Mwah! Mwah! Meet Meghan’s glossy, in­flu­en­tial (and achingly right on) best friends

Daily Mail - - News -

THEY are the M- crowd: the in­ti­mate friends of Meghan Markle. And since celebrity mag­a­zine US Weekly re­ported that Prince Harry’s girl­friend met the Queen at Bal­moral a few weeks ago — sug­gest­ing a royal en­gage­ment an­nounce­ment is likely — the ac­tress’s so­cial cir­cle has be­come in­creas­ingly fas­ci­nat­ing.

It in­cludes fel­low ac­tors, clothes de­sign­ers, so­cialites and char­ity cam­paign­ers.

Most are sim­i­lar to Meghan, 36, who re­lent­lessly boosted her pub­lic pro­file with her own blog (which she has closed since dat­ing Harry). She said it ‘be­gan as a pas­sion project and evolved into an amaz­ing com­mu­nity of in­spi­ra­tion, sup­port, fun and fri­vol­ity’.

They speak in a lan­guage gleaned from self­help books by Cal­i­for­nian gu­rus and are keen to bur­nish their right- on cre­den­tials by es­pous­ing fash­ion­able causes such as the fem­i­nist cam­paign Be­cause I Am A Girl.

Above all they are ob­sessed with their on­line pro­files, reg­u­larly post­ing pho­tos of them­selves on In­sta­gram, col­lect­ing fol­low­ers and pro­mot­ing com­mer­cial prod­ucts.

Friends, too, are sub­jects for pro­mo­tion in a seem­ingly end­less carousel of pub­lic praise for each other and mu­tual back-scratch­ing.

In­deed, as a self-pro­claimed ‘in­spi­ra­tion junkie’, Meghan used her own blog for nu­mer­ous gush­ing trib­utes to her ‘clos­est friends’.

Here, ALI­SON BOSHOFF of­fers a guide to those soul­mates . . .

1. THE PARTY-LOV­ING KING OF SOHO HOUSE

MARKUS AN­DER­SON is the man who in­tro­duced Meghan to Harry and has been de­scribed by her as ‘one of her clos­est friends in the world’.

The con­sul­tant for the Soho House Group and for­mer global mem­ber­ship di­rec­tor at the exclusive club worked his way up from be­ing a waiter. An­der­son has known Meghan a long time and sev­eral pho­tos of them to­gether have ap­peared on so­cial me­dia. He grew up in On­tario and moved to Lon­don aged 19, where he be­gan work at Soho House be­fore mov­ing back to Canada to open a branch of the pri­vate mem­bers’ club in Toronto — where Meghan has lived since land­ing her role on the Amer­i­can TV le­gal drama Suits in 2011.

A lover of Tom Ford af­ter­shave and cash­mere sweaters, An­der­son de­cided which mon­eyed hip­sters should gain en­try to Soho House.

Cana­dian me­dia de­scribed Soho House as ‘ the pre- em­i­nent meet­ing place for up­wardly mo­bile hob­nob­bers’ and An­der­son as hav­ing ‘ a blood­hound’s nose for tastemak­ers’.

On the club’s open­ing night in Toronto, Meghan wasn’t there but one guest was lo­cal celebrity chef Cory Vi­tiello, who later be­came her boyfriend.

An­der­son was on hol­i­day in Europe with Me­gan in the sum­mer of 2016 when he in­tro­duced her to Harry at Soho House in Lon­don, where the Prince was a mem­ber.

RIGHT-ON RAT­ING: 3/5 2. GEN­DER EQUAL­ITY AC­TIVIST & PM’S WIFE

AN­OTHER friend is for­mer tele­vi­sion show­biz re­porter and now Canada’s First Lady So­phie Gre­goire Trudeau, mar­ried to PM Justin Trudeau.

US Weekly mag­a­zine claims she of­fered Meghan ad­vice on how to deal with fame — based on her own ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing mar­ried to a prime min­is­ter and as some­one whose fa­ther- in- law, Pierre Trudeau, was Canada’ s con­tro­ver­sial and flam­boy­ant Prime Min­is­ter in the 1980s.

Her mother-in-law Mar­garet, an au­thor, ac­tress and celebrity in her own right, was ro­man­ti­cally linked with Mick Jag­ger. She de­nied an af­fair, but de­clared: ‘I should have slept with ev­ery sin­gle one of the Rolling Stones.’

