If Disney films have taught us anything, it’s that a princess always gets her happily ever after. The life of royalty has been made out to be nothing short of a fairytale, but for those actually living this storybook lifestyle, the reality may not be such a dream come true after all.
Meghan Markle may not be a princess, but the successful actress did become the Duchess of Sussex. Yet after only a few short years of royal fame, it appeared that Meghan wanted to trade the very real drama of the British royal family for the scripted, lighthearted stories from Hollywood.
When Prince Harry wed Meghan Markle in the spring of 2018, things only seemed to look up for the American actress. As Duchess of Sussex, Meghan’s life would be far different than it was back in Hollywood.
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Shortly after the wedding, however, rumors began to swirl that Meghan’s adjustment to royal life wasn’t going as smooth as expected. Even for a former leading lady, the expectations of being a royal brought far more pressure than any audition ever could.
“Meghan has struggled with the intensity of the spotlight,” a source close to the royal family told People. “Although she is a former actress, this is on a different level.”
Sure, it’s easy to speculate that all is not well in Kensington Palace — after all, royal family gossip is the bread and butter of British tabloids. But according to a number of royal experts, Meghan gave a few subtle signs about her royal growing pains.
For starters, Meghan seemingly has a penchant for dark-colored outfits, a stark contrast from those worn by the Duchess of Cambridge. Yet while some see this as a way to stand out, the reason behind these outfit choices may not be so clear cut.
In the past, Meghan has expressed that she places great meaning in her clothing and that she typically wears these darker colors when she’s feeling sad or stressed. With this in mind, the Duchess’ outfits begin to seem a bit more telling than most thought.
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Meghan’s difficult adjustment to royal life has also become apparent in the way she’s handled the spotlight. Despite the royal family’s offers to help her cope with her newfound fame, Meghan has reportedly sought the advice of high-profile celebrities, including Rihanna and George and Amal Clooney.
But perhaps the biggest challenge for Meghan has been adjusting to both her role as Duchess as well as motherhood. Since welcoming Archie Harrison on May 6, 2019, Meghan and Prince Harry have taken a rather un-royal approach to raising him.
Unlike the fanfare that surrounded the christenings of the princes and princess of Cambridge, the Sussexes chose to keep Archie’s baptism a relatively quiet affair. After conducting the ceremony in the Queen’s private chapel at Windsor Castle, the couple only released a small handful of photos from the event.
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Per the wishes of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Archie will be raised a private citizen rather than as royalty, though that still hasn’t stopped the press from keeping Meghan under the microscope. However, Meghan found an ally in one royal that many felt had it out for her.
Despite months of a rumored feud between the two women, Meghan and Kate Middleton have reportedly bonded over motherhood. With three children of her own, the Duchess of Cambridge has actively been helping Meghan through this new chapter of royal life.
“Babies are a great leveler,” said royal commentator Victoria Arbiter. “The minute you’re bonding over your stories and sleepless nights, suddenly all the stuff that mattered before doesn’t matter anymore.”
In fact, it’s believed that the speculation about bad blood between the duchesses came about as a result of the very real feud between Prince Harry and Prince William. Their main point of contention? None other than the Duchess of Sussex herself.
According to royal commentator Katie Nicholl, the rift between the brothers began when William expressed that Harry had married the American actress too soon. From there, tensions between the two only continued to grow, though the media flipped the narrative onto Meghan and Kate.
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“There has been a dependency in the media to pit these Duchesses against each other,” Nicholl told Good Morning Britain. “I’ve said it before, but the idea of two Duchesses feuding is much sexier than two brothers that have actually fallen out over something.”
But the drama surrounding Meghan doesn’t end there, as according to British writer and royal family biographer Lady Colin Campbell, Prince Harry’s friends don’t exactly get along with the Duchess. Apparently, her progressive views have consistently clashed with their more traditional sensibilities.
“Her politics are an issue. She is ultra-liberal and that trendy-lefty stuff does not go down well with some of Harry’s friends,” said Campbell. “He has introduced her to them all…but she is very anti- a lot of the things that their world functions upon, such as shooting.”
