One of the greatest challenges that royals have faced through history is figuring out who to trust. From Henry VIII to Princess Diana, royal history is a history of trust and its abuses; a story of promises kept and confidences betrayed.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Meghan Markle, faced with betrayal on an epic scale by her father and sister, is said by sources to be withdrawing from existing friendships and struggling to build a circle of confidants in the new world into which she has parachuted.
Meghan's father and sister continue to trash her in the press on a regular basis (this week it was Samantha’s turn, who launched a virulent social media attack on Meghan and her mother in which she compared Meghan to President Trump and accused Meghan’s mom of being a stoner).
Sources in the Oxfordshire village where she and Harry have a country house and now spend much of their time tell The Daily Beast that when Meghan is spotted walking in the Great Tew estate on which their house stands, she is usually sighted alone.
“There never seems to be anyone with her except a cop following at a discreet distance. She does not seem unhappy but she does seem very solitary,” says the local.
The source says there rarely seem to be visitors to their house, and when the couple do venture out to nearby Soho Farmhouse with friends, Meghan is always with Harry and people from his circle of buddies, not hers.
Victoria Beckham, a wedding guest who formed an early bond with Meghan and lives near Meghan and Harry in Oxfordshire, is said to be a trusted friend. However, with Victoria leading a schedule which is even more hectic than Meghan’s, there is little potential for meet-ups between the two women.
A recent report in People magazine said that Meghan has “lost touch with some of her close friends from before the wedding,” and was “finding it hard to know who to trust.”
People’s source said Meghan has kept in touch with just a handful of people from her old life, such as her stylist Jessica Mulroney (who she flew out to visit in Canada in recent weeks), her childhood friend Benita Litt and her makeup artist friend, Daniel Martin.
Martin told the magazine that “there’s a small group” checking in with her to see how she’s doing, and that “she is still the same person.”
Harry and the wider royal family are, of course, deeply aware of the extent to which loneliness and isolation contributed to Princess Diana’s troubles, and the young royals have extended the hand of friendship. Kate and Meghan speak on the phone regularly, and Beatrice and Eugenie, who are close to Harry, have also sought to be friendly faces.
But the British elite are notoriously gossipy and mean about outsiders joining their ranks, and Meghan is struggling to build a group of supportive pals in the wider community.
The writer Lady Colin Campbell, a confidant of Lady Diana’s with good contacts among the wider family, and the person who first revealed Diana’s eating disorders to the world, told The Daily Beast: “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. He has introduced her to them all at parties and weddings and private dinners, but she is very anti- a lot of the things that their world functions upon, such as shooting.
“Everybody discovers after marrying into the royal family how solitary and arduous an existence it can be. Meghan has already begun to discover this. However, because of her track record as a successful actress who has made her own way in the world, she may have the tools to cope with the solitary nature of her existence in a way that few others could have. Diana really struggled with the solitary nature of being a royal, although she often ended up being alone because of her own miscalculations; she blew hot and cold and people got fed up.
"Diana's life was more isolated than it would otherwise have been. It is apparent that beneath her charm Meghan can be rather tough, her challenge is to maintain the new relationships she builds.”
Meghan certainly has the ability to make new friends fast. The British TV presenter Piers Morgan told recently of how he befriended Meghan via Twitter, and within a few weeks she was sending him advance screeners of Suits, messaging him from "places like Rwanda" and even arranged to meet him in a London pub.
Understandably, after she began her relationship with Harry she ditched the former tabloid editor, with Morgan complaining (or perhaps boasting) that she ‘ghosted’ him.
There is little doubt that Meghan is throwing herself into her charitable and royal work, and this will prove to be an important avenue for her to meet like-minded philanthropists and humanitarians.
Ultimately, Meghan will have to let people into her circle of trust. Royals don’t, contrary to popular opinion, assemble a court primarily with the aim of having a group of tittering flunkies to bow and scrape and flatter, but because it’s important to have sounding boards and advisers in what can be a very lonely and misunderstood existence.
Inevitably, the members of their courts have friends and partners, and they talk to them, and sometimes things leak out that shouldn’t.
That’s just a reality of life. But the truth is that a paranoid approach to guarding privacy will be way more dangerous for Meghan in the long run than the irritation of the occasional media leak.
The old wartime saying that loose lips sink ships ignores the mundane reality that isolation can be just as dangerous too.
It’s time for Meghan Markle to let some people in.