In April 2016, Trudeau and Meghan at­tended a Cana­dian fash­ion awards cer­e­mony, then went on to a party to­gether at Soho House. A cer­ti­fied yoga in­struc­tor who calls her­self a ‘gen­der equal­ity ac­tivist’, Ms Trudeau does a lot of char­ity work and, like Meghan, helps a char­ity that pro­vides clean wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion in Third World coun­tries.

She re­cently met Emma Wat­son in Ot­tawa, where the Harry Pot­ter ac­tress dis­cussed world­wide gen­der equal­ity with the PM.

The two young women rode on a mo­tor­cy­cle to­gether and Trudeau de­scribed Wat­son as ‘ a yogi, fem­i­nist, artist, ad­vo­cate, mother, war­rior and all-round gold-hearted per­son. What a priv­i­lege it is to have met her.’

Like Meghan, who is a UN women’s ad­vo­cate, she cam­paigns for greater equal­ity and was the na­tional am­bas­sador for Canada’s ‘Be­cause I Am A Girl’ ini­tia­tive, which lob­bies to stop girls be­ing ‘the sin­gle most dis­crim­i­nated against and ex­cluded group in the world.’ In an in­ter­view, Ms Trudeau has said: ‘What we need is more good­ness in so­ci­ety and peo­ple who are ready to el­e­vate not only their think­ing but their aware­ness of hu­man con­scious­ness to a more re­fined place.’

RIGHT-ON RAT­ING: 5/5 3. TEN­NIS SU­PER­STAR AND GIRLY CON­FI­DANTE

MEGHAN met Ser­ena Wil­liams, the seven-times Wim­ble­don sin­gles win­ner, in 2014 when the then rel­a­tively un­known ac­tress played a game of foot­ball at a char­i­tycelebrity event.

Meghan wrote on her blog: ‘We hit it off im­me­di­ately, tak­ing pic­tures, laugh­ing and chat­ting not about ten­nis or act­ing but about good old-fash­ioned girly stuff. So be­gan our friend­ship.’

Sub­se­quently, she con­grat­u­lated Wil­liams when she won her third con­sec­u­tive U.S. Open — and when she won the Aus­tralian Open in 2015 she Tweeted: ‘So happy for you! I was ju­u­u­ust hug­ging you for your win.’

She has said of Wil­liams (who re­cently gave birth to her first child): ‘ She quickly be­came a con­fi­dante I would text when I was trav­el­ling, the friend I would rally around for her ten­nis matches, and the down-to-earth chick I was able to grab lunch with a cou­ple of weeks ago in Toronto.

‘We are both the same age, have a pen­chant for hot sauces and adore fash­ion, but what con­nects us more than those things is per­haps our be­lief in ex­ceed­ing ex­pec­ta­tions — our end­less am­bi­tion.’

On her visit to Lon­don in 2016, Meghan watched Wil­liams at Wim­ble­don and sat a few rows away from Pippa Mid­dle­ton.

Since then, she has plugged the ten­nis player’s fash­ion show at New York Fash­ion Week — ‘ so proud of your new col­lec­tion’. She has also con­trib­uted to a flat­ter­ing pro­file of the sports star in

Amer­ica’s glossi­est celebrity mag­a­zine, Van­ity Fair.

This was the same mag­a­zine to which Meghan her­self spilled out her heart in a huge cover story in­ter­view to pro­mote the 100th episode of her TV se­ries, pub­licly declar­ing her pas­sion for Harry by say­ing: ‘We’re a cou­ple, we’re in love.’

Sur­prise, sur­prise, Wil­liams was quoted in the ar­ti­cle about Meghan’s blooming royal romance, say­ing of her: ‘Her per­son­al­ity just shines. I told her: “You’ve got to be who you are, Meghan. You can’t hide.” ’

RIGHT-ON RAT­ING: 1/5 4. EX-MISS WORLD AND BOL­LY­WOOD STAR

CROWNED Miss World at the age of 18 in 2000, Priyanka Cho­pra is a hugely suc­cess­ful film ac­tress. A tire­less so­cial net­worker, she met Meghan at a party in Toronto two years ago.

Af­ter Meghan in­ter­viewed her for her blog, The Tig, they be­came friends and Ms Cho­pra has pub­li­cised pho­tos of them to­gether — in­clud­ing one where they drank cock­tails to­gether in a dimly-lit bar in Los An­ge­les.

