What Really Happened When Meghan Markle Had Tea with the Queen
When it comes to marrying into the royal family, Granny's blessing means everything. Given Prince Harry's position in the line to the throne, Queen Elizabeth quite literally has to approve his future spouse, and saying no isn't out of the realm of possibility—she's done it before. So, when Meghan Markle met her boyfriend's grandmother in October of last year, it came with a little pressure. The following excerpt from Andrew Morton's new book, Meghan: A Hollywood Princess, details just what happened when Markle sat down with the Queen for afternoon tea.
It was the most important audition of her life. No rehearsal, no script, no second takes. This was live and improvised. When she was driven through the gates of Buckingham Palace on an overcast, drizzly Thursday in October in a black Ford Galaxy with darkened windows, she was about to give the performance of her career. Even though she has often said that she is not a woman who gets nervous, she could be forgiven for being a tad dry mouthed. She was about to meet the Queen for afternoon tea. Gulp. Of course, she had Prince Harry by her side, holding her hand, telling her it would be fine, just be yourself. Still, it was tea with the Queen of England.
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There was a touch of cloak and dagger about the affair, which did little to quell the nerves. The Ford Galaxy nosed in so close to the sovereign's entrance that Harry, Meghan, and their Scotland Yard bodyguard were able to slip inside unnoticed.
They were then escorted along the seeming miles of
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on a visit to Northern Ireland.
If truth be told, Meghan had quietly anticipated this moment. A few months before, she had taken a secret excursion to Rose Tree Cottage, a little slice of England nestled in Pasadena in the suburbs of Los Angeles. It sells a plethora of British goodies, but the
In a city dominated by coffee and to-go cups, Rose Tree Cottage brings a soupçon of English refinement. It is where Meghan learned to crook her finger as she sipped her Earl Grey from her cup and saucer, necessary skills to remember after she dropped a curtsy to her future mother-in-law. However, the offering of thinly sliced sandwiches of cucumber and egg mayonnaise, the selection of small scones and cakes, and Her Majesty’s own Queen Mary blend of tea, with the option of coffee for the American visitor, tell only part of the story.
She could say no. She’d done it before. Then what?
Afternoon tea is a chance for the Queen to catch up on the Upstairs gossip from her ladies-in-waiting, the Downstairs chatter from her senior servants, and to see members of her family. In times past, Princess Diana—when she hadn’t brought the boys with her, which was often—used these informal occasions to tackle the Queen over her eldest son’s affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. As she sipped her tea, the princess was looking for sympathy— vainly, as it turned out. The topic was much too emotionally
Though the encounter with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry was much less fraught, there was still an air of tension about the occasion. This was perhaps inevitable. As the fifth in line to the throne, the prince had to obtain his grandmother’s formal permission to marry. It was by no means a foregone conclusion. She could say no. She’d done it before. Then what?
Princess Margaret with Peter Townsend in 1955. The Queen famously denied her sister permission to marry Townsend because he was divorced.
For centuries the royal houses of Europe have been defined by bloodline and breeding. In Queen Victoria’s day, English princes and princesses could only marry their German counterparts. That changed during World War
For the most part, the queen’s brood
Any possible uncertainty about the outcome of this meeting lay not with Meghan, but with the
If anything, Harry’s transformation over the last few years has secured the future of the monarchy.
If he had come to see Grannie a few years earlier, when he had an unenviable reputation as an angry drunk with poor judgment, it would have been doubtful that the Queen would have agreed to him marrying a divorced mixed-race American actor.
“It would have been a grim, unhappy confrontation,” observed a former senior royal official, just as it was when she had to put her foot down in 1955 over her sister, Margaret, marrying Group Captain Peter Townsend, who was divorced. If anything, Harry’s transformation over the last few years has, together with the popular union between Prince William and Kate Middleton, secured the future of the monarchy.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Invictus Games in Toronto in 2017.
The final seal of approval came from the queen’s corgis. This normally irascible breed
During their one?hour meeting, Meghan witnessed at firsthand the genuine respect and love Harry feels for his grandmother. “She’s an incredible woman,” she said
With a flurry of barks and a final curtsy, Harry and Meghan bade their farewells, swiftly leaving the palace before the royal gossip factory was able to get into gear.
Excerpted from MEGHAN: A Hollywood Princess by Andrew Morton. Copyright © 2018 by Andrew Morton. Used by arrangement with Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.