Throughout their courtship, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle went to great lengths to see each other every two weeks, from trips to Africa and Jamaica to London visits and holing up in the former Suits star's pretty home in Toronto. But according to HARRY: Life, Loss and Love, a portrait of Harry's life by royal author Katie Nicholl, the couple was forced to seek refuge at her best friend Jessica Mulroney's home after news of their relationship broke on Oct. 30, 2016.
In this exclusive excerpt, see how Prince Harry won over the Mulroneys' children, the story he heard from Jessica's husband Ben Mulroney about Princess Diana and why this may have been the time when Meghan really fell for Harry...
Within 24 hours of the story breaking, Meghan’s life changed in a heartbeat. From being a relatively well-known actress in a popular TV show, she became globally famous overnight, and the world wanted to know about the beguiling brunette who was rumoured to have captured Harry’s heart.
Photographers and reporters camped outside Meghan’s Toronto apartment in the hope of getting a picture or, better still, a comment. Meghan’s mother Doria was besieged by reporters at her L.A. home, while her ex-husband, producer Trevor Engelson, also had reporters on his doorstep. The press tried to find Meghan’s father, who was living in a seaside town in northwest Mexico, and her half brother and half sister were also contacted by media from around the world for interviews.
“It was overwhelming for Meghan and for the whole family,” Meghan’s half sister, Samantha, recalls. “We’re not really sensationalistic people. When you grow up in L.A. you are used to fame because you see celebrities all the time, but this was like a whirlwind. It took us all by surprise.”
The fact that Meghan was an actress, American, biracial, and a divorcée made her far more interesting and somewhat more controversial than most of Harry’s exes. It was an unlikely pairing, and the fact that the fifth in line to the throne was romancing a TV star was quite a scoop.
Like his brother, Harry enjoyed outfoxing the media and while he was disappointed the story had broken, he knew he was lucky to have enjoyed several months getting to know Meghan without press scrutiny. When the story broke, Harry happened to be with Meghan at her flat in Toronto. He was apparently taken by surprise when his aides called to tell him the story was going to be front-page news and knew that very soon he and Meghan would be under siege. A story was leaked that Harry had cancelled a flight to Toronto to try and make it look like he was in the U.K., but photographers and reporters descended on Meghan’s home regardless.
When Meghan suggested they go to stay with her friends Ben and Jessica Mulroney, Harry agreed. The Mulroneys were two of the few friends who knew about the romance, and they were more than happy to let the couple take shelter from the paparazzi at their Toronto house. Jessica, a stylist, is one of Meghan’s best friends, while Ben is a TV host who presents CTV’s entertainment news program etalk. Harry had become friendly with them both and was a big hit with the couple’s three young children, seven-year-old twins Brian and John, and their four-year-old daughter Isabel.
“When Harry came to visit the family he brought a bag filled with gifts. He won the kids over in an instant. He was brilliant with them and I think what swung it for Meghan was how good Harry was with them,” says a source. “I actually think that might have been the moment Meghan really fell for Harry. He got to know the Mulroneys quite well, and they liked Harry from the beginning.”
Spread over three floors and with impressive 14-foot-high ceilings, the Mulroneys’ open-plan home was a sanctuary for Meghan and Harry. No one knew where they were, and behind closed doors the foursome got to know each other. Harry was fascinated when Ben, the son of former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney, recounted lively stories of how Princess Diana once stayed with his family during an official tour to Canada and, finding herself bored with talking politics after dinner, had ventured up to the nursery to play with Ben and his three siblings.
“Harry found them immediately kind and welcoming people, and he loved hearing stories about his mother,” a friend of Ben’s told me. “Jessica is one of the nicest, sweetest people you will ever meet, and Ben is really easy to get along with.”
It was just as well Meghan and Harry had somewhere to hide because over the following days the story snowballed. It was quickly discovered that the pair followed each other on Instagram, and as the media were eager to share, in one of the photos she had posted Meghan was wearing a blue-and-white beaded bracelet identical to one Harry wore. The actress’s L.A.-based agency at the time fuelled the rumours of a romance when they were contacted for comment and said: “Should this be confirmed by the Palace, all of us at Kruger Cowne are delighted for them and wish them well.”
In fact, there was so much fervid hype about the romance that bookmakers suspended bets on a royal wedding, having previously offered odds of 12 to 1 that Harry would announce his engagement in 2016 and 5 to 1 that he would marry in 2017.
Excerpted from HARRY: Life, Loss and Love by Katie Nicholl. Copyright © 2018. Reprinted with permission from Hachette Books. All rights reserved.