The Shady Side Of Meghan Markle

Former "Suits" star Meghan Markle became Prince Harry's fiancée when the royal popped the question in November 2017, causing both American and British citizens to rejoice. Her mixed-race background, previous marriage, and, of course, status as an American citizen all drew extra attention to the groundbreaking engagement. And when the two married in a gorgeous ceremony at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018, the public's interest in their relationship — and Markle, specifically — grew. But there have been a few things behind the scenes that have made us raise our eyebrows. Whether much of these dished details pertaining to the Duchess are true, fabricated, or sensationalized, there's no denying that these shady stories certainly get people talking. 

In 2017, for instance, the Daily Mail pushed the limits of its Markle story quota by conducting some manner of a genealogical investigation into the alleged shared ancestry of Harry and his wife. They purportedly discovered that the two are cousins dating back to the 15th century. The connection is said to be on Markle's father's side — but it's 15 generations back, so there's no need to worry about family dinners getting more awkward over the holidays. Not that it would have been the first time that someone in the royal family had married a suitor with the same genes, distant or otherwise. 

Still, there's plenty of digging to be done in the present concerning the shady side of the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.

Meghan's career may have hampered her first marriage

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's engagement was untraditional for a number of reasons — and her status as a divorced woman was arguably first among them. Before meeting Prince Harry, Markle was married to producer Trevor Engelson for two years before they split, citing "irreconcilable differences." 

Former friend Ninaki Priddy, who served as maid of honor at Markle's wedding to Engelson, told the Daily Mail that Markle's career ultimately led to the demise of that union, saying, "It was such a shock when she told me they were getting divorced." Another person close to the couple told Woman's Day (via Life & Style) that the stress of a long-distance relationship likely played a part, as Markle lived in Canada during filming on her USA Network series "Suits" while her husband lived in Los Angeles. As the magazine's source pointed out, "It was a very difficult way to start married life."

A look inside Markle's seemingly shady family ties

Meghan Markle's relationship with her family was a hot topic in the run-up to her wedding. Her husband-to-be inadvertently caused a stink when he said of the Windsors to BBC Radio 4 (per Us Weekly), "It's the family that I suppose she's never had." Prince Harry's comment hurt the Markles, who hit back via the Daily Mail. "She's had a really good family," half-brother Thomas Markle Jr claimed. "We were as close as we could be." So why did Harry say that?

Some surmised that Markle had lied to her fiancé, which is apparently a family trait. Her estranged half-sister, Samantha Markle, admitted to staging those infamous paparazzi shots of their father, who has also copped to lying. Speaking in a Channel 5 documentary (via Fox News), Thomas Markle revealed that he concocted a story about the Sussexes contacting him after he missed their wedding following a heart attack, all to protect their image. "I said they called me back and they were really concerned about me and I said, 'Go on your honeymoon, don't worry about me, I'll be fine.' And that was all a lie."

There was no phone call, according to Thomas, but he did receive a handwritten letter from his daughter after her wedding. "I thought it would be an olive branch," he told the Daily Mail. "Instead, it was a dagger to the heart." In 2022, she successfully sued the outlet for invasion of privacy over the published letter.

Meghan Markle's puppy trouble

In her Daily Mail interview, former friend Ninaki Priddy claimed the dog-loving Meghan Markle flaunted her status as as a way to adopt a dog. The star's former friend told the outlet, "She spoke of what a great time the dog would have in the 'Suits' Family. I felt that she was playing the 'Suits' card to try to get what she wanted."

In November 2017, a Kensington Palace spokesperson broke the news that Markle's rescue dog, Bogart, would not join her overseas as the dog was thought to be too old to endure the transatlantic journey. "It takes a toll on an animal to travel so far across the Atlantic combined with the hard, long process of getting approval," said the spokesperson, per The Blast. "It's in the best interest of the animal's well-being to stay." Instead of traveling with Markle, Bogart remained with one of her friends in the United States. 

That December, the Daily Mail reported that Markle's other dog, Guy, broke two legs. Circumstances surrounding the injury are unknown, but sources claimed the star was devastated over the accident.

Meghan's reps were accused of planting rumors

Meghan Markle starred on the hit show "Suits" for years — we would never try to take that away from her. However, she didn't become a household name until her relationship with Prince Harry. Some have alleged that her reps may have tried to take advantage of that new-found notoriety. 

In December 2017, gossip emerged that Markle was on the shortlist for a role in the next James Bond movie, with a source telling The Sun. However, the blog, Blind Gossip, attempted to refute this claim by publishing its own rumor that suggested she was never in the running for the role. Worse still, the anonymous blogger theorized that there was a likelihood her reps planted the story for publicity.  

