April 7, 2017 was a sad day for fans of the power of yes, overly sweet cocktail recipes and heavily stylised coffee table shots.
It was the day Meghan Markle, Suits star and newly outed royal girlfriend, shut her blog of three years, The Tig.
“Keep finding those Tig moments of discovery, keep laughing and taking risks, and keep being ‘the change you wish to see in the world’,” Meghan wrote in her signature saccharine prose.
“Above all, don’t ever forget your worth – as I’ve told you time and time again: you, my sweet friend, you are enough.”
When news broke the actress had closed The Tig, the meaning was clear: Things were getting serious between her and her Windsor bloke. Indeed, exactly 13 months later, she was walking down the black and white checked aisle of St George’s Chapel in Windsor with the royal family and the Clooneys watching on.
However, Meghan and Harry sadly didn’t quite get their very own happy ending with their painful conscious uncoupling from the palace having dominated headlines for coming up to 18 months.
Now, one particular post of Meghan’s from her days of Tig-dom is back, and it couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time.
The story goes like this. The year was 2014 and she had begun publishing a series of interviews with such luminaries as Priyanka Chopra and … herself, for a series she called Tig Talk. In July of that year, it was the turn of Princess Alia Al-Senussi, patron of the arts and member of the Libyan royal family.
It had been a “pinch-myself-I’m-emailing-with-a-princess moment,” Meghan wrote when a friend introduced her to the bona fide princess.
But what is crucial here isn’t the then-32-year-old’s brush with royalty but what came next.
“Little girls dream of being princesses. I, for one, was all about She-Ra, Princess of Power,” Meghan said in her introduction to the brief Q+A, which is still available to watch.
“And grown women seem to retain this childhood fantasy. Just look at the pomp and circumstance surrounding the royal wedding and endless conversation about Princess Kate.”
Leaving aside her mangling of the title of the woman who would one day be her sister-in-law (Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge has never been styled “Princess Kate” nor ever will be), this sentence is, if not quite a smoking gun, then at least a suspiciously warm-to-the-touch one.
One of the key narratives that emerged from Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey in March was how wholly unprepared for royal life she was.
“I went into it naively. I didn’t grow up knowing much about the royal family. It wasn’t a part of the conversation at home. It wasn’t something that we followed,” she told Winfrey.
“I didn’t do any research about what [being a royal] would mean.
“I never looked up my husband online. I just didn’t feel the need to because everything that I needed to know, he was sharing with me — or everything we thought I needed to know, he was telling me.”
The picture she painted was of a babe in the woods, an otherwise impressively competent woman thrust into a strange and foreign world, left helplessly to flounder as she faced a relentless barrage of press scrutiny.
However, those three sentences from back in 2014 don’t quite gel with that retelling of things. As she sat in front of her keyboard remembering her penchant for She-Ra seven years ago, Meghan seemed very clearly aware of the particular madness that surrounds royalty. Similarly, her reference to “endless conversation” would suggest she had some semblance of understanding about the onslaught of attention and the level of surveillance and criticism that a woman marrying into the royal family might face.
Likewise, last week a 2014 shot of Meghan re-emerged showing her posing with a copy of the Irish magazine U with a photo of Kate splashed across the cover with the line “Twins!” – proof that the then-cable-star had at least some inkling of the tabloid frenzy that surrounded members of the royal family.
To be fair, probably nothing could ever truly prepare any woman, aristocratic or not, for what it must be like to suddenly find oneself thrust into the peculiar pressure cooker that is royal life.
No amount of media savvy and comfort in front of a camera could ever truly ready a person for what it must be like to go from B-list celebrity to overnight becoming one of the most famous women in the world.
Similarly, the royal family isn’t simply a family or a regular business, but a millennium-old institution that is essentially a series of ego-driven fiefdoms. Navigating this strange, baffling world and trying to work and how and where you fit in would be a job that would leave even the hardiest of souls adrift and at sea.
Still, the question of how much or how little Meghan understood about the grand endeavour she was getting herself into has cropped up again and again.
What is difficult to reconcile here is how a clearly intelligent and educated woman who would have spent her teenage years surrounded by the Diana, Princess of Wales soap opera could be quite so ignorant about the dark side of royal life.
That marriage into the house of Windsor was not exactly a genteel walk in the park was hardly a closely guarded fact; rather for the better part of an entire decade in the 90s the misery and suffering that came with a royal marriage was splashed across magazines, front pages and TV screens. Countless books were written, myriad TV docos made and indeed Diana’s suffering spawned an entire lucrative cottage industry.
And while this sordid soap opera was playing out, Meghan was an engaged, smart teenager. Do we really quite buy that this, one of the biggest stories of the 90s, quite passed her by or that later on, Diana’s story didn’t give her pause for a moment?
I suppose the bigger question here is, when Meghan wed Harry in May 2018, what did she expect? Quite what did she think that royal life would be like? And while the onus here shouldn’t exclusively have fallen on her, why didn’t she prepare herself better for the demanding, bizarre road that lay ahead? Quite where does the culpability and negligence lie?
While plenty of responsibility for how the Sussex dream curdled needs to fall on the pinstriped shoulders of the palace, I’m not sure if Harry and Meghan should be allowed to get away, so to speak, scot-free from bearing some of the burden for her having been so ill prepared for royal life.
As Buckingham Palace later put it in their savagely terse response to the Sussexes’ Oprah revelations, “recollections may vary” – but thanks to The Tig, when it comes to this particular sticky point, the proof is in the blog post.
• Daniela Elser is a royal expert and a writer with more than 15 years experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.
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