For awhile it seemed as if the royal family had collectively thrown their hands in the air.
With no recourse to stop Meghan Markle's dad, Thomas Markle, from granting interviews to the press, they struggled with how best to handle the situation. And when his daughter, Samantha Markle, got involved with her Twitter digs and her endless commentary, well, they truly seemed at a loss.
Giving into her demands and reaching out meant risking that she'd immediately relay the conversation to the nearest media outlet. And maintaining their famously stiff upper lip and just waiting for the story to play itself out, well, that didn't seem to be working out so well as evidenced by an emboldened Samantha popping by first Buckingham Palace, then Kensington, where Meghan shares a cozy two-bedroom cottage with new husband Prince Harry, to somehow facilitate a sit-down with her long-estranged half-sister.
Yet the royals seemed determined to keep calm and carry on and all that.
Because as it turns out, they knew something we didn't know: a baby changes everything. Nothing softens a prospective grandparent's heart than learning they're going to be a Papa again, that they can stop asking the one question they've been badgering the newlyweds with practically since they returned from their honeymoon. And apparently it works on aunties as well. Because suddenly Samantha had a totally fresh perspective on the family feud she'd spent the last year eagerly spurring on.
Meghan was no cold-hearted "DUCHASS" who'd all but iced out the Markle side of the family since she first stepped foot in Kensington Palace. No, no, no. She was simply waiting for the right time to make amends with her ol' dad, like, perhaps when she had real news to share and they could discuss nursery designs and deliver plans. And Cruella de Vil? That was misplaced. She's actually more akin to the film's protagonist, a woman desperate to protect her family at all costs.
"It must makes everything that happened over the last year disappear," Samantha told British paper The Sun, shortly after the news went public. "I want Meghan to be happy and calm and have peace. Everybody needs to be positive."
Thomas, especially, has reason to feel peppy. Because if this was his first test, he passed it splendidly. According to The Sun, while Meghan didn't phone up the 74-year-old retired lighting director herself to let him in on the new arrival, he was given a heads up before the announcement went public.
Which means he had at least a brief window of time where he was in the know on one of the world's biggest headlines and he kept it all to himself. While that in itself is not the biggest achievement, it's a marked difference from just a few months ago when Meghan feared any communication she might have with her father would end up as a headline on TMZ. Now the man who once threatened that he would never be silenced, that he simply refused to remain quiet has done just that. He hasn't granted a single interview since August, when he, perhaps regrettably, compared the royal family to a cult. And if he had any intentions of reigniting his love affair with the British press, now is a time they would certainly be ready to listen.
So...baby steps, if you will.
If The Sun's report is true, Thomas' newfound reticence can be attributed to his desire to truly be a present grandfather to future Baby Sussex. Naturally "absolutely delighted", as one insider reveals, he's already bragging about what a good mum his daughter will be. (Which, of course she will. She's proven adept at charming kids and should she birth a little lady, she already has a fantastic welcome present at the ready.)
At the same time he's allowed himself to fantasize about, say, Sundays in Kensington Gardens with his future grandkid. "Thomas sees this as a chance to fix the problems between him, Meghan and Harry," the insider tells the paper. "He is desperate to be there for his grandchild and wants to play an active role in their life."
And for all of her talk about letting their issues go and moving on already, Samantha is equally desperate to will that into happening.
Trying her darndest not to get hung up on the fact that her father wasn't mentioned in any of the press releases the palace sent out ("I would hope that—for the sake of the baby, the family, the world and my dad—that leaving him out of the statement was not intentional,") she's already floating ideas for a potential reconciliation summit. "I hope my dad is included and at a proper time," she told The Sun before adding, somewhat ominously, "If he is excluded, I won't be happy. It is in the best interests of the baby for my dad to be included."
The way she sees it, her father should expect an express invitation for tea at Nottingham Cottage sometime between now and next spring. "At a proper time, there should be a sit-down wherein everyone can address this properly," she said. Which, it deserves pointing out, is not all that different than what she was demanding before, when she insisted rather forcefully that Meghan call up Thomas and "bow to the daddy." Except now their little meeting will have a secondary focus. "Everything has to work itself out," she explained. "I want to allow Meg and Harry to bring my dad into it in their own appropriate time because they very well should do."
Which, how magnanimous of her.
Really, she explained, in an interview days later with DailyMailTV, it's not just about her father's desire to play a role. She's also looking out for the future Lord or Lady. "I really want him to be a part of the baby's life because my dad is so funny, he was so funny with us when we were kids so I think the baby would miss out on not being able to meet Grandad and I know he's got a huge heart and wants to be involved."
She also floated her own theory as to why Meghan has been ignoring her plaintive pleas, though it has nothing to do with her repeated insults or the fact that the half-siblings were never all that close to begin with. Just maybe, she reasoned, the duchess was dealing with a lot, trying to handle the changes that accompany pregnancy while not letting on to the fact that anything is different what with the eyes of the world trained on her midsection looking for the most imperceptible of bumps.
"I wasn't happy with the way my father was being treated," she told The Sun in one of her grandest understatements to date. "But, you know, we're also seeing now that there was a lot going on—there may have been a lot of stress."
Fortunately, now that they've come out with their little secret, Meghan and Harry are past the stressful portion of her pregnancy. All that's left to do is to healthfully grow a human as the entire world watches and prepare for parenthood knowing that at any one time half the population is sure to disagree with your decisions.
In the handful of days since Meghan confirmed that, yes, she is expecting she's already accepted enough gifts to fill a nursery and more than a few suggestions as to what to call the spring arrival. "We've been given a long list of names from everyone," Meghan reportedly told a group of children during a tram ride in Melbourne Thursday. "We're going to sit down and have a look at them."
As the couple filter through all of the helpful advice, suggestions and not-so-subtle name recommendations (cough, Diana, cough, cough), Samantha insists they won't be hearing from her. With the exception of the congratulatory card she plans to send and any inquiries about when their tête-à-tête with Thomas is set to take place.
As the mom of three, who said she was so excited to hear the news she jumped for joy in her wheelchair, told DailyMailTV, "I think everybody really just needs to come together and realize this is really important and special for Meg, for Harry, for the child, for all of us, and we need to stop the sparring. I want things to be alright in my family and everybody has to be on the same page. I want that for the child but I want that for Meg too."
To that end, she's officially apologizing for "the past tension and confusion and misunderstandings and asinine things I've said when I just didn't understand what was going on," and making a vow for all future tweets to be of the complimentary variety.
"A baby is incredible," she noted to the outlet. "You can't say anything negative. You can't feel anything negative. It's just a beautiful, amazing thing. So my reaction was, 'screw all this stuff and everything that's been said.'"
And she's ordering others to "put their egos aside" and follow suit. "Everybody just needs to shut the heck up," she insisted, "and let this be a great thing for them, for the world, for the family and that's where I'm at."
Here's hoping she's prepared to follow her own advice.