This rumor isn't too far-fetched if you consider the fact that Markle's former friend also suggested the actress had grown a bit too big for her britches. "Even by season two of 'Suits,' she was turning down lunch with us because she said she'd be recognized," Ninaki Priddy told the Daily Mail. "There were instances when I felt she developed a sense of entitlement because she was on the show."

One of Meghan Markle's friendships ended in bitterness

While Ninaki Priddy did have some nice things to say about her former friend while recounting their childhood together, she didn't hesitate to call Meghan Markle out for her supposed opportunistic ways. "All I can say now is that I think Meghan was calculated — very calculated — in the way she handled people and relationships," Priddy told the Daily Mail. "She is very strategic in the way she cultivates circles of friends." Ouch! 

Priddy also claimed it was always the former actor's dream to be famous, recalling that "she just loved to be the center of attention." That trait will likely serve her well in the royal palace — and may, in fact, be a reason her relationship with Prince Harry is likely to work out. "One of the advantages of Meghan is because she is in the public eye, she likes that," Penny Junor, author of "Prince Harry: Brother, Soldier, Son," told the Express. "The real problem with Harry's girlfriends in the past is that they absolutely hated the media attention and that's scared them off."

Did she ditch her new gal pal her after meeting Harry?

Meghan Markle is said to have spent a lot of time in London following her split from Trevor Engelson. The actress reportedly struck up a friendship with local TV personality, Lizzie Cundy after they attended a charity dinner. According to Cundy, Markle was keen to find a new man, but the recent divorcee allegedly had two conditions: He had to be English, and he had to be famous. "We were having a girly chat and then she said, 'Do you know any famous guys? I'm single and I really love English men,'" Cundy wrote in the 2019 tell-all. "Tales From the Red Carpet" (via Yahoo! Sports). "So I said, 'We'll go out and find you someone.'"

Cundy claimed Markle called soccer star, Ashley Cole "cute," but that went nowhere. Sources close to "X-Factor" winner, Matt Cardle claimed Markle quietly slid into his DMs in 2015, but the singer reportedly stopped replying after meeting somebody else. Her Instagram interaction with Cardle allegedly took place just months before she started dating Harry, according to The Sun. Once Harry was on the hook, Markle apparently had no use for the singer. "I texted saying, 'Oh my god, I heard about Harry,' and she was like, 'Yeah I know, we'll try and hook up,'" Cundy claimed. "She was probably told by the Palace to end contact with people she befriended in the media. I was literally ghosted by her."

She reportedly caused a stink over air fresheners

To the millions watching around the world, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding appeared every inch a flawless fairy tale, but reports suggest that it wasn't exactly smooth sailing behind the scenes. According to the Daily Mail, the American got a lot of British backs up when she requested that air fresheners be deployed at her wedding because the smell inside St. George's Chapel displeased her. One royal insider attempted to play down the chapel's ancient aroma, by stating, "It's not unpleasant at all ... It just smells how you would expect an old building to smell. And that's something the Royal Family are particularly used to." 

St. George's Chapel has been an important place of worship for the British monarchy since 1475. If the rumors were to be believed, then Royal staffers weren't best pleased at the suggestion that they should use atomizers to spray the chapel with a more pleasing fragrance. "Royal Household staff stepped in and told her office politely, but firmly, that this was the Queen's Chapel and it simply wasn't appropriate," the source claimed. "This is a place that has held royal weddings, funerals and even contains the Royal Vault — I don't believe a request of that nature had been made before."

She allegedly threw a tantrum over an emerald tiara

Most brides would be ecstatic at the thought of walking down the aisle wearing a diamond and platinum bandeau tiara handpicked by the queen herself, but according to royal whistle-blowers, Meghan Markle wanted to choose her own. Household insiders with links to Dan Wootton, the former executive editor of The Sun, reported that Prince Harry's bride-to-be made it clear which headpiece she wanted to wear on her big day, and things apparently got a little tense when her idea was shot down. "Meghan had her heart set on this tiara with emeralds and Prince Harry hit the roof when they were told it was impossible for her to wear it," one source claimed. "The provenance of the tiara could not be established — there were concerns it could have come from Russia originally."

When news of Markle's alleged behavior reached the queen, her majesty reportedly decided to give her grandson a good talking to. "There was a very heated exchange that prompted the Queen to speak to Harry," Wootton's royal insider dished. "She said, 'Meghan cannot have whatever she wants, she gets what tiara she's given by me.' The message from the Queen was very much Meghan needed to think about how she speaks to staff members and be careful to follow family protocols." According to the source, the queen struck a low-blow during the exchange, questioning why Markle needed to wear a traditional wedding veil given it was her second marriage. Ouch!

