Meghan Markle, a.k.a. the Duchess of Sussex, has become the darling of the British press and a royal Cinderella story. But her American family presents a more complicated story. Vanessa Grigoriadis digs deep to uncover the untold truths that turned one of the year’s biggest stories into a fractured, Kardashianified royal fairy tale.
Meghan Markle will never, in all likelihood, be Queen. But among the many benefits of marrying Prince Harry and becoming Duchess of Sussex is that she and Harry will have their own domain, a special relationship with the 53 Commonwealth countries, in many of which Meghan’s mixed-race American background will be an asset. On her intricately planned 16-day tour of a few of these formerly colonized territories in the South Pacific, her first trip as an H.R.H., she ruled with her characteristic, almost magical mix of micro-management and moments of authenticity, exhibiting the type of spontaneous human interaction with which the royals have long struggled. In Sydney, she fell to her knees to greet a wheelchair-bound 98-year-old war widow, and in New Zealand, she directed underlings to distribute petits fours to a passel of children in a town square. In Dubbo, New South Wales, she labored over a baked banana bread, then presented it to a family of fifth-generation farmers. “She said if you go to someone’s house, you always bring something, so she did,” said the farmer’s daughter, overwhelmed by the honor of eating princess bread. “She said she was worried about the bananas, that she’d put too many bananas in it,” except “the Duke said there’s never too many bananas.”
And this week, the most important voice in the chorus, Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, went on Piers Morgan’s British morning TV show to complain about his daughter’s “ghosting” of him, and to ask the queen herself to intervene in the family squabble.
Even if she’s not the monarchy’s most important princess—this honor goes to the assiduously pleasant Kate Middleton, one day to be queen consort—Meghan is the princess of the moment, as transformational in her way as Princess Di. She is the only female self-made millionaire in the royal family, her fortune coming from her work on Suits and on film; one of the oldest pregnant royals in a century (she’s 37); and the first bi-racial person in a family of people who used to powder their faces to make themselves whiter. As a royal, she’s not allowed to make political statements, but she’s an acknowledged feminist who advocates for gay rights, and for her first charitable endeavor, she collaborated with the mostly Muslim survivors of the Grenfell fire.
This soon-to-be mom to the first (known) bi-racial baby in the history of the monarchy represents the new and modern, all that America has given and will, if our politicians let us, continue to give to the world. She’s like the one percent Gal Gadot. Even her gaffes are merely evidence that she’s shaking up the royal family, which is dedicated to conservatism and self-perpetuation. When she refuses to wear nude-colored stockings to official events, as royals tend to, and goes bare-legged in the summer humidity, we cheer. When she closes her own car door, instead of waiting for a valet, it’s fraught with down-to-earth, woman-of-the-people symbolism. Her public performance has been near-flawless. She came from nowhere, and re-invented the way the British royal family could behave.
But of course Meghan didn’t come from nowhere, exactly. She came from the American hinterland, from an aspirational, peripatetic, and, yes, dysfunctional family, with whom she shares many traits, even if she sometimes seems to want to deny them. Where the British have generations of Plantagenets and Tudors, Americans have Jay Gatsby, a man who loved clothes as much as any princess (“I’ve never seen such—such beautiful shirts before”) and a past he liked to keep hidden. Meghan isn’t Gatsby, exactly—she hasn’t expunged her background. But there’s something of Fitzgerald’s antihero in Meghan’s preternatural American re-invention. She comes from a family of acolytes of motivational speakers and reality shows (Tony Robbins and the Kardashians are touchstones), people who believe that the future doesn’t at all have to be governed by the past. According to a Hollywood source, when her star was rising she threw herself a party at her home unofficially billed as a “Sayonara Zara” party and gave away the lower- priced clothes in her closet to her guests.
The blowup between Meghan and some of her biological family has been a rare fiasco for the Duchess, aided and abetted by elements that include the British tabloids’ dexterity at fomenting race- and class-based discord, the royal family’s usual resistance to change, and the unbridled loopiness and more than occasional meanness of some Markles (her half-sister has called Meghan “the Duchess of Nonsense”). It has also pointed up an essential difference between our two countries: Brits often can’t escape their families, or even their class, whereas our myth is based on striking out on one’s own.
