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What we should expect once she’s a lady-in-waiting
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18.01.2019

What we should expect once she’s a lady-in-waiting

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It was breathlessly reported this month by British newspapers that Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s American TV-star girlfriend, had been introduced to Queen Elizabeth II.
The teatime meeting — said to be over finger sandwiches and scones at Buckingham Palace — with her love’s grandmother was the most significant indicator yet that the 36-year-old Suits actor will soon step into her biggest role ever: joining the cast of one of the world’s most celebrated families, reports the New York Post.
Markle, who was photographed on Sept. 25 holding hands with Harry at the Invictus Games in Canada during their first public outing, is said to have given up her Audi lease in Toronto, where Suits films. Her work contract with the show ends in late November.
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It seems to be a case of when, not if, an engagement is announced.
Rumours are swirling around London that the 33-year-old prince has already proposed to his squeeze of 15 months after getting permission from his indomitable grandmother.
It’s an understatement to say that free-spirited Markle is about to experience a dramatic lifestyle change.
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As Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine, told The Post, “It’s going to be a minefield.”
Sources reveal that as the Los Angeles-raised actor prepares for a very public engagement and wedding, she is also being schooled in the ways of the Firm — the royals’ nickname for themselves.
There’s no special “school” where Markle will learn how to curtsy, hob-knob with foreign dignitaries or emerge from a car without flashing her underwear.
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British writer Katie Nicholl told The Post that Prince Harry has been Markle’s main mentor in all things royal.
“He knows how daunting this will be for Meghan and he’s keen for her to be relaxed in the company of senior royals,” she said.
Harry will have made sure Meghan knew how to address the queen and how to behave in her presence,” says Nicholl, who has written a forthcoming biography of Harry.
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“He calls her ‘Granny,’ but after Meghan had curtsied and called her ‘Your Majesty,’ she would have reverted to ‘ma’am.’ It seems strange to mere mortals, but it is how [Princess] Kate addresses her.”
The American divorcee will be encouraged to be herself — with one giant caveat.
“She will always have to remember, in public at least, that she is royalty and certain behaviours are expected,” said Seward.
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“It’s going to be difficult for her because she is an independent career woman who [won’t] really like being told what to do.”
Markle’s position is unprecedented, although there are echoes of the scandalous love affair between divorced US socialite Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII that led to the king’s abdication in 1936.
“We’ve never had an American divorcee marry someone who is in line to the throne,” said Seward.
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Harry is currently fifth in position, behind his father, Prince Charles, brother, Prince William, nephew George and niece Charlotte. He will be shunted to sixth place after the birth of William and Kate’s third child next April.
“American manners are different than British manners,” Seward added.
“[She] can’t walk down the street eating or chewing gum.”
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“We hold our cutlery differently. It’s a whole different culture.”
Markle did well in her new role in a September Vanity Fair cover-story interview, sanctioned by Harry, when she revealed, “We’re two people who are really happy and in love.”
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Still, the corridors of Kensington Palace (where Harry lives in an apartment near William and Kate) are a long way from the San Fernando Valley, where Markle was raised by her yoga-teacher mother, Doria, and lighting-director father, Thomas.
When she launched an affordable clothing line in 2016, she told the Toronto Star, “I was not a girl who grew up buying $100 candles. I was the girl who ran out of gas on her way to an audition.”
She first attended the private Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse and then an all-girls’ Catholic school, Immaculate Heart High.
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Markle studied theatre and international relations at Northwestern University, just outside Chicago, where a fellow alumnus remembered her as being “very sophisticated for a college student.
“We were in our early 20s but she seemed like someone 10 years older. She had the poise and grace it takes to being a royal.”
By the time she graduated from college in 2003, Markle had already made her screen debut in General Hospital, which led to roles on TV shows such as 90210, Knight Rider, CSI: NY and, ultimately, Suits.
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Charles Rae, former royal correspondent for Britain’s Sun and author of the book Diana: The People’s Princess, believes the starlet’s professional skills will come in handy when she signs up with the Firm.
