New Meghan Markle book reveals Vanity Fair tantrums and fall outs

A new book reveals a recurring theme in Meghan Markle’s behaviour and it doesn’t paint the Duchess in a positive light.

In November 2017, an adoring Prince Harry sat on a beige sofa with his newly-announced, beaming fiance Meghan Markle by his side, and talked about his grandmother’s dogs.

“The corgis took to you straight away,” the Prince said happily. “I’ve spent the last 33 years being barked at; this one walks in, absolutely nothing.”

“That has to be a good sign,” the journalist conducting the interview, the BBC’s Mishal Husain concluded.

At the time, that simple detail, that Her Majesty’s adored pooches likewise naturally adored the royal family’s newest recruit, exemplified the reaction of the Windsors, the British press and the nation as a whole to Meghan: Harry’s choice of bride was clearly a captivating and charismatic woman who would naturally win over everyone who came within her orbit.

Today, less than five years after all the corgi-charming, things look markedly different for Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Over the last 48 hours, a slew of serialisations from Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the War Between the Windsors by well-known biographer Tom Bower have been running in The Times and The Sun, painting an unflattering view of the Sussexes’ from the time Meghan signed on for royal duty until they bailed for California.

The various chunks of Revenge which have been published so far, range from Meghan’s 2017 Vanity Fair cover to her relationship with her estranged father Thomas Markle to the Queen’s reaction when the Duchess was not able to attend Prince Philip’s funeral.

But there is one fascinating throughline in all of the pieces, one common thread in many of Bower’s claims about Meghan, back from when she was an actress on the only moderately successful cable dramedy Suits through to when she became one of the most famous women in the world courtesy of her marriage.

Time and time again, in Bower’s telling, Meghan ended up in conflict and disagreement with people she came across.

From members of the royal family, to Sussex staffers, the Vogue and Vanity Fair teams and Palace mandarins, all had less-than-favourable interactions with the Duchess, according to the Revenge extracts.

According to Bower, even before she met Harry, the actress was rubbing people up the wrong way. In March of 2016, Meghan filmed an advertising campaign for affordable Canadian clothing chain Reitmans which was “marred by clashes between Meghan and the creative team”.

When the ad was filmed in Montreal, she reportedly insisted on being booked into a hotel under a fake name (“The production team were flummoxed. No one in French-speaking Montreal knew Meghan,” Bower writes) and “criticised the hotel’s Tempurpedic bathrobe and slippers. She wanted Dior. The tea was the wrong blend and the vegan green juice was warm.”

“‘The Princess is coming,’ sniggered one assistant as, hard-faced, Meghan arrived on set, avoiding eye contact with the crew. She disappeared upstairs to her dressing-room,” Bower writes.

“‘She was always fed up,’ one crew member noted, ‘Sighing, huffing and rolling her eyes at things. It was heavy-going working with her.’”

After the shoot, the ad’s third director Jean Malek allegedly took to Facebook, posting: “She is definitely the meanest person I’ve ever met. Just saying.”

Everything would change for Meghan only months after that shoot when she touched down in London in July and was set up on a blind date. The rest is, of course, history.

However, according to Bower’s telling, when Meghan became a fixture in her new boyfriend’s upper crust world she failed to win over his friends and family.

After their relationship was revealed in late October 2016, Harry hosted a shooting weekend at his grandmother’s vast Norfolk estate Sandringham for 16 of his friends and their wives and girlfriends. While Bower’s account of the ‘humour’ that was bandied around sounds ignorant and boorish, involving “sexism, feminism and transgender people,” she did not make a good impression on her paramour’s childhood mates.

“Meghan was a dampener on the party, [Harry’s friends] concluded,” Bower writes. “She lacked any sense of humour. Driving home after Sunday lunch, the texts pinged between the cars: ‘OMG, what about HER?’ said one. ‘Harry must be f***ing nuts.’”

Then in March 2017, Meghan flew from her home in Toronto to Jamaica for the wedding of one of the royal’s oldest friend’s Tom Inskip.

“Harry flew premium economy from London, Meghan arrived from Toronto in a friend’s private jet,” Revenge recounts. “The close-knit group keenly anticipated meeting Meghan. They were quickly disappointed.

“Not only did she quibble about the food, but she behaved ‘princessy’, refusing to engage with Harry’s friends.

“ ‘She wasn’t interested in us,’” said one mother.

In September of 2017, Meghan scored the coup of her career thus far, appearing on the cover of Vanity Fair. Sam Kashner, a contributing editor was dispatched to interview her.

“Kashner felt he was being played. It was a cat-and-mouse game, he reasoned, and she was calculating how to take advantage of the cards played,” Bower writes.

Later, when the piece came out and focused on her romance with the Prince, Bower says Meghan “hysterically” called the head honchos of the PR firm she employed, Sunshine Sachs, and “described Buckingham Palace’s fury” over the piece.