Royal historians have dug deeply through the ancestry of Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, as with anyone newly incorporated into royal lineage, and located her first known ancestor: a slave born in 1830 in Jonesboro, Georgia, the setting for Gone with the Wind, named Richard Ragland (the surname most likely came from the man who enslaved him). A generation later, during Reconstruction, many Raglands lit out for Southern California; in the 1950s, Doria’s parents moved from Ohio to Los Angeles, too. Her father ran an antique store, ‘Twas New.
Doria, gentle and loving, met Meghan’s father, Tom, in L.A., though he had been raised on the East Coast. He was the youngest of three sons in a creative family in the small town of Newport, Pennsylvania. One of his older brothers joined the air force and became an international diplomat. The other is the bishop of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church in America, which is a church that I, as a practicing member of the Eastern Orthodox religion, was surprised never to have heard of before. At one point the church had a few hundred parishioners, though the Association of Religion Data Archives’ listing for the number of today’s flock is blank.
Doria and Tom moved in together a couple of years before Meghan was born, along with Samantha and Thomas junior, who had relocated to L.A. after living with their mom. The teenage siblings were unruly. Samantha was auditioning for film and TV parts, or working the Lancôme counter at the Beverly Center and as an extra on A Different World, Lisa Bonet’s spin-off of The Cosby Show. According to a biography by Andrew Morton,Meghan: A Hollywood Princess, Thomas junior spent time smoking weed with his friends at the family home in Woodland Hills, a burb in the Valley. Ragland, who eventually opened a small boutique selling sundresses in a Topanga mall, wasn’t averse to joints, either, according to Samantha. They were a family of the type of low-level creatives who abound in Hollywood, enjoying an offbeat life in the sunshine. When Meghan would pitch a tantrum in her high chair, scattering peas on the floor, her dad would encourage her and even get in on the action himself, throwing more peas. Once, when Thomas junior and his friends were smoking weed in the living room while she cried in her room, Tom senior left to tend to her, then reappeared with a full diaper. He pulled out a spoon and began eating the contents, later revealing that he’d filled the diaper with chocolate pudding.
It’s certainly a partial explanation for the current conflict that, while Meghan’s good fortunes only multiplied from her father’s doting, poor investments and family feuds led to a diminishment of Tom’s bank accounts. Samantha maintains that Tom paid Meghan’s tab when she enrolled at Northwestern and that if Meghan worked at all, as Samantha has tweeted, “it was only for extra shoe money and party money.” In 2016, Tom filed for bankruptcy. And Meghan did omit mention in Fiji of Tom’s contribution to her college education—she attended college supported by her parents and also financial aid. Though hardly “delusionally absurd” not to mention them in her Fiji speech, she could have made the choice to include them.
Meghan followed her father back to Hollywood after a short stint working at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires (her diplomat uncle has claimed he set her up), making her way from roles as suitcase girl on Deal or No Deal to guest spots on CSI to a female lead in Suits. Her starter marriage to a fast-talking movie producer broke up soon after it began, partially because the two had to spend months apart when Suits began filming in Toronto. Meghan dated a popular Canadian chef and started the Tig, her lifestyle blog; it was one part Goop and another Martha Stewart, with a consistently eloquent tone and a dollop of social justice before the topic became trendy. The image Meghan created for herself was free-spirited and earthy—but not entirely consistent with who she really was, according to those who know her. “Meghan’s goal was always becoming a household name,” says an acquaintance in the television world. “She’s insanely smart and poised, but very, very guarded. She’s not a person you can actually be friends with. She’s the type of person who is best friends with her stylist.”
Meanwhile, the royal family’s personal wealth, which encompasses castles and endless swaths of British countryside and crown jewels, including a 530-carat cut diamond, the world’s largest, to squabble over, has been estimated at $85 billion. So it’s no surprise that, to some of her family, Meghan’s ascension was viewed as an opportunity to play the Kardashian game while acquiring their own measure of royal wealth and fame.
This fall, I sent Samantha a number of messages on Facebook, but she was slow to respond. Reading the tabloids, I realized that she was in Britain doling out interviews to TV talk shows. Her boyfriend—they live together in Bellevue, Florida—also accompanied her to Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace, where she delivered a handwritten letter for her sister to a bobby in his flat cap. The guard did not open the palace gates. The next set of paparazzi photos depicted Samantha proceeding in her motorized wheelchair to a nearby store, where she checked out a life-size paper mask of Harry’s face with the eyes cut out, stocked as a souvenir. Samantha put the mask to her face and smiled for the camera.
