The Truth About Princess Anne's Relationship With Harry & Meghan

The royal family — as is the case with any death — has been forced to reconfigure its dynamic after Queen Elizabeth II died on September 8, 2022. Her eldest son became King Charles III after waiting 73 years to claim his crown, prompting some legitimate questions like CNN's, which asked how he'll handle the strain of such a demanding role so late in life? 

Queen Elizabeth's passing not only made Charles the king, but it also made Prince William and Kate Middleton the Prince and Princess of Wales, acceding the roles his father and the late Princess Diana held. "Today, I am proud to create [William the] Prince of Wales, Tywysog Cymru, the country whose title I have been so greatly privileged to bear during so much of my life and duty," Charles said in his first speech as king (via Us Weekly).

The queen's funeral also brought Prince Harry and Meghan Markle back to England in a contentious reunion that made us all hold our breath. But things seemed to go off well enough as William and Kate, as well as Harry and Meghan, greeted crowds outside of Windsor Castle on September 10, 2022 (via People). While it was a strong show of unity, you don't need to be a body language expert to see the tension between the two couples, thanks in large part to Harry and Meghan's record-breaking interview with Oprah Winfrey. The event has also brought the couple back in contact with other members of the royal family, like Princess Anne, who has an interesting history with Harry and Meghan.

Anne has been protective of Harry since the beginning

There's no doubt that Princess Anne is a spitfire. In 1974, when she was only 23, she was returning to Buckingham Palace when another car forced her vehicle to stop and the man inside, Ian Ball, tried to kidnap her, Tatler reports, hoping to score a ransom from the royal family. When Ball tried to get Anne out of the car, her response was: "Not bloody likely." This is who we're dealing with.

As such, she's always been a staunch protector of those close to her, especially her nephews, Princes William and Harry. When Princess Diana died in 1997, Queen Elizabeth II attracted nationwide scorn for her absence from Buckingham Palace. The British people felt that she should return to London to grieve with them, per Hello! Magazine. What did she do instead? She stayed at Balmoral with her two grandsons.

In a 2017 interview with ITV News, Anne praised her mother's decision because it was the best for the boys. ​​"I don't think either of those two would have been able to cope if they had been anywhere else," Anne said. "They had that structure, they had people around them who could understand, give them the time, little time that they had, which was never going to be very much, to try and come — even in a fleeting sense — to terms with what had happened," the princess added. So she's had Harry's back since the very beginning.

She snubbed Harry at Prince Philips' funeral

Since family is everything for Princess Anne, Prince Harry's marriage to Meghan Markle wasn't exactly a home run in her eyes. At least, this is what TV personality Deborah Davies told the Daily Star. "Princess Anne is fabulous, she just gives everything that she thinks away on her face," Davies said. "She doesn't need to say anything, you can see it in her eyes," she went on, noting that Anne doesn't hide what she's thinking. Davies said that this was especially evident at Harry's wedding, where Anne, among other royals, was dubious about the match. "Princess Anne is just like her dad was, Prince Philip could see straight through Meghan Markle."

Anne's evident displeasure during social situations was oh-so-clear again at Philip's funeral in April 2021. Meghan, because of her pregnancy with daughter Lilibet, wasn't able to attend, something that royal biographers Carolyn Durand and Omid Scobie wrote about in "Finding Freedom," in an exclusive for E! News. Since Harry and Meghan had rocked the boat with their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, the royal family was feeling touchy about the couple. "In truth, several members of the royal family are understood to have been 'quietly pleased' that Meghan stayed in California because they 'didn't want a circus,'" they wrote. In light of this, Anne evidently snubbed Harry at Philip's funeral, Express notes. Anne and Sophie Wessex, wife to her younger brother, Prince Edward, were especially cold toward Harry at the sad event.

She has a different stance about politics than the young couple

True to the position of the royal family, Princess Anne avoids stating any political affiliation. It's the family code that royals "remain strictly neutral with respect to political matters," the Royal Family's website notes. So it was particularly distressing to Anne that she got dragged into a political debate in 2019 when former President Donald Trump visited Buckingham Palace. As Vanity Fair reports, when Queen Elizabeth II motioned to Anne to join the lineup, the princess shrugged her shoulders. Many took this to mean that she was snubbing Trump when in fact, she thought her mother was asking if there was anyone else in the lineup. "The princess was unhappy to be dragged into that particular story because she has always been careful not to be seen to be political in any way," an insider told Vanity Fair. "She is also incredibly respectful, so any suggestion that she would laugh at anyone behind their backs was quite upsetting for her."

Meanwhile, Meghan Markle could not be more different. In September 2020, Vogue asked whether she would become the political princess and cited a reporter who said to Trump: "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle chimed in on the U.S. election and essentially encouraged people to vote for Joe Biden. I wanted to get your reaction to that." Trump famously said he was not a fan of Markle and that he wished Harry luck. Anne wouldn't be caught dead in that position.

