FF: Meghan Markle had kidnapping training, but etiquette lessons weren’t ‘on offer’

Duke and Duchess os Sussex arrive in New Zealand!

This Finding Freedom story is a request from the Celebitchy Zoom call, apparently you Celebitches want to talk about the FF story about then- Meghan Markle’s duchess training and security training. Let’s set the scene: Meghan and Harry were quietly engaged in the summer of 2017, and everyone at the palaces knew about the engagement soon after it happened. H&M were basically given a grace period of several months throughout the fall to just be a private couple. Everyone knew Meghan was the “official girlfriend” and she was living in Nottingham Cottage with Harry.

They didn’t officially announce the engagement until late November that year, and things went to warp speed after that, including the criticism. Harry and Meghan were well aware of the chatter in the palaces and in the media. Harry was thrilled to guide Meghan through the details of British life and royal life. They put together the team of people who would help them. Meghan began researching the charities she wanted to work with, because she truly wanted to hit the ground running and announce some patronages soon after the wedding. Meghan was also going through what must have been quite intensive training on royal life, and one of the most fascinating asides in FF was this:

Set to undergo the same informal training Kate had embarked upon following her engagement to William—a series of instructions that covered everything from how to most gracefully exit your chauffeured sedan while wearing a pencil skirt to when to curtsy to members of the family several rungs up the hierarchy from you—Meghan was connected to a team of experts. She had hoped to take etiquette lessons, too, but curiously they were never on offer.

[From Finding Freedom: Harry, Meghan, and the Making of a Modern Royal Family]

I’m almost positive that Kate took etiquette lessons before her marriage, but if memory serves (and I can’t find this story now, but I’m sure I wrote it up at the time) Kate sought etiquette lessons herself, separate from the “princess lessons” she received by courtiers. I’m not surprised that the palace didn’t offer etiquette lessons to Meghan, but I am surprised that she didn’t ask about it or request it?

Meanwhile, in addition to all of that, Meghan also went through “an intense two-day security course with the SAS, the British Army’s most elite regiment.” FF points out that Kate didn’t receive this training until after her marriage, although I do remember that in 2007-08, when Kate was back with William following their big breakup, she received some security guidance. It just wasn’t this intensive SAS training, which has royals going through various security-nightmare scenarios, like kidnapping and terrorist attacks.

The training—which all senior members of the royal family except the Queen have completed at SAS headquarters in Hereford—is preparation for all high-risk security scenarios, including kidnapping, hostage situations, and terrorist attacks. Meghan took part in a staged kidnapping, where she was bundled into the back of a car by a “terrorist,” taken to a different location, and then “saved” by officers firing fake guns (the kind used in Hollywood filming) for realism.

During the mock kidnapping, Meghan was even taught to develop a relationship with the enemy. She was also instructed on how to drive a car while in pursuit. A source said it was an “extremely intense and scary” experience for Meghan, but one that she was grateful to have gone through.

[From Finding Freedom: Harry, Meghan, and the Making of a Modern Royal Family]

I imagine it was scary to go through that and think about that. And it was a reminder of the kind of violent racism already targeting Meghan, even in those early days, which was being constantly ginned up by a rabid and racist press machine.

One of the courtiers explained the differences between Kate and Meghan and how they dealt with the situations from girlfriend-to-fiancee-to-wife as Kate being “lovely and smart and shy and modest, and beautifully gorgeous. And very watchful. She always used to say, whenever she rang me . . . when she was the girlfriend, ‘I’m really sorry. I don’t want to bother you with these facts.’” And then Meghan “arrived in this job a fully formed adult, having lived already a third of her life. She is a Californian who believes she can change the world. She creates her own brand, she creates her own website, she does deals. She talks about life and how we should live. Good for her. That’s the way in America. In Britain, people look at that and go, ‘Who do you think you are?’”

Britain's Prince Harry (L) and his fiancee US actress Meghan Markle (R) visit Nechells Wellbeing Centre to join Coach Core apprentices taking part in a training masterclass in Birmingham, central England on March 8, 2018.  Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visited Birmingham to learn more about the work of two projects which support young people from the local community. The Coach Core apprenticeship scheme was designed by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to train young people aged 16 - 24 with limited opportunities to become sports coaches and mentors within their communities.

Photos courtesy of WENN, Avalon Red, Backgrid.

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74 Responses to “FF: Meghan Markle had kidnapping training, but etiquette lessons weren’t ‘on offer’”

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  1. Helen says:

    Lmfao these quotes always make British people look like twats. Unless Brits are proud of being like that?

    • Christine says:

      Right? “How dare you have opinions and thoughts!” is the vibe I got from that.

