Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle. They’re often seen but seldom heard, so we, their ardent followers, are left to ponder: What do these two women chat about when no one else is listening? One of our favorite writers and longtime royal enthusiast, Michelle Ruiz, had some fun imagining what, in the weeks leading up to Markle’s wedding, the duchess and the duchess-to-be prattle about—and plot—when they’re alone in the palace.
Kensington Palace, Apartment 1A
Meghan gingerly knocks on the door of Kate’s “apartment,” shifting her weight from foot to foot. The door opens a crack and a phantom blue ostrich feather pokes around the frame. Kate’s fascinator always arrives first. “Meg,” she whispers, “Is it you?”
“Yes, of course it’s me,” Meghan says smiling brightly. The heavy oak door opens; they double air-kiss. “Who’d you think it was, The Queen of England?” She breaks into bubbly, American laughter.
Kate shoots Meghan a death stare, then pivots on a nude L.K. Bennett Sledge heel and heads over to the gilded bar cart. “It wouldn’t be the first time Granny’s shown up here unannounced suggesting it might be time for another royal baby,” Kate mutters, only half-under her breath.
“What was that?” Meghan asks, tearing her loving gaze from a framed, black and white Mario Testino photo of the princes. Look at William with all of that hair, she quietly marvels to herself.
“Oh, nothing! Nothing at all,” Kate says cheerfully. “Please, do sit.” She hands Meghan a crystal glass filled with frothy orange liquid and raises an identical one to her own lips.
“Um, is this a mimosa?” Meghan asks doe-eyed as she takes a micro-sip. “Are we pregnant-day-drinking mimosas right now?”
“You mean a Buck’s Fizz,” Kate grins, resting the glass on her belly. “You Americans really are dear. Over here, we don’t call it ‘day-drinking.’ It’s just drinking. And besides, I only take a single sip. It’s been a long day.”
Meghan glances at her watch. “But it’s only 11 a—”
“Just you wait, petal. Just. You. Wait. I know you’re positively besotted at the moment, but once you’re married and they ramp up your ‘royal engagements,’ you’ll be longing for those 17-hour Suits shoots,” Kate huffs, at last letting her impeccable posture melt into the velvet setée. “Never breaking my smize. Always having to say ‘quite’ instead of ‘very.’ And the sensible heels! The bloody sensible heels. Once you join The Firm, you can kiss your comfy flats and your sexy stilettos goodbye, honey.”
Meghan squirms in her seat.
“Luckily, protocol is much less strict for you” Kate continues. “Especially since Harry will be sliding into sixth in line after this little one.” She pats her barely visible bump. “I mean ripped jeans at the Invictus Games? Can you imagine if I’d worn that? QEII would have had my head. And ‘The Husband Shirt’? Subtle.”
“Okay, Mrs. “I-Had-a-Poster of Wills-on-My-Bedroom-Wall,” Meghan teases back. “What did I hear they used to call you and Pippa back in the day? The Wisteria sisters?”
Kate pretends not to hear her. “And then, before you know it, you’ll fall pregnant, and those darling ginger babies will be a whole other ordeal.”
“Where are your kids, anyway?” Meghan asks.
“George is Facetiming with Blue Ivy Carter and Char is watching Brave, probably,” Kate says, sliding off her Sledges and curling her stockinged feet beneath her. “Anyway, I summoned you here because I know Harry claims to be giving you his own special royal training . . . How is that going by the way?” Kate raises a perfectly groomed eyebrow.
“Well,” Meghan blushes and giggles into her drink. “It’s going.”
“Just as I suspected,” Kate scolds. “You’re just playing strip billiards down there, aren’t you? I knew it!”
“We’ve been having very substantive discussions on clean water systems to Rwanda, thank you very much,” Meghan replies through pursed lips, trying—and failing miserably—to keep a straight face.
“Quite,” Kate corrects her. “Quite substantive discussions.”