Did Meghan Markle made Kate Middleton cry?

Rumors of an ongoing feud between Meghan Markle and her sister-in-law began to swirl after it emerged that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would be moving out of Kensington Palace. Tabloids claimed Kate Middleton had snapped at Markle after she caught the former actress speaking rudely to someone on her staff. The Palace denied this in a statement, which raised a few eyebrows among royal commentators. "It's fairly unprecedented for them to speak out in this way, and I think what Kensington Palace is wanting to do is to detract from this rift that's happening," royal expert Angela Mollard said (via Express). "The Queen is in the golden era of her reign. She wants a cohesive royal family."

The press has continued to dig into the allegedly splintered relationship between the two duchesses. Esteemed royal journalist Camilla Tominey, an associate editor at The Telegraph, believed the rift began in the run-up to Markle and Prince Harry's wedding. Middleton's daughter, Princess Charlotte, was one of the stars of the wedding, but two of Tominey's sources claim Middleton was left in tears after an argument broke out during a fitting for her daughter's bridesmaid dress. "Kate had only just given birth to Prince Louis and was feeling quite emotional," one insider said (via the Daily Beast). This incident is said to have taken place around the same time as Markle's supposed emerald tiara drama.

Did multiple royal aides quit on Meghan Markle?

It's not often that people with top positions in the royal household give up their post, so when three walk within quick succession, rumors of trouble in paradise are bound to fly. In May 2019, the Daily Mail revealed that Meghan Markle's right-hand woman, Amy Pickerill, was leaving when the royal couple moved to Frogmore Cottage, making her the third member of the duchess' staff to quit within a matter of months. "Amy is leaving," a royal insider confirmed. "It's very sad for her colleagues, as she is a really popular member of staff."

Pickerill was expected to stay on and succeed Markle's private secretary, Samantha "the Panther" Cohen, who (after 17 years with the royal family) also left her post. Cohen's departure followed that of Melissa Toubati, Markle's personal assistant. The latter caused a stir when she bolted less than six months after Markle's big wedding. According to the Mirror, the overwhelming demands put on Toubati by the new duchess broke her down. "She put up with quite a lot," a royal informant alleged. "Meghan put a lot of demands on her and it ended up with her in tears."

According to royal biographer Robert Jobson, Prince Harry has stood by his lady love. In his book, "Charles at Seventy," Jobson claims Harry lost his temper when employees didn't cooperate. "Raising his voice on occasion, Harry would insist: 'What Meghan wants, she gets.'"

The hazy timeline of her relationship with Harry

Meghan Markle's relationship with Prince Harry seemed to have all the hallmarks of a real-life fairy tale when it first started blossoming, but was it actually more of a love triangle? Before she hooked up with her redheaded prince, Markle was dating renowned Canadian chef, Cory Vitiello, and reports have suggested that there may have been an overlap between the two relationships. Rumors started to fly when an eagle-eyed royal fan noticed that Vanity Fair had edited its Markle cover story at her explicit request. "The sentence regarding the first time Markle met Prince Harry has been amended," a note from the editor read. "Markle told Vanity Fair that the couple met in July 2016."

The original article stated that the Sussexes had met that May. The prince is said to have asked for Markle's number after encountering her at an Invictus Games event in Toronto. According to The Telegraph, the actress was still involved with Vitiello at the time. When the Daily Mail asked the chef if he and Markle were separated when Harry made his appearance in her life, he appeared to confirm that they were still involved in some capacity. "Well, I'm sure you've done your due diligence," the restaurateur told the reporter. Adding that he respected people's rights to privacy, he shared that he felt no bitterness over the breakup and wished Markle the best. Make of that what you will.

Was Megxit the plan all along?

Right or wrong, Meghan Markle was widely blamed when the Sussexes announced they were going to step back from royal life and branch out on their own in January 2020, both on social media and in the tabloids.

"Is it Meghan's fault? It's hard to escape the conclusion that having grown up in a country that considers the Kennedys to be aristocracy, Meghan didn't understand that being a Windsor is not like being a celebrity," Express columnist Virginia Blackburn wrote. It wasn't just the Brits who were unhappy about Megxit either. Canadian millionaire, Kevin O'Leary claimed the Sussexes were "much less interesting" now that they weren't senior royals, and he believed Markle was to blame, saying (via Tatler), "I think Meghan got him into a bad place, and maybe she should do a little soul-searching. She knew what she was getting into when she married him." 

