We have less than 30 days to go until the Royal Wedding. And America is HERE FOR IT. There are groups on Facebook, entire devoted to celebratory items like “I’d Marry Harry” hats, and freshly bound biographies on both and Meghan Markle. That's in addition to a national gossip sesh every time they step out in public between now and May 19.
The most distinguished authority in the fray is arguably Andrew Morton, who published in 1992 (Princess Diana famously sent him taped recordings of her side of the story). On Tuesday, he released , chronicling Markle's upbringing and career as an actress, followed by six chapters devoted to her current relationship. GoodHousekeeping.com spoke with Morton to get his thoughts on Harry and Meghan’s “written in the stars” romance, and what Diana would have to say about it, if only she were alive today.
Meghan got us all to forget all about Harry's party animal past...
"The thing about American women is that they’re very good at changing their men, in lots of small ways. Like, the kind of suits they wear, the kind of clothes they wear. Personal habits. She will presumably rule the roost in the kitchen. She will be asserting herself. She seems like a very assertive young woman."
...and she isn't afraid to be herself.
"When you look at pictures of her before she met Harry, when she was on missions to Rwanda, specifically, as part of World Mission Canada, she was kneeling down with kids and cuddling them, getting her pictures taken with them. Just getting down to their level. I think that’s something that comes naturally to her."
Meghan's family isn't happy about not being invited to the Royal Wedding.
"It would be very sad if the guest list overshadows the wedding. [Meghan's half sister] Samantha ... feels that some members of the Markle family should have been invited. It is ironic that a few days before the wedding, there will be a Markle Coat of Arms. Traditionally, that’s presented to the father. As I speak now, it’s not certain that he’s even going. I spoke to members of the Markle family over the weekend, and they said that not one Markle has been invited, and that includes the father. So, go figure."
Yes, you read that right. Thomas Markle has not been invited to the wedding.
"At the moment, he doesn’t seem to have his invitation. As far as I’m aware, he doesn’t have an air ticket accommodation, or anything else. It looks increasingly like it will be Doria Ragland (Meghan's mother), who will walk her down the aisle."
Princess Diana would be thrilled to welcome Meghan into the family.
"She’d be impressed, on two levels. First, that her son is so happy, content, and relaxed in her presence. And secondly, she’d be thrilled that she’s a woman who’s bringing something to the party. She’s a fully formed career girl, successful actress, successful humanitarian, successful blogger. I mean, she’s an intriguing girl. And she’s an interesting girl. She adds a lot of new challenges for the Royal Family, and for herself."
It came as a total shock when Diana decided to confess her darkest secrets on tape for Morton's biography.
"I’ll never forget, I was like, okay, she wants to give me an interview. She’ll probably talk about her charity work or something. It was an extraordinary development, that I knew these secrets. After a time, they became like familiar, but even so, you always felt that you were protecting the Princess, and you were trying to give her a voice in this extraordinarily difficult period of her life.
She was thrilled [after the book's release]. She'd read the manuscript before it was published, made some changes to it. One of them always makes me smile. I wrote that she didn’t have any particular ambition. And she crossed that out, and she wrote on the side of the manuscript, in the margin, “did” … with two or three exclamation marks."
If Morton could write Princess Diana a happy ending today, she'd be a global humanitarian...
"She’s re-married, lives half her time in America, half the time, she’d be a global ambassador for some charity or other, and she would be achieving what she always wanted to achieve, to be an independent humanitarian."
...and happily re-married.
"[Who would she be married to?] Oh, I don’t know. Some guy with all the toys. Planes. Somebody who also didn't want the limelight, but would be hugely supportive, and also share her values."
The #1 question he's still asked about Diana is: "Was she murdered?"
"It utterly baffles me, because the evidence is so compelling, so clear [that she wasn't murdered]. I say, This has been the most investigated car accident in the world. And the conclusions of hundreds of detectives, both French and British, was that is was a car accident. I think, the reason, quite frankly, is that people cannot accept the banal death of a charismatic figure like Diana."
He thinks the media scrutiny around the royals is much more intense now than in the '90s.
"Let me paint a picture for you. When I used to do regular royal jobs, aboard Buckingham Palace, the Press Office would hand out a note saying, The Princess is wearing blue, or the Princess is wearing the green, and name of the designer, and that would be it. These days, when Catherine Middleton or Meghan Markle walk out of the door every single thing they wear is scrutinized, and for sale on websites. They are effectively walking billboards.
People used to talk about Diana as a great clothes source, but people didn’t go out and buy designer clothes. It was a very rare occasion that she wore high street fashion, and when she did, she was often criticized for it. So now, they’re wearing high street fashion and it’s making headlines. It's a real minefield."
Time will tell if Meghan will become the People's Princess of her generation.
"She’s her own person. In some sense she’s Diana 2.0, but that’s in the context that she wants to do good work like Diana. She’s literally just starting the job. She’s hit the ground running, in a way that none of the others have ever done. She’s right out there, front and center, helping Prince Harry, going to these big events, and she’s a grown-up who’s been given a grown-up job."
He thinks Meghan is more like Princess Diana than Kate.
"Because from childhood, she’s been hardwired to give back. And to get involved and has been an activist."
Morton imagines Kate and Meghan get together and talk about ... clothes.
"I think it’s going to be quite a useful relationship for both of them, because they’re both women who have to take an interest in what they wear, so I’m sure they’ll be a lot of discussion, back and forth about designers and so on. And also, Catherine is like Meghan, she’s an outsider who is joining this family. And so there’ll be a degree of commonality there."
And he predicts that Meghan will be a strict mother.
"Her mother was strict with her, and it paid off."