During her four years in the royal family, much has been made of Meghan Markle’s relationship with sister-in-law Kate Middleton, with allegations of an ever-widening rift between them. And in her tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey last week, she did – as well as speaking out about her devastating mental health crisis, and shock claims of palace racism.
Despite praising Kate as a “good person”, Meghan described a relationship that appeared far more frosty than sisterly, claiming Kate had made her cry during a flower-girl dress fitting in the run-up to Meghan’s wedding to Prince Harry – when it had been reported as the other way round – and saying pictures of them looking happy together weren’t “what it looked like”. She also claimed Kate had been given preferential treatment by the media, and that she herself was not supported by palace aides.
Now, our royal insiders tell heat that having her say on Kate has been a long time coming for Meghan, who never felt her sister-in-law welcomed her into the family as she could have.
“When Meghan started dating Harry, Kate and William were very friendly and they all did stuff together. But after a while that changed, and relations between the two couples started to become strained,” our source says. “Things have not been good for a while – Meghan and Kate haven’t really spoken in over a year, and both feel upset that it has turned into this. Meghan was fed up with Kate being portrayed as the good one, while she was the evil one, and wanted to set the record straight. But Kate is obviously badly stung by the criticism. William naturally feels upset about that and as ever wants to protect her and support her.”
During the interview, Meghan, 39, addressed reports that she had made Kate, also 39, cry during the dress fitting for Kate’s daughter, Princess Charlotte before her May 2018 wedding. She told Oprah, “The reverse happened. A few days before the wedding, she [Kate] was upset about something – yes, the issue was correct, about the flower-girl dresses – and it made me cry and really hurt my feelings… She apologised, and brought me flowers and a note apologising, which is what I would do if I knew that I hurt someone... to just take accountability for it.”
Oprah also showed a picture of Kate and Meghan watching the tennis at Wimbledon that same year and asked, “Did you feel welcomed by everyone? It seemed like you and Kate at the Wimbledon game where you were going to watch a friend play tennis – was it what it looked like? You are two sisters-in-law out there in the world, getting to know each other. Was she helping you, embracing you into the family, helping you adjust?” Meghan replied, “I think everyone welcomed me. And yeah, I know you say, ‘Was it what it looked like?’ – my understanding and my experience for the past four years is that it’s nothing like what it looks like.”
And in a clip released but not shown as part of the main interview, Meghan also spoke about the differences in the way she was treated, compared with mum-of-three Kate – who married William in 2011, after dating on and off for around ten years. She believes a lot of it was to do with her being an American and having a mixed heritage.
CHECK OUT Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's relationship from the start
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry relationship timeline - Grazia - SLIDER
July 2016: Meghan And Harry Meet
So when did the future Duke and Duchess of Sussex meet? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were introduced by a mutual friend in July 2016, originally thought to be Markus Anderson (also the director of Soho house) but who was later confirmed to be Violet von Westenholz. Meghan said in an interview that before she met the Harry she didn't know much about him 'the only thing that I had asked [our mutual friend] was, 'Well is he nice?'. According to Harry he knew Meghan was The One from 'the very first time we met.' after only two dates Harry asked Meghan to accompany him on a trip to Botswana.
October - November 2016: Kensington Palace's Statement
In October 2016 that the Express became the first newspaper to publish news that Prince Harry had a new girlfriend. However just a month later, Kensington Palace released a statement condemning the 'wave of abuse and harassment' faced by Meghan. The unprecedented statement, which referred to Meghan as Harry's girlfriend for the first time, emphasized that Prince Harry was 'worried about Ms. Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her.' It continued 'It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm.' The palace were also forced to address speculation that Prince William was unhappy with Harry for confirming the relationship too soon, stating 'The Duke of Cambridge absolutely understands the situation concerning privacy and supports the need for Prince Harry to support those closest to him.'
December - February 2017: Things Get More Serious
Early in December 2017 Meghan was confirmed as the most Googled actress of 2016. In the same month, the couple were photographed together for the first time in London, shopping for a Christmas tree at the Pines and Needles store and attending a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. By January 2017 a source told US weekly that Harry had introduced Meghan to Kate and Prince Charlotte and that the 'meeting went well'. Meanwhile a source told The Sun that Meghan had 'virtually moved in' with Prince Harry to his cottage on the Kensington Palace estate.