Kashner, according to Bower, said: “She complained because she wasn’t presented in the way she wanted. She demanded that the media do what she expects. I felt manipulated.”

Still, hiccups like this aside, the monarchy was calling.

Two months after the magazine’s publication, in November 2017, the world would learn that Harry had popped the question and that the House of Windsor was about to get a dynamic and stunning (in every sense) new recruit.

So what did Harry’s family make of his choice of bride?

While Prince Charles walked Meghan down the aisle, after the humiliating debacle involving her father Thomas Markle’s collusion with the paparazzi, he allegedly felt “bewilderment about the American. He had never really understood her or what she wanted,” per Bower.

When Charles and Her Majesty, after the wedding, joined the newlyweds on a conference call to discuss Thomas’ increasingly damaging media forays, “Meghan’s excuses irritated Charles and perhaps also the Queen.”

Charles’ wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, does not sound, in Bower’s telling, like she was particularly enamoured of her new stepdaughter-in-law. “Unlike Charles, Camilla could see through the American actress’s coquettish smiles and tactile performance,” Bower reports.

The public, meanwhile, knew none of this and in October 2018 when they jetted into Sydney for their first international tour, the response was jubilant and frenzied.

Away from the cameras though, “the mood in the Sussexes’ Sydney headquarters was, by contrast, miserable,” according to Bower with the royal duo then having “bombarded their staff with demands for removal of the criticism” from online.

During the tour, when media attention focused on the high cost of her designer ensembles, “Meghan was irate. Staff were blamed for not suppressing, Hollywood-style, all those embarrassing media reports.”

Come 2019, when the Duchess’ guest edited British Vogue, she was, again according to Bower’s allegations, not exactly winning over the new people she came into contact with.

He writes: “Listening to the Duchess, [Vogue’s] editorial team’s expressions showed silent exasperation. They believed most of her contributions were superficial, lacking rhyme or reason. To avoid confrontation, she was never asked to explain.”

When news of the issue broke, “Buckingham Palace was blindsided” and the pressure was piled on their communications secretary Sara Latham. “The blowback in Kensington Palace was instantaneous. Latham was seen weeping,” writes Bower.

As 2019 went on, in Bower’s telling, the relationship between the Duke and Duchess and monarchy HQ did not improve, with the Palace reported left “unnerved” by the Sussexes’

“commercialisation plans” and their “transactional relationships” which “convinced officials that the couple were heading beyond their control”.

Not long after, in January 2020, the sonic boom of Megxit reverberated around the world.

One of Bower’s most extraordinary allegations concerns the Queen’s own reaction to the Duchess of Sussex.

He writes that in April 2021, in the lead up to Prince Philip’s funeral, which was only a month after the Sussexes’ incendiary Oprah Winfrey interview, Her Majesty told “trusted aides”, “Thank goodness Meghan is not coming.”

What is worth noting at this point is that Bower’s claims about Meghan’s allegedly troubled interactions comes after years of allegations about the Duchess of Sussex’s relationships with those around her.

In early March last year, claims that she had bullied Kensington Palace staff members were revealed by The Times. (Meghan has always vehemently denied the allegations.)

The paper’s Valentine Low reported that, “In late 2017, after Harry and Meghan’s engagement was announced, a senior aide spoke to the couple about the difficulties caused by their treatment of staff … Meghan is said to have replied: ‘It’s not my job to coddle people.’”

“There were a lot of broken people. Young women were broken by their behaviour,” a source told Low and described one staffer as “completely destroyed”.

(In June this year it emerged that the Buckingham Palace report, conducted by an outside law firm, into the allegations was essentially being buried.)

During the Sussexes’ 20 months on the royal job, they are reported to have lost a series of staffers including Meghan’s personal assistant Melissa Toubait, another unnamed PA, Amy Pickerill, their senior communications officer, their private secretary Samantha Cohen and a female bodyguard.

After their son Archie’s birth in 2019, “two nannies reportedly left within weeks of one other,” per the Telegraph.

In January 2020, after the Sussexes’ announced that they were going to leave royal life, Natalie Campbell the head of their charity organisation left, making her the ninth staff to have left their employ in 18 months prior.

In March 2021, it was revealed that Catherine St-Laurent, the Sussexes’ chief of staff and executive director of their non-profit Archewell Foundation, had quit after less than 12 months in the job. An insider told The Telegraph at the time that the former advisor to Bill and Melinda Gates “wanted out”.

As of the time of writing, Harry and Meghan have not responded to the damaging claims in Revenge and are due in New York on Monday local time where the Prince will be giving an address at the UN to mark Nelson Mandela Day.

Perhaps it might be worthwhile keeping the words of the human rights legend in mind, who once said, “You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than you will through acts of retribution.”

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

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