We’ve known for some time that Prince Harry’s relationship with his American actress girlfriend, 35-year old divorcée Meghan Markle, is serious, but there has been fresh confirmation of that fact this week, after Harry introduced Meghan to his sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, for the first time.
According to The Sun, Kate traveled especially to London on Tuesday last week for the meeting.
Kate will of course be Queen one day, but for now she would not be in a position to veto any relationship. Nor, indeed, would she dream of doing anything other than offering warm encouragement and support.
So while meeting Kate isn’t a necessary seal on Harry and Meghan’s relationship, so to speak, it is equally inconceivable that Harry’s relationship with Meghan could happily progress much further without Kate’s blessing.
The royal family have wisely given up trying to ‘stop’ relationships - it seems almost fanciful now to recall, but ten years ago there were many old school courtiers who genuinely thought the Queen should intervene and put an end to William’s relationship with Kate on the grounds she was a commoner – but that is not to say there is not still a certain amount of nervousness at court about the prospect of Harry marrying an American actress with two million followers on Instagram.
But if Kate is prepared to vocally and directly support the lovebirds, that will count for a huge amount, especially as William is content to take his wife’s lead on domestic matters such as this.
The meeting apparently came when Meghan was staying with Harry at Kensington Palace last week, after a new year trip to Norway to see the Northern Lights.
The Sun reports that Meghan, who had previously met William, was also introduced to Harry’s niece Princess Charlotte this time around.
A source told The Sun that Harry and Kate “are very close” adding that “he really values her opinion on girlfriends. Obviously Harry's mother, Princess Diana, died when he was very young so Kate really fulfils that older sister/maternal role. It went really well.”
While there is little doubt that Kate is as delighted as everyone else that Harry appears to be forging a proper relationship with anyone, this latter assertion that Harry relies on Kate’s judgment when it comes to women is open to debate.
Kate and Chelsy Davy, Harry’s first proper love, were wildly different characters and never got along particularly well, even though they were both dating princely brothers at the same time. Kate didn’t much like Cressida Bonas either—sources have told the Daily Beast that she considered Cressida immature. The fact that Cressida is a half sister of one of William’s ex’s (Isabella Branson, née Calthorpe) didn’t help much either.
Indeed, Harry would be more likely to seek advice from his cousins, the blood princesses Beatrice and Eugenie who have also been blessed and cursed by being born royal, before turning to Kate when it comes to affairs of the heart.
However, the fact that Meghan has been introduced to Kate is significant, as it means she has now met all the most senior members of the Royal Family except the Queen, who is believed to be supportive of the relationship, and is said to have brushed aside concerns over Harry marrying an actress, who, by the very nature of her job, has previously welcomed publicity.
It’s still too early to talk about an engagement (first, of course, the relationship has to survive Valentine's Day, for which the Prince is said to be planning a trip to Verbier, his favorite Swiss ski resort) and a proposal would be unlikely to happen without Meghan meeting the Queen.
If and when that meeting happens, the royal press pack will be well and truly on their marks for the most unlikely royal wedding in memory.
While the meeting with Kate is, therefore, significant, an even more telling sign of the depth of Meghan’s feelings for Harry are to be gleaned in her use of social media, which Harry loathes.
It's been over a month since she posted on Instagram, even though she used to post several times daily.
In it she writes:
When my grandparents decided to move the family from Ohio to California, my mom was about seven years old. A family of five, they packed up the car and took a road trip to Los Angeles. My grandfather told me this story when I was eleven years old. At the time, road trips to me were a collection of “Are we there yets?”, the license plate game, the drive-throughs for filler food (where McDonalds was less of a treat and more of the norm), photo ops by signs welcoming you from one state to the next, and stops at local restaurants to stretch your legs.
“Things were different then,” my grandfather said. “Meggie, on our road trip, when we went to Kentucky Fried Chicken, we had to go to the back for ‘coloreds.’ The kitchen staff handed me the chicken from the back door and we ate in the parking lot. That’s just what it was.”
That’s just what it was.
That story still haunts me. It reminds me of how young our country is. How far we’ve come and how far we still have to come. It makes me think of the countless black jokes people have shared in front of me, not realizing I am mixed, unaware that I am the ethnically ambiguous fly on the wall. It makes me wonder what my parents experienced as a mixed race couple. It echoes the time my mom and I were leaving a concert at The Hollywood Bowl, and a woman called her the “N” word because she was taking too long to pull out of the parking spot. I remember how hot my skin felt. How it scorched the air around me.
It’s an unequivocal declaration that Meghan intends to use her new, higher public profile as a force for social good.