugenie’s wedding. They made a generally good impact during their 16 days in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga, but Meghan’s four speeches ruffled feathers of those who felt she enjoyed the spotlight too much. She was also accused by - who else - the experts in comments section of the Mail Online, of rubbing her bump too much and ‘shoving it in our faces’. After a meeting at a cafe, she ran back inside and delivered leftover pastries to a group of children who had been waiting outside for hours, but this didn’t have the positive impact she thought it would.
November 2018: Moving on - literally and figuratively
By and large, until now, the anti-Meghan sentiment has been drip fed into to our newsfeeds that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the tide turned. But suffice to say, there is enough of an acceptance there to allow the current trend of reporting behind the scenes gossip about how “difficult” she is to continue unabated. The Sunday Times reported earlier this month that Meghan and Harry would be starting a new court away from Kensington Palace, which also works with Prince William and Kate Middleton and their three children. Harry and Meghan are also moving to Windsor to a five-bedroom period home which is being restored in time for the baby’s arrival next year.
Here are some of the highlights from the last few weeks:
- Three staff members on their team quit after varying amounts of time just a few months after the wedding.
- The general consensus among royal reporters is that Meghan is seen as difficult and high energy and is said to “snap” at palace employees.
- Our old friends at the Mail Online referred to her ‘Hurricane Meghan’ who wakes at 5am every day “rain or shine” and texts staff members a lot with ideas and plans, much to their chagrin.
- “What Meghan wants Meghan gets.” The infamous words apparently uttered by Harry in the lead-up to their wedding sum up the questionable decisions and reported diva-like behaviour behind the scenes. The story is this: Meghan didn’t get her first choice tiara for the wedding and they both threw a fit. The quote was first reported by royal biographer Robert Jobson, who also described Harry as ““petulant and short-tempered” in the run-up to the wedding. He was “firmly put in his place” by his grandmother Queen Elizabeth.
- Meghan and sister-in-law Kate are very different people which is causing some friction between the family. Most notably, today, Kate was said to have been left in tears after having a fight with Meghan over Princess Charlotte’s bridesmaid dress as a fitting.