If this claim is true, then was Megxit actually her plan all along? Many seem to think so, and there's even some proof — well, kind of. According to Page Six, Markle put some of her clothes in a Toronto storage facility prior to her wedding. An insider claimed that she had the items delivered to her and Prince Harry's rented property on Vancouver Island when they arrived in Canada following the announcement. Why did Markle keep all those clothes in storage across the Atlantic for two years? Maybe she thought she'd be back at some stage.

An old friend labeled Meghan Markle a 'shape-shifter'

We might never know if Meghan Markle had some form of Megxit in mind when she married Prince Harry, but according to someone who knows her personally, shedding her skin and starting over is a habit of hers. Writing for Tatler, Shinan Govani (who hosted Markle for dinner during her "Suits" days) claimed, "Something that has stayed with me, especially post-Megxit, is that Meghan is no stranger to picking up and reinventing herself. Both a go-getter as well as a shape-shifter, she returns now with more social mojo than she could have ever imagined then." 

By March 2020, Markle was already unleashing that social mojo on Los Angeles, where she and Harry moved after leaving Canada behind. The Sussexes were previously mocked when the prince was filmed asking Disney CEO, Bob Iger to cast Markle in something. "You know she does voice overs?" the prince reportedly said, per Express

Later reports suggested that the actress had instructed her agent to find her a role in a superhero movie. It seems as though Markle was making herself at home, but how was Harry handling it? Was the royal keeping up with his shape-shifting wife? "I don't know how his career is going to map out," Dr. Jane Goodall, a famous primatologist and a good friend of Harry's told the Radio Times that April (via Entertainment Tonight). "I've been in touch, though I think he's finding life a bit challenging just now."

Did the Sussexes shade the York sisters and the queen?

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shocked everyone when they revealed they were stepping back as senior royals in a bombshell statement, including — according to senior palace sources – Queen Elizabeth herself. Her Majesty reportedly had no idea her grandson was about to ditch royalty in favor of a quieter life in North America, but after a period of negotiation, she accepted the decision. However, she also banned them from using the word "royal" in their private endeavors, which was a bit of a slap in the face considering they'd named their brand Sussex Royal. 

While the couple agreed to comply, they landed a seemingly shady dig on Harry's granny at the same time. A few months after their initial announcement, a new statement appeared on the Sussex Royal website. In it, the Sussexes stated that the queen doesn't have any "jurisdiction" over the word "royal" overseas, but noted they would stop using it anyway. Yikes! 

Elsewhere, in what appeared to be a barely-veiled shot at Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, they said, "While there is precedent for other titled members of the royal family to seek employment outside of the ­institution, for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, a 12-month ­review period has been put in place." The York sisters have both been allowed to work while keeping their titles, and this apparently snarky remark seems to prove that Harry and Meghan expected (or at least wanted) the same arrangement.

Meghan reportedly thinks her royal in-laws lack 'warmth'

Now that Meghan Markle is stateside and out of The Firm's reach, she's apparently been dishing about Prince Harry's side of the family. What was life really like inside the palace? A little frosty, according to the American. In March 2020, a source cited by the Daily Mail claimed that Markle bemoaned the lack of "warmth" at royal family gatherings and finds all the standoffish behavior very odd. Her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, is reportedly the biggest culprit.

"It's still weird to her that no one hugs and that everyone is so uptight, especially Kate," the insider, said to be a close friend of Markle, told the tabloid. "She said it's obvious that Kate and William do not approve of their choices and that you could cut the tension with a knife." The source went on to say that Middleton and Markle barely interacted during the latter's final trip as a senior royal, and reportedly even avoided making eye contact. 

Rumors of a rift between the two duchesses have been dogging the royal family for some time now. However, this damaging narrative really started to take root in 2019, when Markle guest-edited the September issue of British Vogue. She neglected to put Middleton on the female "forces for change" list featured in her issue. She also said that it would have been arrogant to appear on the cover herself — Middleton appeared on the cover of the mag in 2016. Awkward.

Did Meghan know nothing about the royal family?

During her and Prince Harry's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021 (via Page Six), Meghan Markle revealed that before joining the royal family, she knew very little about them. "I went into it naively because I didn't grow up knowing much about the royal family," she said in the interview. She added that her cluelessness was because she never thought to look the family up on the Internet — something she was actually grateful for. "Thank God I hadn't researched [them]. I would've been so in my head about it," she told Winfrey (via the Mirror).

In their 2018 engagement interview with BBC News, Markle made a similar statement, claiming that she was not very familiar with the royal family because of her American background. "While I now understand very clearly there's a global interest there, I didn't know much about him," she claimed about her future husband. Still, that just might not be true.

