EXCLUSIVE: Before Meghan Markle stepped back as a senior member of the British royal family, the former American actress was reportedly nicknamed “Me-Gain” and “the Duchess of Difficult,” as she struggled behind palace doors, according to a royal expert.
British author Tom Quinn recently released a new book titled “Kensington Palace: An Intimate Memoir from Queen Mary to Meghan Markle,” where he spoke to those who worked for the royals over the years. It was during his talks with palace insiders that Quinn learned the unflattering nicknames reportedly came from the staff -- not the British tabloids.
“The nicknames, they’re inevitable,” Quinn told Fox News. “The British press are famously good at taking someone and building them up and saying they’re absolutely wonderful. And then when that story runs out of steam, they need something else. So they then come up with the opposite. They run that person down... The nicknames were picked up by the press and used against Meghan. They did, in fact, come from the palace."
Quinn shared that some members of the staff felt the former “Suits” star was “too demanding” for a newcomer, ringing them up in the middle of the night and sending emails as early as 5 a.m. Some weren't used to a royal who seemingly acted so differently, and she was even described as "spiky and feisty."
“It was felt that she was demanding,” Quinn explained. “I think Meghan felt, ‘I’ve got to really do this. I’ve got to show them that I mean business.’ … I think there’s some truth in it, in the problem being that she’s so different. And so that inevitably made it more difficult from the outset for her to be accepted fully as part of the royal family. And the press is very powerful in Britain.”
“They loved Meghan initially and that actually made it easy for Meghan to feel that she was part of the family,” Quinn said. “But when they decided that story was boring… they emphasized she was difficult because of this difference.”
According to Quinn, criticism of the 38-year-old only worsened after she publicly spoke out against the British press. In the 2019 TV documentary “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey,” the Duchess of Sussex admitted she was unprepared for the ruthless tabloid scrutiny she would be subjected to after marrying into the royal family, despite dire warnings from her British friends when she first started dating Prince Harry, 35.
“I had no idea,” she said at the time. “Which probably sounds difficult to understand here, but when I first met my now-husband, my friends were really happy because I was so happy, but my British friends said to me, ‘I’m sure he’s great, but you shouldn’t do it because the British tabloids will destroy your life.’”
At the time, the couple had also taken legal action against certain British outlets for breach of privacy and phone-hacking.
“She should never try to explain herself,” Quinn said. “It just doesn’t work. Meghan constantly said, ‘All I want for the press is to be fair.’ Well, that’s so naive. That’s not what the press does. They’re not interested in being fair. The press is just interested in stirring up some fun. It can be painful.”
Quinn pointed out that throughout history, royals have followed one rule when it comes to the press: never complain, never explain.
“Unfortunately, the British press saw the very things that made Meghan different,” he said. “They quickly gave those things an unpleasant spin. The press initially was very unkind to Kate Middleton and her parents. They would describe how her mother Carol descended from the lowest of the low as she labored away in a very poor suburb of London. Now Carol is praised as a doting mother. But she never complained. She never said a word. And within a few days, the press moved on to something else. The same happened with Kate.”
“And just like her mother, Kate didn’t say anything,” Quinn continued. "Since they didn’t respond, the press didn’t have anything to sink their teeth into. If the press says something unkind and you respond, then the anger becomes the story. Someone once [told me] it’s the price [these royals] pay for being paid millions every year by British taxpayers to live like 18th-century aristocrats.”
Despite Markle struggling to be fully accepted as a member of “The Firm,” Quinn said there’s no denying that her husband Harry, 35, has been supportive of his wife throughout their relationship.
“I think Harry has tried to be a calming influence,” he said. “But actually, at some level, Meghan works for Harry precisely because she is spiky and feisty. I think he’s very sympathetic to Meghan as she struggles with this new role.”
According to Quinn, Harry is unmistakably in love with Markle and also admires her ambition.
“Meghan’s a strong woman,” he said. “Famously, Harry said to someone, ‘What Meghan wants, Meghan gets.’ And so I think he fully supports her… He’s besotted by Meghan. And Harry definitely sides with Meghan.”
The couple currently resides in Los Angeles with their son Archie, 1, where they aim to be financially independent, as well as carve out meaningful roles for themselves.
Quinn said while some palace staff members are said to be relieved by the move, others are worried about the couple’s next move. He shared that the royal family is adamant about having control over situations in case someone does anything “embarrassing” or puts them in a difficult situation.
The author said that while breaking free may feel liberating for the couple, the challenges they endured within the palace, especially when it came to coping with the press, may only continue to follow them.
“With Harry in the states, there's a risk that he could say or do something which will reflect badly on the royal family,” Quinn said. “Going to the states is only the last leg in what looks like a desperate search for meaning. There’s a feeling in the royal family that they’re desperately searching for a role in life because they don’t have one.”
“The royal family is nervous,” he claimed. “You know, where will they go next? I’ve already heard that Harry’s not very happy in California, so they may go somewhere else. If you’ve been in the gilded cage, you might be free of it, which is what Harry and Meghan want to be free of. The sunlit uplands are suddenly there in front of you, but it’s not like that. It’s the same. Wherever you go, whatever sort of personality, whatever difficulty you have - you take those with you. And I don’t think Harry and Meghan realize that yet, but they probably will.”