The truth behind Meghan Markle's relationship with her half-sister

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's 2018 wedding made international headlines for many reasons. Markle become an American princess in a real-life fairy tale wedding, but not everything was picture perfect. Much of her family was notably absent from her wedding, including her father, with whom she has a strained relationship, and her half-sister, Samantha Grant (who also goes by Samantha Markle).

For years, Grant has been talking about Markle to the press, and not everything she's said has been flattering. Markle has remained pretty quiet about the rift between her and her sister, but Grant has been more than eager to air her grievances with the Duchess of Sussex. Just what is the deal between the two sisters? Do they actually hate each other? Why wasn't Grant at her sister's wedding? And what exactly drove the wedge between them in the first place? Here's everything we know about the relationship between Meghan Markle and her half-sister.

There's a 16-year age gap between them

Samantha Grant and Meghan Markle may be sisters, but there is almost an entire generation between them. Grant is 16 years older than her royal little sis, so the two didn't grow up at the same time. In spite of the big difference between their ages, Grant has said that she was close to Markle when they were younger. She told Us Weekly that to this day, when she sees Markle, she sees "my little Meg, the little girl I held in my lap, who I taught to walk ... who would smash up all her peas and throw them."

Grant told the Daily Mail that her sister even had a special nickname for her when she was growing up. "She used to call me Daff Duck because I'd make Daffy Duck noises to get her to laugh," she said. "She called me that up until she was 12, then she would call me 'Babe.' She'd ring me up and say: 'How's it going, Babe?'"

Grant also used to work as an actress and model

It looks like the show business bug must have bitten the Markle family pretty hard. The family patriarch, Thomas Markle, worked as a lighting director on the shows Married With Children and General Hospital. Markle spent a lot of time with her dad on set while she was growing up, which likely served as a major inspiration for her to enter the entertainment industry herself. As we all know, Markle would go on to become a successful TV star, best known for her role on the legal drama Suits.

But Markle is not the only member of the Markle family to try her hand at acting. Like her younger sister, Grant also had a career in show business as an actress and a model, although she didn't enjoy nearly the same level of success as Markle. Her sole credit on IMDb, aside from personal appearances, is a guest-starring spot on Matlock in 1993.

They haven't spoken in years

Meghan Markle and Samantha Grant drifted apart over the years, according to the eldest sister, although she said that their sisterly bonds were never quite broken. "Over the years she would call me. We were not close but we stayed in contact," she told The Sun. In spite of this, Grant said that she and her sister have not been in contact for years.

She told the Daily Mail that she didn't even learn that her sister was dating a royal from her family, but rather from a friend. "She said: 'Are you sitting down? Did you know your sister is dating Prince Harry?'" Grant recalled. "My friend obviously thought I'd be shocked."

Grant said that she hasn't seen her sister since 2008, when Markle attended her college graduation. In spite of their estrangement, she said that she wouldn't call her family dysfunctional. "I don't think we are more dysfunctional than any other family," she said. "Every family has their issues and challenges and you have to roll with them. With all due respect, the royals have had their own issues. They haven't had perfect lives themselves."

Grant claimed to be happy over her sister's engagement

Even though she didn't learn about her sister's involvement with Prince Harry until the story was picked up by the press, Grant claimed to be thrilled about her little sister's engagement to a member of the royal family. Just as with the news of the relationship, Grant reportedly received notice about the engagement secondhand. "It was really exciting for me, I am so happy for her," she told Us Weekly. "It was kind of funny, it was like my boyfriend showed it to me and I was on the phone with my father and I got to let him know too. We didn't know it was going to come out this soon, so it was nice to wake up to."

She added that her father was also thrilled. "He's very excited... he is truly happy about their union," she said. "So now my father and I are both so excited because [Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have] had a long to time get to know each other and they know what they want to do. That's really important for us."

Grant wasn't at either of her sister's weddings

The Markle sisters have been estranged for so long that Grant didn't receive an invitation to either one of her sister's weddings, although Grant says that their apparently strained relationship wasn't the only reason. She explained that she wasn't at Markle's 2011 wedding to TV producer Trevor Engelson because it took place on the beach. Grant has multiple sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair, and she said this would have prevented her from attending. "No, it was an unspoken thing... for a beach wedding in Jamaica [my] wheelchair would have been somewhat in the way and I really didn't want to bog the fun down, so to speak, so I refrained from making it a big deal," she told ITV (via Town & Country).

