To say that Meghan Markle—excuse us, the Duchess of Sussex—is living a life quite different than the one she had before she married Prince Harry is an understatement. One minute she’s up in Canada shivering on the set of a cable television show about a law firm, and the next she’s being escorted down the aisle, on the arm of the future King of England, to wed a real-life prince. It’s a modern day fairytale, yes, but it’s also an incredible adjustment for the woman living it. Herein, the 15 biggest changes in Meghan’s life, now that she’s officially a member of the royal family. And for more on the duchess’ future life, Here’s The One Thing Meghan Markle Will Miss Most After She Becomes a Royal.
Rachel Meghan Markle (her given name) is now Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. And she’s an HRH. Royals do not use last names but, if one were needed, hers would be Rachel Meghan Mountbatten-Windsor. The one thing she is not is “Princess Meghan,” despite what the tabloids have breathlessly reported. The only way Meghan could be called a princess would be if she were to use the moniker Princess Henry of Wales. (Henry is Harry’s given name.) Just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? And for more great royals content, here are the 10 Things Diana Would Tell Meghan About Royal Life.
People have to curtsy to her
Besides commoners in Britain (Americans do not have to curtsy to British royals), there is a whole list of members of the royal family who now have to curtsy to Meghan depending who is in the room. When Meghan is with Harry, she does not have to curtsy to “blood princesses” Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie or infamous eye-roller Zara Phillips because he outranks them. In those instances, those blood princesses must all curtsy to her. When she is alone, she’ll be the one doing the knee-bending. Oh, and she has to curtsy to Kate Middleton.
She lives at a much swankier address
Meghan gave up her two-bedroom rental in Toronto to move to England and live in Nottingham Cottage (aka “Nott Cott”) with Harry on the grounds of Kensington Palace last year. The cozy two-bedroom residence was Prince William and Kate’s starter home, as well. It’s just a matter of time before the newlyweds get more spacious, swanky digs from Queen Elizabeth II—and a sprawling country home as an escape, for when the pressures of being royal get to be too much.
She’s got an unrivaled global platform
During her seven years as one of the stars of Suits, Meghan built up a faithful following from her blog, The Tig, where she mixed travel, food, and fashion stories with messages of female empowerment and essays about causes that matter most to her. Impressive, sure, but it’s nothing compared to the royally obsessed global audience she can reach as a member of the British royal family. “I am proud to be a woman and a feminist,” Meghan is quoted as saying on the official royal website. She made the remarks at the UN Women conference in New York in 2015. It’s literally not an overstatement that Meghan could change the world (and some would argue she already has) with her new royal role. Everything she says or does is news, which means…
She can’t openly express her political opinions
British royals have always been “apolitical.” They do not vote (although the Queen is the only one expressly prohibited from doing so by their constitution). Royal historian Robert Lacey has said this could be a “real problem” for Meghan, who has been an outspoken critic of U.S. president Donald Trump, calling his policies “misogynistic.” (Recall that “I am proud to be a woman and a feminist” quote.) Meghan joining the family may prove to be historic in more ways than one.
Her privacy will be at a premium
Shortly after her engagement to Harry was announced, Meghan received her own Royal Protection Officers; they will be with her anytime she goes anywhere. She can no longer duck out to Starbucks alone and, as we saw in the weeks leading up to the wedding, she’ll need an escort to yoga class. This will definitely take some getting used to.
Her address book has more A-listers than ever
Meghan had her own celebrity friends before she met Harry, but having Elton John sing at your wedding and George Clooney twirl you around the dance floor—and reportedly tend bar—ups the ante considerably. And her mother, Doria Ragland, is now Oprah Winfrey’s new pal.
She can’t give out autographs
Judging by those old family videos we’ve seen where Meghan acted out plays with classmates and neighborhood friends, we’re betting the aspiring young actress practiced signing her name a lot—and has signed her fair share of headshots since coming to Hollywood. That’s all over. Royals are not allowed to sign autographs because of forgery concerns.
She gets much better jewelry
Meghan’s beautiful diamond and yellow gold engagement ring that Harry designed from Cleave & Co. was just the tip of the iceberg. She has her pick (more or less) of the Queen’s tiaras and other stunning pieces for state occasions and official visits. Her besotted husband has already given her a $20,000 diamond bracelet from Cartier and a gorgeous emerald-cut aquamarine ring that reportedly belonged to Princess Diana which the bride wore to her evening wedding reception. It’s a safe bet once a baby arrives, there will be a major push present the comes along with the bouncing bundle of joy.
She has to wear hosiery and hats
If you look at what Meghan wore for her engagement photo—an ill-fitting yet pretty white coat, slightly oversized lace-up stilettos, and bare legs—compared to her demure duchess ensemble for her first appearance as HRH, which included a knee-length, pale peach dress, matching Philip Treacy hat and nude hosiery, it’s obvious she’s already been outwardly transformed by royal protocol. We can’t wait to see what she wears next. And for more on the duchess’ wardrobe, see Meghan Markle’s 10 Favorite Brands That Became Instant Bestsellers.
She’s now part of “the family she never had”
Last Christmas, Harry went on BBC Radio and famously said Meghan loved being with the royals at Sandringham for Christmas (she was the first fiancée ever invited) because they were “the family she never had.” Meghan’s notoriously talkative half-sister, Samanta Grant, took to Twitter to chastise the prince for his perceived diss at the Markles. Now that we know just how dysfunctional Meghan’s father’s side of the family really is, we can’t blame her for keeping her distance. We do hope that her mother, Doria, remains a big part of Meghan’s life. Judging by the wistful look on Doria’s face during the wedding ceremony, we could tell she knows that it’s going to be a tall order, but we’re rooting for her.
Her dog’s pet great grandparent is the Queen
Meghan isn’t the only one living out a fairytale. Her dog, Guy, a beagle adopted from a Toronto animal rescue organization in 2015, has come a long way from his days at a kill shelter in Tennessee. The day before the wedding, eagle-eyed royal watchers spotted the hound riding with the Queen in her Land Rover through the streets of Windsor. A dog’s life indeed.
She’s got her own doll
Immediately following the wedding, several companies unveiled their own Meghan dolls in her classically elegant Givenchy gown. The one from the Danbury Mint ($159) looks so much like her, it’s crazy.
She’ll be doing a different kind of acting
When people say Meghan “gave up” her acting career to marry Harry, I have to disagree. To be honest, she was a B-list actress on a popular cable television show, not an Oscar winner like Grace Kelly was when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco. A change yes, but even she has said she doesn’t feel like she “gave up” a career but merely switched it for another. Now, she is the new star of the world’s longest-running soap opera. And she will probably be forced to make more small talk than any of us would do over the course of ten lifetimes. So if you think she’s never going to have to act again, you’re wrong.
She’s part of history
This biracial American woman who once was a struggling actress and briefcase girl on Deal or No Deal has forever changed the royal family and might very well help the Windsor dynasty reinvent itself as an important new source of global activism and female empowerment. That’s what we call historic.
Top photo by Ben Birchall – WPA Pool/Getty Images
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