When Prince Harry — the fun-loving royal fourth in line to the British throne — issued his unusual statement confirming his relationship with American divorcee Meghan Markle and blasting the media for their coverage, a school friend of the Prince joked that it was the first time he had heard from him in months.
The friend, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he annually meets up with Harry in mid-September where they toast the Prince’s birthday and that of a mutual friend. Not this year. Harry was busy spending time with Markle, the biracial Suits actress who is currently in London with the Prince.
“It’s not just me- Harry has gone to ground with many of his mates,” the friend said speaking on condition of anonymity. “I don’t know when I’ll next see him but it will probably be with her. I don’t remember Chelsea Davy [Harry’s ex-girlfriend] monopolizing his time quite like this.”
Markle, 35, taking a break from filming USA Network’s legal dramedy Suits, is believed to be currently staying with Prince Harry, 32, at Kensington Palace. She was photographed in London a few days ago wearing his baseball cap:
Small world – the Whole Foods visited by Meghan Markle yesterday is directly under Daily Mail’s Kensington office https://t.co/s1LRHewr89
— Matthew Moore (@mattkmoore) November 11, 2016
Harry, 32, was recently in Toronto with Markle. They attended a Halloween party together and were spotted in the Toronto outpost of Soho House, a private members club.
The pair will re-unite at Christmas when Markle returns to London, although she will not be staying with Harry over the festive season at the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk.
Like Markle, Harry cares about charitable causes. But Heat Street hears the Prince is so devoted to his girlfriend, he changed his mind at late notice about attending a New York fundraising event to aid his charity Sentebale last month so he could spend time with Markle. He provisionally rescheduled his Manhattan visit for next January.
As for Markle, she mixes with Canadian political royalty including Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, wife of heartthrob Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Jessica Mulroney, daughter of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, as well as actress pals Abigail Spencer and Suits co-star Sarah Rafferty.
“I’ve had some conversations with her about politics and she’s staunchly left-wing,” a film producer acquaintance of Markle’s tells me. “She’s a huge fan of Obama and though I haven’t spoken with her about Trump, I’m sure she wouldn’t be at all keen.”
Prior to Suits, Markle had bit parts in 2010 drama Remember Me, alongside Robert Pattinson, and Judd Apatow-produced comedy Get Him to the Greek which starred Jonah Hill and Russell Brand.
“Meghan was supremely ambitious, even by the standards of young Hollywood starlets,” the producer adds, “and at one stage didn’t feel like her movie career was happening fast enough for her liking.” He said Markle unsuccessfully auditioned for roles in Iron Man 3 and the Showtime comedy House of Lies. But the producer adds she built up plenty of admirers along the way in media and showbiz including Brett Ratner and Larry King.
Markle wore Marchesa at New York Fashion Week which didn’t exactly harm her standing with independent film mogul Harvey Weinstein (his wife Georgina Chapman runs the fashion label) and she showed up to a New York Film Festival tribute to Cate Blanchett in 2013 even though she had never previously met the Australian Oscar-winning actress.
Like Prince Harry, she has a naughty sense of humor. Just hours after People reported on her union with the Prince, she posted a cryptic image of two cuddling bananas on Instagram with the caption:“Sleep tight xx”.
Markle was a real Anglophile even before she met Prince Harry, the source said.
Two years ago she filmed Anti-Social in London, a low-budget gangster movie directed by Reg Traviss, best known for being the final lover of Amy Winehouse. (Coincidentally Traviss’s first film was part-funded by Harry’s father Prince Charles’s youth charity, The Prince’s Trust).
Anti-Social went straight to DVD in the UK but expect it to resurface over here soon. Markle’s ranking on IMDB’s STARmeter has shot up to number 2 following confirmation of her relationship.
For now, Markle is content with a recurring role as Rachel Zane in Suits. In an article she wrote last year for Elle, she referred to the legal dramedy as “the Goldilocks of my acting career- where finally I was just right.” Markle, whose mother is African American and father is Caucasian, wrote in the same piece: “I wasn’t black enough for the black roles and I wasn’t white enough for the white ones, leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn’t book a job.”
Such racial concerns lay behind the extraordinary statement issued by Kensington Palace warning the British press about covering the relationship. “The past week has seen a line crossed,” the statement read. “His [Prince Harry’s] girlfriend Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public- the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”
The statement was notable because the Royal Family is renowned for rarely commenting on press stories (when royal reps for the Princes have commented in the past, it has been to deny stories such as Prince William — before he went out with Kate Middleton — being in a relationship with Jecca Craig or scotching claims that he had an official Facebook account.)
Harry’s friends believe he requested that his American press secretary Jason Knauf issue the statement at the instigation of Markle who took exception to the intrusion and tabloid coverage about her gritty upbringing in California.
“Prince Harry will have objected strongly to the issue and the treatment of Meghan,” his friend adds, “but then he has never liked the press he gets. You can’t blame him either. This is someone who got heavily linked with his new sister-in-law [Pippa Middleton] on his brother’s wedding day!
“But the statement was about as far away from the ‘Never Complain, Never Explain’ royal mantra as you can get so I suspect Meghan would have urged him to issue it.”
It’s hard to understand how confirming his relationship and hitting out at the press will make his life easier going forward.
In any case, British hacks have conducted themselves better since the death of Harry’s mother Diana in a car crash almost two decades ago.
Many royal stories about the princes have been suppressed to maintain smooth relations with the Palace (for example a tale about a lap dance Prince William received in a strip club in North East England in 2003 — long before his marriage to Kate Middleton — was never published by a London tabloid even though they had confirmed the story).
And unlike readers in other countries, UK newspaper readers never did see those paparazzi nude pictures of Kate Middleton in France or images of Harry playing strip billiards in a Vegas hotel room four years ago.
Yet Prince Harry, like Diana, is highly impulsive. Take the time I saw him at an afterparty after the Cartier International Polo Day in Windsor, just outside London, in 2003.
Dressed in his trademark jeans and baseball cap and seated at a large circular table, Harry threw Red Bull cans at his friends and climbed on board a platform in order to kiss Nicola Waskett, a girl who was celebrating her bachelorette night. “I don’t know him very well socially and I don’t know how he heard about it, but it was a cool thing for him to do,” Waskett told me then.
Harry has matured considerably in the intervening 14 years. He rarely goes to London nightclubs or raves in South-West England as he did in his misspent youth.
But however much in love Prince Harry currently is with Meghan Markle, you sense this week’s statement won’t mark the last time the couple will be defying royal tradition by complaining about — explaining — their relationship.