The shady side of Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle became Prince Harry's fiancée when the royal popped the question in November 2017, causing both American and British citizens to rejoice. Her mixed-race background, previous marriage, and, of course, status as an American citizen have all drawn extra attention to the groundbreaking engagement. And when the two married in a gorgeous ceremony at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018, the public's interest in their relationship — and Markle, specifically — grew.

But there have been a few things behind the scenes that have made us raise our eyebrows. Here's a look at the shady side of Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.

She's related to Prince Harry

Yep, you read that right: The two lovebirds come from the same family tree. Of course, we should take this with a grain of salt, because, after all, we probably all share a few genes here and there if we trace our ancestry back far enough. Though Markle was born American and Prince Harry's British, in October 2017, the Daily Mail performed what they called "a genealogical investigation," revealing that the two are allegedly cousins dating back to the 15th century. The connection is on Markle's father's side — but it's 15 generations back, so there's no need to worry about family dinners getting more awkward over the holidays.

Hollywood may have changed her

In December 2017, news broke that Markle's estranged half-sister Samantha Grant was gearing up to release a tell-all book focused on revealing some damning family secrets, going so far as to call Markle a "social climber" in an interview with The Sun

"Hollywood has changed her. I think her ambition is to become a princess," said Grant when Markle and Prince Harry had started dating. Grant also complained that Markle all but forgot about her after gaining high society status. However, according to E! News, a person close to the family says Grant can't be trusted. 

"Samantha Grant doesn't have a relationship with Meghan Markle and she never has," said the source. "Meghan has never done anything to her and continues to take the high road." Be that as it may, it's worth noting that it isn't only Grant who thinks Markle's completely different these days. "The person I knew is not there anymore," Markle's former best friend, Ninaki Priddy, told the Daily Mail in December 2017. "There's Meghan Before Fame and Meghan After Fame."

Her career may have interfered with her first marriage

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's engagement was untraditional for a number of reasons — and her status as a divorced woman was arguably first among them. Before meeting Prince Harry, Markle was married to producer Trevor Engelson for two years before they split, citing "irreconcilable differences." 

Former friend Ninaki Priddy, who served as maid of honor at Markle's wedding to Engelson, told the Daily Mail that Markle's career ultimately led to the demise of that union, saying, "It was such a shock when she told me they were getting divorced." Another person close to the couple told Woman's Day (via Life and Style Mag) that the stress of a long-distance relationship likely played a part, as Markle lived in Canada during filming on her USA Network series Suits while her husband lived in Los Angeles. As the magazine's source pointed out, "It was a very difficult way to start married life."

A secret royal fascination?

In their BBC engagement interview, the couple revealed that they'd met on a blind date. "Because I'm from the States, you don't grow up with the same understanding of the royal family," Markle said. "And so while I now understand very clearly there's a global interest there, I didn't know much about him." However, Priddy's Daily Mail interview told a different story. 

"I know the Royal Family was something she found fascinating," said Priddy. "She had one of Princess Diana's books on her bookshelf." Plus, between Princess Diana's popularity and Prince Harry's days as prime tabloid fodder (remember that time he went wild in Vegas?), it's hard to believe she didn't know anything about the prince.

Family ties

In a radio interview with the BBC, Prince Harry made a quick comment about Meghan Markle's family history, saying "she's done an absolutely amazing job" of fitting in with the royals and adding that "it's the family that I suppose she's never had." That one short line quickly turned into a huge deal when a couple of Markle's family members were interviewed by the Daily Mail, telling quite a different story. 

"She's had a really good family," said her half-brother, Thomas Markle Jr. "We were as close as we could be, as tight as we could be, that's what we were." This led to some people accusing the then-soon-to-be royal of lying to her fiancé. It could all easily be chalked up to a misunderstanding exacerbated by typical tabloid shenanigans, but it's still enough to make you wonder.

Puppy trouble

In her Daily Mail interview, Priddy claimed dog-loving Markle flaunted her status as a way to adopt a dog. Now the owner of two rescues, Markle seems to have a rocky relationship with both of them. 