Kate pads over to join Meghan on the couch. “See, this is what I’m talking about,” Kate says with a deep sigh. “All of this”—she gestures with her glass to the grand palace walls—“is completely natural for the boys. But they’re not the ones being scrutinized from head to toe. And I mean that quite literally. Now, it’s my fingers. And, do you remember all the fuss over my actual toes in India? Or were you still ‘not familiar’—here she makes air quotes with her Essie Ballet Slipper-manicured hands—‘with the royals back then?’ ’’
“I’ll have you know that starring in an underrated cable drama, traveling with the U.N., and running The Tig wasn’t a walk in the park, Kate,” retorts Meghan.
“The Tig was far superior to Goop, I’ll grant you that,” Kate says. “I even saved your onion pizzetti recipe before The Queen made you take down your Instagram.” She brings her fingers to her lips and gives Meghan a sympathy chef’s kiss.
“In any case, this media scrutiny can be pretty ridiculous,” Meghan scoffs.
“Now the world is just waiting for you to make a big mistake, and I don’t want to let that happen to you,” Kate says with a concerned look. “You’ve seen the way the papers have treated you and your poor mum . . .”
“And that Gary Janetti on Instagram,” Meghan pouts. “Can you imagine? Where is he even finding those briefcase stills from Deal or No Deal!?! And saying I should have to curtsy to little George!”
An awkward silence hung in the air. “About that . . . ” Kate says.
“You can’t be serious,” Meghan laughs. “Curtsying to a 4-year-old?”
“Not yet, but as soon as he’s of age . . . and while we’re on the topic, technically, me too,” Kate says sweetly. “But I’ll let it slide for today.” She strolls back to the bar cart and reaches into a copper ice bucket. “LaCroix? Imported from the States just for you.”
“Yes, please,” Meghan says.
“Pamplemousse, I assume?”
“A few rules of thumb to get you through,” Kate says, slipping back into her seat beside Meghan. “One, you do indeed have to curtsy to the blood royals—that includes George some day . . . and Eugenie and Beatrice.”
“But—” Meghan stammered. “Nobody can even tell them apart!”
“You don’t have to tell me it’s unfair,” Kate says firmly. “It doesn’t matter that we are all anyone fancies. Around here, it’s still about the Windsor pedigree.”
Meghan rolls her eyes. “What else?”
“On first mention, the Queen is ‘Your Majesty. But after that, it’s simply ‘Ma’am’ as in ham.”
“Okay,” Meghan nods. “Easy enough.”
“Don’t shoot the messenger,” Kate cringed, “but have you had a private audience with her yet? Has she spoken to you about your bun?”
“My bun? That’s still a thing?” Meghan asks, rolling her eyes. “Has it occurred to any of you that attacking a biracial woman over the texture of her hair is so not woke?”
“Look, you didn’t hear it from me, but I have it on good authority that Her Maj was so cross, she spit her jam penny into her kerchief when she saw the photo set on the Daily Mail.”
“Kate, don’t even tell me she reads that trash.”
“You best believe she hate-reads it every morning while feeding the corgis,” Kate shrugs. “Right after scanning the Google Alert she has on herself.” Kate reaches for a small basket at her feet containing a standard-issue lunch lady hairnet and a few pair of nude Wolford hose. “Here,” she says, placing it in Meghan’s lap. “A little royal starter kit from me to you.”
“What’s this?” Meghan asks, fishing out a well-worn copy of Fergie’s memoir, Finding Sarah: A Duchess’s Journey to Find Herself.
“What not to do,” Kate says sternly.
“What else, what else,” Kate clicks her tongue. “Oh! When you’re at a posh dinner and Charles starts going off about wind turbines and greenhouse gases and all of that, the two-minute rule is your best friend.”
“Go on . . . ” Meghan obliges.
“Every two minutes or so, just say, ‘What a terrible shame’ and then go back to eye-shagging David Beckham.”
“Oh, Meg. I’m not nearly as basic as everyone thinks,” Kate shrugs. “By the way, how are your renovations coming along? Thank goodness the Gloucesters moved out. Harry has had his eye on Apt 1 forever, and we’d obviously much rather have you both as neighbors.”
