Tina Brown: Meghan Markle Was Destined to Be the Ideal 21st-Century Princess
Brown is the author, most recently, of The Vanity Fair Diaries.
She’s divorced, bi-racial, 36 — and Prince Harry’s bride-to-be. Even so, Meghan Markle, the subject of Andrew Morton’s latest biography, is a tame assignment compared to the explosive ingredients served up in the book that made his reputation.
Diana: Her True Story, Morton’s 1992 biography of the Princess of Wales, sold seven million copies. It was a journalistic scoop-de-grace so rich in pay dirt that its revelations shook the House of Windsor for the next 20 years. Its impact can be summarized in the Sunday Times headline that affronted Prince Charles when he descended to breakfast at Highgrove and unfurled his freshly ironed newspaper: “Diana Driven to Five Suicide Bids by ‘Uncaring’ Charles.”
The cover may have boasted Morton’s name, but it was, in reality, Diana’s book, dictated to her doctor friend James Colthurst. He smuggled the radioactive tapes out of Kensington Palace in the basket of his bicycle and delivered them to the patiently salivating Morton at his London home.
Absent the drama of that fugitive conception, Morton’s Meghan: A Hollywood Princess toils to make the most of Markle’s mixed-family background growing up in Woodland Hills, Calif. and Hollywood. Her mother, Doria Ragland, was a trainee make-up artist at ABC studios in 1979 when she met Meghan’s father, Tom Markle, a hunky cameraman competent enough to win a couple of Daytime Emmys on the soap opera General Hospital. They were married six months later by the Indian Yogi Brother Bhaktananda (born Michael Krull in Pennsylvania) at the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple on Sunset Boulevard, a venue that the Daily Mail, in classic irrelevant tabloid innuendo, describes as “a stone’s throw from where Hugh Grant was infamously caught with prostitute Divine Brown.”
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Like Diana’s parents, the Markles divorced when she was six; but unlike Diana, who rattled around Park House in Norfolk largely unparented after her mother absconded, Meghan was raised by Doria and her grandmother in a cocoon of practicality and warmth. Her father’s showbiz Rolodex nurtured her budding actress aspirations, but Meghan’s first role was as diplomat mediating between warring parents, aggravated by the presence of resentful half-siblings from dad’s second marriage. One of them, Samantha, is the author of bitter tweets today about “Princess Pushy.”
Despite her half-sister’s bile, Meghan emerges from Morton’s account as a good egg — compassionate, diligent and poised. She wrestled gracefully with lazy racism when her…