Royal biographer dishes on the star who settled for being a princess
Published Monday, April 30, 2018 5:55AM EDT
I have an American friend in London who rolls her eyes and grits her teeth every time the name Meghan Markle comes up in conversation, which is more or less all the time now.
It’s a release, I suppose, from the gloominess of Brexit, Trump, Putin, Russian spies, and Syrian mass murder. All depressing compared to a royal wedding.
A small royal wedding, indicative of Harry’s rank in the family these days. He used to be known as “the spare,” but is now so far down the line of succession, he’s like a side dish on a menu.
That’s maybe not fair, when you consider the bride-to-be, who could be described as the catch-of-the- day. Bi-racial American beauty wearing killer pumps and Hollywood lip gloss. Harry the prince suddenly became HARRY!
“It’s one thing I feel quite passionate about,” says my friend, deadpan serious. “There’s something about her that doesn’t feel authentic.”
It’s a minority opinion for sure; the palace image makers are working overtime.
Meghan is everywhere. Here’s a recent sample of British headlines:
Her arrival on the scene has been met with nothing less than a new book by Andrew Morton, who blasted into fame 26 years ago with his sensational bestseller on Harry’s mother: "Diana: Her True Story—In Her Own Words".
Morton is back with "MEGHAN, A Hollywood Princess". If you do buy it, or borrow it, go directly to the pictures, and there you will find Meghan and her friend Ninaki on a summer trip to Europe posing in front of Buckingham Palace. “Prescient” says the cutline.
Morton is more or less nice to Meghan. I think he likes her, but then it’s that kind of book.
“You know what surprised me the most about Meghan?” he says, during a round of promotional interviews, which meant sitting in a TV studio answering the same questions over and over. “It was the activism in her early life.”
“She was organizing demonstrations about the Gulf War in her schoolyard when she was aged 10.” He speaks in proper sentences. “Many of her friends thought she was going to be a lawyer or a diplomat, or a politician.”
She settled for being a princess. Ah, but what a princess.
A princess who stands up to the “mean girls” at school, who volunteers at a soup kitchen on Skid Row in Los Angeles, who fits neither into white America nor black America, who endures years of “going to endless auditions in a clapped out old car, being told you’re the wrong face, color, creed, whatever.”
And then at the age of 30, she makes it in TV-land and soars to prominence.
“You could argue, just under the wire,” says Morton.
Meghan gets married, Meghan becomes a star, Meghan moves to Canada, Meghan ditches her husband; Meghan returns her wedding and engagement ring by registered mail.
“Her friends were astonished,” says Morton. “Bolt out of the blue was the common description when the marriage of two years ended.”
In the book, he adds a little more tittle-tattle about success and the Meghan “chill,” as he called it. “She no longer had the time for friends she had known for years.”
Morton is not just another royal biographer. He has written books on Tom Cruise (unauthorized), Angelina Jolie (unauthorized), Madonna and Monica Lewinsky. In his early days before Diana fame, he was a royal stringer for Canada AM.
Conveniently, he spends part of the year in Pasadena, California, his wife’s home town. And where is Pasadena? Very close to Los Angeles.
“Pasadena was basically Meghan Markle central,” he says. “She went to school nearby. Her drama teacher lived nearby, boyfriends, fellow pupils.”
And Pasadena is where she went to practice drinking tea at Rose Tree Cottage. Page 231: “It is where Meghan learned to crook her finger as she held her cup and saucer and sipped Earl Grey.” It has to be the best story in the book.
“That was good preparation for a very significant moment,” says Morton—the day Meghan Markle, “without any script, without any second takes,” went for tea with her majesty the Queen of England.
We know how that worked out.
“And she gave Prince Harry permission to marry a divorced, bi-racial American actress, quite an extraordinary transformation in the House of Windsor.”
And a last question for Morton. How does a divorced bi-racial American actress take tea with the Queen?
“Carefully,” he says. “Don’t spill.”