“They tell us everything should be wrapped up by the spring,” Meghan shrugs. “It’s a bit like Melrose Place here, no?”
“Good God, now that you mention it, I do get shades of Kimberly Shaw from Camilla,” Kate muses, staring momentarily into space.
“So, we on track for this week?” Meghan asks; rising from the couch and clapping her palms together.
Kate nods, sauntering over to a hulking oil portrait of the Queen, reaching behind its Baroque frame and pressing a panic button. The weathered damask wallpapered wall swivels ever so slowly to reveal a state of the art “war room” equipped with six televisions, tuned to Sky, the BBC, CNN International, NBC America, E! . . . and an ancient episode of Bravo’s underrated classic, Ladies of London, on loop, just for shits and giggles. Kate starts fiddling with the iPad that controls it all as Meghan looks on in awe.
“It’s almost too easy,” Kate says with a disgusted shake of her head, the brilliant blue ostrich feather of her fascinator bobbing in the canned Palace air. She turns to Meghan. “Now, remember, while we’re all precessing to Trooping of the Colour, you’ll give me me a sideways glance just as we pass the press pool. I’ll be wearing some dreadful printed coat so everyone thinks I’m crying out for attention because I’m threatened by you . . .”
“And that should throw them off the trail for another week or two,” Meghan says. She glances down at her iPhone X and swipes through her iCal. “My ‘sources’ will talk to Simon Perry at People this week, which will guarantee the cover.”
“And I’ll settle for Hello!,” Kate crosses her arms at the elbow over her bump, biting her lip. “And, in the meantime, no one will detect that we’re quietly, methodically, plotting to take over the world.”
“Goodbye, Donald and Ivanka,” Meghan says with a smile.
“Toodles, Kim Jong Un,” Kate echoes, her eyes glinting in the bluish glow of the televisions.
“And peace out, Putin,” Meghan waves flat-handed, imitating the Queen.
“Everyone will be too busy worrying about our supposed rivalry,” Kate chuckles maniacally. “Nobody will even. See. It. Coming.”
“With America and the new Axis of Evil out of the way, we’ll only have one supervillain left to conquer,” Meghan adds gravely.
The ladies lock eyes and say in unison: “Kris Jenner.”
“My Everest,” Kate says, setting down the iPad, punching in her password (“bijous,” a relic from her clubbing days) and returning the wall to its staid default setting. “I’ve been trying for years now, but I couldn’t do it alone, and Pippa has only been so much help. Thank God you’re finally here,” she adds, placing a hand on her future sister-in-law’s shoulder. “Sister.”
“We’ll slay that dragon if it’s the last thing we do,” Meghan says slinging an arm around Kate’s waist. “Thanks so much for everything. Really, I don’t know what I’d do without you. But I have to run now. I have my first dress fitting, and I can’t be late.”
“Jolly good! Is the McQueen team here? Or is it Roland?”
“Kate, you know I’m sworn to secrecy,” Meghan demurs.
“And are you really getting The Spice Girls, then?” Kate probes. “I’d watch Baby around Harry if I were you . . . ”
“Is now the time to curtsy goodbye?” Meghan bows her head, stifles her laughter and begins bending her back leg, her foot turned out at the ankle.
“Oh, bless!” Kate exclaims. “I was only having a laugh. But, when you’re with Granny, don’t forget to put your chin up and point that back foot forward.”
Meghan frowns, makes the necessary adjustments, then picks up her Everlane tote and heads for the door. “Still on for Thursday night? Cookies—I mean, biscuits—and The Crown in the secret room?”
“Shhhhh,” Kate glances nervously around the foyer to make sure none of the palace staff had been lingering. “You know the butlers around here are like MI5. If it gets back to Granny that we’re watching that show, she’ll ice us both out.”
The duchess and the duchess-to-be air-kiss goodbye.
“But, yes,” Kate whispers in Meghan’s ear. “It’s in my diary.”
“And afterward, we can binge a little Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” says Meghan before slipping out the door. “And, I can school you in how we do things across the pond . . .”