March - May 2017: Meghan Attends Weddings With Harry
By March things were openly getting pretty serious between the two: Meghan accompanied Harry to Jamaica for a wedding for the first time (his friend's Tom 'Skippy' Inskip to Lara Hughes-Young). On April the 7th Meghan announced that she was closing down her lifestyle blog The Tig writing 'What began as a passion project (my little engine that could) evolved into an amazing community of inspiration, support, fun and frivolity. You've made my days brighter and filled this experience with so much joy.' In May, Meghan and Harry attended their first public event together at the Polo in Coworth Park (where they also engaged in some PDA). Later in May Prince Harry was seen driving Meghan to the reception of Pippa Middleton and James Matthew's wedding.
September 2017: The First Official Public Appearance
Welcome to Meghan the style Icon: at the opening of Prince Harry's Invictus Games in September Meghan wore a maroon midi dress with a pleated chiffon skirt by one of her favourite Canadian brands, Aritzia with a burgundy biker jacket by Mackage. The next day the couple were photographed sitting together at the wheelchair tennis and 'broke with royal protocol' by holding hands and kissing at the closing ceremony. On the 5th of September In an interview with Vanity Fair, Meghan stated: 'We're a couple. We're in love. I'm sure there will be a time when we will have to come forward and present ourselves and have stories to tell, but I hope what people understand is that this is our time.'
September-November 2017: Meghan Leaves Behind Rachel Zane
Late 2017 we saw the end of everyone's favourite legal powerhouse Rachel Zane (sob). In November 2017, shortly after Meghan met the Queen, the actress was reported to be leaving her role in Suits after seven seasons.
November 2017: The Engagement
After months of speculation, Prince Charles announced the engagement of his younger son Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after 15 months of dating On November 27th 2017 . The engagement ring, said to be designed by Harry, is made of two stones that belonged to Princess Diana. The couple later appeared at a photocall, with Markle wearing a white dress coat by Canadian brand Line The Label (whose website subsequently crashed). When asked by waiting photographers if the proposal was romantic, Harry joked 'of course!' Speaking about his late mother, Princess Diana, Harry said 'I think they'd be thick as thieves. She would be over the moon, jumping up and down, so excited for me... It's days like today when I really miss having her around and miss being able to share the happy news. With the ring, I'm sure she's with us, jumping up and down somewhere else.' it was announced that the wedding would take place on May the 19th, 2018.
December 2017: The Fab Four
In December 2017 Meghan, Harry, Kate and William were photographed together attending the Christmas service at Sandringham. Pictures of the two couples earned them the title 'The Fab Four'. Meanwhile in the following months Meghan earned a reputation for breaking royal protocol on official visits by hugging fans of the couple and kissing them on the cheek.
February 2018: Kate And Meghan Appear In Public Together
In February 2018, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle had their first royal engagement together for the Royal Foundation Forum with Prince Harry and Prince William. Harry stated of the two couples 'We have different opinions and they work really well [together]. Working as family does have its challenges; of course it does. The fact that everybody is laughing shows they know exactly what's it like… But we are stuck together for the rest of our lives.'
May 2018: The Lead Up To The Wedding
In the lead-up to the wedding it was confirmed 2,640 people would be invited to the grounds of Windsor Palace to watch the royal wedding. Photos of Meghan and Harry's wedding invitations were released, bearing Harry's legal name 'Henry'. Meghan and Harry made a number of public appearances together including to the Invictus game tryouts in April and attend the Queen's birthday at the Royal Albert Hall. Meghan's final episode of Suits is also aired, marking the official end of her acting career.
May 2018: Meghan's Family Drama Begins
On May the 14th, three days before the wedding Meghan's father, Thomas Markle sr. who was confirmed to walk Meghan down the aisle pulled out, following an embarrassing incident in which he staged paid paparazzi photos. Thomas Markle later suffered a heart attack, and his son Thomas Markle Jr. penned an unflattering open letter to Harry criticizing Meghan and encouraging him to pull out of the wedding. The day before the wedding, Kensington Palace announced Prince Charles would walk Meghan down the aisle, stating 'The Prince of Wales is pleased to be able to welcome Ms. Markle to The Royal Family in this way.'
May 2018: The Royal Wedding
Meghan and Harry wed on the 19th of May for a combined audience of 11.5 million people who tuned in to watch the ceremony. Meghan's gown was made by Clare Waight Keller, artistic director of the fashion house Givenchy which she later changed for a silk crepe dress by Stella McCartney. Her mother Doria Ragland attended the ceremony along with a host of celebrities including Meghan's former Suits cast and her close friends, George and Amal Clooney.