Despite these rumors, Prince Harry has stood firmly behind Meghan as the two shift their focus toward their budding family. And according to Meghan, it’s this kind of support that’s ultimately made her transition from actress to royalty worthwhile.
“I have the two best guys in the world so I’m really happy,” the Duchess said. So even as the royal drama continues to run its seemingly never-ending course, Meghan can take comfort in knowing that the two most important people in her life will always be right by her side.
Yet Meghan isn’t the first outsider to have difficulty adjusting to royal life. When Camilla Parker Bowles officially became a member of the royal family in 2005, she not only had big shoes to fill for the people of Britain, but also for her stepsons as well.
Looking back on their earliest childhood memories, Princes William and Harry agree that they had the ideal mother. To many, Princess Diana seemed like an angel who came down to Earth. Even so, there was trouble in paradise.
Royal family insiders believed that another woman may have been the apple of Prince Charles’ eye. Rumors swirled that he was having an affair with Camilla, whom he dated for a time in the early 1970s.
Through overlapping social circles, Charles and Camilla reconnected years later, though both were married. Diana supposedly took an instant dislike to Camilla, who still had strong chemistry with her old flame. She even referred to Camilla as “Charles’ lady.”
Eventually, distrust, infidelity, and a substantial age gap between Charles and Diana left their marriage in shambles. They separated in 1992 before officially divorcing four years later. Sadly, William and Harry never had a chance for their family to get back together.
Diana tragically died in a 1997 car crash, and Charles’ main priority switched to caring for his grieving sons. Still, it wouldn’t be too long until the boys saw a familiar face reenter their lives.
Camilla, having gone through a divorce of her own, became romantically involved with Charles once again. She soon began accompanying him to various events, outraging those who blamed her for ruining Diana’s marriage. The princes weren’t exactly cheering, either.
Fortunately, William and Harry could lean on each other as they stitched their lives back together. But they also wanted to put their dad at ease. They told him, as a sign of good faith, that they would each meet with Camilla.
Charles’ love interest couldn’t help but agree. She met first with William behind closed doors. Not a soul knows quite what was said during their talk, but when Camilla reemerged, she told Charles, “I need a drink.”
Once she settled down from that somewhat tense affair, Camilla met with the younger prince. This meeting supposedly went off without a hitch. Camilla felt obligated to reach out with an olive branch of her own.
She took her children, Tom and Laura, to meet Charles’ boys. They all enjoyed tea at Camilla’s residence, and while all the kids would never be best friends, their amiability was an important step.
Now on Camilla’s side, William and Harry wanted to make her a more legitimate presence in their lives. Despite her trepidation, they brought her to Charles’ 50th birthday party. Soon she felt confident to go out with Charles more often.
Whereas the princes once steered clear of Camilla, they had a firm relationship by the early 2000s. It wasn’t unusual to see the three of them chatting or having a laugh. That gave Charles the courage to do something extraordinary.
Years after their adultery scandal, he proposed to Camilla. The couple tied the knot at the Windsor Guildhall in 2006, with family members from both sides wishing them nothing but the best.
This marriage meant more than just the fulfillment of a love story, after all. Both families suffered when reporters tore into their private lives and disagreements. Now that they were joined, they could put all that behind them.
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And Harry and William only grew closer with Camilla in the following years. In response to some tabloids that accused her of taking over the family, Harry stepped forward to affirm she was “not a wicked stepmother.”
As a matter of fact, the princes started to see why their dad always liked Camilla. More than just an air-headed noble, she was passionate about horses and gardening. She also spoke out on behalf of sexual assault victims.
And, most importantly, she just made Charles happy. Harry and William were glad to see him find love again, and they only strengthened their ties with Camilla as they started their own families.
When William married Kate Middleton, for instance, Camilla’s offspring received a place of honor. Her granddaughter, Eliza Lopes, had the prestigious role of flower girl in the ceremony! These deepening bonds could be an important development in the history of Britain too.
With Charles being first in line for the throne, Camilla could potentially become Queen someday — though it depends on how titles shake out. Luckily, she can learn from the best. She’ll need a few lessons from Queen Elizabeth too.