In November 2017, a Kensington Palace spokesperson broke the news that Markle's retriever, Bogart, would not join her overseas. "It takes a toll on an animal to travel so far across Atlantic combined with the hard, long process of getting approval," said the spokesperson. "It's in the best interest of the animal's well-being to stay." Instead of traveling with Markle, Bogart will stay with one of her friends in the United States. 

In December 2017, the Daily Mail reported that Markle's other dog, Guy, broke two legs. Circumstances surrounding the injury are unknown, but sources claimed Markle was "distraught" over the accident.

Her reps may have planted rumors

Markle starred on the hit show Suits for years — we would never try to take that away from her — but let's be honest: She didn't become a household name until her relationship with Prince Harry, and her reps may have tried to take advantage of that new-found notoriety. 

In December 2017, gossip emerged that Markle was on the short list for a role in the next James Bond movie. "Meghan fits the role of a Bond girl perfectly," a source told The Sun, but Blind Gossip refuted this claim. Its source said Markle was never in the running and alleged the chatter was just stirred up by "her people" for publicity. These rumors aren't too far-fetched if you consider the fact that Markle's former friend also suggested the actress had grown a bit too big for her britches. "Even by season two of Suits, she was turning down lunch with us because she said she'd be recognized," Priddy told the Daily Mail. "There were instances when I felt she developed a sense of entitlement because she was on the show."

A friendship ended in bitterness

While Priddy did have some nice things to say about her former friend while recounting their childhood together, she didn't hesitate to call Meghan Markle out for her opportunistic ways. "All I can say now is that I think Meghan was calculated — very calculated — in the way she handled people and relationships," Priddy told the Daily Mail. "She is very strategic in the way she cultivates circles of friends." Ouch! 

Priddy also claimed it was always Markle's dream to be famous, recalling that "she just loved to be the center of attention." That trait will likely serve her well in the royal palace — and may, in fact, be a reason her relationship with Prince Harry is likely to work out. "One of the advantages of Meghan is because she is in the public eye, she likes that," Penny Junor, author of Prince Harry: Brother, Soldier, Son, told the Express. "The real problem with Harry's girlfriends in the past is that they absolutely hated the media attention and that's scared them off."

This gal pal says Markle 'ghosted' her after meeting Harry

Markle is said to have spent a lot of time in London following her split from Trevor Engelson. The actress reportedly struck up a friendship with local TV personality Lizzie Cundy after they attended a charity dinner. According to Cundy, Markle was keen to find a new man, but the recent divorcee allegedly had two conditions: He had to be English, and he had to be famous. "We were having a girly chat and then she said, 'Do you know any famous guys? I'm single and I really love English men,'" Cundy wrote in the 2019 tell-all Tales From the Red Carpet (via Yahoo!). "So I said, 'We'll go out and find you someone.'"

Cundy claims Markle called controversial soccer star Ashley Cole "cute," but that went nowhere. Sources close to X-Factor winner Matt Cardle claim Markle quietly slid into his DM zone in 2015, but the singer reportedly stopped replying after meeting somebody else. Her Instagram interaction with Cardle allegedly took place just months before she started dating Harry, according to The Sun. Once Harry was on the hook, Markle apparently had no use for Cundy. "I texted saying, 'Oh my god, I heard about Harry,' and she was like, 'Yeah I know, we'll try and hook up,'" Cundy claims. "She was probably told by the Palace to end contact with people she befriended in the media. I was literally ghosted by her."

She reportedly caused a stink over air fresheners

To the millions watching around the world, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding appeared every inch a flawless fairy tale, but reports suggest that it wasn't exactly smooth sailing behind the scenes. According to the Daily Mail, the American got a lot of British backs up when she requested that air fresheners be deployed at her wedding because the smell inside St. George's Chapel displeased her. According to one royal insider, the chapel's "musty" smell isn't "unpleasant at all, though. It just smells how you would expect an old building to smell." Keep in mind: St. George's Chapel has been an important place of worship for the British monarchy since 1475.