For her part, Meghan shared a picture of her­self and the In­dian ac­tress (who has made more than 50 Bol­ly­wood films) at Soho House in new York and hang­ing out by a pool.

Ms Cho­pra is a Unicef am­bas­sador and re­cently re­turned from Jor­dan, where she high­lighted the plight of Syr­ian refugees. She lives be­tween Mum­bai, where she grew up, and Toronto and cel­e­brated her 30th birth­day with a party at U2 star Bono’s house. rock­ers Bryan Adams and Bruce Spring­steen are also among her friends.

The first In­dian ac­tress to play the lead in a main­stream U.S. TV drama ( Quan­tico, about the FBI), she re­cently played a vi­cious diva in the movie Bay­watch.

She is cur­rently de­vel­op­ing a sit­com and has joked that she is bent on ‘global dom­i­na­tion’.

Like oth­ers, she hap­pily con­trib­uted to Van­ity Fair’s pro­file of Meghan, with the right-on com­ment: ‘It would have been nice to write about her, not just her boyfriend. I mean, she’s an ac­tor, she’s an ac­tivist, she’s a phi­lan­thropist. It’s just a lit­tle sex­ist . . .

‘There needs to be a cer­tain sense of equal­ity where a woman is not just a plus- one, you know. It’s nice to be your own iden­tity, too.’

RIGHT-ON RAT­ING: 4/5 5. STYLIST WHO IS PO­LIT­I­CAL ROY­ALTY

MEGHAN’S style ad­viser is Jes­sica Mul­roney, daugh­ter-in-law of for­mer Cana­dian PM Brian Mul­roney.

Known as ‘ Toronto’s an­swer to gwyneth Pal­trow’, she is a so­cial me­dia star with nu­mer­ous lu­cra­tive mar­ket­ing deals. Her Twit­ter feed is full of nar­cis­sis­tic links to her own ap­pear­ances on day­time tele­vi­sion shows and fash­ion web­sites.

Her hus­band, Ben, is a tele­vi­sion re­porter known for cov­er­ing os­cars night and is a friend of the 45year- old Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau.

Mul­roney shares Meghan’s love of Pi­lates and yoga. She is called Meghan’s ‘girl Fri­day’.

Be­fore Harry ar­rived on the scene she posted nu­mer­ous pic­tures on In­sta­gram of Meghan. In­deed, her re­cent In­sta­gram post of a pho­to­shoot for bridal­wear was com­mented on by a fol­lower who sug­gested the dress was suit­able for Meghan — and linked the post to Kens­ing­ton Palace’s of­fi­cial In­sta­gram ac­count.

Mul­roney, an avid blog­ger, and her hus­band sold the first pho­to­graphs of their twin sons to Hello! mag­a­zine.

re­cent posts in­clude a picture of Jes­sica wear­ing 6in stiletto heels and red suede while watch­ing her boys.

She told an in­ter­viewer: ‘ Watch­ing my kids grow up into car­ing and com­pas­sion­ate peo­ple is ex­tremely val­i­dat­ing.’

RIGHT-ON RAT­ING: 5/5 6. THE MED­I­TAT­ING FASH­ION­ISTA

BAHRAIN-BORN Misha nonoo was raised in Lon­don, ed­u­cated in Paris and now lives in new York.

The fash­ion de­signer says her ‘mul­ti­cul­tural up­bring­ing’ ex­posed her to ‘ a di­verse col­lec­tion of ref­er­ences’ and that her work ‘show­cases a unique out­look for the mod­ern multi-faceted woman’.

In sim­i­lar right- on- speak, she says she ‘con­tin­ues to push bound­aries by mar­ry­ing de­signs with in­no­va­tive dig­i­tal con­cepts that are cel­e­brated by women who em­brace their fem­i­nin­ity whilst pur­su­ing their goals’.

She also trilled about her friend Meghan to Van­ity Fair, say­ing they bonded im­me­di­ately af­ter meet­ing through a mu­tual friend.

She is one of the se­lect few who knew about the romance with Harry from the start. nonoo told Van­ity Fair: ‘Her great­est strength is her com­pas­sion for oth­ers. Much of the work she does is un­seen by the pub­lic.’

