Was Meghan Markle missing the bright lights of Hollywood before the former American actress announced she was stepping back as a senior royal? One author seems to think so.
Royal biographer and Vanity Fair contributing editor Sally Bedell Smith has studied the British royal family for over 20 years and corresponded with those close to “The Firm.” Smith recently told Vanity Fair the former “Suits” star may not have been prepared to give up her successful career for the no-nonsense role of a British royal.
“In entering the royal family, which provides innumerable advantages and perks in exchange for doing official duties and charitable work, you really have to renounce a lot of things that may have meant a lot to you and dedicate yourself to an institution that’s 1,000 years old,” Smith explained.
“It may be that Meghan didn’t see it in those terms,” she continued. “It is the 21st century, and she was highly unusual [compared to other royal wives] in having been a successful professional woman who was putting aside that whole part of her life [to marry Prince Harry],” she continued. “It seems now that she really regrets having had to give that up, and what she was expected to do in the royal family didn’t compare with what she had been accustomed to.”
Smith noted the 38-year-old wouldn’t have been the first member of the royal family to put aside their careers for duty.
“Prince Philip had to give up his career in the navy, and it was a sacrifice for him,” she said. “He could’ve gone right up the line and become an admiral because he had great leadership qualities, but he gave that up. He really had to. He was already married, but he knew he would have to.”
Smith noted that while Markle could easily return to Hollywood, her husband may have a more difficult time carving out his own identity beyond the palace.
“We can envision what Meghan can do,” she said. “They could set up a production company. She’s savvy. She’s worked on a TV series. She’s worked in movies. She knows how it works. She’s smart. She’s experienced. But Harry was trained as a helicopter pilot. That’s his professional training. He didn’t go to college. He could maybe be a motivational speaker. He certainly can speak passionately about the causes that he believes in. But unless he is more than a figurehead, I’m not sure that will be something meaningful.”
“I think it’s a real issue for him — what he is professionally capable of doing,” Smith shared. “Now, look, this is a world where people who have no professional credentials become Instagram influencers. The Kardashians are famous for being famous, but I think Harry’s above that. And that’s not the sort of thing that would make him feel good… or make people feel good about him or the family that he belongs to.”
Smith admitted she was surprised Markle and Harry decided to leave after less than two years of being married and, instead, split their time between the UK and Canada.
“In talking to people close to the royal family [it was clear] they really bent over backward to accept Meghan,” she said. “The way they incorporated an African American bishop giving the homily at the wedding and had the gospel choir — they had a lot of elements that were very symbolic of the blending of these two very different cultures and that was the most visible evidence of it.
“The queen also bucked tradition by inviting Meghan to spend Christmas 2017 with the royal family in spite of the fact that Meghan and Harry were not yet married,” she added. “… I remember thinking that — because Meghan’s mother was in LA and she grew up in LA — they might spend two months in California a year, the way that the queen spends a few months in the winter in Sandringham, and [Prince] Charles does in Scotland. But I guess what really surprised me was Harry’s willingness to leave the royal family, and to leave England for all practical purposes.”
On Jan. 8, Markle and Harry announced they will take “a step back” as senior members of the royal family and work independently. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said their decision came “after many months of reflection and internal discussions.”
"We have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution," the couple shared on Instagram earlier this month. “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.
"We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honor our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages," they continued. "This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity."
The couple added they will continue to work with the reigning monarch, 93, as well as Harry’s father Prince Charles, as well as the 35-year-old’s older brother, Prince William.
"We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties," the couple said in their Instagram post. "Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support."
They will keep their royal titles.