Ever since Meghan Markle’s engagement to Prince Harry, we’ve been fascinated by how quickly she has assimilated the ways of royal life. Yes, she has a naturalness and the advantage of being a 36-year-old bride who’s had a decade-long career as a Hollywood actress. Still, there’s a familiarity to the way in which she carries herself on walkabouts—and a commitment for humanitarian causes, too—that is reminiscent of the qualities Princess Diana brought to the royal family. There will always be only one Diana and Meghan is, of course, her own woman. But one thing is for sure: if anyone is the inspiration behind Meghan’s caring, compassionate, and stylish royal persona, it’s the late Princess of Wales. Here are the 11 most striking similarities between the two. And for more on this duality, check out the 10 Things Princess Diana Would Say to Meghan Markle.
She has a passion for philanthropy.
Meghan was involved with a number of causes long before she started dating Harry—most of them involving the empowerment of women. But there is no denying that Princess Diana paved the way for the compassionate, engaged humanitarian work that makes up much of what Prince William and Harry—and now Meghan (along with Kate) do. In fact, Harry founded his AIDS charity, Sentebale (which means “Remember Me”), in honor of his mother. Meghan will very much be walking in the path Diana created when she begins her official work for “The Firm.” And for info on how these woman aren’t exactly the same, check out the 15 Ways Meghan’s Wedding Will Be Different Than Diana’s.
She has mastered the walkabout.
After a somewhat nervous start, Meghan has become more than proficient at royal walkabouts. Diana was the first royal to really engage with the crowd and it helped make her the star of the royal family in record time. Meghan has obviously studied Diana’s playbook—maybe even literally. In his biography of the bride to be, Andrew Morton said Meghan kept his book, Diana Her True Story, close at hand while she was in high school. And for more on the Meghan-Diana connection, learn how Meghan plans to honor Princess Diana at the royal wedding.
She understands the importance of diplomatic dressing.
No one did it better than Diana. Make no mistake about it, Diana wrote the book on it. Everyone else, including Meghan, learned it from her.
She always makes sure to engage with children.
A former kindergarten teacher, Diana always got down to eye level to talk to the children she met at official events. Meghan has shown the same natural ability to connect with her littlest fans.
She isn’t afraid of physical contact.
Before Diana, royals rarely if ever touched members of the public. And if they did shake hands, they always wore gloves. Diana literally changed the world by shaking the hand of an AIDS patient without gloves. She also offered hugs to seriously ill patients in hospital wards. A close friend of the late princess told me, “She never turned away, no matter how upsetting a person’s ailments or injuries were.” Meghan is already known as an enthusiastic hugger who doesn’t shy away from physical displays of affection toward people she’s just met. And for more royal trivia, check out the 10 Princely Ways Harry Won Meghan.
She has great respect for The Queen.
Even though Diana felt marginalized by the “Men in Gray” at the Palace during her unhappy marriage to Prince Charles, she always held “The Top Lady” (her name for her mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth) in high regard for her service to the Crown. Meghan has expressed her admiration for Her Majesty and has been careful to follow royal protocol to the letter when in the presence of the Queen. She’s even begun wearing pantyhose—something Diana usually avoided. (She wore black tights.)
She makes secret visits to those in need.
Much of the work Diana did was away from the cameras when she visited the homeless and spent time holding hands of the terminally ill in hospital late at night. Meghan quietly visited the victims of the devastating Grenfell Tower fires after the tragedy, something that only recently came to light.
She understands the power of the press.
While she came into the royal family as a naïve 20-year-old, Diana was a quick study when it came to manipulating the media to get out her message. As a ten-year veteran of Hollywood, Meghan comes into the royal family with the advantage of knowing how to work the press and the importance of doling out the right bits of well-timed information to keep them on your side. Her unprecedented personal statement confirming her father would not be attending her wedding was a bold move (although some thought her wording, “I always cared for my father” a bit curious). Her Vanity Fair pre-engagement interview where she declared to the world that she and Harry were “in love” showed she had the ability to control the narrative. Suffice to say, she’ll be keeping the press office busy.
She makes it clear she is her own person.
“I’ve never defined myself by my relationship,” was one of the takeaways from her Vanity Fair interview. And her discussion of the #MeToo movement at the first-ever royal foundation summit was evidence enough Meghan is no pushover. Back in the day, Diana went ahead with her plans to raise awareness for people suffering with AIDS, despite the Queen’s suggestion she find a “nice” charity to support and her infamous (and ill-fated) Panorama interview proved she could be times headstrong and determined to do things that didn’t fit within the royal playbook. Meghan will have more latitude because times have changed—and Harry is unlikely ever to be king—but chances are she’ll still push the envelope.
She is a reassuring presence in Harry’s life.
Diana was a safe haven for Harry, a source of unconditional love and understanding when he was just a little boy. Her death, when he was just 12 years old, left a huge hole in his heart and in his life and he’s been trying to fill it ever since. Meghan, who came along at the same time Harry was finally coming to terms with the loss, seems to have a strong instinct for making Harry feel loved and understood. When he told the BBC interviewer, during their first joint interview, that his mother and Meghan “would have been thick as thieves,” he was telling the world he’d found his soul mate.
She picked Prince Charles to walk her down the aisle .
Meghan understands the power of that imagery—and this is one way to show the world she is being escorted into history by the same man that married Diana and brought her into the royal family. And for more one why this gesture means so much, be sure to check out our exclusive report on the development.
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