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One Year After Their Wedding, Harry and Meghan Are Making Good on Their Promise to Modernize the Monarchy

Somehow—where does the time go?—it’s been a year since we all woke up at an ungodly hour (in the U.S.) on Saturday, May 19, to watch a British prince marry an American actress, as everyone from the Queen to Serena Williams watched on. It was fun! It is not your everyday event that draws the likes of Amal Clooney, Oprah, and Kate Middleton, many of them wearing some sort of fancy, dramatic hat.

The attention devoted to the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, has now continued into a year’s worth of near-constant media coverage. So much has happened for them in the past year that Lifetime felt it necessary to put out a second movie about their relationship, exploring what the couple has been through since the last Lifetime movie about them that came out last May.

In their 12 months as a royal couple, Meghan and Harry have forged a significantly different path from their royal relatives, and also proven how insanely, absurdly good they are at doing it. When Meghan—a biracial American with a penchant for activism and charity work—joined the family, she was hailed as a modern breath of fresh air for the British royals. One year in, she and Harry have both repeatedly made good on that promise.

Meghan wasted no time after the wedding in getting together her first full-scale passion project, in her new royal capacity, and it was one that felt wholly like her own creation. She spent time with the women at the Hubb Community Kitchen, and put out a charity cookbook in the fall that raised money for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. She enlisted her A-list friends to help her spread the word, and the book was immediately a bestseller. The project related to her well-established love of cooking, but also connected to a pressing fundraising need; it managed to be innovative, effective, and buzzy all at once.

It took a bit of time, but the Sussexes eventually set themselves apart on social media, as well. One of the slightly bittersweet aspects of Meghan marrying into the royal family was that she had to give up her Instagram account, as well as her lifestyle blog, The Tig, that clearly were passions of hers. But, just a few weeks before son Archie’s arrival, the palace announced that Meghan and Harry would be starting their own account, separate from the other royals. Suddenly Meghan herself seemed to be weighing in on a near-daily basis, and in the intimate-feeling sphere of social media: her American-isms and specific verbiage choices, the poems and photographs and quotes, the carefully selected imagery—it all feels like the way she would want the account to be run, even if she hasn’t formally come forward as the sole author of @sussexroyal. In just a few weeks, the Sussexes are already set to outpace the Cambridges’ @kensingtonroyal account in terms of follower count (not that it’s a competition!).

The biggest moment on the @sussexroyal account, by far, was the arrival of Meghan and Harry’s newborn Archie, who was revealed with a unique approach, as well. Meghan did not emerge, gleaming, from the hospital, Archie in her arms. Instead, a few days after the birth, she appeared with Harry to chat with the press briefly, fairly casually. She posted an Instagram photo of Archie’s feet on Mother’s Day, very much in the aesthetic of her pre-royal blogging and ‘gramming days. (It racked up 2 million likes.) No, they are not Instagram-Live-ing their baking exploits or sharing Stories from their weekend getaways, but it certainly feels like we are getting a somewhat authentic, albeit curated, sense of their lives.

Another tangible sign of the way in which Meghan and Harry have asserted their independence over the past 12 months has been demonstrated in their . . . actually literally moving away from the rest of the royals. The couple decided, in advance of Archie’s arrival, to move some 45 minutes from London, into Frogmore Cottage, a home outside of the public eye, and away from the hubbub of London. The move seemed to be a clear sign of the way in which they hope to forge their own path, with a bit of breathing room, an option for them given Harry is not in direct line to the throne. And it makes sense that they would want a bit of that freedom and privacy, considering their extreme degree of fame. (Beyoncé dedicated a whole tribute to Meghan, lest we forget.)

If there were any event over the past year that indicated just how famous Meghan has become, it was the extremely intense media attention that surrounded her glitzy New York City baby shower in February. Meghan had not been back in New York City since marrying Harry, and the wild paparazzi and fan circus was a real marker of the way in which her life has dramatically changed. The shower—held in the pricey penthouse of the Mark Hotel—was attended by a range of celebrities, and covered online with the minute-by-minute comprehensiveness of a Games of Thrones episode.

It hasn’t all been celebrity-filled parties and trips abroad, though. There was a period of time in the fall when it seemed like every other week brought about a different story related to a purported feud or tension between Kate and Meghan. Some of the reports were more specific than others, but they almost all boiled down to the same idea: that the two are very different and were occasionally at odds. Thankfully, that media narrative has mostly subsided, though there is probably always going to be some level of attention given to their specific interactions. Meanwhile, recent reporting has indicated it’s more likely that any rift that may have taken place in fact originated from tension between William and Harry.

It wasn’t the only family drama to endure. Meghan’s father’s side of the family, for a while there, was talking to the press about as frequently as a Kardashian is paparazzi-ed leaving a Los Angeles restaurant. The nadir was probably when Thomas released a letter, in full, that he claimed Meghan had sent him last summer, asking him to stop talking to the press. But as with the Kate-Meghan reports, 2019 has brought some quiet; we haven’t heard all that much from Thomas, Samantha, and the rest of the gang in recent months. It does seem clear though that, for now at least, that side of the family is not going to be a part of Harry and Meghan’s life.

There is a lot to look forward to in the year to come: more Archie sightings, more passion projects, perhaps some travel, and, of course, a whole lot of Instagram posts. What feels exciting about Harry and Meghan—and what will be exciting to watch over their next year of married life—is that it feels like their trajectory could go in so many directions. They could amp up their public profile, or lay low. They could build a school, or open some sort of sustainable restaurant. They could decamp to L.A. or move to a country in Africa. That unpredictability is fun to watch—in a different way than a royal wedding is fun to watch—but, if their first year as husband and wife is any indication, it will be no less riveting.

Source: Vanity Fair