Meghan Markle has to grant interviews. It’s part of her job as a leading actress on the TV series Suits. She talks about the Toronto-based series, now in the middle of its seventh season. The Los Angeles native talks about the challenges of being biracial. She talks about her charity work. She even talks about her freckles (she dislikes when they are photoshopped out of pictures.)
But until know, she’s dogged discussions of her 14-month relationship with Prince Harry, fifth in line to the throne. Think of the trial of being a royal girlfriend as like Fight Club: The first rule of being a royal girlfriend is that you don’t talk about your royal relationship. Ever. It protects you if you break up, since a “no comment” never goes out of style. If your love proves to be lasting, then you’ve proven that you can be the soul of discretion in a family whose private moments can command huge sums on the media open market.
It’s a rule obeyed by everyone from Lady Diana Spencer to Kate Middleton. They issued only the most innocuous greetings and banal comments, even when dodging aggressive media and paparazzi, reading utter nonsense written about their relationship as well as discovering that moments once thought private had been spilled for all to see.
Now it’s Meghan Markle’s turn. For her, it has included dissecting her first marriage to producer Trevor Engelson, and also discovering which “friends” and “family” will talk—truthfully or not—and who won’t. Ever since her relationship with Prince Harry, which started when they were introduced by friends in July 2016, went public six months later, she’s avoided talking about him.
Meghan Markle on the cover of Vanity Fair
Today she went public. Her freckly image (that she surely approved) on the cover of the October issue of Vanity Fair accompanied a flatteringly intimate article in which she talked about handling the media coverage of her relationship with Harry:
“It has its challenges, and it comes in waves—some days it can feel more challenging than others,” she says. “And right out of the gate it was surprising the way things changed. But I still have this support system all around me, and, of course, my boyfriend’s support.”
She reveals details of her struggles to succeed as an actress—she had a series of small roles, including one at the afternoon soap opera General Hospital, where her father had been lighting director for 35 years—and growing up during the Rodney King riots of 1991-92.
Then the quotes that everyone is talking about:
“I can tell you that at the end of the day I think it’s really simple,” she says. “We’re two people who are really happy and in love. We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news, and I was working during that whole time, and the only thing that changed was people’s perception. Nothing about me changed. I’m still the same person that I am, and I’ve never defined myself by my relationship.”
“We’re a couple,” she explains. “We’re in love. I’m sure there will be a time when we will have to come forward and present ourselves and have stories to tell, but I hope what people will understand is that this is our time. This is for us. It’s part of what makes it so special, that it’s just ours. But we’re happy. Personally, I love a great love story.”
The candid interview is the latest example of why this relationship is breaking all the usual rules of royal romance. For one, Prince Harry has been openly supportive of his girlfriend. In November 2016, his communications secretary issued a blistering statement in her defence:
It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm. He knows commentators will say this is ‘the price she has to pay’ and that ‘this is all part of the game’. He strongly disagrees. This is not a game – it is her life and his.
He has asked for this statement to be issued in the hopes that those in the press who have been driving this story can pause and reflect before any further damage is done.
I’ve never known a royal girlfriend/boyfriend to speak so openly about their romance. Harry will have known about this #MeghanMarkle
— Rebecca English (@RE_DailyMail) September 5, 2017
While Harry certainly knew about the Vanity Fair article, it’s unclear whether the rest of the royal family knew Meghan Markle would declare they were in love, sparking speculation to change from if they would marry to when they marry. It’s just 18 days until Prince Harry opens the third incarnation of his Invictus Games in her adopted home town of Toronto. Will Meghan Markle be there?