The truth about Harry and Meghan's marriage

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made history when they tied the knot in May 2018. The couple moved very quickly, announcing their engagement after dating for about a year and a half, and she made some major life changes to accommodate and acclimate to the royal family. Since then, it's been relatively smooth sailing for the couple, but there have been a few hiccups. Markle remains estranged from her father's side of her family and may have crossed some of the Windsors with her alleged lack of respect for some royal protocols. In addition, she and Harry have reportedly developed a rather complicated relationship with the press since their wedding. That said, it seems like this powerful marriage is a happy one … but not necessarily a conventional royal union by any means. Here's what we know about the private lives of two of the world's most public figures.

They're leaving London

Kensington Palace confirmed in late November 2018 that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were leaving London and Kensington Palace in favor of a new home that's just theirs — courtesy of Queen Elizabeth II. The royal matriarch gifted Harry and Meghan a 10-bedroom pad called Frogmore Cottage in Windsor Castle, The Sun reported. The property is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation — courtesy of taxpayers — before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex move in; they'll likely be in their new home in early 2019. Sources claim that the couple wanted more space than was available at Kensington for their growing family.

"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will move to Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Estate early next year as they prepare for the arrival of their first child," Kensington Palace said in a statement. "The couple have lived at Nottingham Cottage since their engagement last year. Windsor is a very special place for Their Royal Highnesses and they are grateful that their official residence will be on the estate. The Duke and Duchess's office will continue to be based at Kensington Palace."

They're increasingly private

Sources close to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle told Vanity Fair in August 2018 that the pair was shying away from the limelight and spending a lot more time in rural areas of England. "They spend a lot of time in the Cotswolds, more than people realize. They are in the country way more than they are in London and they are enjoying a low-key and very domesticated start to married life," a friend of the couple said. "Harry's not around that much anymore. Meghan likes him to keep his diary clear at the weekends so they can be together in the countryside." Locals said Harry and Meghan's Cotswolds property is very secluded and "like a fortress" to keep strangers out."

Even royal press members have noticed a marked difference in Harry and Meghan's public presence at events, with one writer griping in the Daily Express (via Closer Weekly), "Royal rota journalists are being kept further away from [Meghan] than we were before the wedding. That means we can't hear what she is saying. If you can't get direct quotes from members of the royal family that often makes for dull stories. You go up afterwards and ask what she said."

Of course, that may have been, at least in part, because it was in the early stages of her pregnancy, so it's understandable why they may have wanted time and space for themselves away from prying eyes.

Their staff may be running for the hills

The Daily Mail reported in November 2018 that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle lost three palace aides soon after their royal wedding, including their private secretary, Samantha Cohen. The following month, the Daily Mail reported that aide Melissa Toubati had only worked for the couple for a few months. "Melissa is a hugely talented person," a source said. "She played a pivotal role in the success of the royal wedding and will be missed by everyone in the royal household." Another palace aide quipped, "To lose one member of the household could happen to anyone. To lose three in a few months is starting to look like a stampede." 

Markle's former agent hinted that the former Suits actress may be the reason for the mass staff exodus, telling the Daily Mail that Markle is "picky," adding, "Meghan likes to move on" from anyone who doesn't share her "vision." Sources also told The Sun that Markle, especially in comparison to fellow royal Kate Middleton, hasn't been easy for the staff to work with. "Meghan can be difficult," an insider alleged. "She has very high standards and is used to working in a Hollywood environment. However, there's a different degree of respect in the royal household and Kate has always been very careful about how she has acted around staff."

Queen Elizabeth may have battled a bridezilla

Meghan Markle was allegedly so difficult leading up to the royal wedding that Queen Elizabeth reportedly stepped in to try to bring Markle and Prince Harry in line. 

The drama supposedly began when Markle wanted to wear an emerald tiara (one that sounds similar to what Princess Eugenie rocked at her own wedding in October 2018). "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," a source told The Sun. "The provenance of the tiara could not be established. There were concerns it could have come from Russia originally … There was a very heated exchange that prompted the Queen to speak to Harry. She said, 'Meghan cannot have whatever she wants. She gets what tiara she's given by me.'" The source also claimed that Harry sniped at staffers, "What Meghan wants, Meghan gets."

The tiara reportedly wasn't the only issue Queen Elizabeth had with the now-Duchess of Sussex. The source claimed, "The Queen also questioned why Meghan needed a veil for the wedding, given it was to be her second marriage … 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."

The royal family may have mixed feelings about Meghan

Prince Harry reportedly sought sister-in-law Kate Middleton's approval before proposing to Meghan Markle. Royal reporter Katie Nicholl told Grazia, "Harry and Kate are very close, she's been like a mentor to him and he wanted her seal of approval. Kate is different to Meghan in many ways, but she has made great strides to help Meghan settle in." 

While Middleton may like Markle, the gossip mill suggests not everyone has taken to her so warmly. Aside from Queen Elizabeth supposedly side-eyeing Markle's alleged diva behavior, Princess Eugenie is allegedly not thrilled with Harry and Meghan for stealing the spotlight at her wedding with their pregnancy news. "Eugenie disappeared for a while after Harry and Meghan told the royal family the news. She felt furious at having been upstaged again by Harry and Meghan," a source told Radar Online. "Any bride would have had their nose put out of joint by something like that."

However, some insiders defended Markle to People: "It was a happy family event, and that's where happy news gets shared."

She's allegedly 'airbrushing' Prince Harry's reputation

Lady Colin Campbell, a friend of Prince Harry's late mother, Princess Diana, told the Daily Beast that Meghan Markle "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." It's alleged that Markle's animal rights beliefs and anti-gun stances are part of the reason why Harry has skipped hunting trips with his family and friends since coupling up with the former actress.