Royalty, to Samantha, may merely be another type of lottery—a hereditary one. It doesn’t seem that she thinks royalty is worthy of a great deal of respect, and certainly doesn’t receive its right to rule from God. Most Brits don’t believe in divine right anymore, either, but many agree that the royals provide a useful societal function. One I spoke with discussed the royals’ dependability in attracting tourists, and quoted the great 19th-century British political writer Walter Bagehot, who defended the monarchy on non-religious grounds. “A royal family sweetens politics by the seasonable addition of nice and pretty events,” he explained. “It introduces irrelevant facts into the business of government, but they are facts which speak to ‘men’s bosoms’ and employ their thoughts.” Bagehot further believed that to cement the success of the nation the royals had to remain high status. “Our royalty is to be reverenced, and if you begin to poke about it, you cannot reverence it,” he wrote. “Its mystery is its life. We must not let in daylight upon magic.”
If the royal family is merely a group of well-dressed celebrities, then Samantha not only doesn’t need to take them seriously, but she has as much right to be a celebrity as they do. Perhaps this point of view, combined with the fact that Samantha’s daughter has claimed Meghan put Samantha in paroxysms of jealousy for many years prior to her engagement to Harry, meant that she didn’t shy away from tabloids’ phone calls when they began to poke around Meghan’s family history. Talking to the British tabloid The Sun, she cast Meghan as a social climber: she said Meghan was shallow and superficial, had always wanted to become a princess, and had “a soft spot for gingers.”
Samantha struck me as less a wicked stepsister than a special kind of trickster, a proficient storyteller with deep emotional intelligence who was adept at reading my cues. “This story is about a very normal family thrust into the spotlight,” she said to me a couple of times, seeking to portray herself as a misunderstood mom of three who was provoked by her sister. She spoke delightfully about the moment Meg was born: “She was beautiful and pink, with little teeny fingers that would wrap around my finger,” she said. “For us, it was very humbling because we were teenagers freaking out learning how to be young adults in the world, and adults were doing their career thing outward, but when a baby comes, there’s an inward focus and fascination. I think it really did pull us all together.”
If the sisters lost touch down the line, couldn’t that happen in any family? Samantha says that she planned to support Meghan (“Is London wheelchair friendly? excited!” she tweeted before the wedding), but became angry not only when Meghan didn’t invite her to the wedding, but also because Prince Harry commented to the press that Meghan was enjoying spending time with the royal family because the royal family was “the family she never had.” Says Samantha, “Consistently, my family was being isolated and ignored, like we’re nonexistent.” She adds, “Like the uncle who got her the internship in Buenos Aires. He’s not trailer trash. It got back to me that Meg had said about her uncle, ‘I don’t know him,’ and I’m like, ‘What is this, Joan Crawford speaking?’ ”
The more Samantha talked, the louder the cheering from tabloid reporters on both sides of the pond. The British reporters were excited for Samantha to play the role of the uncivilized, low-class American who was not at all P.L.U., people like us; the American reporters knew their readership would appreciate her most if she was simply wackadoodle, another outrageous semi-celebrity for our outraged era. Samantha learned that a story could be worth $1,500, perhaps $3,000, or even more. Reporters began lobbing devilish questions her way, such as “Do you feel your sister is a humanitarian?” and “How does Meghan compare to Diana?” Invoking the name that Harry and the royals least wanted to come out of her mouth, Samantha answered, “Diana would not isolate family.”
Though Samantha and Tom have what one member of their family calls an enabling and dysfunctional relationship, Tom and Thomas junior, a choleric professional glazer, were estranged. But now Thomas junior wanted in on the celebrity action. Arrested in 2017 for allegedly holding a gun to his fiancée’s head before being released without charge, he began telling increasingly bizarre stories to the tabloids and even agreed to submit to a lie-detector test to prove the truth of a story he told about Tom using the services of a prostitute when Thomas was young. (Tom strongly denied these claims.) He also reportedly gave the paparazzi Tom’s address in Rosarito Beach, a tourist town 15 miles from Tijuana where Tom had retired a few years past. A handful of British paps descended on Tom’s neighborhood, taking up residence in Airbnbs along the road to his modest home and capturing him as he visited a convenience store for cigarettes and a four-pack of Heineken.
