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Why does Meghan Markle’s sister Samantha seemingly hate the Duchess of Sussex so much? Well, a turning point may have been a tube of toothpaste.
In her newly published memoir—or “memoire” as she somewhat bafflingly refers to it on the title page of The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister, Part 1—the first sign of significant tensions between the sisters came when they lived under the same roof many years ago.
Meghan saw Samantha brushing her teeth and asked, “in a surprising and authoritative tone,” “Babe, could you put the lid back on the toothpaste?”
Samantha writes: “I was taken aback, only because it seemed out of character, and most adults put the lid on the toothpaste anyway, so to be reminded of it in advance struck me as a bit snippy.”
From here, their relationship deteriorates. The gossip in the book—in what Samantha has said is only the first installment of a two-part memoir—is as bitchy and vituperative as those following her tabloid outbursts against Meghan and Harry will have come to expect.
Samantha claims that her father, Thomas, told her that he would not be invited to Meghan and Harry’s wedding unless he disowned Samantha and her brother, Tom Jr. When Thomas refused, Samantha says, Meghan asked him, “Why can’t you just comply?”
Samantha writes: “For her to force our father to disown his daughter, who has struggled with MS (multiple sclerosis) for most of her adult life, and uses an electric wheelchair, and also his son, was so unimaginably cruel.”
Samantha writes: “The ultimate insult to the family was levied when, in an open interview, Prince Harry said that the British royal family were ‘the family that Meghan never had.’”
Samantha adds: “It was unconscionable that she would not only ignore the whole family but that she had somehow, seemingly brainwashed Harry into believing that she did not have a family, or that we were not there for her.”
Among Samantha’s other claims: Guests at Meghan’s wedding to first husband Trevor Engelson were given bags of marijuana as gifts, and Meghan considered converting to Judaism for Engelson. Samantha says that Meghan had a relationship with a fellow actor on TV drama Suits, and Samantha also says Meghan was more into dating “a prince” when she met Harry than Harry the person.
As The Daily Beast reported early Thursday, Samantha also alleges it was she who set up the photographs of Thomas in Mexico that caused such a media furor prior to Harry and Meghan’s wedding in May 2018. Samantha writes, “When I saw some of the photographs, I was delighted, until I saw an article that said he ‘staged photographs.’ I nearly choked...”
Meghan’s representatives declined to comment on the allegations contained in the book to The Daily Beast.
“You’re not getting that ring, Babe!”
Although the actual, physical book itself is proving somewhat troublesome to get hold of, due to it being self-published and not available as an e-book, The Daily Beast has managed to get hold of an industry proof of the tome, on which this review is based. We assume if you order up a copy—and be assured, it is a vital, if potentially unreliable, addition to every tea-loving royal fan’s bookshelf—it will be approximately the same as the manuscript we got our inky fingers on.
The book begins with the folksy, hardscrabble tale of Samantha’s grandparents, her grandfather’s war service, and then the birth of her and Meghan’s dad, Thomas, who, even as a baby “had a curiously expressive eyebrow that should have been trademarked.”
We read of Thomas getting a job in TV at age 18, meeting Samantha’s mom, Roslyn, who Samantha tells us in a casual aside, and a sign of her ability to slay with but a word, was “promiscuous.”
Roslyn got pregnant with Samantha, who was born in November 1964, which got Thomas out of the draft for the Vietnam War. Brother Tom Jr. arrived 14 months later.
Her parents got divorced at some point in the 1970s (exact dates are not a huge focus of Samantha’s oeuvre) and at some point in her teens, Samantha went to live with her dad. Tom Jr. comes too. Thomas was an awesome dad. Samantha writes.
When she was in high school, Thomas Sr., now 36, met Doria Ragland, who is just 21. They married in 1979, and in 1981 had baby Meghan. Meghan was a beautiful child, we read, and Samantha a doting sister. The term “half-sister” is never used in the family.
Thomas, Samantha tells us, “started nurturing Meg’s creativity before she was one year old by applauding her for throwing blueberries all over the kitchen floor.” All was well, until Doria announced that she was going to start a jewelry company called Three Cherubs. The eponymous cherubs, she told Samantha, were Meghan, herself and Thomas.
