We don’t know her name or her age or her rank but we do know her face. There she was shadowing the Duchess of Sussex on the beach in Australia during the Sussexes’ much ballyhooed Pacific tour. There she was speedily escorting Meghan out of a market in Fiji because of a security risk.
Over the last few months, we have all gotten used to spying the Duchess of Sussex’s Personal Protection Officer (AKA chief bodyguard) trailing in the newly-minted royal’s wake. Blonde and glowering she was a regular presence by Meghan’s side as she made her first foray into royal life.
But, it’s time to say goodbye with the news breaking that the unnamed officer is leaving the Duchess’ employ (and the police service).
Her departure makes her the fourth high-profile member of Kensington Palace staff who have quit in recent months, a spate of resignations that is desperately close to being an exodus.
However, in among all the hand-wringing about Meghan’s alleged taskmaster ways (5am starts! Multiple emails a day! Heaven forbid!), is a curious little morsel. The Sunday Times in the UK has reported that the former Suits star’s hunger to be seen as “one of the people” made things very tricky for her protection detail and is the reason behind her bodyguard’s resignation.
“Unlike someone who has grown up in the royal family and has been used to having close protection from an early age, it can be quite constraining,” an unnamed Scotland Yard told the paper.
“Even though she was a famous actress, she could still do what she wanted in the way of
getting around freely. But in her current role she can’t go anywhere without her protection team and that’s a massive constraining force on an individual like her.”
Kate Middleton had nearly nine years of life as a royal girlfriend to get used to the limitations such an association might put on a girl. The PR gal formerly known as Sophie Rhys Jones (AKA the now Countess of Wessex) racked up six years as Prince Edward’s plus one before he put a ring on it.
Meghan, by contrast, has had a very short introduction to Windsor life. It was only months after she said farewell to her TV career and she moved to London to live in Nott Cott with Prince Harry before he popped the question mid a now iconic roast chicken dinner.
Meghan has not had the years and years of being slowly introduced to the strictures and rigidity of being a Windsor wife to adapt as other royal brides have. (Even Princess Eugenie’s charming new husband Jack Brooksbank had seven years of contending with Fergie at Christmas and navigating Buckingham Palace protocol before he became an official member of The Firm.)
And herein lies the rub: Meghan might want to be “one of the people” but she can’t and she never will be again. When she walked down the aisle of St George’s chapel clad in Givenchy and wearing her second-choice tiara she was making a bargain whose cost she is only now grasping.
When Meghan became a royal, normalcy, along with spontaneity and living unobtrusively, went out the window. Being royal means forgoing many of the things we mere mortals might take for granted and not being able to make furtive dashes to the Kensington Wholefoods whenever she fancies.
Being royal means ceding control of large parts of your life to a retinue of armed officers constantly scanning crowds for violent threats. It means that when you renovate your house (as Harry and Meghan currently are) you have to install a vast array of state-of-the-art security systems.
And while the royal family might have become a lot more relatable in recent years, largely thanks to Kate’s beaming smile and penchant for Zara tops, they are absolutely not regular people, the reality of which seems to only now be sinking in for Meghan.
You can’t be a woman of the people AND a putative Princess. As another former royal so dramatically discovered, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
The unfortunate truth about being a royal is that it comes at a high price and Meghan has got to pay up.