In the past few years, Dooley had a marijuana business in Oregon with his mother, Tracy. He named it Royally Grown and marketed a strain of weed named Markle Sparkle (“sweet, silky, with a hint of blueberry”). Tracy once told a newspaper, “We plan to build a global empire like the Kardashians.” Today, Tyler tells me it’s important to note that he’s moving on to CBD. The weed market is flooded, and it’s no longer a growth crop.
Things didn’t exactly go well for the last American duchess. Wallis Simpson, whose husband, Edward VIII, abdicated the throne when the family shunned her, once said of her royal in-laws, “You are either with them or dead.”
Meghan is adept at walking fine lines, but handling her biological family and her new one—the royals—was an extraordinary balancing job. She considered Samantha and Thomas junior part of her ancient past—she claimed to have seen neither in years, and thought of herself in some ways as an only child—but she does not seem to have wanted to dis her father, whom she wrote about in loving terms on the Tig in 2014. In a post for Father’s Day, she wrote about “our club sandwich and fruit smoothie tradition post my tap & ballet class—classes, which by the way, he religiously took me to on Saturday mornings after working 75+ hours a week as a lighting director.” He put “gas in my car when I went from audition to audition trying to make it as an actress,” she wrote, and “believed in this grand dream of mine well before I could even see it as a possibility.” She lauded “the blood, sweat and tears this man (who came from so little in a small town in Pennsylvania, where Christmas stockings were filled with oranges, and dinners were potatoes and Spam) invested in my future so that I could grow up and have so much.” Tom would later describe her in similarly admiring terms, saying “my daughter has been a princess since the day she was born.”
In the run-up to May’s big royal wedding, though, the relationship hit a major snag. Knowing that a story about vulgar Americans sells papers, the British tabloids built a case by capturing Tom’s quotidian American-retiree life in Rosarito Beach. One day, they photographed him buying a toilet, potatoes, and paper plates at Home Depot and Walmart. Though Tom had been silent on the topic of his daughter for months, Samantha, perhaps feeling her oats as a media mastermind, thought she could change her father’s profile. Working with a paparazzo, Samantha crafted a plan for a pap to capture Tom visiting a tailor to be fitted for a suit, and then casually relaxing reading a book about British landmarks. “The Kardashians and Anthony Robbins do this sort of thing—why can’t my dad?” is the way she sums up her thinking to me. Needless to say, this harebrained scheme backfired when the pictures appeared in The Sun and a pap working for the Daily Mail—who was also following Tom—realized that the outings were a setup.
Tom reportedly received a call from Meghan and Harry explaining that they were confused as to why he had taken such bizarre action, and asking him please not to speak to reporters or participate in any more photographs. Of all the royals, Harry is known to absolutely revile the press for both its role in his mother’s death and the continuing breaches of his privacy when he traipsed the globe in his 20s drinking much too heavily, in part to deal with his unresolved trauma. Tom claims he offered to make an apology, but the couple said an apology would only fuel the story, which was running on a 24/7 loop on British TV. (Sources have raised questions about this account.) Instead, the couple, concerned for Tom’s welfare, directed a press regulator to issue a privacy warning to the papers to back off. Embarrassed, Tom stayed in Mexico and pondered his mistake. Then, four days later, the international news began broadcasting headlines that he’d had a heart attack.
“Throughout the heart attack, I feel my dad was ignored,” says Samantha. “Meg and Harry should have been on a plane, and been there at the hospital, minimum. They should have taken him back on a plane to Kensington, and had him meet Charles, and included him in the big picture.” But that didn’t happen. “I think they might have believed it was a fake heart attack,” says Samantha.
In England, the 92-year-old Queen, whose primary purpose in life has been promoting the longevity of the monarchy, was watching. She had lived through unpopularity, particularly during the saga of Princess Diana and Charles (loneliness, bulimia, Camillagate, Squidgygate, divorce, death by paparazzi). Much magic was lost. But in recent years, via the classic P.R. maneuver of replacing negative stories with new stories—the romance of William and Kate, plus Pippa’s bottom, the addition of Prince George and two spare heirs, and now Meghan and Harry—people fell in love again. Even in America, where today’s rich are decidedly “out”—they reek too much of MAGA—the royals, who embody a faraway fantasy of being rich, are hugely popular. And these days the royal family allows their every step to be photographed and calculated, like the world’s richest reality-show stars. The episodes run until the end of their lives.
