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So much for the honeymoon phase.
It's barely been a week since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their royal engagement, and already there is a bit of a cloud over the festivities. Post-engagement bliss is supposed to be exactly that: Living in a bit of a dream state while you savor all of the congratulations and kind words, marvel at the shiny new rock that one of you is wearing, and hopefully there are some presents, too. When you're a member (or member-to-be) of the Royal Family that time also includes the requisite photo opps, media attention and a major upgrade in glam squad.
And Harry and Meghan have all that, sure—her luscious locks are all the evidence we need—but lately some major drama has been threatening to get in the way of all that.
It started, as most of these familial scandals do, with an exposé in The Daily Mail. One of Markle's childhood friends not only shared (and in all likelihood sold) a veritable boatload of private photos, covering everything from school plays to family vacations to her first wedding, but gave a revealing—and some would say entirely disloyal—interview. The subject matter ranged from the relatively innocent, like how they became inseparable in elementary school and what it was like to the all-girls private school, to more hurtful revelations like the fact that this friend believes that fame "changed" Meghan. A headline even circulated that the friend "blamed" Markle for the destruction of her first marriage.
To add insult to injury, Markle's half-sister, Samantha Markle, has been telling anyone and everyone, well, anything and everything they want to know about the future royal. It's widely known that the two women aren't close (it's unknown the last time they even spoke) and it's worth mentioning that she has plans to release a book called The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister, so the timing of these interviews is anything but random. Samantha dished about whether Meghan will ask her father to walk her down the aisle and admitted that the relationship with Harry "created a rift" among the family.
The future princess' uncle has also welcomed photographers into his home and spoke about the upcoming nuptials—while his comments were decidedly more positive and not at all disparaging, it still represents a phenomenon that all those who experience near-instant fame have endured: When anyone you've ever met or spoken to comes out of the woodwork for their own 15 minutes (or 15 seconds) of fame.
Kate Middletonwent through the same thing when she began the public portion of her relationship with Prince William. It started before the engagement was official with the British press dubbing her "Waity Katie," in reference to her perceived patience in regards to getting the ring. (Perceived being the keyword: There is no evidence to actually suggest that Middleton was sitting around praying for an engagement to save her).
During their courtship, several of Kate's college friends spoke to the press about what she was like pre-fame and what it was like to watch the future King fall in love with the future Duchess—all without Kate's blessing, it can be assumed. There were leaked photos of everything from dorm room fun to that infamous lingerie fashion show.
One reason for this woodwork phenomenon is, of course, the attention. But much of the sudden scrutiny that Meghan and Kate were (and are) subjected to take on a disturbingly misogynistic angle. It's hard to imagine that the love life Princess Charlotte's future boyfriends will be put up for as much public debate. Much of the negative talking points around Meghan relate back to her first marriage, often failing to recognize that her ex-husband was just as much involved in the divorce as she was.
And, simply to play the devil's advocate, Prince Harry doesn't exactly have a squeaky clean background. With his near-constant partying, the Nazi Halloween costume scandal and the shock of the nude photos that resulted from a wild Las Vegas night, he certainly wouldn't pass muster if he was subjected to the same scrutiny. The press is allowing Markle's former "friends" to subtly slut-shame her while failing to mention that Harry has been through his fair share of partners.
But the real question during all of this is: Does it even matter? Will the headline-hungry people from Meghan's past have any bearing on her current happiness? The short answer is no.
After all, despite what her friends and relatives may say to the tabloids, she gets the last laugh and the man of her dreams. Prince Harry is used to this level of scrutiny and by all accounts there is no amount of bad press that could change his mind. He's shown to be fiercely protective of Markle, starting at his insistence in the palace's unprecedented statement in defense of Meghan that was issued at the beginning of their public relationship. Given his familiarity with news cycles, there's a good chance that the future Royal couple haven't even looked at Google in the last week (and nor should they).
The haters will keep coming, but all they have to do is keep looking forward.