Daniela Elser: Kate Middleton never befriended Meghan Markle because she was too ‘intimidating’


Never has a pair of tights gotten so much coverage as the ones which may or may not have caused one of the greatest schisms in royal history.

The time: 2018. The place: A drawing room in Kensington Palace (I’m guessing) filled with excitable small children and a lot of frayed adult nerves.

The countdown was on for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s modern-day fairytale wedding, the regular girl who had been plucked out of B-list stardom to be transformed into a bona fide royal.

However, what happened next in that palace room, something involving not only the bride but also Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and an alleged argument over flower girl tights, has been the subject of thousands – literally – of news stories since then.

The only thing that anyone seems to agree on is that someone ended up in tears.

While it was first alleged that it was Kate who ended up crying, last month Meghan told Oprah Winfrey and a global TV audience of 50 million that it was in fact Kate who had made her well up.

In the long and winding annals of the barely two-year story of the Sussexes, this controversial incident has been held up as the juncture at which point things went off the rails for Meghan and Kate.

However, now a new report has proposed another reason why the two duchesses fell out and it has nothing to do with tights.

Writing in The Telegraph, Camilla Tominey, who broke the news Harry was dating the Suits star in 2016 and who first reported on Tights-gate, has suggested a surprising, new explanation may lie at the heart of why the two duchesses never became close.

“They were not only very different women with very different personalities but very different women who came from very different places,” a palace insider has told Tominey.

“Kate spent 10 years as a girlfriend learning the ropes. Everything happened much more quickly with Harry and Meghan, who entered the royal scene with her own, fully formed ideas. I think Kate found her quite intimidating.”

If insecurity on Kate’s part did lie at the heart of the Great Duchess Debacle it would make sense. While both women are university graduates, that is where the similarities end. (Their mother-in-law Diana, Princess of Wales’ most notable achievement before marrying Prince Charles was, seriously, winning a prize at school for best-kept guinea pig.)

By the time Meghan moved into Kensington Palace in 2017 she was a successful actress with five seasons of a cable network dramedy under her belt, had launched a clothing line for a Canadian department store, and had set up a blog that was a fairly generic melange of Maya Angelou quotes and lipstick suggestions.

More impressively, in my book anyway, was the fact she had also served as a globetrotting ambassador for World Vision, was a counsellor for One Young World, a UK-based charity, and had worked as a UN Women advocate including giving a speech at a UN world conference event in Beijing.

And Kate?

Well, before she married William she once organised a charity roller disco.

The fact of the matter is, while Kate might now be hailed for her Early Years and mental health work, back when she was a single gal she was hardly blazing a shining professional path.

After having graduated from university and headed to the mean streets of London’s Chelsea she then promptly set about … not much. To be fair, the constant flick of rapacious paparazzi who stalked her every move would have made attempts to start a career that much trickier. Still she didn’t seem to really try that hard.

In 2006 she took a job at British high-street clothing chain Jigsaw as a part-time accessories buyer. According to Daily Mail royal editor Rebecca English: “She went to the boss and said to them, ‘I need a job, but it needs to be part-time so I can work it around my relationship with this very high-profile man.'”

(Emmeline Pankhurst must be rolling over in her grave right now.)

The following year Kate started working for her parents’ children’s party business, taking photos of products for their website.

In 2008 it was reported the Queen was worried Kate was starting to look work-shy.

A royal source said, at the time: “There is concern at the very highest level that Kate Middleton still does not have a job. The Queen has made it known that she feels Kate should get involved with a charity, possibly an animal charity, where she can be seen to be doing something proactive.”

Quick! Fetch some photogenic puppies with sore paws!

It could also be argued that her seeming professional apathy was not rooted in laziness but in a prevailing fear of doing anything which might jeopardise her potential royal future.

All of which goes a long way to supporting this new explanation for the falling out between Kate and Megan. It would make sense if she felt threatened by Meghan’s extensive CV and even the fact the Los Angeles native had one that was longer than a double-spaced one-sided sheet of A4.

“I don’t think that she ever pulled Meghan under her wing and said, ‘I’ll show you the ropes,'” a friend told Tatler last year.

“Catherine and William were very circumspect from the beginning about Meghan, which hurt and incensed Harry. William rightly cautioned Harry to slow the relationship down. That’s why they all fell out. As the rift got deeper between the brothers, Kate, who used to be so close to Harry, tried to pacify things. But her loyalty will always be to William.”

The two duchesses’ vastly different pre-royal adult lives also explain their diametrically opposing approaches to their palace careers.

When Kate joined The Firm she eased into things, taking a considered if notably gradual pace. It took eight months after the wedding for Kate’s official patronages to be announced and a full year before she gave her first speech.

By contrast, Meghan hit the royal ground running, bringing with her a surfeit of American can-do pep. Only four months into her royal tenure, Meghan had spearheaded and launched a charity cookbook, undertaken a one-on-one outing with the Queen and gave her first speech, a seminal moment in any HRHs career.

What none of this changes though is, if there is real substance to this new thesis, then damn, what a huge bloody shame.

Imagine how wildly differently things might have gone if the two women, non-aristocratic outsiders who married into a 1000-year-old institution had, instead of being foes, become allies.

When their husbands fell out, they could have, working in tandem, helped patch things up. They could have joined charitable forces to create the most powerful royal double act since the Queen got her first corgi or Charles first met a pocket square.

They would have been, quite simply, unstoppable and a potent force to propel the monarchy into the 21st century.

Imagine the twinning of Kate’s reserve and Meghan’s gusto, Kate’s studied focus and Meghan’s up-and-at-’em 5am zeal. They would have been a glorious sort of yin and yang and together they would have done more for the monarchy than the invention of bunting and the royal walkabout combined.

The combination of Kate plus Meghan would have been so much greater than the sum of them as individuals. It would have been a heady, heady time for the house of Windsor.

Instead, today, the words “royal family” have become synonymous with rancour and discord.

I’ve said it before and chances are, I’ll say it again: If only. If only so many, many things had happened differently. If only Kate had put her alleged insecurity aside. If only there had never been a squabble over tights.

If only the monarchy wasn’t edging towards disaster right now.

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