The Queen knew that Harry worshipped Meghan, and also that the House of Windsor didn’t need another busted-up fairy tale. “She was very concerned that it [the Markle situation] was spiraling out of control, which it was,” says one observer. “Buckingham Palace wanted to be able to do something and be proactive and make the situation go away. It was a direction from the Queen, so her courtiers were under strict instructions to sort it out. But Kensington Palace was not singing from the same hymn sheet, and that was because the message was coming from Meghan. She didn’t want to engage and thought that she could handle it on her own.” Both palaces’ aides whispered and planned, to no avail. “There was a lot of tension between courtiers within the two royal households, and I think it just got to a point where it was stalemate and, you know, neither could move.”
For years, Meghan has publicly declared that she does not read her press, a usual tactic of Hollywood stars to seem above the messiness of image-making. It’s a contention that sophisticated communications folks find laughable. She may not be a press addict, as Diana was—Diana read every page that mentioned her in the tabloids, and exulted or worried over them—but Meghan herself was handling this fracas, or not handling it. “This is her family, and no one at the palace would make a move without her,” explains Patrick Jephson, Princess Diana’s former private secretary and author of The Meghan Factor, a book weighing Meghan’s impact on the monarchy. He pauses, then adds, “In talking about Meghan, I wouldn’t say that her advisers are doing a good job or a bad job. It is one of the perks of royalty never to be held responsible for their actions.” Regardless, the observer says, “Meghan and Harry made efforts to make sure Tom was properly kitted out for the day, so that level of care was there, but it wasn’t enough care. He needed an equerry to go out there and take him back to England, put him in Sandringham or Balmoral in a small cottage where no one knew where he was, and where he would have been very happy. That’s what should have happened.”
Meghan did what she could. By refusing to speak publicly about the fracas, or have someone speak on her behalf, Meghan was trying to maintain her famous elegance; her silence meant she was above the fray, plus she was more than a bit busy planning a wedding to be watched by billions. For Harry, and Meghan, the situation was deeply concerning as a security matter. Harry felt that the paparazzi had placed Thomas under extraordinary pressure—and they could destroy another parental relationship.
But at this point Tom seems to have been hurt and frustrated. His sense of himself as a loving and generous patriarch was unpleasantly rattled. He responded by talking to reporters at TMZ and later granting a nine-hour interview to a British tabloid. He called the royals a “cult,” compared them to Scientologists and the Stepford Wives family, and added, “They’re just like a Monty Python sketch. Say a few critical words about the royal family and they put their fingers in their ears, cover their eyes, and pull the blinds down. They don’t want to know about it.” He was annoyed by the way he’d been treated and said a courtier told him to make an apology. “Suddenly I’m being told that I needed help apologizing, as if there’s a special way to apologize to the royal family,” he explained. “Perhaps you do it with gravy and flowers on the side? I was taken aback to be asked if I needed help apologizing, like I was a child.” He also swung from despair —“If Meghan never speaks to me again,” he said, “I don’t know how I can go on without my heart breaking”—to anger, saying, “I’ve about had it with Meghan and the royal family.” He added, “I feel for Meghan, because she does have a difficult family. But it’s still her family.”
This sad and embarrassing incident culminated in Tom missing his daughter’s wedding, which he watched from an Airbnb in Rosarito Beach to escape the paparazzi staking out his home. In his stead, Prince Charles walked the new princess down the aisle, her silk tulle train (in a powerful symbol, she had the official flowers of the 53 Commonwealth nations embroidered on its edges). Doria, now a social worker, was the only family member in attendance, and Meghan paid deep respect to her African-American roots. Before the ceremony, according to the observer, thinking of her father’s absence, she broke down in tears.
At the end of the Brothers Grimm’s “Cinderella,” the original rags-to-royals story, Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters accompany her to her wedding, but in revenge, pigeons peck out their eyes. This is not quite what has happened to Samantha, who talked to me about wanting to use her platform to educate people about M.S., but in the past few months, she has disappeared into a netherworld of Twitter wars. There, she does battle with a clan of pro-Meg forces calling themselves Megulators (Samantha’s supporters call themselves “Megexit”). They resent Meghan on the grounds that she “thinks that now since she has a title and a ring on her finger, she can do whatever she wants,” which is “nothing but an insult to all normal people,” if you can follow the logic. After the Megulators harassed Samantha on Twitter in November, she called the F.B.I. and asked agents to investigate death threats, but to me she plays this off like no big deal. “It’s just a small group of people who just want to rattle the cage,” she declares.