“I couldn’t help but realize that her concept excluded my brother and me,” says Samantha. Samantha concludes that “she wanted to move us over.”
In her late teens, Samantha writes, she received a devastating piece of news: She was diagnosed with MS. The drugs made her balloon and swell with water retention, damaging her confidence but not her spirit. Her MS led her to begin using a wheelchair before she turned 30.
Thomas’ marriage with Doria started to fray, Samantha writes. Doria and Thomas moved into separate apartments. Meghan split her time between the two. Thomas’ career was going well; he was working on General Hospital. Samantha moved out and got an apartment, then got married and had two kids, who were sent to live with their grandparents in the country. (If these children do ever live with her again, this book does not relate that fact.)
In what seems to be about 1994, when Samantha was 30 and Meghan 12 or 13, Samantha moved back in with her dad in Hollywood.
Around that time, the toothpaste sleight earned Meghan the nickname “The Princess of Vista del Mar” (the Los Angeles street they live on) from Samantha. Samantha attributed “changes in her personality” to “negative coaching” from Doria. In 1993, Samantha landed a Coors commercial that enabled her to rent an apartment—right below Thomas and Meghan.
At Christmas one year, Thomas tossed the girls a catalog and told them to pick what they want. Samantha pointed to a $300 ring. Meghan responded, in a “tone of voice that could have burned a hole in the wall,” “You’re not getting that ring, Babe!”
Samantha concludes: “Her response made it clear that she was jealous at me picking out something slightly above what is considered moderately priced. I was showing it to her as a suggestion for her, but it went right over her head.”
Samantha adds: “It wasn’t just that she didn’t want me to have a nice ring, it seemed that she didn’t want Dad to get me a nice ring.”
At this point, this reader guessed, Samantha was about 31 and Meghan about 13 or 14.
The petty resentments toward Meghan accumulate slowly, like snowflakes on a drift. Samantha alleges that Meghan unsuccessfully tried to pressure her dad to pull out of a school play after she has “a disagreement” with someone on the production. The fallout from this incident is allegedly what led to the video clip, subsequently widely circulated, of a teenage Meghan saying she was not getting along with her dad.
Samantha went back to college and got a degree in criminal psychology. She paid for it with “grants and scholarships” whereas Thomas paid for Meghan’s private-school education and later university, which she says, more than once, cost a staggering $250,000 per annum. Samantha remarries and has another child, then gets divorced.
In 2004, Meghan met Trevor Engelson, who she would marry. In 2006, she got a job as a “briefcase girl” on Deal or No Deal.
Samantha’s first night review of that show is predictably tough: “When I finally watched, I thought Meg looked fantastic but the first thing I thought was, ‘They must’ve stuffed her bra.’ I knew there was tape up under there, or something, because she wasn’t that busty.”
Samantha suggested to Meghan that now that she is making bank, she should pay back her dad some of her college tuition costs. Meghan allegedly replied: “There are too many cooks in the kitchen, Babe.”
Drift, drift, drift went the snowflakes.
As Meghan moved closer to marriage with Trevor, Samantha says, “Trevor really was Prince Charming, but then again, so was our father. When I really thought about how she treated dad when she didn’t get her way, there was a little part of me that just kept thinking, ‘Trevor is next.’”
Meghan and Engelson married in Jamaica in 2011, the same year Meghan was cast on Suits, and “everyone at the wedding was given a bag of marijuana.” Samantha did not go because she said her wheelchair would get stuck in the sand. Meghan toyed with converting to Judaism, so blissful was the marriage, Samantha writes. But the two divorced just a few years later.
In 2013, Samantha said she learned there was “trouble in paradise” after hearing “through the grapevine that Meghan was involved with someone on the show,” and that Trevor had “allegedly got close” with Meghan’s “best friend.”
“She just said, ‘Daddy, I met a prince.’”
Meghan studiously ignored all Samantha’s calls for a few years, Samantha says, but they did speak again at the end of 2015, and discussed their father’s failing health.
