Their wedding was as good a clue as any. As the pews on the right hand side of the quire at St George’s Chapel filled with members of the Royal family, a very different crowd took their seats opposite. There was a Grand Slam champion, a fashion designer, a couple of Clooneys, someone called “Silver Tree” (it doesn’t get much more Hollywood than that), oh, and Oprah. The rest of the chapel, meanwhile, seemed to be filled with more former hosts of the Brit Awards than Old Etonians.
The Sussexes, or the Mountbatten-Windsor-Markles as they will perhaps be known going forward, have always moved in starry circles, but this relocation to “North America” (it’s still unclear exactly what they mean by that) heralds a shift in the kind of lifestyle the couple want for their growing family. And who can blame them? You can certainly see why weekends spent hiking in the Hollywood hills with James and Julia Corden, dinner parties with the Obamas in New York, or skiing with the Mulroneys in Canada might seem more appealing than a yomp round the Windsor Estate and Sunday lunch with Granny.
Stateside, there is talk of possible lucrative media work for the couple as they strive towards “financial independence”. And they certainly have the contacts to kickstart new careers and charitable opportunities. So who’s who in the starry group helping to shepherd them through this new chapter?
The Canada crew
Jessica Mulroney has always seemed to be high priestess of Meghan’s inner circle, and has played a significant role in the royal relationship. A stylist and TV presenter, Mulroney and her husband Ben were said to have hosted countless secret dinners for the pair in Toronto when they were first dating. She then became Meghan’s unofficial wedding planner, while her three children, John, Brian and Ivy, were in the bridal party. She even flew to Australia in 2018 to help support Meghan on her first official royal tour, where the Duchess announced her pregnancy.
Markus Andersson, the Canadian confidant and Soho House director who is also said to have been instrumental in the Sussex’s early romance, is sure to be among their inner circle while they make this new life for themselves. He was by the Duchess’s side at her lavish New York baby shower last year, and Meghan once gushed about their special bond on her now defunct blog The Tig: “What would I do without you, my loving, supportive, and endlessly fun friend? I know what… I would be bored, and life would be infinitely less interesting. I love you SO much.”
The Trudeaus are also sure to be dinner party guests. When word first got out that Meghan was Prince Harry's girlfriend, and she suddenly became the most famous woman in the world, the Duchess reportedly turned to Sophie Trudeau – wife of Canadian prime minister, Justin, and a former showbiz TV reporter, herself – for advice on how to handle the media intrusion. Recent advice presumably included: “Announce you’re moving to ‘North America’, everyone will understand.”
The East Coast gang
The couple now count the Obamas as good friends. The former First Lady met up with Meghan while she was in the UK to promote her autobiography, Becoming, last year. They first got to know each other via the Invictus Games. At the second Games in Florida in 2016, Michelle took part in numerous events and said of the Prince: “He truly is Prince Charming”. In return, the Prince lent support to her “Full Effect” education programme for under-privileged teenagers.
Meghan’s old friend Misha Nonoo is based in New York, where she lives with billionaire oil heir husband Mike Hess. Misha and Meghan initially bonded over their passion for gender equality, the empowerment of women, and dogs. “We were seated next to one another at a lunch, and we got along like a house on fire,” Nonoo once told The Evening Standard. “I love her to death. She is the coolest girl in the world.”
Old friend Lindsay Roth spends part of her time in New York. The pair met in a Toni Morrison literature class during their first year at Northwestern. They remained close as Meghan went on to persue acting. Roth also acted for a bit, but has since gone on to work as a TV producer. The pair were seen together at Wimbledon last year, supporting their friend Serena.
In an interview in 2017, Roth said of her friend: 'There’s a motto that Meg and I have consistently come back to throughout the years: "I choose happiness."
The LA lot
Having grown up in LA, and worked there as an actress, the Duchess already has a solid base in California, not least because her mother Doria Ragland lives there.
For media advice – and, apparently, yoga sessions on Granny Doria’s front lawn – there’s always Oprah, who has reportedly already snagged Harry to contribute to an Apple TV documentary about mental health.
The Duchess is also said to be close to Oprah's friend and confidante Gayle King, a TV news anchor with CBS. King spent time with the couple at Frogmore as they awaited the birth of Archie. She was also among the small group who attended the baby shower in New York.
Many of the Duchess’s former Suits co stars live in the city. Close friend Abigail Spencer is based in LA and was seen on a New Year’s Day hike with the royal couple in Vancouver Island during their Christmas getaway.
Childhood friend Benita Litt also lives in LA. Her daughters Remi and Rylan were bridesmaids at the wedding, and the Duchess is godmother to both girls. Litt used to work as an entertainment lawyer, but is now CEO of the handbag company she founded.
Tennis star Serena Williams, and actress Priyanka Chopra are also among Meghan’s LA pals. Markle has been friends with actress and model Priyanka Chopra since they met at a party in 2015. Markle has supported Williams at US Open and Wimbledon matches, and at the launch of her collection at New York Fashion Week. Williams also had a prime spot in the chapel in 2018.
And then there are the Clooneys, who seem a globe trotting pair themselves, splitting their time between the States, the UK and Lake Como. Human rights lawyer Amal helped the Duchess celebrate at her New York baby shower. Who better to guide them through this new transatlantic life?