There have been a lot of changes in Meghan Markle’s life.
In the new cover story for The Cut, the Duchess of Sussex opens up about her and Prince Harry’s move to Montecito, her rocky relationship with the Royal Family, and a lot more.
“It was a big adjustment — a huge adjustment to go from that kind of autonomy to a different life,” she says of relinquishing control of her public image when she got together with Harry.
“There’s literally a structure by which if you want to release photos of your child, as a member of the family, you first have to give them to the Royal Rota,” Markle adds, referring to the U.K. media pool, which includes many tabloids.
“Why would I give the very people that are calling my children the N-word a photo of my child before I can share it with the people that love my child?” she asks. “You tell me how that makes sense and then I’ll play that game.”
Talking about their $14.6-million house in Montecito, Markle reveals that “this house kept popping up online in searches,” but they avoided getting a tour at first. “We didn’t have jobs, so we just were not going to come and see this house. It wasn’t possible. It’s like when I was younger and you’re window shopping — it’s like, I don’t want to go and look at all the things that I can’t afford. That doesn’t feel good.”
After signing deals with Spotify and Netflix worth tens of millions through their production company Archewell, the duke and duchess went for the house anyway, giving a beautiful home to son Archie and daughter Lilibet.
“One of the first things my husband saw when we walked around the house was those two palm trees,” Markle says. “See how they’re connected at the bottom? He goes, ‘My love, it’s us.’ And now every day when Archie goes by us, he says, ‘Hi, Mama. Hi, Papa.’”
Markle is also very aware of her public image and how she can shape and inspire young women.
“It’s important to be thoughtful about it because — even with the Oprah interview, I was conscious of the fact that there are little girls that I meet and they’re just like, ‘Oh my God, it’s a real-life princess,’” she explains. “I just look at all of them and think, You have the power within you to create a life greater than any fairy tale you’ve ever read. I don’t mean that in terms of ‘You could marry a prince one day.’ I mean, you can find love. You can find happiness. You can be up against what could feel like the greatest obstacle and then you can find happiness again.”
Talking about working with Markle on Archewell, Harry says, “Most people that I know and many of my family, they aren’t able to work and live together. It’s actually really weird because it’d seem like a lot of pressure. But it just feels natural and normal.”
Markle adds of her relationship with the press, “When the media has shaped the story around you, it’s really nice to be able to tell your own story.”
But her sense of independence led to clashes with the Royal Family, eventually inspiring the couple to quit their royal duties.
“I was an actress,” Markle says. “My entire job was ‘Tell me where to stand. Tell me what to say. Tell me how to say it. Tell me what to wear, and I’ll do it.’ And I’ll show up early, and I’ll probably bake something for the crew.”
Because of all the criticism related to their use of taxpayer money, Meghan and Harry asked the Royal Family if they could remove their taxpayer funding, “Then maybe all the noise would stop.”
She adds of their decision to move away from the U.K., “Anything to just … because just by existing, we were upsetting the dynamic of the hierarchy. So we go, ‘Okay, fine, let’s get out of here. Happy to.’”
Despite the seemingly reasonable request to be taken off the taxpayer dime, they were denied.
“That, for whatever reason, is not something that we were allowed to do, even though several other members of the family do that exact thing,” Markle says.
Looking back on the difficulties she has dealt with, including becoming estranged from her father Thomas Markle, the duchess recalls, “Harry said to me, ‘I lost my dad in this process.’ It doesn’t have to be the same for them as it was for me, but that’s his decision.”
Now, living in California, Markle is able to drop her son off at school, which she wouldn’t be able to do in the U.K. without dozens of press photographers snapping pics.
“Sorry, I have a problem with that. That doesn’t make me obsessed with privacy. That makes me a strong and good parent protecting my child,” she says.
With much of the drama surrounding her more settled, the question of forgiving her royal in-laws and her own family comes up.
“I think forgiveness is really important. It takes a lot more energy to not forgive,” Markle says. “But it takes a lot of effort to forgive. I’ve really made an active effort, especially knowing that I can say anything … I have a lot to say until I don’t. Do you like that? Sometimes, as they say, the silent part is still part of the song.”