They are the M-crowd: the close friends of Meghan Markle. Most are similar to Meghan, 36, who boosted her public profile with her own blog (which she has closed since dating Harry).
They are the M-crowd: the intimate friends of Meghan Markle.
And since celebrity magazine US Weekly reported that Prince Harry’s girlfriend met the Queen at Balmoral a few weeks ago — suggesting a royal engagement announcement is likely — the actress’s social circle has become increasingly fascinating.
It includes fellow actors, clothes designers, socialites and charity campaigners.
Most are similar to Meghan, 36, who relentlessly boosted her public profile with her own blog (which she has closed since dating Harry).
She said it ‘began as a passion project and evolved into an amazing community of inspiration, support, fun and frivolity’.
Intimate: Prince Harry and girlfriend Meghan Markle (both pictured) are rumoured to be close to announcing their engagement
They speak in a language gleaned from self-help books by Californian gurus and are keen to burnish their right-on credentials by espousing fashionable causes such as the feminist campaign Because I Am A Girl.
Above all they are obsessed with their online profiles, regularly posting photos of themselves on Instagram, collecting followers and promoting commercial products.
Friends, too, are subjects for promotion in a seemingly endless carousel of public praise for each other and mutual back-scratching.
Indeed, as a self-proclaimed ‘inspiration junkie’, Meghan used her own blog for numerous gushing tributes to her ‘closest friends’.
Here, ALISON BOSHOFF offers a guide to those soulmates . . .
1. THE PARTY-LOVING KING OF SOHO HOUSE
Meghan (left) has a wide circle of friends, including Markus Anderson (right), who introduced her to Prince Harry. He has been described as ‘one of her closest friends in the world’
Markus Anderson is the man who introduced Meghan to Harry and has been described by her as ‘one of her closest friends in the world’.
The consultant for the Soho House Group and former global membership director at the exclusive club worked his way up from being a waiter. Anderson has known Meghan a long time and several photos of them together have appeared on social media. He grew up in Ontario and moved to London aged 19, where he began work at Soho House before moving back to Canada to open a branch of the private members’ club in Toronto — where Meghan has lived since landing her role on the American TV legal drama Suits in 2011.
A lover of Tom Ford aftershave and cashmere sweaters, Anderson decided which moneyed hipsters should gain entry to Soho House.
Canadian media described Soho House as ‘the pre-eminent meeting place for upwardly mobile hobnobbers’ and Anderson as having ‘a bloodhound’s nose for tastemakers’.
On the club’s opening night in Toronto, Meghan wasn’t there but one guest was local celebrity chef Cory Vitiello, who later became her boyfriend.
Anderson was on holiday in Europe with Megan in the summer of 2016 when he introduced her to Harry at Soho House in London, where the Prince was a member.
Right-on rating: 3/5
2. GENDER EQUALITY ACTIVIST & PM’S WIFE
Sophie Gregoire Trudeau (pictured) is another friend of Meghan's. She is married to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and reportedly gave Meghan advice on dealing with fame
Another friend is former television showbiz reporter and now Canada’s First Lady Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, married to PM Justin Trudeau.
US Weekly magazine claims she offered Meghan advice on how to deal with fame — based on her own experience of being married to a prime minister and as someone whose father-in-law, Pierre Trudeau, was Canada’s controversial and flamboyant Prime Minister in the 1980s.
Her mother-in-law Margaret, an author, actress and celebrity in her own right, was romantically linked with Mick Jagger. She denied an affair, but declared: ‘I should have slept with every single one of the Rolling Stones.’
In April 2016, Trudeau and Meghan attended a Canadian fashion awards ceremony, then went on to a party together at Soho House. A certified yoga instructor who calls herself a ‘gender equality activist’, Ms Trudeau does a lot of charity work and, like Meghan, helps a charity that provides clean water and sanitation in Third World countries.
She recently met Emma Watson in Ottawa, where the Harry Potter actress discussed worldwide gender equality with the PM.
The two young women rode on a motorcycle together and Trudeau described Watson as ‘a yogi, feminist, artist, advocate, mother, warrior and all-round gold-hearted person. What a privilege it is to have met her.’
Like Meghan, who is a UN women’s advocate, she campaigns for greater equality and was the national ambassador for Canada’s ‘Because I Am A Girl’ initiative, which lobbies to stop girls being ‘the single most discriminated against and excluded group in the world.’ In an interview, Ms Trudeau has said: ‘What we need is more goodness in society and people who are ready to elevate not only their thinking but their awareness of human consciousness to a more refined place.’