A royal insider told the Daily Express that Harry has began to shun his former pals because Markle believes they may have been bad influences on the ginger prince, alleging, "It's all part of Meghan's quiet airbrushing out of Harry's old posse. She doesn't want temptation of any sort being put in his way while they concentrate on starting a family."

Prince Harry had words with Meghan Markle's father

Before the royal wedding, Prince Harry reportedly got into an argument with Meghan Markle's father, Thomas Markle, about Thomas speaking to the press and staging paparazzi photos ahead of his daughter's big day. Thomas told the Daily Mail, "Harry told me that I should never go to the press, that it would end in tears. He said, 'They will eat you alive.' He was right." He added that Harry told him after the paparazzi debacle,"'If you had listened to me this would never have happened,'" with Thomas replying, "Maybe it would be better for you guys if I was dead … then you could pretend to be sad. Then I hung up."

Thomas skipped the wedding and says he hasn't spoken to his daughter nor any of the royals, claiming he's been shunned entirely. "My thing about my daughter right now is that I think she is terrified," he told The Sun. "I see it in her eyes, I see it in her face and I see it in her smile … I know her smile. I don't like the one I'm seeing now. This one isn't even a stage smile — this is a pained smile … I think she's under too much pressure. There's a high price to pay to be married to that family." Thomas even told the Daily Mail in October 2018 that he found out Meghan was pregnant by hearing the news on the radio. 

She's much different from other women he's dated

Before meeting Meghan Markle, Prince Harry had a type: The Sun reports that most of Harry's exes came from aristocratic families, like Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas. He hadn't shied away from dating entertainers however, and was rumored to be linked to British pop singers Ellie Goulding and Mollie King (of The Saturdays) and TV presenter Caroline Flack.

By contrast, Markle was a little-known biracial, brunette American actress who, outside of the Suits franchise, seemed more focused on humanitarian work and her lifestyle blog The Tig than on partying or high society. She came from humble beginnings and was vocal about her political beliefs before linking up with the ginger prince, even reportedly posting anti-Brexit messages on social media. At three years Harry's senior, Markle was already established as a personality and in her career — though, in fairness to the prince, he is the reason she quickly became a household name.

A friend played matchmaker

Meghan Markle was set up with Prince Harry through a mutual pal. The Daily Mail reports that Markle's close friend, Soho House higher-up Markus Anderson, introduced the couple. Anderson reportedly ran in the same Toronto circles as Markle — who filmed Suits in Canada — for years. Markle and Anderson traveled together frequently, which they documented on social media (before she had to close her accounts before the wedding), and he was even called an "uncle" to her beloved rescue dogs. 

It's unclear how Anderson first met Prince Harry, but the prince reportedly was a member of the exclusive Soho House club where Anderson works and curates party guest lists. In fact, Anderson, Harry, and Markle are all so close that Anderson sat with Markle at Prince Harry's Invictus Games in Toronto in fall 2017 — and it's reported that Anderson may have introduced Harry to Markle at the games a year prior.

He was allegedly hooking up with a model while wooing Meghan

Though Prince Harry seemed pretty smitten with Meghan Markle from the outset, that doesn't mean he was immediately ready to settle down and ditch his playboy reputation for her. The Daily Mail reported that the prince allegedly dated a British model while he was wooing Markle in the early days of their courtship. Friends of model Sarah Ann Macklin claim Harry bombarded her with texts after meeting her at a party, and he allegedly continued to contact her for months when Markle wasn't visiting London.

"Their fling is an open secret among her friends," a pal of Macklin claimed. "It eventually fizzled out but they are on friendly terms." Another insider dished, "They were introduced at a social gathering and Harry made a beeline for her. She was very flattered by the attention and they went on a few dates. Everything was kept very below the radar … They got on, but are quite different. She is very clean living and barely drinks and in that respect they were on a different wavelength. Harry also seemed a bit non-committal and it never really got off the ground. Things fizzled out before he went to Africa for a month in August."

She gave up a lot for him

Meghan Markle left her role on Suits and was forced to shutter her social media accounts and lifestyle blog, The Tig, as she and Prince Harry's relationship grew serious, but giving up her career was on the tip of the iceberg in terms of what normal luxuries Markle would have to sacrifice for her marriage to the royal.

The Sun reports that Markle is also prohibited from ever taking selfies (Queen Elizabeth reportedly finds them "disconcerting" and "strange,") signing autographs, and voting, despite previously expressing her political beliefs (including her opposition to Brexit) on her now-defunct social media accounts. Markle is also supposedly banned from wearing dark nail polish (which the royals deem "vulgar") and wearing skirts above the knee, though she's broken the latter rule at least once since becoming a royal, rocking a short tuxedo dress at a performance of Hamilton in London in August 2018.

They don't have a prenup

The Sun reports that Prince Harry is worth a cool $38 million and that the royal family as a whole is worth roughly $89 billion — and that Prince Harry didn't get a prenuptial agreement before his royal wedding to Meghan Markle. There's a reason for that: He doesn't really need one.

"I don't think members of the royal family sign prenuptial agreements," royal expert and author Katie Nicholl told Town & Country. "It's commonplace with celebrity marriage, but this is not a celebrity marriage, it's a royal marriage." Most of the Windsor estate and riches actually belong to Queen Elizabeth, not Prince Harry. Duncan Larcombe, author of Prince Harry: The Inside Story, explained to Town & Country, "You wouldn't need a prenuptial agreement to stop Windsor Castle from being cut in half in the event they divorce, because it's not Harry's."

Meanwhile, a friend of the prince told the Daily Mail, "There was never any question in Harry's mind that he would sign a prenup. He's determined that his marriage will be a lasting one, so there's no need for him to sign anything."