May - October 2018: Married Life
Throughout May of 2018 Harry and Meghan made their first official appearances as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. For her inaugural attendance to the Trooping of the Colour Meghan wore an off-the-shoulder dress, reportedly breaking royal protocal. In the following months the newlyweds made a number of public appearances including to Ireland to meet the country's officials. They also took a rumoured trip to visit George and Amal Clooney in Lake Como.
October 2018: The Royal Baby Announcement
Speculation began during Princess Eugenie's wedding that Meghan was pregnant owing to her loose coat. The rumours were confirmed when Kensington Palace announced on the 15th of October 2018 that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were expecting a child. The announcement also coincided with the first day of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's official tour.
October 2018: Meghan And Harry's First Royal Tour
In October Meghan and Harry departed for their 16-day Autumn royal tour visiting Australia, Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand (obviously featuring some serious style moments from the newly-appointed Duchess of Sussex/Style). By November, sources were telling news outlets that the couple were preparing to move to Frogmore cottage in Windsor in 2019. The couple spent the anniversary of their engagement, November the 27th apart, due to Harry being in Zambia.
November 2018 - Present: Feud Rumours
As Meghan and Harry embarked on life as newlyweds there was less plainsailing, as controversy continued to follow closely on their heels. Meghan's family have continued to be the subject of unflattering media headlines and Thomas Markle gave interviews to the media about his distanced relationship with his daughter. Meanwhile Samantha Markle (Meghan's half sister, who also claims to be penning a book about the Duchess) was put on a fixated persons list after showing up at Kensington palace in January. Rumours of a froideur between Meghan and Kate were sparked shortly after Meghan and Harry's nuptials by reports that Meghan reduced Kate 'to tears' during challenging dress fittings with Princess Charlotte. In February, Thomas Markle leaks a handwritten letter from Meghan to the media in response to friends of the Duchess defending her in an interview and following numerous staff changes, rumours arise that Meghan and Harry's staff refer to Meghan by the nickname 'The difficult Duchess'.
March 2019: The Royal Household's Split
In March 2019 it was confirmed that the Sussex and Cambridge's 'royal households' will split, meaning the couples will no longer share staff. Royal spokespersons confirm that Kate and William's staff team will stay in Kensington Palace while Meghan and Harry's staff will be based in Buckingham Palace, reflecting the location of their new residence of Frogmore cottage in Windsor. Representatives are quick to confirm this is a planned move, and not due to rumors of growing tensions between the couples.
“Kate was called ‘Waity Katie,’ waiting to marry William. While I imagine that was really hard – and I do, I can’t picture what that felt like – this is not the same,” Meghan insisted. “And if a member of his family will comfortably say, ‘We’ve all had to deal with some things that are rude’, rude and racist are not the same. And equally, you’ve also had a press team that goes on the record to defend you, especially when they know something’s not true. And that didn’t happen for us.”
William and Kate have mostly remained tight-lipped, but during an official visit last week, William said the family was “very much not racist” when asked about Meghan’s claims that there were “concerns and conversations about how dark” her 22-month-old son Archie’s skin would be. He also said he had yet to speak to his brother, but would do so, and our source says Kate is concentrating on supporting him.
“Kate’s priority at the moment is to stick calmly to her royal duties while taking care of the children with William, plus to be at the Queen’s disposal for any practical and emotional support she may need – especially with all the ongoing worry that exists around Prince Philip’s ill health,” we’re told. “She has her own family to lean on, of course, and she’s in constant contact with her mother and father, as well as sister Pippa and brother James. They’ve all been so impressed at how philosophical and composed she’s been during the last, very fraught, couple of weeks. As always, Kate is focusing on the positive, and says it serves nobody’s interests to dwell on negativity or dredge up incidents from the past.”
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And while we’re told it will be a long time before they all move on from this, Meghan – who is pregnant with her second child, a girl – and Kate, who’s mum to Prince George, seven, Princess Charlotte, three, and Prince Louis, two, are keen to try and build a better relationship.
“Meghan is well aware that Archie and his unborn sister only have cousins on Harry’s side of the family and doesn’t want him to miss out on that relationship, even if they are now living in America,” our source says. “There is a mutual stand-off between the women that could well last a good while yet. The big hope is that everyone will take a giant breath, then sit down and work out some boundaries and compromises – for the sake of all sides and future generations.”
Read more in the latest issue of heat magazine – OUT NOW.