Meditation Retreats

Daniela Elser: Mystery of why Meghan Markle has gone ‘missing’ for the past month

Prince Harry accused the Queen Consort, Camilla, of leaking a private conversation between William, Camilla and himself to the media.


Reader, it has been a very strange few weeks. The Taliban is putting out statements about a member of the royal family, a palace dog bowl has been all over the news and I’m guessing that searches for “Elizabeth Arden” and “penis” have gone through the roof.

The only people in the world right now who would not be aware that the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, has turned woe into wunderful bucks through his new memoir, Spare, must be those recently woken from lengthy comas or who have been on silent meditation retreats in the Hindu Kush.

For the past 10 days or so, Harry has been on every news site, newspaper and news channel between London and La Paz, painting a decidedly rotten picture of both the culture of the monarchy and the character of the royal family.


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However, something very curious has been going on this whole time – something that has been missed in all the frenzy and the opinion pieces and the approximately 67 hours of new Harry interviews on YouTube.

Where is Meghan?

Harry and his wife of nearly five years (well, in May anyway) have always been joined at the hip, if not by their ever clenched hands. Without a doubt, they are the most obviously loved-up royal couple since Queen Victoria spied Teutonic “dreamboat” Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and decided she fancied a lifetime of wurst.

Queen Elizabeth II, and (from left), Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, watch a flypast of Royal Air Force aircraft at Buckingham Palace in 2018. Photo / APQueen Elizabeth II, and (from left), Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, watch a flypast of Royal Air Force aircraft at Buckingham Palace in 2018. Photo / AP

From the November 2017 day that the Suits actress and Aitch turned up in Kensington Palace Sunken Garden onwards, grasping one another and beaming like two people who had just won big on the pools, they have largely been a double act.


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The Duchess was by the Duke’s side when he gave what was reported to be a paid speech in February 2020 for a clutch of JP Morgan bankers on a Florida jolly and were side-by-side when they were “caught” by the paparazzi delivering meals for charity, appeared on the Teenager Therapy podcast, handed out back-to-school supplies for charity, planted forget-me-nots to mark the anniversary of his mother’s death, released photos of themselves at Commonwealth war graves in Los Angeles, when Harry gave a speech at the United Nations and the Duchess spoke at the One Young World Summit, when they popped over to Dusseldorf, which will host the next Invictus Games, when… OK, there’s much more, but you get my drift.

(Let us never, ever forget when Meghan was squarely in front of her man on their appallingly photoshopped time cover when they were named in the magazine’s 2021 most hundred influential people list.)

However, since Harry’s Big Book Blitzkrieg began earlier this month, the world has not seen hide nor perfect hair of the 41-year-old.

Harry has repeatedly popped up in her appearances over the years, including juggling in the back of the video for her seemingly forgotten 40×40 birthday campaign in 2021 (the joker quip just writes itself) or in her Cut cover interview last year when he cropped up to discuss his DIY plumbing work with journalist Alison P Davis or oh-so-briefly chatted to Serena Williams when the tennis legend appeared on the debut episode of Meghan’s Archetypes podcast series. (“I like what you’ve done with your hair, that’s a great vibe,” he told Williams, proving just how powerful a natural orator he is.)

The reverse in the last few weeks has not held true, with the biggest sighting of the suddenly elusive Meghan coming via Bryony Gordon’s lengthy interview with Harry that appeared in the Telegraph over the weekend. It was a parody-defying tête-à-tête with the duo speaking in a “finca-style guesthouse” on the Sussexes’ property where “soft music tinkles in the background, candles flicker” and Gordon was served a “generous spread of crudités alongside umpteen types of tea, served, of course, in the finest china”. It is only later when they head up to the “main house” that “a smiling Meghan” greets Gordon before they “spend some time together, drink turmeric lattes”.

So, where oh where has Meghan gone of late? It can’t take that much time to stock up on carrot sticks and camomile tea bags.

Perhaps, as with Harry’s dignity-defying January 2021 James Corden appearance, where he asked to use a stranger’s loo and pretended to drink tea on top of a bus as he careened around Los Angeles like a terrible Speed ​​reboot with finger sandwiches, she is letting Harry have his moment in the sun. Maybe this is all about keeping the spotlight on the Prince turned anti-Palace propagandist and his story, while she patiently journals at home and waits for Michelle Obama to call.

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, at the Redwoods forest in Rotorua in 2018. Photo / PoolPrince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, at the Redwoods forest in Rotorua in 2018. Photo / Pool

Or there is another possibility. Could Meghan be staying away from any winking red-light cameras because she’s working on a book of her very own?