Her presence was also missing at Markle's royal wedding. But she wasn't the only member of the family not to be invited. "I have to say, I'm not taking it personally," she said. "It's not just me. None of the family have received invites, nor have [Markle's mother] Doria's family. So although we don't understand we can only wish them well." She added, "I'm not taking it personally nor am I holding that against her."

Grant wants her sister to take a lie detector test

Grant has openly expressed her distrust of her younger sister. Early in 2019, the Daily Mail published a handwritten letter allegedly penned by the Duchess of Sussex to her father. The letter accused him of being the one responsible for the rift between them, criticizing him for going to the press with stories about her relationship with Prince Harry, and for believing tabloid rumors. "If you love me, as you tell the press you do, please stop," read the letter, according to the Daily Mail. "Please allow us to live our lives in peace. Please stop lying, please stop causing so much pain, please stop exploiting my relationship with my husband."

While Markle hasn't commented publicly on whether or not she actually wrote the missive, Grant was quick to jump to their father's defense. "I would challenge [Markle] to take a lie detector test anywhere on the planet with investigators that are not paid by her to skew the results," Grant told the Daily Star Online (via Express). "Quite frankly I had faith in her on and off to do the right thing by her dad but I'm sick of the bulls***. Nobody is trying to get close to her but she's not going to ghost, insults, and destroy this family and skip on her merry way without the truth being revealed."

Grant has criticized Markle for not helping their father enough

One of Samantha Grant's complaints about her famous sister is that she has not been financially supportive enough of their father. In an interview with A Current Affair, an Australian news program (via Good Housekeeping), Grant criticized her sister's spending and said that her money should go to their father, who declared bankruptcy in 2016. "Honestly what she could spend in a weekend would greatly help Dad, so that should be a priority," Grant said. "I think you need to step up to the plate and make sure he is well taken care of."

According to Good Housekeeping, Grant believes that Markle "owes" their father for helping her launch her acting career. Grant was also upset about the designer gown Markle wore for her engagement photo shoot. "If you can afford $75,000 for a dress, you can afford $75,000 to help your dad," she said. "That's how I feel, that's who I am."

Grant has bashed her sister's humanitarian efforts

Markle has long been a philanthropist. The actress has been involved in humanitarian causes since before she became a royal, but her sister isn't impressed with her efforts. Early in 2019, the Duchess of Sussex and her husband visited Bristol's One25 charity. Markle asked to write messages of affirmation on food items that were being passed out to sex workers by the charity

Grant derided her sister's kind effort, writing on Twitter (via Cosmopolitan), "I was hoping my sister would give them each a beautiful bouquet of flowers, words of strength, and enough money to change their lives. That is what #humanitarians do. Bananas? WTF."

Grant also alluded to her sister's estranged relationship with their father in her tirade. "If she can say 'you are strong, you are brave, you are special' on a banana to a sex worker, she can say 'you are strong, you are wonderful, and you are special and I love you' on a banana... to our father. Just my humble opinion," she wrote.

Grant will publish a tell-all book about her sister

Grant has written a pair of tell-all books revealing the alleged "truth" about her famous sibling. She told the Daily Star that the books, titled In the Shadows of The Duchess, will "cover everything from behind the scenes that the world does not know about," noting, "And trust me, there is a lot."

Grant said that her book, which was previously titled The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister, will shed light on Markle's childhood. "I have a very big mouth and speak my mind — as the world can see — at any cost, even if it makes me unpopular, but I tell the truth even if it makes me unpopular," she said.

"(I have) never been afraid of the truth because if the truth makes me lose friends then they weren't friends that I wanted to have anyway." Her tell-all is set to be released in April or May 2019, around the time that Markle's first child is due. The second part is set to be released in July 2019, shortly before her sister's birthday.

Grant might cash in on the birth of her new niece or nephew

There are rumors that Grant already has interviews lined up to usher in the birth of Markle's first child. While Grant has not confirmed this herself, the Mirror reported that she is expected to earn a lot of money by speaking to the press about the royal birth. The publication noted that she is set to earn a fee of £100,000 through talk shows, interviews, a book, and other media appearances. 

