Sarah Caden: 'Why Meghan is getting the cold shoulder from Kate'
The summer of love seems to be cooling for Meghan - and Harry won't be happy, writes Sarah Caden
Last Wednesday, during a visit to Leicester, Kate Middleton was asked if she was excited about the baby due to her brother-in-law, Prince Harry, and his new wife, Meghan.
"Absolutely, it's such a special time," answered Kate, "and a cousin for George, Charlotte and Louis."
What more could the woman say, really? Cynically, you could ascribe a little mischief to the person who asked the question. If they were the kind of person who has enough interest to actually attend a royal outing, then they had heard the mutterings of a froideur between the wives of Princes William and Harry.
Kate was hardly going to pull a face in response, though, or be rude about the impending arrival. She's no fool and, further, she may well be absolutely chuffed about the new cousin.
Or, funnily enough, she may not be that bothered. In the normal world, how worked up does the average woman get about her brother-in-law's baby-to-be? Perhaps, if they are particularly close, she feels warmly about it. But excited? Emotionally involved? Not really. But normal women don't live in a goldfish bowl like the royals, nor, for that matter, do they tend to live in the same house (palace) with their in-laws. In this family, though, the rules are different.
The week of wicked Windsor whispers began with news that Harry and Meghan are to leave Kensington Palace for Frogmore Cottage, in Windsor. The main reason given for this decision was that the couple want to bring up their baby in as normal an environment as possible, away from London and the rigidity of life in the Palace. It was too stifling at Kensington Palace, and the newlyweds needed their space.
Of course, the impression this gives is of the Princes living cheek by jowl, Coronation Street-style, popping in and out of each other's "apartments" in the Palace for a bowl of sugar and the wives having no escape from one another. In reality, William and Kate have a 22-room domain, and Harry and Meghan were going to live in matching expansive quarters.
Not exactly in each other's pockets; but it must feel fairly suffocating if there is that sense of all eyes on your interactions at all times.
The rumoured reason for Harry and Meghan's move, however, was that of a growing distance between the Princes and a chilliness between their wives.
There were quotes from insiders and "sources close" that characterised Harry as growing dictatorial of late, under Meghan's influence, obviously. It was reported that Prince Charles had to intervene when Harry felt that William wasn't sufficiently rolling out the red carpet - maybe literally? - for Meghan.
Kate and Meghan, we were told, "are very different people". Meghan, who is consistently hinted at as the villain of the piece, is "an acquired taste" and she and Kate just hadn't hit it off.
Subtly, in all accounts, Kate is the good girl, dutiful and dignified, while Meghan is a wilful woman who lived an independent and indulged life up to her mid-30s and now finds it hard to accept the royal rules and pecking order.
Kate, we read mid-week, was left in tears after a bridesmaid dress fitting for three-year-old Princess Charlotte, ahead of Harry and Meghan's wedding. No reason was given for the tears, as in, no report said that Meghan had been a bridezilla and got stroppy with the toddler or bitchy with Kate, who had only recently had baby Louis. The implication was there, however. Meghan was, and is, a madam.
And it had all been going so well.
It was all going swimmingly for Meghan until earlier this month, when an alleged wilfulness around her May wedding to Harry made headlines. One has to allow that a certain degree of demanding and diva-ish behaviour is taken as a bride's due these days, and also that Meghan's wedding occurred on a different scale to most, but even at that, she seemed to have been difficult.
There was the "what Meghan wants, Meghan gets" dictat Harry was reported to have issued to royal staff, which read almost laughably like a bad TV-movie script, and then a to-do over her tiara of choice. The tiara Meghan wanted from the Queen's collection was reported to have been of unknown, possibly dubious Russian origin and the Queen wasn't having her wearing it. Meghan was peeved, apparently, and the Queen even more so.
Ticking off the Queen: not good.
You have to wonder why this month-long deluge of subtle but steady picking apart of Meghan is occurring. It's too easy to say that the honeymoon period is over and the backlash is inevitable. It's not like the public has had enough of her or has grown tired of her, in fact, the truth is quite the opposite.
And that just might be the problem.
Since her engagement to Harry, there has been quite a stir over Meghan. She's beautiful and glamorous and a breath of fresh air. He's clearly madly in love after years of being the troublesome younger brother and then the troubled young man who wore his heart and worries on his sleeve. Meghan captivated not just for her own appeal, but for filling that appealing role of saving Harry from the traumas of his past.
The public fell in love with her this side of the Atlantic, but the fact that she is American meant that she won huge international attention, too. The wedding was textbook glamour marries pomp and ceremony and then the baby news, followed by the triumphant, Meghan-mad tour of Australia were the icing and cherry on the cake.
Meghan mania was mentioned. Which may have set off alarm bells.
It has happened before that one person grew bigger than The Firm as a whole. Diana was a force that The Firm really didn't know how to handle and as her popularity as an individual grew, the popularity of the royals proportionally shrank.
It was disastrous and, worse, ended in the disaster of her death, from which the Windsors have really only recovered since William and Harry grew to adulthood.
No one is suggesting that the very family and business that Meghan married into is conspiring to take her down a peg or two, but it really does them no harm to keep her in her place.
She's a wife, she's the wife of the prince who will never be king, she's not the top dog. And every single report of poor in-law relations, demanding behaviour, prima donna attitudes and failure to adapt that has appeared this month has served to make that clear.
One report even went so far as to subtly suggest that Meghan's even more of a diva than a pop star. While speculating as to why her aide, Melissa Toubati, quit after only six months. Toubati, one report said, had worked happily for "lively" Robbie Williams, but couldn't stick with Meghan. In other words, Robbie is a handful, but Meghan is another league.
All of this comes in the same month as the 70th birthday of Meghan's father-in-law Prince Charles and the concerted campaign of humanising him as a father, a grandfather and husband to Camilla.
As a campaign, it was hugely successful, and photographs of the septuagenarian prince with his family played a huge role in this.
There they all were, Charles and Camilla, William and Kate and their three children, and Harry and Meghan. A unit. That, perhaps, was part of the message: this is a group effort, and no individual is bigger than the group effort.
If Meghan had any ideas to the contrary, she may well feel corrected now.