From the looks of things, Meghan Markle’s transformation from Hollywood B-lister to Her Royal Highness is coming along nicely. She’s wearing very interesting hats and pantyhose now and has seemingly mastered the art of making small talk with people wearing even stranger hats at garden parties and other official royal functions. Perhaps that’s because she’s got a very powerful secret weapon: Queen Elizabeth II herself is overseeing all the critical aspects of the Duchess of Sussex’s indoctrination into royal life by making sure her new granddaughter-in-law is given the best counsel from her most trusted staffers as well as a wide berth when its comes to previously unbreakable royal rules.
All of this queenly attention, the granting of special favors, and the bestowing of some pretty amazing gifts has got us thinking: Is Meghan the Queen’s new favorite royal wife? Here’s the 12 important signs that Meghan that tell us the former actress’ star is on the rise with the top lady at Buckingham Palace. And for how her counterpart has evolved since the recent nuptials, check out thee 15 Reasons Prince Harry Will Be a Great Dad.
The Queen and the duchess have a really important date coming up this week.
According to the royals’ official website, Meghan will join the Queen later this week for her first official solo engagement on a visit to Chester, a town about 200 miles northwest of Kensington Palace. The newly minted duchess and the Queen will unveil the Mersey Gateway Bridge at Catalyst Science Discovery Centre in Widnes, Chesire, and open Storyhouse Theatre. (Clever, given Meghan’s former profession, no?)
To give you an idea about just how big a deal this is, consider this: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge was in the family for a year before the Queen invited her to accompany her without Prince William on an official appearance. “They are fast-tracking Meghan, there is no doubt about it,” said my royal source. “The Queen has seen how well Meghan has been doing connecting with people on walkabouts and is quite confident about her being as asset to the family.”
She’s speaking her mind—with the Queen’s blessing.
We never thought we’d see the day when a member of the royal family would unequivocally state (on their official website no less) “I am a proud to be a woman and a feminist.” But that’s exactly what Meghan did. It’s the pull-quote on the “About the Duchess of Sussex” page, which also chronicles Her Royal Highness’ Hollywood career and pre-royal activism. Nothing about Meghan’s introduction to the public as an official member of “The Firm” is an accident or afterthought. Everything is carefully vetted and nothing has been done without the Queen’s approval. In that context, this declaration is huge. And for more on the new duchess’s impact on “The Firm,” don’t miss the 10 Quotes That Prove Meghan Markle Will Be Running the Show After the Wedding.
The Queen broke with a major royal tradition for Meghan.
We knew the Queen must have really liked Prince Harry’s fiancée when she broke with decades of tradition and invited Meghan to join the family at Sandringham for their annual Christmas celebration. She was the first non-spouse ever invited to spend the holiday on the estate with the royal family. Not exactly a relaxed affair, Meghan reportedly came through multiple wardrobe changes and a somewhat fraught Christmas luncheon with the entire family where Princess Michael wore what many considered to be a racist brooch with flying colors. The duchess-to-be charmed the notoriously crusty Prince Philip with her knowledge of his family’s history which she reportedly learned from Ancestry.com which clearly impressed the Queen. And for more on the duchess, check out the Surprising Royal Duties Meghan Markle Won’t Have to Perform
Meghan earned a special spot early on.
Eagle-eyed viewers spotted a never before seen photograph of Meghan and Harry on a table in the Queen’s sitting room during her televised Christmas address. There’s no photo of Kate and William (but there are shots of Prince George and Princess Charlotte) that we could see. Anyone that’s gone to their grandmother’s house at the holidays knows what that means.
The Queen let the royal lovebirds have the wedding they wanted.
A palace insider told me that the Queen “wanted Meghan and Harry to have the wedding of their dreams” adding, “She saw how happy her grandson was and she was impressed by Meghan’s interest in royal wedding traditions.” While there was rumors of “large rows over the invitation list” to William and Kate’s wedding, the Queen reportedly did not impose any rules on Harry and Meghan. “They wanted a much more intimate, personal wedding and the Queen understood.” No word on what she thought of Reverend Michael Curry, although several other royals made their feelings known with plenty of eye-rolling and laughter.
Photo by Ben Birchall – WPA Pool/Getty Images
The Queen has been dog-sitting.
Prince Harry has said that Meghan charmed the Queen’s notoriously yappy corgis the minute she stepped into Buckingham Palace to meet his grandmother. “I’ve been getting barked at for thirty-four years and she comes in—and nothing.” Both women are avid dog lovers, a fact that undoubtedly worked in Meghan’s favor. (Princess Diana hated the Queen’s dogs and the feeling was apparently mutual). A few months before the wedding, the Queen’s last corgi died and she reportedly has said she isn’t getting another one. Perhaps that’s because she’s lavishing plenty of attention on Meghan’s rescue dog, her beagle, Guy. The lucky dog was seen traveling with the Queen in her Range Rover through the streets of Windsor the day before the wedding. Amazingly, it appears Meghan now has a very willing and devoted dog-sitter in the Queen.
Her Majesty overlooked Meghan’s family drama.