"Samantha has every right to celebrate the birth of her niece or nephew in spring and will talk about her connection to Meghan, as they are family," a source told the Mirror. "She does not have an outlandish lifestyle so the money will make a difference to her. She has never been given a penny by Meghan so she has every right to earn her own money in this way."

Is there racism in the Markle family?

Meghan Markle's childhood seems to have been a happy one, for the most part. Not everything about her upbringing was perfect, though. While Markle's parents are said to have been supportive and loving, many members of the family weren't exactly thrilled that that Markle's father married her mother, Doria Ragland, who is black. Markle's birth allegedly stirred up a lot of racism in the family as well.

"There were a couple of family members from older generations who were not evolved and made pretty horrible comments when my sister was born," Grant told the Daily Mail. "There was certainly the use of the 'N word,' which I hate."

Grant said that, in spite of the underlying racism among the older generation, most of the family loved and accepted Markle. "You are talking about people who were raised in an environment where this kind of bigotry was the norm," she said. "But the rest of our house was color-blind — her childhood was magical. We made it fun for her."

Grant's mother has disowned her but adores Markle

Grant's relationship isn't just strained with her half-sister, but with her own mother as well. Grant's mother, Roslyn, told the Daily Mail that her daughter's claims about being open-minded about her biracial family weren't exactly true and that she used to tell her friends that Markle's mother — her stepmother — "was the maid because she is black."

Grant's mother has reportedly disowned her, having once said, "She trashes Meghan, she trashes me, her dad, her brothers. She has just been trashing everybody in her life forever."

When it comes to the Duchess of Sussex, however, Grant's mother had only had nice things to say, and she admitted that she even woke up at 3 a.m. to watch the royal wedding. "'Meghan looked wonderful and I thought her dress was classically beautiful," Roslyn said. "[Her mother] Doria looked proud and lovely." She added, "'I wish them all the best. I hope they go on to have a long and happy union."

Their brother wants to bring the family closer together

Thomas Markle Jr., the third Markle sibling, has also had minimal contact with his royal relative. Like Grant, he was not invited to the royal wedding, but he said that he doesn't hold a grudge against Markle. He announced his own engagement several months after his sister's wedding, and told the Daily Mail that he hopes his sister will attend, noting that her being there might help to heal the rift in their family.

"I think our wedding will bring the family closer together," he said. "It's hopeful that if Meghan and Harry came and my father — Meghan and Harry could spend some time together with him and that would be good."

Markle's brother said that the wedding could also mend her relationship with their father, saying that he would like to see everyone "just put all the past behind everybody and move on and be a closer family again."

Grant claims 'the love is there'

In spite of the fact that Samantha Grant has repeatedly slammed her sister in the press, she has also claimed that she does truly love Markle and that she is happy that she has found love and success. "Hopefully we can have a heart to heart," she told Us Weekly after Markle's engagement was announced. "I want her to know I'm wishing her well and there for her. At the end of the day, I want her to know that the love is there."

Grant added that she still holds out hope that they will one day repair their relationship and that, in the future, the two will once again be able to share a close bond. "I'm your sister and when we're 90 years old, hopefully we'll be watching a sunset on a porch and we'll be sisters again," she said.

Grant retracted her Christmas greeting to her sister

Meghan Markle's half-sister, Samantha Grant, has repeatedly said that she loves and misses the now-royal, although many of her words and actions have led to speculation that her true feelings aren't actually quite so affectionate. In December 2018, Grant reached out to her royal sibling and sent her a Christmas card. The card wished her sister a merry Christmas and also begged Markle to reach out to their father.

The next day, however, Grant retracted her Christmas greeting. She wrote on Twitter (via HuffPost), "I've never seen anyone so rude and hurtful and heartless and absent a soul in my life. [Meghan Markle] shame on you for what you have done to our father. No PR machine can fix this. I retract the merry Christmas, you don't deserve it. How dare you walk into a church."

Grant continued to publicly berate her sister for spending the holiday with the royal family. "Forgiven, reunite, and have the #Christmas spirit #Markle #KensingtonPalace and a peaceful heart," she wrote. "Apparently you're not capable and I don't know enough profane words to articulate how I feel. Wow." Something tells us that Markle and Grant won't be making up anytime soon.