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Team Meghan Prepares for The Big Match

While not exactly constituting an American invasion, the new ‘It Girl’, Californian Meghan Markle, succeeds the infamous American Mrs. Simpson and gulfs the divide by an X Factor of 2 between our “two countries separated by a common language.  You may have missed the actress’s leading role during ‘Suits’ 7-season run, but it’s now impossible to escape the nuptial news updates. Even if you’re not a Royal watcher, I’m willing to bet you’ll look up from your mimosa, screwdriver or pint to sneak a peek at the hush-hush wedding dress surprise Ms. Meghan decides to don for this weekend’s big event. 

She decides may be the best way to put it, as this former sassy blogger’s (The Tig) independent nature and individual style sense (Bohemian-meets-Breton) are no doubt going to sustain her through the formulaic and dizzying maze of court manners she’ll negotiate over the coming days/fortnights/years ahead. Team Harkle has their work cut out for them, however they’ll have lot of help to help Meghan settle into her new home.

Shapeshifting Traditional Roles

To begin with, Ms. Markle has loads of pals (she has been described as an ‘arch networker’), so many in fact that she has opted to forego having a maid of honour or bridesmaids, a tradition adopted and held by American brides for decades.  Instead, friends will be pressed into service to perform more useful roles.  Her new confidant, Violet von Westenholz, poached from her friendship with Harry, was the muse who put these two together on a ‘blind’ date. Her best friend and stylist Jessica Mulroney will be on hand and her three children will act as flower children, bridesmaids and pageboys.  Other notables include Priyanka Chopra (Indian actress, no relation to Deepak), the one and only Serena Williams, Canadian pals Justin and Sophie Trudeau, Lindsay Roth (for whose wedding Markle was maid of honor), and Mischa Nonoo, NYC designer who was previously married to one of Harry’s Eton buddies.

Given her media-savvy background honed during her decade in the spotlight for her various acting roles and her philanthropic chops acquired through her humanitarian work with the UN and World Vision Canada, Meghan (a stage name; real first name is Rachel) who will likely become the first Duchess of Sussex (after the Queen grants Harry the title of Duke following the wedding), will already have a head start on the publicity learning curve.  The Royal curveball throws a new element onto the pitch as Team Meghan/Harkle will employ dozens-to-hundreds of staff to ensure that things run smoothly around the house and Firm with courtiers no doubt on hand to prepare her for the transformative role ahead.

From the moment her Bobret (a Meghan-coined style term) slipper hits the pavement near Kensington Palace Garden’s billionaires’ row, Meghan will have access to a five-person KP press team, headed by the current communications secretary, Jason Knauf, the Royal Foundation staff that Harry shares with Will and Kate and a slew of additional employees from William and Kate’s office.  Markle has already hired as her assistant private secretary Amy Pickerill, 32, a Nottingham University history graduate, who worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland press office before joining the Kensington Palace press team dedicated to promoting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

Pickerill’s job so far in the weeks leading up to the wedding has been to take possession of the barrage of bouquets, cards and gifts handed to Meghan during her public walkabouts, looking after her official programme and diary, briefing her about upcoming events and the individuals in attendance and perhaps most importantly, prepare to ease her into her role as the fourth patron of the Royal Foundation set up by William, Kate and Harry.

Those With Chequered Pasts Need Not Apply

The couple will also have private staff and the news was out this past January in a LinkedIn post of all places (now taken down and very likely already filled), that they were seeking an additional Communications Assistant to travel with them to off-site engagements.  The lucky chosen one, according to the posting, will:

  • “Provide invaluable support to The Queen and Royal Family, enabling them to fulfil their duties and serve the nation all from the magnificent and historic surroundings of Buckingham Palace.
  • “Be based in Buckingham Palace but also travel internationally for royal engagements.”
  • “Cover Palace engagements including ceremonial events and garden parties, and provide support as required for off-site royal events.”
  • “Travel in the UK or overseas to support important visits and engagements.”
  • “The reaction to our work is always high-profile, and so reputation and impact will be at the forefront of all that you do.”
  • “Whether covering a state visit, award ceremony or Royal engagement, you’ll make sure our communications consistently spark interest and reach a range of audiences.”

The comprehensive benefits package includes 33 vacation days and comes with a respectable pension as the icing on the cake. The cake, by the way, is a topic of local Marin County, California (my home) pride, and we are pleased as punch to have a local girl, and former Chez Panisse pastry sous chef Claire Ptak, putting her hands in the flour for the peony flower-crowned wedding cake (Meghan’s favorite buds).  Claire hails from the West Marin hamlet of Inverness and left us for London in 2015 to open her lauded bakery Violet in East London. Well done, Claire Ptak!

If you take Kate’s inner staff members into account, these positions will be filled for Meghan’s employ in the next few weeks, if they haven’t been already:  Private Secretary, Stylist, Lady’s Maid, Press Secretary (and team), and perhaps a Nanny in future.   It has been reported that William employs more than 135 staff members, but it’s likely that some of these people are employed at KP, not Anmer Hall, the country residence of Will and Kate and their 3 children, and so could also be available to serve Meghan and Harry. 

Starter Home Cottage

Nottingham Cottage, a modest brick 2 bed/2 bath cottage on the ground of Kensington Palace, will be their first home, a home where they’ve already been living together for the past several months and Harry has lived by himself for the past four years. Seven facts were published in AD about the cottage, but Architectural Digest has since taken down the article, ala the missing LinkedIn job posting. (A bit of scrubbing has been done in the weeks leading up to the wedding it seems…):

  1. Prince William and Kate Middleton also lived in the two-bedroom cottage, which contains a couple of small reception areas, when they first got married. They then moved into Apartment 1A, formerly the residence of Princess Margaret, in October 2013.
  2. Other former residents include Princess Diana’s sister Lady Jane Fellowes and her husband, Sir Robert Fellowes, who was formerly Queen Elizabeth’s secretary.
  3. When Kate Middleton first moved in, she gave the cottage a light freshening up, with a new coat of paint.
  4. Its unofficial nickname is “Nott Cott,” as insiders (and the press) often refer to it.
  5. It was named after Heneage Finch, 1st Earl of Nottingham.
  6. Nottingham Cottage comes with only a small yard—reportedly one of Kate Middleton’s biggest disappointments with the property. Meghan Markle, who previously ran her own lifestyle website, might have to put her gardening aspirations on hold.
  7. It’s widely understood that Nottingham Cottage is a temporary living arrangement for Prince Harry and the Suits actress.

Written by Kathleen Hershner