National Post

MEGHAN AND PIERS, IN FIVE ACTS

RELATIONSH­IP BETWEEN DUCHESS AND TV PERSONALIT­Y STARTED AS ONLINE FRIENDSHIP, ENDED IN ACRIMONY

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From bonding on Twitter to the fallout from her Oprah interview, The Daily Telegraph’s Rosa Silverman traces the story of a turbulent friendship.

Like all good modern relationsh­ip stories, it started online. Piers Morgan was a former tabloid editor turned television host who decided to “follow” four members of the cast of Suits, the U.S. legal TV drama.

One of these chosen people was Meghan Markle, a beautiful almost-princess with long dark hair and a lifestyle blog.

Were it not for Twitter, on which Markle decided to send him a direct message, their paths might never have crossed.

Like many sagas that begin on social media, this one wouldn’t end well.

ACT I: THE CONNECTION

Markle, beautiful but as yet largely unknown in Britain, welcomed what might have been passing interest from the Good Morning Britain presenter. “Well hello there — thanks for the follow,” she wrote to him on Twitter. “Big fan of yours!”

We don’t know exactly what Morgan replied, but he has since described how their friendship blossomed online after this initial contact. Sliding into each other’s

DMS, they talked about everything: U.S. gun violence and how awful it was; Rwanda; spinning classes; calligraph­y. Piers knew they would be lifelong friends, at least for several months. Meghan sent him previews of her show so they could discuss them.

ACT II: THE MEETING

In June 2016, Markle messaged Morgan to tell him: “I’m in London for a week of meetings and Wimbledon. Would love to say hi!” Morgan suggested they meet at his local, the Scarsdale Tavern in Kensington.

Finally, the pair were to sit down together in person. Markle had even texted Morgan from Wimbledon earlier that day: “Serena Williams sends her love. You’re very popular as it turns out. Get you!”

When they met over a dirty Martini and a pint of hand-pumped Harvey’s, Markle opened her heart to him, disclosing what he has since described as private and sensitive things.

Later that same evening, Markle met Prince Harry at a dinner and they quickly fell in love. The following year, Morgan said on Good Morning Britain of the time he had spent with Markle: “Trust me, I’ll be milking that 90 minutes if she becomes our princess for the rest of my days.”

Now that Markle had met her prince, she had no time to discuss spinning classes and calligraph­y with Piers. He was cut adrift, left with nothing but an ITV breakfast television show and millions of Twitter followers.

Markle and Prince Harry were married in May 2018, but Piers was not invited to the wedding. He never heard from Markle again.

At first, he tried to be happy for the Royal couple. He felt proud to have once been friends with the woman who was now the Duchess of Sussex. But then other emotions bubbled to the surface. He accused the Duchess of being a social climber, guilty of “ruthless antics.” He described her as “rude” and — worse — “a B-list actor.”

In January 2020, the Sussexes performed what is commonly referred to as a “hard Megxit,” decamping to North America and leaving behind their royal duties (and Morgan).

ACT IV: THE CONFESSION

In March 2021, in the garden of an evidently wealthy California resident, the Duchess gave an explosive interview to Oprah Winfrey. In it she made a series of bombshell disclosure­s.

There had been “concerns and conversati­ons” from and with an unnamed member of the Royal Family about how dark her baby’s skin might be when he was born. She railed against the way she and her son had been treated by the Royal Family, and her demonizati­on by the media. “I just didn’t want to be alive,” she said.

ACT V: THE RECKONING

Following the revelation­s, Morgan struck a skeptical tone. On March 8, on Good Morning Britain, he delivered his damning verdict. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t believe a word she says.”

Some 41,000 people complained, apparently shocked to discover Morgan was capable of saying contentiou­s things. The next day, GMB weatherman Alex Beresford made an unschedule­d interventi­on. “Meghan Markle,” he told Morgan sternly, “is entitled to cut you off if she wants to ... Yet you continue to trash her.”

Morgan had had enough. “OK,” he replied, standing up and walking out. “I’m done with this. Sorry. No. Sorry.”

So ended Morgan’s time at GMB. He stood by his comments about Markle, citing grand themes like free speech and Winston Churchill. The “woke”, he warned, would not silence him. And the Duchess certainly wouldn’t.

 ?? TOBY MELVILLE / REUTERS FILES ?? Long-running criticism of Prince Harry’s wife Meghan, left, by journalist and television presenter Piers Morgan, right, has culminated in Morgan expressing skepticism of Meghan’s claims about her treatment by the Royal Family.
TOBY MELVILLE / REUTERS FILES Long-running criticism of Prince Harry’s wife Meghan, left, by journalist and television presenter Piers Morgan, right, has culminated in Morgan expressing skepticism of Meghan’s claims about her treatment by the Royal Family.
 ?? CHRIS JACKSON - WPA POOL / GETTY IMAGES FILES ??
CHRIS JACKSON - WPA POOL / GETTY IMAGES FILES

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