The dark side of Meghan and Prince Harry’s fairytale romance chronicled in new book
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It was like something out of an evil fairy tale: The Princes and the Angry Ones.
The story of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry began as a textbook romance. But somewhere along the way, it resolved in testy arguments and family feuds. Tom Bower's "Revenge" gets into the ugly details.
He also thinks he knows who is to blame. Although the book's full title is Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the War Between the Windsors, Markle is the book's real subject — and its scathing author's target.
Markle's beginnings did not portend the international drama to come. She was born in Los Angeles in 1981 to Thomas Markle (37) and Doria (24). Thomas was white, a lighting director on television. Doria was Black, a free spirit trying to establish herself as a designer.
The marriage didn't last. But Thomas was doting on his new daughter — "his whole life, his little princess," said Tom Jr., his son from a previous marriage. When Doria went traveling with her fashion business, Thomas took over sole custody. Megan was 9.
She was already enjoying the limelight. At a friend's birthday party, "Meghan was filmed sitting on a red blanket and wearing a gold crown," Bower writes. "She had the other girls bow to her and sing Her Royal Highness after watching a tape of Princess Diana's fairytale wedding."
Her father fed her hunger for attention, paid for acting and ballet classes, and provided the lighting for her school plays. He also paid for college — $45,000 a year to study drama at Northwestern — and helped her settle into her own apartment and used car after graduation. He even paid for the gas.
He was amazed when, years later, Markle gave speeches to working-class college students and said she understood their financial struggles. "I'm sorry, but that's completely wrong," her father told the press. "I paid every penny of her tuition and I have the bank statements to prove it."
After college, Markle went to endless Hollywood auditions. Few have paid off. She was one of the hostesses on Deal or No Deal. She started an anonymous blog, Working Actress, and complained about "having to kiss actors with stinky breath." She met and married a young producer.
The union — a "starter marriage," Bower snips — didn't last long. But Markle had already landed a role in Suits. Her profile was raised, she began pursuing endorsement deals and voice-over appearances. She also began to distance herself from her father and her past. Friends who tried to keep in touch noticed a change.
"The tone of her voice, her manners, the way she laughed just didn't seem real to me anymore," one said. "It was like a light off."
With the success of Suits, she did some Canadian television commercials and landed a commercial for a Christian charity. Then, during a "Suits" party in London in the summer of 2016, Markle met a fashion publicist who was Harry's childhood friend.
Bower reports that Markle asked if the publicist could set the actress up with the prince.
Eventually a rendezvous was arranged at a private London club. When Markle breathlessly told her agent, the woman wasn't surprised. "I understood where she came from," said the agent. "Her dream of bagging a prince was even written on one of her old blogs."
The date was a success and Markle and Harry began seeing each other regularly. Four months after the couple's first date, the Sunday Express broke the news. "British media loved it," writes Bower. "He was the happiest he'd been in many years," reported The Times."
The honeymoon with the press was short.
British tabloids began investigating Markle's American roots. Reporting became snobbish, even racist. Newspapers reported that her father lived in a seedy apartment in Hollywood. They claimed their mother was from the slums. They cited Markle's estranged half-sister, calling her "a social climber with a thing for ginger."
A still-possessed Harry invited Markle to the country for a weekend to see his friends. It didn't go well. She was a multiracial, liberal, feminist Yankee. They were white, wealthy, conservative Britons who loved to hunt, ride, drink and crack politically incorrect jokes.
Markle wasn't amused and let her know.
After the party broke up, Harry's friends quickly texted each other. "OMG, what about HER?" "An absolute nightmare."
As we know, Harry suggested and she accepted. Following the official announcement, there was a second burst of good publicity in the press. But privately, the family remained cautious. Harry's Uncle Charles, Diana's brother, told him not to be hasty. Older brother William urged him to "meet the girl."
Harry wasn't listening.
Wedding plans went ahead. Likewise the friction. Palace employees complained that Markle was rude and demanding. "Princess Pushy", her half-sister had already nicknamed her.
There were arguments about the wedding menu, the music and the guest list. A conversation with Kate Middleton, Markle's future sister-in-law, reportedly ended in Kate's tears as the two argued over the dress Kate's three-year-old was supposed to wear.
Harry stood up for his fiancee all the time. "What Meghan wants, Meghan gets!" he finally yelled.
Afterwards, his grandmother, the Queen, invited him to a private meeting. "He was firmly put in his place," reported the Times.
More than 17 million people watched the wedding. George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey and Serena Williams attended. The only one of Markle's relatives who came was her mother. Her father, a spokesman for the palace, stated that he was too ill to travel. The rep didn't add that the father and daughter were no longer on speaking terms.
The wedding itself was a success. But what came next? Traditionally, this was the point at which the new bride was expected to step back and assume a supportive role. But Markle had always dreamed of being a star. She wanted to get a handle on her public relations and pursue any new opportunities—charitable or commercial—that arose.
"The royal family had embraced a media junkie determined to take advantage of their new status," explains Bower.
"She never intended to give up her career and become a loyal member of the family."
Journalists began comparing the two young royal couples - noting that the younger couple left a lot to be desired. That only fueled Markle's anger. "She hated being compared to the uncomplaining Kate," notes Bower. The distance between the two brothers grew.
When Harry told William they should be more respectful of Meghan, William hit back hard, citing her willful ignorance of protocol and her rudeness to her staff. "Meghan's behavior, he told Harry, was unacceptable," Bower said.
Harry was outraged. Markle was devastated. There were dark days ahead - and, as she later said, suicidal thoughts. In 2020, the couple decided to turn their backs on it all. They would give up any role as "working royals," Harry explained.
The couple is now based in California, where they spend their time pursuing multimedia business deals, a charitable foundation and their two young children. And what did they leave behind in England? Just bad feelings, Bower insists. He coldly summarizes Markle as a "ruthless opportunist."
Still, Bower concedes, she has a unique strength: the "luck," he writes, of being unable to feel guilt.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
Duke of Sussex
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