When the astonishing news that Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, had secretly stage paparazzi photographs of himself allegedly preparing for his trip to attend the royal wedding—and got paid for it—broke, many royal insiders feared the worst. “It was a hugely embarrassing for Meghan,” my source told me. “But the Queen understood she had no control over her father’s actions. She was impressed by how calm and poised Meghan remained throughout the entire ordeal. The episode drew the family closer to the duchess.” And, when Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, arrived two days before the wedding to meet the royals, the Queen was also “impressed by Doria’s quiet dignity.” Talk about turning lemons into lemonade.
Meghan has worn gorgeous—and historically significant—jewelry lent to her by the Queen.
The duchess wore the Queen Mary tiara on her wedding day. The very sparkly headpiece belongs to the Queen, who lent it to Meghan for her wedding day. The platinum piece was made in 1932, but the center brooch dates back to 1893. Eleven sections make up the flexible band, and it’s pierced with interlaced ovals and pavé set with large and small brilliant diamonds. The center, detachable brooch itself is set with 10 more diamonds. It’s not unusual for the Queen to loan brides marrying into the family jewels to wear (Kate wore the Queen’s Halo Tiara from Cartier on her wedding day) but Meghan’s choice to go bigger and bolder than other brides when it came to royal bling didn’t phase the Queen in the slightest.
Her Majesty gave Meghan a very special wedding gift.
In yet another break with tradition, the Queen did not present Meghan’s father with his own coat of arms as she did with Michael Middleton when Kate married into the royal family. Not exactly a surprise since given Thomas was a no-show at the wedding and embarrassed everyone—especially his daughter—with the paparazzi scandal. (And then there’s his questionable friendship with TMZ.) Instead, she opted to present Meghan with her own coat of arms, something Diana, Sophie, Countess of Wessex (Prince Edward’s wife) or Kate didn’t get when they married into the family.
The crest artfully combines Meghan’s California roots and her new status as Prince Harry’s wife. A statement from the Palace described the design this way: “The blue background of the shield represents the Pacific Ocean off the California coast, while the two golden rays across the shield are symbolic of the sunshine of The Duchess’s home state. The three quills represent communication and the power of words. Beneath the shield on the grass sits a collection of golden poppies, California’s state flower, and wintersweet, which grows at Kensington Palace.” The coat of arms was approved by the Queen and Thomas Woodcock, the Garter King of Arms and Senior Herald in England, who is based at the College of Arms in London. Meghan, of course, had input into its design. Some time in the not so distant future, Meghan and Harry will also receive a “conjugal coat of arms” to represent the couple’s combined house.
Meghan is rewriting the royal dress code—and the Queen is okay with it.
While there is no rule book on how to dress like a royal, there are a few unwritten rules that ladies are expected to follow. Day dresses are supposed to be “modest” (meaning covered up) and pantyhose is an absolute must. Since going barelegged for her engagement photocall, Meghan got the memo and has been wearing nude hosiery (like Kate) for official engagements now. Gone, too, are her favorite lace-up stilettos having been replaced by much more elegant Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo pumps. Her downright demure appearance at the Garden Party in honor of Prince Charles’ 70th birthday earlier this month had us thinking her transformation from Hollywood do gooder to royal duchess was complete.
Then she showed up at the Trooping the Colour, the Queen’s official birthday celebration, wearing an off-the-shoulder dress—for daytime! (We even spotted some faint tan lines which has to be another royal first.) Meghan is way too smart to offend the Queen and squander all that hard won goodwill she’s acquired so quickly, which leads us to only one conclusion: the Queen is okay with Meghan bending yet another set of rules. So expect to see the duchess dressing more like her new pal Amal Clooney instead of the Duchess of Cambridge in the future. To dress like the duchess, consider perusing Meghan Markle’s 10 Favorite Brands.
She’s getting very special ‘Duchess Lessons.’
The Queen tapped one of her most trusted advisors, her assistant private secretary Samantha Cohen, to head up the six months of training Meghan is currently receiving, so she can acclimate herself to everything she needs to know to be successful in her new life as a royal. Kate had dated William for nearly a decade so it was decided it was unnecessary in her case (although we have to imagine it was still incredibly daunting). Sophie worked in public relations—often with involving projects with the royals—before her wedding to Edward, so she was a bit more attuned to what was required of her. Of course this is in stark contrast to the way the late Princess Diana was left to figure out things on her own after she married Prince Charles. “I was thrown into the deep end,” she told biographer Andrew Morton. “It was sink or swim and I swam.” My royal source told me, “They are being very smart with Meghan. It’s in everyone’s best interest that she succeed.”
Meghan has a top secret project that has the Queen’s blessing.
According to multiple royal sources, the Queen has already approved “an important secret initiative” that Meghan is going to be heading up that is related to the empowerment of young people of the Commonwealth. “Details will be announced in due course,” said my source. “The mere existence of something like this so early on for Meghan means she already has the Queen’s stamp of approval which is, quite simply, extraordinary.” And for more great royals content, check out How Meghan Markle Plans to Push the Envelope After Her Wedding.
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