Right-on rating: 5/5
3. TENNIS SUPERSTAR AND GIRLY CONFIDANTE
Tennis champion Serena Williams (right) met Meghan (left) when she was a relatively unknown actress playing football at a charity event. Meghan said: 'We hit it off immediately'
Meghan met Serena Williams, the seven-times Wimbledon singles winner, in 2014 when the then relatively unknown actress played a game of football at a charity-celebrity event.
Meghan wrote on her blog: ‘We hit it off immediately, taking pictures, laughing and chatting not about tennis or acting but about good old-fashioned girly stuff. So began our friendship.’
Subsequently, she congratulated Williams when she won her third consecutive U.S. Open — and when she won the Australian Open in 2015 she Tweeted: ‘So happy for you! I was juuuust hugging you for your win.’
She has said of Williams (who recently gave birth to her first child): ‘She quickly became a confidante I would text when I was travelling, the friend I would rally around for her tennis matches, and the down-to-earth chick I was able to grab lunch with a couple of weeks ago in Toronto.
‘We are both the same age, have a penchant for hot sauces and adore fashion, but what connects us more than those things is perhaps our belief in exceeding expectations — our endless ambition.’
On her visit to London in 2016, Meghan watched Williams at Wimbledon and sat a few rows away from Pippa Middleton.
Since then, she has plugged the tennis player’s fashion show at New York Fashion Week — ‘so proud of your new collection’. She has also contributed to a flattering profile of the sports star in America’s glossiest celebrity magazine, Vanity Fair.
This was the same magazine to which Meghan herself spilled out her heart in a huge cover story interview to promote the 100th episode of her TV series, publicly declaring her passion for Harry by saying: ‘We’re a couple, we’re in love.’
Surprise, surprise, Williams was quoted in the article about Meghan’s blooming royal romance, saying of her: ‘Her personality just shines. I told her: “You’ve got to be who you are, Meghan. You can’t hide.” ’
Right-on rating: 1/5
4. EX-MISS WORLD AND BOLLYWOOD STAR
Priyanka Chopra (left) is another close friend of Meghan's (right). Ms Chopra was crowned Miss World at the age of 18 and was later interviewed by Meghan for her blog
Crowned Miss World at the age of 18 in 2000, Priyanka Chopra is a hugely successful film actress. A tireless social networker, she met Meghan at a party in Toronto two years ago.
After Meghan interviewed her for her blog, The Tig, they became friends and Ms Chopra has publicised photos of them together — including one where they drank cocktails together in a dimly-lit bar in Los Angeles.
For her part, Meghan shared a picture of herself and the Indian actress (who has made more than 50 Bollywood films) at Soho House in New York and hanging out by a pool.
Ms Chopra is a Unicef ambassador and recently returned from Jordan, where she highlighted the plight of Syrian refugees. She lives between Mumbai, where she grew up, and Toronto and celebrated her 30th birthday with a party at U2 star Bono’s house. Rockers Bryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen are also among her friends.
The first Indian actress to play the lead in a mainstream U.S. TV drama (Quantico, about the FBI), she recently played a vicious diva in the movie Baywatch.
She is currently developing a sitcom and has joked that she is bent on ‘global domination’.
Like others, she happily contributed to Vanity Fair’s profile of Meghan, with the right-on comment: ‘It would have been nice to write about her, not just her boyfriend. I mean, she’s an actor, she’s an activist, she’s a philanthropist. It’s just a little sexist . . .
‘There needs to be a certain sense of equality where a woman is not just a plus-one, you know. It’s nice to be your own identity, too.’
Right-on rating: 4/5
5. STYLIST WHO IS POLITICAL ROYALTY
Meghan’s style adviser is Jessica Mulroney (left), daughter-in-law of former Canadian PM Brian Mulroney. The social media star is known as ‘Toronto’s answer to Gwyneth Paltrow’
Meghan’s style adviser is Jessica Mulroney, daughter-in-law of former Canadian PM Brian Mulroney.
Known as ‘Toronto’s answer to Gwyneth Paltrow’, she is a social media star with numerous lucrative marketing deals. Her Twitter feed is full of narcissistic links to her own appearances on daytime television shows and fashion websites.
Her husband, Ben, is a television reporter known for covering Oscars night and is a friend of the 45- year-old Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Mulroney shares Meghan’s love of Pilates and yoga. She is called Meghan’s ‘Girl Friday’.
Before Harry arrived on the scene she posted numerous pictures on Instagram of Meghan. Indeed, her recent Instagram post of a photoshoot for bridalwear was commented on by a follower who suggested the dress was suitable for Meghan — and linked the post to Kensington Palace’s official Instagram account.
Mulroney, an avid blogger, and her husband sold the first photographs of their twin sons to Hello! magazine.