She knew that Meghan wouldn't last long in the royal life

Before anyone else predicted, Princess Anne foresaw that Meghan Markle wouldn't last long as a member of the working royals. Royal commentator Neil Sean, using his YouTube channel, recapped a meeting between Anne and Meghan that likely offered more tough love than Meghan was expecting (via Express). Sean explained that Meghan requested the meeting with Anne, knowing that she has a longstanding tradition of being one of the most hardworking royals.

Anne's wisdom to Meghan was all about understanding that royal life is service and work, not celebrity status and glamor. "Princess Anne reiterated this mantra, she pointed out that it wasn't a working monarchy, it was a job, you turn up on time, you do your research, and do the duty, ” Sean said. "It's all about the project at hand." The meeting didn't go as expected. "According to a very good source Meghan Markle failed to warm to Princess Anne," Sean added. "And Princess Anne always knew that Meghan would have a very short shelf-life in the world of the British monarchy."

Anne certainly does work hard. In 2021, the Daily Mail dubbed her the hardest working royal after she clocked 387 engagements. She was followed by King Charles III, who worked 385 engagements that year. Prince William was in third place with 235, a huge drop from the hard-working Anne. So Anne clearly had high expectations for what Prince Harry's wife would do and predicted that Meghan wasn't on the same page.

Body language experts are fascinated by Meghan and Anne's relationship

Since a major mantra of the royal family is "Don't explain, don't complain," we don't always know what's going on behind the scenes. Is Prince William annoyed about something? What does King Charles III think about his aides? Who knows. Therefore, body language becomes even more interesting when it comes to the royals compared to celebrities who can be candid about their thoughts. Body language expert Darren Stanton told The Wall Street Journal, "The queen followed this very strict protocol that she was given by her father (King George VI)... not to show emotion, you know, stiff upper lip," Mr. Stanton said. "You've got to suck it up at all costs."

While this might be the case, Princess Anne and Meghan Markle had an exchange in 2018 that was fascinating to body language experts, like Judi James, who spoke with Express. The two women sat together at an event and had a mutually pleasant experience. "[Meghan's] passion for her causes and her eloquence, plus what looks like a shared sense of [humor], did throw up some poses where the two women looked genuinely happy in each other's company," James said.

It's worth noting that this event preceded Meghan and Prince Harry's departure from the royal family, but it does show that Meghan and Anne had a positive rapport during the former's early days with the royals. James also noted that this was rare for Anne and that she didn't warm, for example, to the late Princess Diana.

Both are very dedicated to their charities

With Princess Anne being one of the hardest working members of the royal family, the number of her patronages and her involvement in charities is immense. Since 1970, Anne has been the president of Save the Children UK, Royal notes, a field of work that has led her to numerous countries, including Cambodia, The Philippines, and more. She's also been involved in the Olympics since she herself was a competing Olympian in the 1976 Games in Montreal, Canada in an equestrian event. As one might imagine, when the 2012 Olympics were held in London, Anne was all over it, serving on the London Organizing Committee.

With her involvement in the equestrian world, many of Anne's charities involve horses outside of Olympic events. As Vanity Fair points out, she lends her clout to World Horse Welfare, Riders for Health, and Riding for the Disabled Association, which offers both horse rides and carriage rides to disabled people.

Charitable work is one way that Prince Harry and his aunt deeply connect. In 2014, he propelled the Invictus Games, Us Weekly notes, to give injured veterans a chance to compete in sports. Then, of course, there's Harry and Meghan Markle's charity Archewell, a nonprofit that they founded after leaving the royal family. The organization has come under some scrutiny, The Times notes, for only raising $50,000 in 2020, much less than its targeted amount. Though, to be fair, Covid-19 derailed many worthy plans that year.

Both Princess Anne and Meghan Markle show their down-to-earth sides

We're constantly enchanted by stories of royals behaving just like us. Kate Middleton did her own makeup on her wedding day (via Hello!)! The late Queen Elizabeth II loved to drive her own Land Rovers (via BBC News)! Should these statements be made about an ordinary person, they would seem utterly inane, yet when it comes to the royals, we somehow seem perpetually baffled that they do a single thing themselves. As such, Princess Anne continues to impress. As Vanity Fair noted, the Princess Royal puts together her own looks "and is even known to fix her own tiara if necessary." Gasp! Anne also, like Kate, does her own makeup.

In this way, Anne and Meghan Markle have a lot in common. Meghan also likes to do her own makeup too, though she opted to elicit the help of makeup artist Daniel Martin for her wedding, according to Harper's Bazaar. However, on other occasions, Meghan likes to do it herself. "She just likes doing her own makeup. [It has] nothing to do with Kate," an insider told Us Weekly. "Meghan has her makeup done for some special occasions but likes to do it herself." Meghan kept up this resourcefulness even after she left the royal family. Express shared a photo of her taken at Whole Foods Canada in the checkout line with a security guard behind her. People there told the outlet that she was "super low key and down to earth" and chatted with other shoppers.

Their different opinions of HRH titles

Princess Anne was never enamored with the idea of the HRH title, which stands for "His Royal Highness" or "Her Royal Highness." While Anne is formally known as the Princess Royal, being the eldest daughter to then-monarch Queen Elizabeth II, she didn't want her children to have the same burden. As such, her daughter Zara Tindall and son Peter Phillips have no such encumbrances. "I think it was probably easier for them, and I think most people would argue that there are downsides to having titles," Anne told Vanity Fair. "So I think that was probably the right thing to do." The experience was a positive one for Zara as well. "I'm very lucky that both my parents decided to not use the title and we grew up and did all the things that gave us the opportunity to do," she told Time in 2015 (via Express).

For Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, they faced a different experience with their two children, Archie and Lilibet, since they won't get the coveted title. "But [Harry and Meghan] have been left furious that Archie and Lilibet cannot take the title HRH," an insider told The Sun. "That is the agreement — they can be prince and princess but not HRH because they are not working royals." Clearly, the couple has very different ideas than Anne does about what "HRH" can mean for a kid and their future. 

Both women are committed to sustainable fashion

Princess Anne was on the pulse of sustainable fashion long before it became a hot topic and has kept certain items of clothing on rotation since the 1980s. She's all about re-wearing her wardrobe pieces. British Vogue editor Edward Enninful told Vanity Fair, "Princess Anne is a true style icon and was all about sustainable fashion before the rest of us really knew what that meant." He added, "She is timeless in her style, and she wears a tailored suit better than anyone else I can think of." On top of that, Anne is deeply committed to supporting designers and craftsmen in Great Britain. "It also helps to support those who still manufacture in this country," the Princess Royal told Vanity Fair. "We mustn't forget we've got those skills, and there are still places that do a fantastic job." She added, "I very seldom buy anything which isn't made in the U.K."

Meghan Markle has also taken up this commitment to sustainable fashion. At the One Young World Summit in September 2022, held in Manchester, Vogue notes that Meghan wore a full red outfit by Another Tomorrow. The brand is New York-based and prides itself on using responsibly acquired materials, both in terms of how they're manufactured and where things are grown. They're also committed to providing their workers with living wages. That sounds like a worthy brand to promote.

Both Meghan and Anne root for other women

One of Princess Anne's patronages is Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) is, as the title indicates, all about getting more women into STEM fields. In 2017, the Welsh Government issued a statement that the Princess Royal was slated to meet with 50 female students, where they would partake in an activity where they would list adjectives that indicated personality traits (think words like studious, creative, logical) and use those identifiers to think of careers in STEM where they could thrive.

Anne told Vanity Fair: "I've certainly enjoyed being part of trying to encourage more girls to look at engineering as a realistic career." Interestingly though, the Princess Royal resists the term "feminist" for herself and told Vanity Fair that she'd rather focus on helping all young people.

Meghan Markle has also taken a focus on helping women and girls when it comes to organizations that she attaches to. In 2015, before she met Prince Harry, she attended the U.N. Women's Conference, People notes, with her mother, Doria Ragland. Meghan delivered a speech about the importance of women in power positions, particularly in the political arena. "Women make up more than half of the world's population and potential, so it is neither just nor practical for their voices, for our voices, to go unheard at the highest levels of decision-making," she said. So this has obviously been Meghan's passion long before entering the world of the royal family.

Anne's slight jab at Harry and Meghan

As should be obvious, Princess Anne is all about hard work and family loyalty, and when you're a member of the royal family, this translates to a busy life as a working royal. That's not to say that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle aren't hard-working or loyal to their families; it just means that it translated differently for them, and this manifested when they announced on January 8, 2020, that they were stepping down as senior members of the royal family, per People.

Anne gave a dig at the couple a few months later, when she spoke with Vanity Fair in May 2020. She admitted that she's not always a fan of change for the sake of change and says that often, the tried and true way can be the most successful. "I don't think this younger generation probably understands what I was doing in the past and it's often true, isn't it? You don't necessarily look at the previous generation and say, 'Oh, you did that?' Or, 'You went there?'" she said. "Nowadays, they're much more looking for, 'Oh let's do it a new way.' And I'm already at the stage, 'Please do not reinvent that particular wheel. We've been there, done that. Some of these things don't work. You may need to go back to basics.'" That's about as big of a zinger as a royal family member can serve, but it's fair to say that Anne was not impressed by Harry and Meghan's decision to step away.

Their different experiences when the queen died

After Queen Elizabeth II died, Princess Anne made history in the ways in which she honored her late mother. When the queen's coffin was placed in Scotland at St. Giles' Cathedral, Anne made history by being the first woman ever to stand beside the coffin in the historic tradition called the Vigil of the Princes, according to Today. The tradition has to do with guarding the coffin, and she was joined by her brothers, King Charles III and Princes Andrew and Edward.

She also walked behind the coffin in the procession prior to the Vigil of the Princes, along the streets of Edinburgh, People notes. And Anne wore the Royal Navy ceremonial uniform; even though she hasn't served in the military, she has honorary titles, The Sun notes.

The experience was vastly different for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry following the queen's death. There was considerable emphasis placed on the question of Harry wearing a military uniform and he did not during the queen's funeral procession, CNN notes. The reason was that Harry had stepped down from his royal duties and therefore would not be in uniform, even after having served in the British Army for ten years. However, King Charles III changed protocol, People notes, and said that Harry would be granted permission to wear his uniform at the queen's vigil on September 17, 2022.