For one thing, the Times, the Telegraph and Page Six have reported that when the Sussexes signed on the bottom line with Penguin Random House in 2021, it was for a multi-book deal.

Harry has obviously served up his read-it-and-hopefully-weep offering, with spare selling 1.4 million copies in the first day in the UK, US and Canada, making it the fastest-selling nonfiction book in history. (That now joins his record as the fastest disrobing member of a royal house within the Las Vegas city limits.)


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Earlier this month, the Times’ media editor reported that the other offerings possibly coming from the hardest working MacBook Airs of Montecito “are currently thought to be a wellness-focused tome by the Duchess, a book about leadership and philanthropy, and potentially a Meghan memoir too”.

Adding further fuel to the Meghan book fire is the fact that there are some – one would have thought – key chapters that are oddly missing from Spare.

Meghan set off a firestorm in March 2021 when she made what sounded like, to – I’m guessing the entire world – an accusation of racism against the royal family during the couple’s Oprah interview, saying there had been “concerns and conversations about how dark ” their first baby’s “skin might be”. (Oprah’s gobsmacked ‘whhhaaaatttt’ face at that moment said it all.) But, Harry, speaking to the UK’s Tom Bradby last week, denied that Meghan had essentially called the royal family racist, explaining it was about unconscious bias instead.

Still, no matter how the Sussexes might characterize the original royal “conversation” scene and the uproar set off by the Oprah moment, none of it crops up anywhere in the 400-plus pages of spare.

Writing in the Telegraph, Gordon Rayner recently wrote that one “scenario” which might explain this omission is that “Prince Harry is holding back his most potent weapon for a future book”.

“Having such an explosive secret in his locker would undoubtedly give him leverage in his future dealings with the royal family, though he has been clear that it is reconciliation, not confrontation, that he most craves.”


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There are other key Sussex dramas that Harry’s ghostwritten autobiography fails to meaningfully deal with.

These include bullying allegations made against the Duchess by the couple’s then-communications secretary Jason Knauf, and the fact that Meghan wore a pair of diamond chandelier earrings, reportedly worth US$950,000 ($1.49m) and given to her by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin -Salman, after he had ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. (The Duchess has always vehemently denied the bullying allegations, and lawyers for her have reportedly “argued that she had no idea about sheik Mohammed’s involvement in Khashoggi’s murder”.)

Meghan wore a pair of diamond earrings, given to her by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, to a state banquet in Fiji in October 2018. Photo / Getty ImagesMeghan wore a pair of diamond earrings, given to her by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, to a state banquet in Fiji in October 2018. Photo / Getty Images

In Valentine Low’s recent book Courtiers, he writes that some members of their team during their royal tenure, including the couple’s former private secretary Samantha Cohen, former communications secretary Sara Latham and former assistant press secretary Marnie Gaffney called themselves the Sussex Survivors’ Club.

After a staffer missed a call from Meghan, they allegedly said, per courtiers: “I can’t stop shaking.” One source told Low: “There were a lot of broken people. Young women were broken by their behavior.” Another member of staff said they were “completely destroyed”.

Which is to say these are serious, specific allegations – and yet in spare, all we get is Harry writing that “Meg was apparently a bully – that was the latest vicious campaign they’d helped orchestrate.” And, “Meg and I demolished their lie with a 25-page, evidence-filled report to human resources.”

Um… want to let anyone in on what might be in that dossier? Given the word count in Spare dedicated to his beleaguered “todger”, you’d think that the devoted husband would give over more – or even real – space to the countering or pushing back against the most damaging accusations made against his wife.


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One explanation why this was not the case could be, and let’s just really stress the “could” part here, that Meghan is hard at work on her own page-turner.

If this is the case, then it would make perfect sense to keep a few bombshell revelations back, the very sort that make hardback copies fly off shelves and ensure publishers get to put out puffed-up press releases patting themselves on the back.

The Sussexes potentially rationing their truth-telling would be the smart play here given they are facing down decades of having to actually pay their own bills. Crudité platters don’t come for free, you know.

There is also the fact that Meghan is hardly a wilting flower but a person with a very clear point of view and no qualms about sharing her thoughts with the world. After having been at the eye of the biggest royal storm since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, it would perhaps be more shocking if she was not intently penning her own book right now, than if she is.

As Meghan told The Cut last year, and in good news for any Penguin Random House employees pondering future bonuses: “I have a lot to say until I don’t… Sometimes, as they say, the silent part is still part of the song.”

Daniela Elser is a writer and a royal commentator with more than 15 years’ experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.


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