Ahead of her nuptials to Harry, Ninaki Priddy, Markle's childhood friend claimed that the "Suits" star was fascinated by the royal family early on and nursed a fantasy to become a princess someday. "I wasn't shocked or even surprised to hear about Prince Harry. I know she used to love 'The Princess Diaries' — films about a commoner who becomes part of a Royal Family," Priddy told Daily Mail. "She was very taken with that idea." 

She alleged the palace didn't want her son to be a prince

One might have expected a Prince's son to also be a prince but in the case of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, things have apparently panned out a little differently. During the infamous March 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey (via BBC) Markle accused the royal family of refusing to give her son Archie a royal title. "They were saying they didn't want him to be a prince or princess, not knowing what the gender would be, which would be different from protocol," she said. On top of not receiving a royal title, Markle added the claim that she was told Archie would also not get police protection.

As far back as 1917, a royal patent was passed suggesting that only the eldest son of the eldest son of the great-grandchildren of the reigning monarch could have royal titles and styles by right. While this meant that only Queen Elizabeth's grandchildren and Prince Williams' eldest son, George were meant to be bestowed with the HRH style, an exception was made by the Queen for his younger siblings, Princess Charlotte and Prince George. However, even with this exception, during Queen Elizabeth II's reign, Archie was still not entitled to be called prince given that the new patent only catered to the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales.

Her experiences with racism rubbed some the wrong way

Upon her entry into the royal family, Meghan Markle claims to have experienced a shift in how she had always been treated her entire life. In their Netflix docuseries, "Meghan and Harry" (via Page Six) the Duchess of Sussex dug deep into the unwarranted attention and scrutiny she received from the UK media, noting that she initially did not understand how much of it was influenced by racism. "At that time, I wasn't thinking about how race played a part in any of this," Markle said. She also claimed that prior to living in the UK, she was never treated differently for being a person of color. 

On an episode of her podcast, "Archetypes," Markle made similar statements during a conversation with Mariah Carey. She explained to the singer that she only felt aware of her race once she started dating Harry. "Then I started to understand what it was like to be treated like a Black woman," she said. "Because up until then, I had been treated like a mixed woman. And things really shifted."

Her comments were met with resistance from some people who ultimately felt that the conclusions she'd drawn from her alleged experiences had missed the mark. In response to a report concerning the podcast episode, one Twitter user wrote, "She's living the life that very few ... have and she's crying racism." Meanwhile, another commented, "This doesn't make her look sympathetic."

She was accused of mocking royal traditions

In the second episode of "Harry and Meghan," the Duchess of Sussex recounted her first experience meeting the late Queen Elizabeth and the events leading up to it. Meghan Markle described how she and Prince Harry were attending a lunch at the Royal Lodge when he let her know that his grandmother would be joining them a little later on. "I remember we were in the car and driving up, and he said, 'You know how to curtsy, right?' And I just thought it was a joke," she explained (via Page Six).  Seemingly admitting that he may have been uncomfortable with his family's own curtsying tradition, Harry said in the docuseries, "How do you explain that you bow to your grandmother and that you will need to curtsy? Especially to an American. Like, that's weird."

In a bid to demonstrate what curtsying to the queen for the first time looked like, Markle performed a botched version of a dramatic bow. Many fans of the royal family interpreted the moment as being an insult to the royal family's traditions. On Twitter, one fan wrote, "That Meghan Markle curtsy scene was so mocking and disrespectful." Meanwhile, another tweeted, "Funny how Meghan Markle thinks it's ridiculous to curtsy to a queen but has no problem with people calling her a duchess or addressing her as 'your grace.'"

The truth behind her wedding guest list

Despite the fraught relationship with her half-sister, Samantha Markle, Meghan Markle did not let it extend to other members of their family. As revealed in their Netflix docuseries, prior to her romance with Prince Harry, the Duchess of Sussex nurtured a close relationship with Samantha's daughter, Ashleigh Hale. "I wanted a sister, and she was like a little sister," the "Suits" star said of her bond with her niece, per People

However, not even this sisterly bond was enough to get Hale on the guest list for Harry and Meghan's 2018 royal wedding. According to the Duchess, she had been advised against inviting the family member to the wedding. "They just couldn't wrap their head around it and I have compassion for it," she said, per The Sun. "How do we explain that this half-sister isn't invited to the wedding, but that the half-sister's daughter is?" 

However, the outlet also reported claims from an anonymous source that Meghan wasn't telling the whole truth. Allegedly, the real reason Hale wasn't invited was to prevent the media from further exploiting the tension between Samantha and her daughter. Meanwhile, another source claimed to the Daily Mail that the Duchess had complete control over her guest list and was actually advised to have more family members at her wedding.