Royal life is no walk in the park, plus Prince Charles is quite a character. Even though they’d known each other for decades before marrying, Camilla has picked up on new quirks in recent years.
Believe it or not, Charles has a soft spot for the common squirrel. Prince William has admitted that his father has named many of the critters around their Scottish estate, and that Charles even lets his favorites into their home.
Although reporters called Charles and Diana’s marriage “The Wedding of the Century,” he didn’t quite agree. Some reports say he wept the night before the ceremony! Whatever lingering doubts the couple had eventually caused them to separate in 1992.
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Charles’ prize possession is an Aston Martin DB6 MKII, which he got as a 21st birthday present. In 2018, he added an interesting upgrade. Charles made the car more eco-friendly in that it no longer runs on gasoline, but on wine.
Whether he’s presiding over a formal event or lounging in the countryside, the Prince of Wales always dresses to the nines. His fashion sense is so admired that Esquire magazine dubbed him the “World’s Best-Dressed Man” in 2009.
It’s fortunate that Charles has a personal chef at his disposal because he’s quite the picky eater. For example, he’ll only eat eggs that have been boiled for exactly seven minutes. When he visits friends, he’ll often bring his own food rather than accept their hospitality.
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Charles has a fondness for the queen in Buckingham Palace and the ones in a deck of cards! A decently skilled magician, he passed an official examination to join the Magic Circle — a social organization of magicians — in 1975.
Many nobles are patrons of the arts, but Charles cuts out the middleman and does his own paintings! Critics haven’t treated his work with much warmth, but he does sell them for a good cause. He donates all the proceeds to charity.
While at university, Charles developed a huge crush on Barbra Streisand. Being a prince and all, he naturally had the chance to meet her a few times over the years. Rumors of an affair between the two bounced around, but there is no official proof.
An adamant lover of nature, Charles doesn’t just cultivate plants — he also talks to them! Charles has explained that he believes the odd habit helps his garden flourish. He’ll even threaten to toss plants on the compost heap if they don’t flower!
Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning British monarch in 2015, so it makes sense that Charles is also the longest-serving heir to the throne. He’s been waiting since 1953, and he wants it as badly as ever in his old age.
Before Charles fell for Diana, he actually dated her sister Sarah for a short time. Their relationship ended when Sarah expressed she had absolutely zero interest in marrying the Prince of Wales.
Like any sensible Brit, Charles is a huge fan of the Harry Potter series. He regularly reads the J.K. Rowling books to his grandchildren, and he even gives a different voice to each character! Now that’s an audiobook that we’d like to hear.
You probably know that it’s not unusual for members of various royal families to find out they’re related. However, Charles has one surprising royal relation. It turns out he’s descended from Vlad the Impaler, a medieval ruler who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
14. Charles’ outspoken support for homeopathic medicine has generated a fair amount of controversy. Doctors in the United Kingdom bristle whenever he encourages their health system to embrace more alternative treatments, like herbal products, that have no proven benefits.
15. Years ago, Charles discovered that Prince Harry was drinking and smoking marijuana at school. To stop him from going down the wrong path, Charles sent his son to rehab for a day. The shocking experience made him drop his bad habits for good.
16. Charles has a contentious relationship with his father. Prince Philip pressured him into many big life events, including his attendance of Gordonstoun boarding school and his marriage to Diana Spencer. While Charles is a bleeding-heart romantic, Philip is a proud pragmatist.
17. Despite his struggles with his father, Charles was extremely close to his grandmother, the Queen Mother. While Philip often criticized Charles’ decisions, she took a supportive stance. When she passed away in 2002, Charles remarked that she meant everything to him.
Charles is a royal, but he’s no Marie Antoinette. He works tirelessly to help the less fortunate and preserve his nation’s history. His myriad of charity efforts raise over $100 million each year.
19. Did you know that Charles is also a published author? In 1984, he came out with a children’s book entitled, The Old Man of Lochnagar. The story centers around an elderly man who lives in a cave near the royal estate in Balmoral, Scotland.
20. Perhaps because of his picky eating habits, Charles started his own organic food company. Duchy Originals first hit the shelves in 1990 and has been going strong ever since. Of course, Charles donates a lion’s share of the profits to charity.
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