Meet Meghan Markle 2.0: wrapped in California coastal grandma chic, ready to launch a new commercial venture and definitely happy to be in the public spotlight.
The battle for privacy is over, and now the Duchess of Sussex is relaxed about appearing in selfies with friends and being photographed around Montecito in relatable moments of shopping and visiting the dentist.
Page Six can reveal that Markle has spent the summer planning a phoenix-like rise from the ashes after a brutal few months for her and her husband Prince Harry.
First came the car-crash paparazzi drama in New York, when the couple’s claims that they were the victims of an hours-long high-speed chase through the streets of Manhattan were met with ridicule. (Sources, however, say the couple are still upset about the events of that night.)
Then came a blow to their plans to become media moguls: their Spotify deal was ended, with the millions that came from it. It was not just business, it was personal, with one of the company’s executives, Bill Simmons, calling them “f—ing grifters.”
That was followed by one of Hollywood’s most powerful men, United Talent Agency CEO Jeremy Zimmer saying of the cancellation, Turns out Meghan Markle was not a great audio talent, or necessarily any kind of talent.” (Although, sources later told us, UTA had previously been in serious pursuit of Markle.)
But in the last few days a new version of Markle has emerged in a series of photographs and reports, as Page Six can reveal, she finalizes plans for a new money-making venture.
Her – as yet un-launched – Instagram account @meghan already has 72,000 followers, including Nobel Prize winner Malala.
As an insider familiar with the Sussexes told us: “Meghan’s not seeking out opportunities to be photographed, but she’s realized she has to live her life, none of the cameras are going away.”
The duchess was seen shopping at the farmers market in Montecito, revealed to have watched “Barbie” with friends including neighbor Portia de Rossi, surprised a bachelorette party during another girls’ night at the fancy San Ysidro Ranch and worn a slinky bandeau dress for a 42nd birthday celebration with Harry and friends at a top local restaurant.
She was even seen on social media as the willing participant in a casual selfie (while wearing a new $2000 pendant) with girlfriends, poet Cleo Wade and hair colorist Kadi Lee.
And there was a trip to see Taylor Swift in Los Angeles with her London BFF Lucy Fraser, despite the superstar declining to be on the now defunct podcast, “Archetypes” even after Markle sent her a personal note.
All of this comes as Markle who signed with Hollywood powerbroker Ari Emmanuel’s WME is putting the finishing touches on her new project, the one that everyone in her circle has been talking about.
Will it be something to rival Gwyneth Paltrow’s multi-million dollar lifestyle business Goop, or something akin to Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine, which sold for a billion dollars?
Will it even be “The Tig” 2.0, a revamp of Markle’s lifestyle blog? “Meghan and the team are working hard,” an insider tells Page Six. “I think it will be surprising, it won’t be what everybody is expecting it to be, it will feel familiar to who Meghan is.”
Thanks to her new-found freedom to be photographed, Markle even has an indication of her commercial value: just flashing her arm in a paparazzi photo to show a $4 “anti-stress” device on her wrist sent its sales soaring.
Markle was just a customer for the NuCalm sticker when she wore last week during a visit to the dentist. Then the company quickly posted the photos on their Instagram and watched sales take off.
But it shows to possible commercial partners or backers that Markle retains the ability to create viral sales as she once did for Rothy’s shoes and jewelry brands, just by being photographed.
As we revealed, she’s still keen to join forces with her favorite brand, Cartier, although they have close ties with the royal family.
And the surprise success of “Suits,” which set a streaming record on Netflix something the documentary “Harry & Meghan” did not has underlined her appeal.
The show, in which she made her name as Rachel Zane, has broken several Nielsen viewing records this summer, accounting for 18 billion minutes of viewing on streamers in the month of July.
All of this signals an end to the couple’s bruising battles over privacy (a battle Markle denied having even as it played out.)
Indeed, her camp says it was the royal family from whom the Sussexes remain very much estranged who pushed that storyline.
In the couple’s infamous interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021, Markle said: “I think everyone has a basic right to privacy. Basic. We’re not talking about anything that anybody else wouldn’t expect.”
She added there were those who had “created a false narrative,” adding “I’ve never talked about privacy.”
“There’s no one who’s on Instagram or social media that would say, ‘Because I shared this one picture, that entitles you to have my entire camera roll. Go ahead and look through it.’ No one would want that. So it’s about boundaries. And it’s about respect,” she said.
The insider said: “Nobody is fighting this whole privacy issue, this whole story of ‘don’t pay attention to us, pay attention to us’, it’s a total exaggeration, because the crux of Harry and Meghan’s move in the beginning was mostly spun from the palace that they wanted a more private life.”
“They know they’ll never have a private life,” the insider stressed.
A more critical source, with knowledge from their time with Spotfiy, tells Page Six: “Harry has made it clear that he never wanted to be in the media…he would be very happy to go away. I think he’d like to go and live in Botswana – as long as he had money.
“Meghan actually likes being famous.”
Harry might not like being in the media but was happy to write “Spare,” a tell-all airing years of dirty royal laundry and deepening the ugly rift with his brother Prince William, and to pitch podcast ideas to Spotify without success.
“The thing about Harry is that he’s super, super down to earth, just not this specific earth!” joked one Spotify insider. “When he talks about getting the Pope for a podcast, he truly thinks he can do this, he gets very excited.”
But a source in the couple’s orbit says that while Harry “understands that he’s a public figure” and that it would be “delusional to expect a life out of the spotlight,” it is Archie, 4, and Lilibet, 2, he is concerned about.
“If he’s seen out getting dinner he doesn’t have a problem with it, but what he struggles with is protecting his children and their innocence, so much of what he felt was really challenging in his own life,” the insider says.
Indeed this month he has shown a more relaxed side, touring a mall in Tokyo with polo pal Nachos Figueras, and playing the sport in Singapore.
This week, the first glimpse at the Sussex-produced documentary “Heart of Invictus” was released and it did not feature Markle.
Although she’ll be in the documentary that will launch on Netflix on August 30, it’s more Harry’s thing, according to friends.
The Sussexes will travel to Dusseldorf, Germany, next month for the next round of the Invictus Games; the couple will only be seen together at the closing ceremony, underlining how much the venture is Harry’s.
He founded the international sports competition for injured, sick and wounded servicemen and women in 2014.
As for the future, the couple are producing Carley Fortuna’s best-selling book, “Meet Me at the Lake” for Netflix, although all projects are up in the air due to the writers and actors’ strike having hit Hollywood.
“They’re not divorcing, they’re not moving – they have more confidence and they’re at peace. They are making friends in their community and they’re feeling more comfortable to explore,” said the insider.
“With the (Netflix) documentary series and Harry’s book behind them, this is the end of that era. It was tough prior to the book and the documentary coming out, when you anticipate the worst.
“But this is really the closest we’ve seen Harry and Meghan achieve some level of normalcy ever.”