"Meghan wanted staff to go around with these atomisers, like spritzer guns, and spray the chapel with scent before anyone arrived," the source claimed. "Royal Household staff stepped in and told her office politely, but firmly, that this was the Queen's Chapel and it simply wasn't appropriate. This is a place that has held royal weddings, funerals and even contains the Royal Vault — I don't believe a request of that nature had been made before."

Did she throw a tantrum over an emerald tiara?

Most brides would be ecstatic at the thought of walking down the aisle wearing a diamond and platinum bandeau tiara handpicked by the queen herself, but according to royal whistle-blowers, Meghan Markle wanted to choose her own. Household insiders with links to Dan Wootton (executive editor at The Sun) report that Harry's bride-to-be made it clear which headpiece she wanted to wear on her big day, and things apparently got a little tense when her idea was shot down. "Meghan had her heart set on this tiara with emeralds and Prince Harry hit the roof when they were told it was impossible for her to wear it," one source claimed. "The provenance of the tiara could not be established — there were concerns it could have come from Russia originally."

When news of Markle's so-called "difficult" behavior reached the queen, her majesty reportedly decided to give her grandson a good talking to. "There was a very heated exchange that prompted the Queen to speak to Harry," Wootton's royal insider dished. "She said, 'Meghan cannot have whatever she wants, she gets what tiara she's given by me.' The message from the Queen was very much Meghan needed to think about how she speaks to staff members and be careful to follow family protocols." According to the source, the queen struck a low-blow during the exchange, questioning why Markle needed to wear a traditional wedding veil given it was her second marriage. Ouch!

She made Kate Middleton cry, multiple sources claim

Rumors of an ongoing feud between Meghan Markle and her sister-in-law began to swirl after it emerged that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would be moving out of Kensington Palace. Tabloids claimed Kate Middleton had snapped at Markle after she caught the former actress speaking rudely to someone on her staff. The Palace denied this in a statement, which raised a few eyebrows among royal commentators. "It's fairly unprecedented for them to speak out in this way, and I think what Kensington Palace is wanting to do is to detract from this rift that's happening," royal expert Angela Mollard said (via Express). "The Queen is in the golden era of her reign. She wants a cohesive royal family."

The press has continued to dig into the allegedly splintered relationship between the two duchesses. Esteemed royal journalist Camilla Tominey, associate editor at The Telegraph, believes the rift began in the run-up to Markle and Prince Harry's wedding. Middleton's daughter, Princess Charlotte, was one of the stars of the wedding, but two of Tominey's sources claim Middleton was left in tears after an argument broke out during a fitting for her daughter's bridesmaid dress. "Kate had only just given birth to Prince Louis and was feeling quite emotional," one insider said (via the Daily Beast). This incident is said to have taken place around the same time as Markle's supposed emerald tiara drama.

Why have multiple royal aides already quit on her?

It's not often that people with top positions in the royal household give up their post, so when three walk within quick succession, rumors of trouble in paradise are bound to fly. In May 2019, the Daily Mail revealed that Markle's right-hand woman, Amy Pickerill, was leaving when the royal couple moved to Frogmore Cottage, making her the third member of the duchess' staff to quit within a matter of months. "Amy is leaving," a royal insider confirmed. "It's very sad for her colleagues, as she is a really popular member of staff."

Pickerill was expected to stay on and succeed Markle's private secretary, Samantha "the Panther" Cohen, who (after 17 years with the royal family) also left her post. Cohen's departure followed that of Melissa Toubati, Markle's personal assistant. The latter caused a stir when she bolted less than six months after Markle's big wedding. According to the Mirror, the overwhelming demands put on Toubati by the new duchess broke her down. "She put up with quite a lot," a royal informant alleged. "Meghan put a lot of demands on her and it ended up with her in tears."

According to royal biographer Robert Jobson, Harry has stood by his lady love. In his book, Charles at Seventy, Jobson claims Harry became "petulant and short-tempered" when employees didn't cooperate. "Raising his voice on occasion, Harry would insist: 'What Meghan wants, she gets.'"