March 24, 2023

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Meghan Markle was not by Queen Elizabeth II’s side when the monarch died at the age of 96 on Thursday — the ending of a relationship that started out amicable but become contentious.
It was tea for two that brought Markle and the queen together for the first time.
The American actress joined the British monarch for the royal ritual at Buckingham Palace on a gloomy afternoon in October 2017.
It was reportedly short and sweet — the meet and greet lasted an hour but was a great success. Supposedly, even the queen’s corgis took a liking to Markle, who gushed over her soon-to-be grandmother-in-law shortly after.
“She’s an incredible woman,” Markle told the BBC in a joint interview with Harry in November 2017. 
The duo got engaged and announced the news publicly on Nov. 27, with plans to marry in spring 2018. 
“To be able to meet her through his lens, not just with his honor and respect for her as the monarch, but the love that he has for her as his grandmother … all of those layers have been so important for me so that when I met her, I had such a deep understanding and of course incredible respect for being able to have that time with her,” she told the BBC.
The former “Suits” actress and the queen’s relationship seemed to have gotten off on the right foot. In a March 2021 interview with CBS, Markle dished about a trip she took with her royal highness to Cheshire, England, suggesting that the monarch was warmer than many may perceive.
Markle said, “We were in the car going between engagements. And she has a blanket that sits across her knees for warmth, and it was chilly. And she was like, ‘Meghan, come on,’ and put it over my knees as well … and it made me think of my grandmother, where she’s always been warm and inviting and really welcoming.”  
Get the latest on Queen Elizabeth II’s passing with The Post’s live coverage
And in 2017, Markle broke royal precedent by celebrating Christmas with the royal family when Queen Elizabeth invited her to join them at her Sandringham estate, Insider reported. Royal fiancés are reportedly not invited to join.
Then, on May 19, 2018, Prince Harry and Markle officially tied the knot at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. 
Things took a turn, however, in 2020 when Markle and Harry announced they wished to distance themselves from royal obligations. The couple announced they were stepping down as “senior” members of the royal family and that they’d split time between the US and the UK. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s bombshell resignation from the royal family made headlines and was dubbed “Megxit.”
The royal family — including Prince Charles, Prince William and the queen — were reportedly “incandescent with rage” because they weren’t given the proper heads-up, The Post previously reported.
Harry’s father and brother reportedly learned about the split from the news, according to reports at the time.
“This is a declaration of war on the family,” a senior source told the Sun of the Megxit announcement. 
Though the queen appeared to express support for her grandson and the Duchess of Sussex, when they moved to the US in 2020 with son Archie, a source told US Weekly in 2021 that she was not happy. “The queen was hoping that they’d return, but there is not much she can do about it and accepts their decisions.”
Markle’s relationship with Queen Elizabeth and the royal family appeared to be further strained in 2021 when the duo had an explosive sit-down with Oprah Winfrey. Markle said she experienced racism while living in London and said she did not feel support from the royal family. During the two-hour chat, Markle revealed that she contemplated suicide amid a flurry of British tabloid headlines like “Hurricane Meghan,” and she detailed how the color of her son Archie’s skin was debated.  
“There’s conversation about how dark your baby is going to be?” Winfrey, appearing stunned, asked Markle. 
The revelation sparked the hashtag, #AbolishTheMonarchy, which was trending on Twitter at the time.
Following the interview, Buckingham Palace put out the statement: “The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.” 
Then, in April 2021, Prince Harry attended the service for Prince Philip without Markle by his side. He and brother Prince William participated in the procession for their grandfather, though the brothers were not seated next to each other during the service; instead, they were separated by their cousin Peter Phillips — a move that was not intended despite the drama, according to US Magazine.
The queen was reportedly relieved Markle didn’t attend the funeral, telling aides, “Thank goodness Meghan isn’t coming,” for fear she would take focus away from the somber day, Newsweek reported, citing royal biographer Tom Bower’s new book. 
The dust appeared to somewhat settle a bit after Harry and Meghan welcomed their daughter, Lilibet, named after the queen’s nickname.
In April, the couple paid a secret visit to the queen at Windsor Castle en route to the Invictus Games, a sporting event in support of wounded veterans, reports said. The visit came two years after they left for Hollywood.
Still, the family drama continued. Who could forget the royal seating snub by none other than the queen herself during the Platinum Jubilee in June? Bower said in a recent interview that the Sussexes were meant to be seated away from Prince Charles, Prince William and Kate Middleton to avoid attention from being diverted from the event, Newsweek reported
When Harry reportedly asked an usher during the Jubilee who told them where he should be seated, the usher replied: “Your grandmother,” according to Bower’s book.
Then, in August, Markle told the world how she really felt about life post-royal family, saying she was “happy” to leave the monarchy and regain her freedom — and post about it too. In a scathing interview with New York Magazine’s the Cut, she claimed that her photos were given to people who were “calling my children the N-word.”
Indeed, Markle’s apparent social media censorship was a point of contention. She told NY Magazine reporter Allison P. Davis that her tightly controlled Instagram outlet was @KensingtonRoyal, which she shared with Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton.
“It was a big adjustment — a huge adjustment to go from that kind of autonomy to a different life,” she told the publication about surrendering the 3 million of her own followers she previously had.
Markle noted how problematic it was for her to see her family’s private images shared with the press instead of being able to control her own social narrative and decide when she was comfortable sharing images of her children with the world.
“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,” she told the magazine of the UK media’s royal pool distributing the historic images globally.
“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 questioned.
The newly minted podcaster also blamed the media scrutiny for Megxit, noting the only way “all the noise would stop” might be if they earned their own living, instead of having their lives funded by taxpayer money.
What’s more, the 41-year-old mom of two fired off to Davis that she and husband Prince Harry’s union was doomed from the start in the eyes of the royal family: “Just by existing, we were upsetting the dynamic of the hierarchy.”
And so when she went back to the UK this summer to usher in Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, she called it “bittersweet.”
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