Recent posts include a picture of Jessica wearing 6in stiletto heels and red suede while watching her boys.
She told an interviewer: ‘Watching my kids grow up into caring and compassionate people is extremely validating.’
Right-on rating: 5/5
6. THE MEDITATING FASHIONISTA
Fashion designer Misha Nonoo (right) said she bonded with Meghan (left) immediately after meeting through a mutual friend. She is one of the few to have known about the romance with Harry from the start
Bahrain-born Misha Nonoo was raised in London, educated in Paris and now lives in New York.
The fashion designer says her ‘multicultural upbringing’ exposed her to ‘a diverse collection of references’ and that her work ‘showcases a unique outlook for the modern multi-faceted woman’.
In similar right-on-speak, she says she ‘continues to push boundaries by marrying designs with innovative digital concepts that are celebrated by women who embrace their femininity whilst pursuing their goals’.
She also trilled about her friend Meghan to Vanity Fair, saying they bonded immediately after meeting through a mutual friend.
She is one of the select few who knew about the romance with Harry from the start. Nonoo told Vanity Fair: ‘Her greatest strength is her compassion for others. Much of the work she does is unseen by the public.’
The designer (who has a dog called Thatcher) runs a fashion label in New York and fans of her work are said to include Pippa Middleton, actress Cate Blanchett and Bono’s daughter Eve.
Meghan wore one of Nonoo’s skirts to the Suits 100th episode party last month.
The designer believes in future all purchases will be online, with people going to shops only for presentations and what she calls ‘moderated conversations with the designer’.
She and Meghan holidayed together in Europe in 2016, when she and Prince Harry met. Nonoo meditates every morning.
Nonoo’s marriage to Old Etonian Alexander Gilkes broke down last year. The New York Post reported that their relationship was a casualty of their mutual ‘wild ambition’.
Gilkes founded the auction house Paddle8 and is close to Prince Harry and his elder brother, having attended William’s wedding.
Well connected to the Royal Family, he gave a job to his friend Princess Eugenie (he calls her ‘Eug’), Prince Andrew’s daughter.
Both Pippa (a friend of his brother, Charlie) and James Middleton were at his wedding in Venice in 2012, where American pop star Lana Del Rey entertained the guests.
Gilkes is also a pal of actor Eddie Redmayne, a fellow Old Etonian, and was pictured cradling his Oscars statuette at an Academy Awards party. As a teenager, Gilkes had work experience with director Stanley Kubrick and partied with rapper Jay Z.
Friends, too, with Madonna, he has been on Vanity Fair’s best-dressed list. And waxing philosophical, he said that his old school, Eton, ‘incubates the individual’.
Right-on rating: 5/5
7. DIVORCED CO-STAR AND BIRTHDAY ‘TWIN’
Abigail Spencer (left) used to star alongside Meghan in Suits. The so-called ‘birthday twins’, as both were born on July 4, 1981 — were close friends for five years until Ms Spencer left the show
The daughter of a professional surfer, actress Abigail Spencer was cast in Suits in 2011, playing Dana Scott opposite Meghan’s character Rachel Zane (a paralegal).
She is best known to British TV audiences for her role in the advertising industry drama Mad Men, in which she played one of sex-mad Don Draper’s girlfriends.
Spencer and Meghan — so-called ‘birthday twins’, as both were born on July 4, 1981 — were close friends for five years until the former left the show.
Both women’s marriages broke down while they were working on Suits, with Meghan writing on her blog that they were closest buddies. (Spencer was married for just eight years, to an Apple employee with whom she had a child.)
As part of this network of mutual self-promoters, Spencer told Vanity Fair magazine: ‘[Meghan has] warm elegance, though her style is hard to pin down. It’s classy and timeless.’
Meghan is also friends with Suits co-star Sarah Rafferty, who often retweets anti-Trump comments.
Right-on rating: 3/5
8. ‘STYLE CRUSH’ SOCIALITE
Wealthy New York socialite Olivia Palermo (left) and Meghan (right) have been friends since meeting at an event organised by the Marchesa fashion line three years ago
Wealthy New York socialite Olivia Palermo and Meghan have been friends since meeting at an event organised by the Marchesa fashion line three years ago.
In 2015, Meghan plugged her jewellery line in return for some freebies, saying on social media: ‘My sweet @oliviapalermo — thank you for all the baubles.’
Last year, Palermo joined others in Meghan’s ‘Girl Squad’ to post memories of their mothers to her blog. For her part, Harry’s girlfriend told a magazine that Palermo was ‘everyone’s style crush’.
Right-on rating: 2/5
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