Meghan Markle ‘wanted to be rejected’ by the royal family, claims new book

It’s not often that the trailer for a documentary sets off a global hooha, but then nothing is ever quite simple or predictable with Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, is it?

So, it’s October 2018. The duo has just closed out a stonkingly successful tour of Southern Africa, except rather than celebrating with a round of matcha lattes and affirmations, they are about to derail all their hard work with that doco.

So out comes that trailer, filmed in a garden in Johannesburg, showing an emotional duchess telling host Tom Bradby: “Not many people have asked if I’m OK. But it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes”.

Cue an overwhelming sense of deja vu: Another miserable Windsor wife, another on-the-cusp-of-tears TV interview, another woman telling the world how desperately unhappy she was trapped inside the royal bubble.

When Harry & Meghan: An African Journey aired a couple of weeks later, the similarities between Diana, Princess of Wales and her daughter-in-law Meghan’s experiences were undeniable. Two women who had married two princes, only for them to suffer so much.

And then, in January 2020 when Meghan and husband Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex peremptorily bailed on life as frontline members of the royal family, a blow delivered by Instagram no less, there seemed to be a certain sort of symmetry, of Diana’s son treading a path she first set out.

But what if we have gotten it all wrong? What if Meghan is not in fact Diana 2.0, a woman trammelled by the monarchy?

That’s the question we are left with after new bombshell claims that have come via the Times’ longtime royal reporter Valentine Low’s forthcoming Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown, with one of his most devastating revelations going to the very heart of the Meghan narrative: What if the university-educated, self-made professional never really intended to stay in the royal family at all?

When the world watched Meghan Markle – Suits star and Toronto cool girl – dressed in several hundred thousands of dollars of Givenchy exchange her vows with the world’s most famous redhead in 2018, it seemed we were all on the same page. Goodbye career, hello interminable walkabouts in Stoke-on-Trent!

Then things started to curdle, thanks to a combination of, depending on your view, palace insiders, other royal family members, the press and social media agitators. According to the authors of last year’s Finding Freedom, Meghan told a friend: “I gave up my entire life for this family. I was willing to do whatever it takes. But here we are. It’s very sad.”

Low’s Courtiers, however, challenges that narrative that the Los Angeles native went into this in good faith and instead raises the quite shocking claim that the duchess never particularly wanted things to work.

One former staff member told Low: “Everyone knew that the institution would be judged by [Meghan’s] happiness. The mistake they made was thinking that she wanted to be happy. She wanted to be rejected, because she was obsessed with that narrative from day one.”

Elsewhere, Low writes: “A succession of perfectly decent people … began to suspect that even her most heartfelt pleas for help were part of a deliberate strategy that had one end in sight: her departure from the royal family. They believe she wanted to be able to say ‘Look how they failed to support me’.

“Sources say the team came up with a damning epithet for Meghan: a ‘narcissistic sociopath’. They also reportedly said on repeated occasions: ‘We were played’.”

And therein lies the fundamental gulf between Diana and Meghan. For all of the princess’ devastating, Palace-shaking revelations and her genius line about “three of us in the marriage”, she never wanted out of royal life. Meghan, however, based on these claims, never really wanted in.

Yes, Diana might have desperately wanted her husband Prince Charles to be brought to heel (never mind that, reportedly, she was the one who was unfaithful first) and yes, she probably wanted some sort of acknowledgment of the misery she had been through, but at the end of the day, she had no desire to swish out of the Palace gates, trailing Louis Vuitton steamer trunks and humming I Will Survive.

The Princess of Wales was, to the very end, a dyed-in-the-wool monarchist, who believed in the royal family and what it did.

Meghan, according to extracts from Courtiers, was never quite sold on the royal box and dice.

Take the duke and duchess’ highly successful tour of Australia and the South Pacific in October 2018. Per Courtiers: “Meghan failed to understand the point of all those walkabouts, shaking hands with countless strangers. According to several members of staff, she was heard to say on at least one occasion, ‘I can’t believe I’m not getting paid for this’.”

Low’s claims closely mirror Brown’s own reporting in The Palace Papers, in which she writes of that tour that the duchess “hated every second of it”.

“Instead of being excited when thousands of people showed up at the Opera House, it was very much like, ‘What’s the purpose? I don’t understand this’,’ a former Palace employee told Brown.

But the perks of royalty? Those she allegedly fancied quite a bit.

According to Low, a point of tension between Meghan and her then personal assistant Melissa Touabti was to do with the complimentary designer items that streamed in. (“Clothes, jewellery, candles … It was absolutely non-stop,” one source has said.)

He writes: “Touabti was apparently punctilious in following the household rule that members of the royal family cannot accept freebies from commercial organisations. Her approach did not go down well with Meghan.”

Then there is where Diana and Meghan fall on their approaches to the great TV tell-all. The princess effectively signed her royal resignation letter, which she would only realise too late, when she sat down with the now-disgraced journalist Martin Bashir in 1995, but she only pulled this move after 14 years of marriage and royal life.

And the Sussexes? Low reports that Harry and Meghan had originally been set to sit down with prime time confessor Oprah Winfrey in the later months of 2019, just over a year after their wedding.

There is a bigger picture here too. One thing that clearly unites Diana and Meghan is their unswerving commitment to their chosen causes and charities. Here’s the ‘but’ though …

What the Princess of Wales intuitively understood was that being inside the royal tent, so to speak, gave her a power and a platform that absolutely nothing in the world could come close to.

In late August the pre-eminent Diana biographer and society insider Tina Brown, who personally knew the princess, gave an interview to the Daily Beast, saying that had she lived,

“She [would have] kept Kensington Palace as her base. Unlike Harry and Meghan she understood having the power base of monarchy was enormously important”.

That’s a lesson that Meghan could or should be learning right now, as the couple’s Archewell Foundation sputters along having achieved nothing of any real note. (Never fear, the ego-stroking gongs are piling up with Meghan having been set to be one of Variety’s Power of Women honorees and a report suggesting she could take home a trophy at the upcoming GQ Men of the Year awards.)

What makes the claims that Meghan never really had much interest in gamely accepting her position in the royal ranks so dangerous is that it calls into stark question one of the central animating principles: People want to be ‘in’.

Royalty is meant to be a truly lustworthy, eternally desirable thing to try and attain or join.

The story of Meghan up-ends that entirely. Not only did she turn her back on it when the demands became too much but maybe, just maybe, she was never very interested in subsuming herself to the institution at all. (All those allegedly free candles notwithstanding.)

Here’s one final thought: Brown told the Beast that while the princess would have been “thrilled” when her son met Meghan, “I think she would have felt Meghan was steering Harry in a direction that was not good for Harry. I don’t think Diana would have been the great fan of Meghan that Meghan herself might perhaps imagine.”

Daniela Elser is a writer and a royal expert with more than 15 years’ experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.

Read related topics:Meghan MarkleQueen Elizabeth II

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