It’s been nearly a year since American actress Meghan Markle became Britain’s Duchess of Sussex and one person she quickly bonded with was the queen herself.
“I think what was most surprising, and refreshingly so, was how warmly included and accepted Meghan was,” royal expert Katie Nicholl told Fox News. “It was very important, I was told, to [Prince] Harry that he had the seal of approval from his father (Prince Charles), from his brother (Prince William) and his sister-in-law (Kate Middleton), but also from Her Majesty the Queen.”
Nicholl, a British best-selling author and royal correspondent for Vanity Fair, recently published “Harry and Meghan: Life, Loss, and Love,” which presents an in-depth look at Harry’s romance with Markle and how their high-profile union is reshaping the monarchy. It features interviews with friends close to the couple, those who have worked with Harry, as well as palace aides, among others.
Markle, 37, officially became a member of the British royal family when she married Harry, 34, in May 2018. The couple is expecting their first child any day now.
According to Nicholl, it was crucial for Harry to get the queen's approval not just because of her status within the family, but because he developed a loving bond with his grandmother after he lost his mother, Princess Diana of Wales, in 1997.
“Harry has a very close relationship with his grandmother,” explained Nicholl. “He wanted the queen’s approval. It’s why he took Meghan to spend time in Windsor and a lot of their courtship was conducted in Windsor. It’s why he took Meghan to meet the queen at Buckingham Palace. I have been pleasantly surprised by how readily the queen, particularly, has welcomed Meghan into the royal family.”
While some critics have questioned whether Markle, a former Hollywood star, would be a welcoming addition to the family, Nicholl insisted Elizabeth, 93, has given the former “Suits” leading lady her official stamp of approval.
“I’ve been quite impressed by how much responsibility the queen has given Meghan,” Nicholl explained. “The queen likes Meghan. She recognizes how happy Meghan makes Harry, but she also sees how capable Meghan is as a royal. She showed them how much she thought of Meghan in the early days before they were actually married when she invited Meghan to be a part of the Commonwealth Day service. Quite an important event in the royal calendar. And there was Meghan before she was actually married into the royal family.”
Nicholl claimed Elizabeth is so fond of Markle she did more than invite her to personal, intimate family gatherings leading up to the marriage — she put her to work as a future duchess.
“The queen put Meghan on that world stage before she was even a member of the royal family,” said Nicholl. "I remember being really struck by that, surprised and impressed. The way Meghan has been fast-tracked into the royal family has been quite unique.”
Perhaps Elizabeth could sense that her grandson was deeply concerned about what the future held for him before he met Markle through a mutual friend.
“Harry, at one point, was genuinely worried that he was going to be left on the shelf,” Nicholl previously told Fox News. “His brother was happily married with children. Many of his friends, who up until that point had been eternal bachelors, were getting engaged, getting married. I think Harry genuinely worried about that, and one of the reasons he worried about that was because he wanted to find his life partner, and he wanted to be a dad. Harry wanted children for a very long time.”
After saying “I do” in a televised ceremony watched by 29 million people, Markle and Harry revealed to the world in October of last year that they were expecting. Nicholl wasn’t shocked by the news.
“As soon as they were married, they wanted to start trying for a family,” Nicholl claimed. “They were both apparently surprised and delighted that it happened as quickly as it did. … Anyone that has seen Harry with children knows there is a magnetism there… He has this incredible ability to connect. He has real empathy for them. He’s simply brilliant with kids and, I think, will be a brilliant father. I know it’s something he’s wanted for a long time.”
Before the baby’s arrival, Markle and Harry moved into their newly renovated Frogmore Cottage on Elizabeth’s Windsor Estate. Nicholl said it is the ideal setting for the family looking for privacy.
It’s also a place Harry and Markle will allegedly use to raise a large family.
“I think Harry and Meghan are united in wanting a big family,” said Nicholl. “I think that Frogmore [having] 10 bedrooms is probably an indication that they’re certainly hoping for more than one child. Certainly, from the sources that I spoke to, it’s on the agenda and they don’t want to waste any time about it.”