Then, in 2016, her dad called Samantha, and advised her to sit down before saying that Meghan had called him to say she was dating a prince.
“Who is this prince?” asks Samantha.
“Well, he’s British. It’s Prince Harry,” Thomas said.
Samantha asked her father to tell her exactly what Meghan said to him.
“Not a whole lot,” said Thomas, “She just said, ‘Daddy, I met a prince.’”
This bothered Samantha: “What astounded me about that was that she didn’t say, ‘I met an amazing man.’ She said, ‘I met a prince.’ It seemed that the title was the most important thing to her.”
Immediately, Samantha says she was worried for Harry: “It crossed my mind though that this new love interest could end up being just as hurt as Trevor was.”
It then turned out that her dad had known about the relationship for six months. “That suggested that she would’ve been dating Harry at the same time as she was dating the restaurateur, Corey,” Samantha writes. We assume she is referring to Toronto’s Cory Vitiello.
Samantha tried to call Meghan but after brief hellos, the phone went dead.
This appears to be the last time they spoke.
From this point on, the book becomes a very angry screed about how Meghan basically ditched her family.
Some typical lines include: “I was hoping she would be a little bit compassionate… I felt she should have communicated… she didn’t call me.”
Samantha says she could “not understand how Harry could not have compassion for my father,” and that “my sister was ignoring an incredible father, and her entire family, in favor of being a royal.”
The anger built and built, reaching a crescendo when Samantha realized that she would not be invited to the royal wedding.
Samantha claims that when her father inquired about his own invite, Meghan told him,“Lay low.”
In another shocking episode, Samantha claims that she believes she was trolled by Meghan. Samantha says she received an email addressed to “Babe” the pet name used for her by Meghan when they were kids.
She says the email began: “In his heart of hearts, Babe, Dad only has one daughter and it’s not you.”
Suspecting it was her “sister on the keyboard,” on the grounds that “in his heart of hearts” is a phrase she used in her blog The Tig, Samantha fired off a suitably aggressive response.
“It was like watching vultures feast. The photographer said, ‘Don’t worry, I will take good care of your dad...’”
Samantha also describes how she set up the controversial photos of her father, taken in Mexico, that caused such a tabloid storm prior to Meghan and Harry’s wedding.
She writes, “I got a call from someone offering to connect me with a photographer friend by the name of Jeff [Rayner], who promised to discreetly take photographs of my father, putting him in an honest light, because other photographers had been so disparaging, intentionally.
“I received no money for the deal per my request, and the goal for my father was not money, because he had been turning down $50,000 interviews. It was just allowing the Royals and the world to see him in his proper light, because he was so horribly labeled and photographed.
“It was like watching vultures feast. The photographer said, ‘Don’t worry, I will take good care of your dad, and nobody will even see.’”
Samantha said she asked the photographer to stay 100 yards away and be “discreet” but was ignored.
Samantha wrote, “When I saw some of the photographs, I was delighted, until I saw an article that said he ‘staged photographs.’”
“I nearly choked, when I saw photographs of the photographer walking three feet behind my father, as seen on an Internet Cafe surveillance camera. I was guaranteed that he would not be visible, and I’m sure he knew that the camera was there on the ceiling, so I felt as though I had been baited, and so had my father.”
“I was guaranteed it would be discreet, and then he publicly allowed himself to be seen walking three feet behind my father with the long lens camera, and furthermore, bragged about it on his Facebook page the following day.
“I sent an email to the photographer, letting him know that I was horribly upset by what had occurred, and he said that he would arrange ‘something’ with my father that would make him happy, and that he would ‘fix the situation.’ The damage was done, and the thought of ‘fixing it’ was tragicomedy at best.”
Samantha is not believed to have seen her sister since 2008. In a letter Meghan sent her father after the wedding, an extract of which was recently published as part of court filings, Meghan wrote, “I pleaded you to stop reading the tabloids. On a daily basis you fixated and clicked on the lies they were writing about me, especially those manufactured by your other daughter, who I barely know.”