The de­signer (who has a dog called Thatcher) runs a fash­ion la­bel in new York and fans of her work are said to in­clude Pippa Mid­dle­ton, ac­tress Cate Blanchett and Bono’s daugh­ter eve.

Meghan wore one of nonoo’s skirts to the Suits 100th episode party last month.

The de­signer be­lieves in fu­ture all pur­chases will be on­line, with peo­ple go­ing to shops only for pre­sen­ta­tions and what she calls ‘mod­er­ated con­ver­sa­tions with the de­signer’.

She and Meghan hol­i­dayed to­gether in europe in 2016, when she and Prince Harry met. nonoo med­i­tates ev­ery morn­ing.

nonoo’s mar­riage to old eto­nian Alexan­der gilkes broke down last year. The new York Post re­ported that their re­la­tion­ship was a ca­su­alty of their mu­tual ‘wild am­bi­tion’.

gilkes founded the auc­tion house Pad­dle8 and is close to Prince Harry and his el­der brother, hav­ing at­tended Wil­liam’s wed­ding.

Well con­nected to the royal Fam­ily, he gave a job to his friend Princess eu­ge­nie (he calls her ‘eug’), Prince An­drew’s daugh­ter.

Both Pippa (a friend of his brother, Char­lie) and James Mid­dle­ton were at his wed­ding in Venice in 2012, where Amer­i­can pop star Lana del rey en­ter­tained the guests.

gilkes is also a pal of ac­tor ed­die red­mayne, a fel­low old eto­nian, and was pic­tured cradling his os­cars stat­uette at an Academy Awards party. As a teenager, gilkes had work ex­pe­ri­ence with di­rec­tor Stan­ley Kubrick and par­tied with rap­per Jay Z.

Friends, too, with Madonna, he has been on Van­ity Fair’s best-dressed list. And wax­ing philo­soph­i­cal, he said that his old school, eton, ‘in­cu­bates the in­di­vid­ual’.

RIGHT-ON RAT­ING: 5/5 7. DI­VORCED CO-STAR AND BIRTH­DAY ‘TWIN’

THE daugh­ter of a pro­fes­sional surfer, ac­tress Abi­gail Spencer was cast in Suits in 2011, play­ing dana Scott op­po­site Meghan’s char­ac­ter rachel Zane (a para­le­gal).

She is best known to Bri­tish TV au­di­ences for her role in the ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try drama Mad Men, in which she played one of sex- mad don draper’s girl­friends.

Spencer and Meghan — so- called ‘birth­day twins’, as both were born on July 4, 1981 — were close friends for five years un­til the for­mer left the show.

Both women’s mar­riages broke down while they were work­ing on Suits, with Meghan writ­ing on her blog that they were clos­est bud­dies. (Spencer was mar­ried for just eight years, to an Ap­ple em­ployee with whom she had a child.)

As part of this net­work of mu­tual self-pro­mot­ers, Spencer told Van­ity Fair mag­a­zine: ‘[Meghan has] warm el­e­gance, though her style is hard to pin down. It’s classy and time­less.’

Meghan is also friends with Suits co- star Sarah raf­ferty, who of­ten retweets anti-Trump com­ments.

RIGHT-ON RAT­ING: 3/5 8. ‘STYLE CRUSH’ SO­CIALITE

WEALTHY New York so­cialite olivia Palermo and Meghan have been friends since meet­ing at an event or­gan­ised by the Marchesa fash­ion line three years ago.

In 2015, Meghan plugged her jew­ellery line in re­turn for some free­bies, say­ing on so­cial me­dia: ‘My sweet @olivi­a­palermo — thank you for all the baubles.’

Last year, Palermo joined oth­ers in Meghan’s ‘ girl Squad’ to post mem­o­ries of their moth­ers to her blog. For her part, Harry’s girl­friend told a mag­a­zine that Palermo was ‘ev­ery­one’s style crush’.

RIGHT-ON RAT­ING: 2/5

Sporty pal: Meghan and Ser­ena Wil­liams

Close: With club owner Markus An­der­son

First Lady: So­phie Gre­goire Trudeau

Film star: Priyanka Cho­pra

My ‘Girl Fri­day’: Meghan (right) with her looka­like friend and stylist, Jes­sica Mul­roney Fash­ion­able friend: Misha Nonoo

So­cial li­on­ess: Olivia Palermo

Se­ries co-star: Abi­gail Spencer

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