From the outside looking in, Meghan Markle is a walking fairytale. The 36 year-old actress, now officially engaged to Prince Harry, is the first American to be welcomed into the British royal family. A wedding is planned for some time next spring. We’ve always had something of a princess complex here in America (just ask Disney) but the truth is, royal life isn’t all tiaras and tea parties. Women marrying into the British royal family haven’t always fared well—probably best evidenced by the tragic tale of Harry’s mother, the late Princess Diana. Others, like Kate Middleton, seem to have given themselves over completely to a life bound by tradition and duty.
In marrying Harry, Meghan, who will automatically become “Her Royal Highness,” may not be under the same scrutiny as Kate, the wife and mother of future kings, but her days of going on a Starbucks run or dashing into Sephora without a royal body guard are over. Here’s a look at the top ten things the royals probably don’t want Meghan to know before she walks down the aisle—because she’ll find out soon enough. And for more juicy details on everyone’s newest couple-to-envy, read up on how Markle Was Prince Harry’s Crush For Years.
1. She won’t be quitting acting—ever.
Sure, Meghan gave up her role as Rachel Zane on the popular legal drama Suits to move to England, and, it appears, has said goodbye to Hollywood. But she’ll have to give plenty award-winning performances during those dreadfully long dinners with various dukes and duchesses and royal relatives, none of whom are known for their scintillating conversations.
2. Her brand is royal.
Meghan had a popular lifestyle blog, Thetig.com, which she shuttered in April, but she’ll have to give up her future business opportunities including her clothing line with Toronto-based department store, Reitmans, as well.
It’s one thing to promote British fashion by becoming a walking advertisement for London-based designers like the Duchess of Cambridge has done, it’s quite another to be hawking one’s own wares. The royal family is the only brand that matters now.
3. A royal makeover is inevitable.
Like Kate, or Catherine, as she has been known since her engagement, Meghan will be subject to a subtle royal makeover. Early on, The Queen was not amused when the Duchess of Cambridge’s skirts showed off a bit too much of her fabulous legs—and her dresses were promptly made a tad more discreet. For official appearances, tiny weights will likely be sewn into the hem of Meghan’s dresses to avoid any unwanted exposure of the royal rear. I assume Meghan won’t be wearing her favorite distressed jeans for any of her appearances once she joins “The Firm.” No word on whether she’ll take a page from her sister-in-law’s playbook and begin wearing pantyhose. Diana never did.
4. She should prepare herself for ugly hats.
There is no escaping them. If you’re standing on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, you’ve got to wear one.
5. Royal wives are still mostly seen and not heard.
This is going to be tricky. By all accounts, Meghan is a woman who speaks her mind—and Harry seems to love her for it. Exhibit A: She told Vanity Fair that, yes, she was in love with Harry, but, “I’m still the same person … I’ve never defined myself by my relationship.”
Chances are she won’t be as chatty with the press after the wedding. Even the Queen manages to say as little as possible at every occasion and never wades into controversy. Catherine has never given an in-depth interview and rarely makes any public statements other than scripted remarks. Meghan has been outspoken about President Donald Trump’s misogyny and is an advocate for women’s rights. Once she becomes a duchess—or a princess—she’ll have to find a way to support the causes that are important to her without causing granny any grief.
6. Dogs rule—as long as they’re Corgis.
When Meghan was invited to tea to meet the Queen for the first time in September, Her Majesty’s notoriously nippy dogs immediately took to her. (No one else in the royal family is particularly fond of them—and vice versa) And it’s a good thing since they Queen’s beloved pups—two Corgis and two corgi-dachshunds rule the corridors of Buckingham Palace. Meghan’s two rescue dogs, a Beagle and a Lab-Shepherd mix, who recently arrived from the states, will have to be kept on short leashes so as not to upset doggy decorum.
7. She won’t be buying expensive Christmas gifts.
What do you get the royal who has everything? A white leather toilet seat (given to Prince Charles from his sister, Princess Anne) or something else equally cheesy. The Queen and the rest of the royal family prefer gag gifts to extravagant excess at Christmas. Not surprisingly, Harry is reported to be the best gag gift-giver in the family, so he’ll no doubt clue Meghan in before her first Christmas at Sandringham.
8. Estranged family members and bitter ex-husbands will be perpetual thorns in her side.
While Meghan’s soon-to-be in-laws appear to be welcoming her with open arms, her ex-husband and half-sister appear ready to sell her out to the highest bidder which will make for some interesting tabloid fare. Samantha Grant, who shares a father with Meghan, is reportedly writing an unflattering tell-all, and Trevor Engelson, whom Markle divorced in 2014, has a television show in the works about his relationship with his ex-wife (yes, imagining what would have been if they had children who were now to be raised as royals). Meghan will certainly need to learn how to keep calm and carry on from her in-laws who have weathered their share of scandals.
9. America will become a nice place to visit.
Meghan won’t need to stock up on sunscreen anymore. All the breathless tabloid reports that Harry and Meghan are moving to her home state of California are not true. After the wedding, they’ll live at Nottingham Cottage, Harry’s residence on the grounds of Kensington Palace. Chances are they’ll get a grander, newly renovated spread on the grounds in due course just like William and Kate did.
10. Meghan has the power to rewrite the royal fairytale.
More than anything else, this bit of royal trivia has probably been discussed over many gin-and-tonics by The Queen and Prince Charles. Meghan’s entrance into the royal family is indeed history-making. She is the first American, the first actress and the first biracial person to marry a ranking member royal family. She might be a newcomer, but in many ways, she holds plenty of cards. How she’s treated by the royals could affect their public approval which is at an all-time high. They’d be wise to remember that. And if you’re still craving details about this new and lovely relationship, don’t miss the 10 Romantic Ways Harry Wooed Meghan.
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana: A Novel.
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