“She’s a natural performer and will chat with people with ease,” he said. “Besides, everyone will be intrigued by her accent.”
It’s not as if Markle lacks experience in public speaking. A global ambassador for World Vision, she travelled with the humanitarian organisation to Rwanda for its clean water campaign. Her resumé also includes working for United Nations Women as part of the HeForShe gender-equality movement. All of this earns her extra points with the royal family, as she would be expected to perform charity work and have pet causes as a princess.
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Rae, who described the possibility of Markle marrying Harry as “the best thing to happen to the monarchy in years,” revealed that the brunette has been “studying hard” to fit into the lifestyle.
“She has practically been living at Kensington Palace whenever she is in London and will have seen the routine that goes on with the butlers and servants,” he told The Post.
As of late, Markle has been zipping around London in a new Volkswagen — sometimes, but not always, with a driver. According to the Daily Mail, this is significant because the royal family has a deal with VW in which they get a 60-percent lease discount; Princess Kate had a similar deal, leasing an Audi (owned by VW) before marrying William.
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It will likely only be after an engagement is announced that Markle will receive formal briefings on her public appearances. A personal assistant will also be hired.
As Seward points out, advance information on how to dress correctly could have helped Markle ahead of the Invictus Games, where she famously wore ripped jeans.
Meanwhile, the royal protection squad, an elite team of police officers, will be on hand to advise her on dealing with the traditional “walkabouts” so loved by the British public.
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“She will learn how to cope if someone [in a crowd] comes on too strong,” said Rae. “Ever since John Lennon was shot, the royals have been told never to rebuff anyone. Members of the family, including the queen, have had assassination attempts against them in the past, and no chances will be taken with Meghan.”
As with Grace Kelly, when she became the princess of Monaco, Markle’s “acting career will, of course, be a thing of the past,” Rae said.
Robert Lacey, historical consultant for the hit Netflix series The Crown, told The Post that Markle will not be expected to take British citizenship — mainly because of Harry’s low place in line to the throne.
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“Her position as the wife of Prince Charles’s second son would not warrant it,” he said.
The Greek-born Duke of Edinburgh [Prince Philip], now 96, became a British citizen in March 1947, eight months before his wedding to the then-Princess Elizabeth.
“Times have changed and the heat is off Meghan,” added Lacey. “She is a new recruit but, apart from being assigned a lady-in-waiting, it would be demeaning for her to get too much advice from courtiers.
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“The best person to give Meghan advice would be her fellow divorcee, Camilla [the Duchess of Cornwall and Harry’s stepmother]. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had taken Meghan aside for a strong gin and tonic and some helpful tips on joining the royal family,” Lacey said. “She’s a very funny woman who’s had it all thrown at her but survived.”
Rae said the royals have learned lessons from the ill-fated introductions of both Princess Diana and Sarah, the Duchess of York, to the royal family in the 1980s. “Kate Middleton’s entry into the world went relatively smoothly in comparison.”
Last week, the Daily Mail reported that, when Middleton joined the royal family, an agreement was drawn up among Kate, her parents and Prince William to protect her from undue stress during the first five years of marriage. “Prince Harry is said to be considering a similar agreement to shield [Markle] from palace courtiers who like to keep their charges busy,” said the newspaper.
Speculation is now rife that Markle will appear on the balcony with Kate, Camilla and the queen as princes Charles, William and Harry place wreaths on London’s Cenotaph memorial on Remembrance Sunday, the British equivalent of Veteran’s Day, on Nov. 12.
“Meghan will no doubt follow royal protocol to the letter and wear a nice black coat and hat,” said Lacey, adding that her presence will be another indicator of an impending engagement.
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And Christmas is approaching. If Markle is invited to Sandringham, the Norfolk estate where the queen and her family spend the holidays, she might as well be walking down the aisle at Westminster Abbey.
“I just hope she enjoys pheasant shooting,” said Rae. “When the birds drop and they’re not yet dead, Meghan will be expected to join the other royal ladies in wringing their necks.”
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