For a while, Tom realized that talking to the press was a losing game, one in which he could possibly lose his daughter forever. For now, the observer says that the two aren’t speaking, but Meghan is interested in a probationary period during which he wouldn’t speak publicly, and then perhaps the two would be able to mend their relationship. The real drama is this: Will Meghan insist that Tom cut ties with one daughter, Samantha—who’s been, by far, the most hostile of the Markles, to clear the way to rebuild the relationship with Meghan? Tom is caught between two daughters.
The papers in London are full of new stories about Meghan, not all of them positive. Some are outlandish: Meghan wanted a certain emerald tiara for her wedding and the Queen made her wear Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau, and Meghan asked for air freshener to be sprayed in St. George’s Chapel before her wedding because she thought it smelled musty. Understanding what’s going on behind castle walls is always a game of reading tea leaves, but the posh Brits I spoke with said they’d heard that some stories were correct: Meghan’s staff is annoyed by her waking up at a Californian five A.M. and texting about various initiatives she wants them to pursue, and Meghan is callous toward staff in general. One thought it was “peculiar” that her mother was the only family member at her wedding; another even said she’d heard Meghan was dubbed “Monster Markle” at Kensington Palace. I can’t vouch for any of that, but when papers began reporting that Kate and Meghan had feuded before the wedding, and then Kensington Palace issued a statement denying a feud, I thought about Tina Brown’s comment in The Diana Chronicles, her outstanding biography of the princess: “The palace only bothers to deny something that’s true.”
Still, in fairy tales, magic always hovers in the distance. Far from being snobbish about Meghan’s family and excoriating Harry about the perils of marrying a commoner, Prince Charles, perhaps the most important arbiter of Meghan’s stature in the royal family, is taking her side in the scandal. Of course, Charles gains a benefit from the new spotlight on a younger generation of royals, or the “Fab Four,” as the British have dubbed Meghan-Harry-William-Kate. Their reflected glory makes Charles seem like a man of substance, a patriarch, which is good, because polls show that only a quarter of Britons want him to succeed the Queen, who, at 92, could expire rather soon. But to the less jaundiced observer, there’s another reason he would back Meghan, and that’s because his own upbringing wasn’t exactly the stuff of Hallmark Cards. When his mother, before she was crowned Queen, returned from her own tour of the Commonwealth—similar in shape to the one taken by Meghan and Harry—cameras captured her solemnly patting three-year-old Charles on the shoulder. He knows from difficult families.
“Let her go conquer the world,” says Meghan’s entrepeneurial nephew, Tyler Dooley, when we talked about his feelings toward her. “There’s big stuff in store. I know she can make the world a better place.” Including for Dooley. Today, in addition to getting into CBD, Dooley has taken a role on MTV’s The Royal World, a new spin on the Real World formula: one castle and 10 genuine royals, including a baroness, a count, and a royal Instagram influencer nicknamed Zsa Zsa. To those who might think he’s cashing in on his aunt’s name, he said, he sometimes makes as much in a day as MTV paid him for the whole shebang, plus “everybody in the house I lived in, the whole cast, is there because of a family or a connection of some sort.” He added, “At the end of the day, everyone dies. They might die with their titles, but they don’t even get to keep that. You die with no money, no friends, nothing. People are just people in the end.”
Toward the holidays, the chatter among royal correspondents was about Meghan’s mother, Doria, who might be the first non-royal member of the extended royal family invited to Christmas at Sandringham in the history of the monarchy. “Kate did not go to Sandringham before she married William in 2011, and the Middletons are still not invited,” declares etiquette expert William Hanson. “To have a partner’s mother come is a huge seismic shift.” During Christmas, the royals will play charades, particularly those that involve impersonations of world leaders, but the Queen likes to win, so everyone will need to make sure their impersonations aren’t very good. They may play soccer against their maids and butlers. They will eat dinner in black-tie, and they will not go to bed before the Queen decides to go to bed. They are possibly weighed before and after the meal, a royal tradition that was once meant to demonstrate how well they’d been fed, though Meghan, who is fond of light cooking and organic food and also pregnant, probably would rather she didn’t have to do that. The rest of the Markles won’t be there, which is sort of a shame—and makes perfect sense.