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Is The Queen Really Sending Meghan Markle To ‘Duchess School’ For 6 Months?

Each week, we apply our smell test to the new batch of royal rumours to tell you what’s true and what stinks worse than rotten kippers.

Meghan Markle at a garden party. Markle is wearing a hat

Meghan Markle at a garden party for the The Prince of Wales’ 70th Birthday Patronage Celebration at Buckingham Palace. Photo, Dominic Lipinski/Getty Images.

The rumour: The Queen is sending Meghan Markle to duchess school

Subscribe To Our Newsletters — And Get All Our Royal Coverage Straight To Your InboxSubscribe To Our Newsletters — And Get All Our Royal Coverage Straight To Your InboxWhere you heard it: The Daily Mail
The report: For ages we’ve read (mostly bogus) reports about various royal boot camps and etiquette classes that took place before the wedding, but this time around the newly minted Duchess of Sussex is apparently receiving instruction from QE2’s trusted aid and assistant private secretary — a woman called Samantha Cohen (aka “Samantha the Panther”), who is known for her no-nonsense ways. Per the DM report, Markle’s tutelage will involve “six months of listening” to instruction on all things etiquette and protocol. The Mail also notes that Cohen took the lead in prepping the Duchess for her first royal appearance at Prince Charles’s garden party last week.
The smell test: Before the wedding there was reason to take a “wait and see” approach around talk that Meghan Markle would have to change her ways once officially joining The Firm. And now, as they say, the proof is in the English pudding. At the aforementioned garden party, a certain someone looked like she had undergone a Stepford Wife makeover: Gone were the messy bun and bare legs replaced by a stiff do and (gasp!) summertime pantyhose. Clearly someone has taken the reins here, and Samantha the Panther sounds like a likely candidate.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at a garden party. Markle is wearing a hat and pantyhose

Are Meghan Markle’s smooth updo and sheer hose a result of so-called duchess lessons? Photo, Ian Vogler/Getty Images.

The rumour: Prince Harry had a tearful call with ex Chelsy Davy right before the wedding

Where you heard it: Vanity Fair
The report: In a story about how some of Prince Harry’s pals were a bit surprised not to score invites to the post-wedding dinner reception, there is an interesting detail about Chelsy Davy, the Prince’s first true love and serious girlfriend. Davy did attend the wedding, but not the aforementioned evening reception, and apparently these terms were agreed to during an epic “final phone call.” According to an unnamed family friend, this was “a parting call in which they both acknowledged Harry was moving on. Chelsy was quite emotional about it all, she was in tears and almost didn’t go to the wedding. In the end, she went and promised Harry she wouldn’t try and gatecrash the party.”
The smell test: What’s notable here is that this story is not some trashy tab report. Katie Nicholl (who wrote the story) is the author of the recent Prince Harry bio — a woman with both journalistic integrity and well-placed sources. Which means whatever she’s saying is worth at least a serious whiff. Still, we’re smelling a whole lot of kippers here. Because: 1) If Chelsy needed confirmation that Harry has moved on, we’re pretty sure the last six months of public PDAs and love proclamations would have done the trick. 2) Isn’t Chelsy the one who broke up with him? And: 3) She seems to be pretty lucky in love herself these days. We’re thinking if there was a phone call, it was more of a fond and friendly farewell than a “tearful goodbye.”

Chelsy Davy arrives at the royal wedding of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle

Chelsy Davy arriving at Meghan and Harry’s wedding. Photo, Chris Jackson/Getty Images.

The rumour: Meghan Markle’s wedding dress was a knockoff

Royal Wedding Fashion: The Good, The Bad And The Bloody Awful!Royal Wedding Fashion: The Good, The Bad And The Bloody Awful! Where you heard it: The Daily Mail
The report: On May 19, the entire world let out ooos and ahhhhs (and in some cases mehhhhhs) when the royal bride’s wedding dress was finally revealed. The fancy frock — created by Clare Waight Keller, the first female head of the house of Givenchy — was deemed a triumph or a fashion flop depending on who you spoke with, but one fashion insider called it a fake, or rather, a knock-off. As quoted in the Daily Mail, Aussie designer Emilia Wickstead (a favourite of Kate Middleton) claimed the open neck and wide skirt Markle wore was “identical” to one of her dresses, and that “a lot of commentators were saying, ‘It’s an Emilia Wickstead.’”
The smell test: Sure, the two dresses look similar, but isn’t that kind of the risk you run by going totally generic (er, classic)? It does seem like the Wickstead dress has a slightly different neckline — completely off the shoulder, whereas MM’s dress was a bateau. But that may just come down to the styling. What’s really interesting here is the statement Wickstead’s PR gave to The Cut, claiming that she does not think the royal wedding dress is a copy and that she has the “greatest respect” for Waight Keller. Note that whatever else this is (a desperate attempt to get back into the royal good graces?), it’s not quite a denial of the comments made in the DM, so much as a reconsideration based on fear of retribution. Of course the true test will come in whether Kate Middleton wears Wickstead again… We’ll be watching.

The rumour: Harry and Meghan’s first dance was to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”

Where you heard it: Everywhere (including The Telegraph)
The report: This story has been repeated all over the place, but appears to have originated with an unsubstantiated detail in The Telegraph: “[Meghan and Harry] are said to have chosen ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ as an opening number.” The same report explains how the bride had previously identified Whitney Houston’s epic ’80s dance jam as her go-to “happy song.”
The smell test: While the idea of the Duke and Duchess selecting an up-tempo pop song for their first dance leaves us absolutely tickled… it also smells pretty suspicious. Even the most non-traditional couples tend to opt for a slow first dance, largely because dancing to a fast one in front of an audience is for experts only. So unless Prince Harry has spent the last several months practicing his Electric Slide, smart money says Houston’s song was indeed played at the reception, but as the official first dance? Highly bloody unlikely.