    • Emily says:

      I keep reading the coverage about the Sussexes and thinking “please don’t think all Brits are like that!” People over here also aren’t as scandalised by a man respecting and listening to his wife as The Daily Mail would have people believe. 😆

      • janey says:

        trust us, a lot of us don’t mind opinions. We are perfectly capable of making our own mind up, those we listen to and learn from and those we don’t, and we are not all too stupid to listen to a progressive woman trying to make our stuffy, backward, racist RF better. She did more in two years that W&K have done in ten. for a while there I was actually hopeful. hopeful she could help our underprivileged and disadvantaged get a fair deal, not just pay lip service to the charities but actually DO SOMETHING. Hopeful she could make our country better, more forward thinking, more attractive on a global stage. ah, optimism, you crazy thing.

      • LRobb says:

        helpful insight.

    • SKF says:

      The thing is, it’s a weird, antiquated standard held by some (definitely not all) for the royal family alone. They would never expect themselves to be quiet and passionless and voiceless. They wouldn’t expect in their own marriages for the wife to act like a housewife from 1952. And yet they have this weird double standard that this is what Meghan should have done and been like, because “she knew what she was marrying into” and they seem to think it that she should have traded off all ambition, individuality, sense of self, desire to be herself, career, life, friends in exchange for the grand heights of being a royal. Like they have standards from 1800 for a modern woman that they would never hold themselves to. The Brits are still obsessed with class (as much as they might deny it), and this is the ultimate expression of that. Us Aussies (and the Kiwis) give them constant sh*t about this ongoing class obsession. Our national identities were in part formed by an utter rejection of that class system. It’s stupid, pointless and outdated.

      • JaneBee says:

        @SKF I think one’s perspective of the role of class in Australia is very much skewed by the social-demographics to which you are exposed (willingly or otherwise). It’s comforting to believe that Australia has escaped the class hang ups of the UK, but it’s also slightly naive.

        If your employment or family relationships necessitate interaction with the inhabitants of Sydney’s North Shore, Adelaide Hills or the established Eastern suburbs of Melbourne; or your uni education finds you in specific residential colleges at MelbUni or University of Sydney, then you’re going to become disillusioned with the view of a classless society quite quickly.

        And it is definitely not just about money (it’s certainly the opposite of flashy nouveaux display), it is absolutely about pedigree and the fact that you, your parents, and grandparents are all old girls/old boys of the rights schools. Bonus points if you have a connection to a family farm/rural property somewhere (further points if you breed cattle).

        I agree that on the whole the influence of class structure in the ‘new’ English speaking immigration countries with a Commonwealth connection (i.e. Canada, Oz, NZ) is definitely less pronounced and certainly less visible than in other societies (including most of Europe), but it’s a bit cute to wave it away and pretend it’s not there. I’d like to think that it’s lessening though :)

    • Kalana says:

      Kate behaved like our lovely and sweet pet! Uh, no. Kate kicked Historic Royal Palaces out of Apt 1A. Meek, she is not. She’s just happy to have William and Carole be publicly aggressive while she hides behind them.

      ( Btw, try finding those stories online now. They ran in non-tabloid papers at the time but they are nearly impossible to find now. Remember how Will and Kate wanted the Tatler story taken offline?)

      Meghan treated the courtiers like professionals, not divas. Charles and Liz know how their staff behaves. The courtiers behaved slightly better with Kate because William would have made their lives hell otherwise, both personally and by going to the Queen. There was a lot of concern in 2010 and 2011 about Kate being treated like Diana and how William would be her protector.

      Harry didn’t have that kind of support so his behavior was written off as tantrums.

    • Lala456 says:

      American who married a brit…can confirm it’s like this. while not everyone, a lot of people.

    • Mrs.Krabapple says:

      Like misogynistic twats. Holding Kate up as a perfect British woman just means British women are dumb, lazy, inarticulate, unambitious gold diggers? Who would want that to be the world’s perception of you? I wonder if Kate’s biggest fans are foreigners, not Brits – then it would make sense that they enjoy seeing a dullard like Kate being held up as an example of British women.

      • Nic919 says:

        I think a large number of Kate fans are racists and not British. If she was that popular in the UK she would have fame like Diana did and no one really cares about her.

  2. Eleonor says:

    “Who do you think you are” that sums up Meghan experience with the Royals and the holy protocol.

    • Tom says:

      American here. Meghan is overqualified for that gig. Not as it could be but as it is. Didn’t matter that they coulda had a bad bitch. They don’t want a bad bitch.

      African heritage, not even British, idealistic, activist, educated, divorced, and career woman. For cherries on that, there are two: American and actress. If the Royal Family were writing a job description for Duchess of Sussex, they would include exactly none of those words.

      It’s all to accentuate how aristo-tastic the Royal Family is. They and their enablers want to make sure there’s a moat around those born into it and those who were not. Mediocrity protects mediocrity.

  3. Noki says:

    I remember the show Ladette to Lady it was some type of etiquette school,is that where they would get their classes?

  4. S808 says:

    That kidnapping scenario seems so scary wtf! Also, being a take charge, self starter sort of person is frowned upon?

    • AMM says:

      It seems fun to me. I loved that kind of “real world” training while I was in the military. I mean, it’s terrifying to think about it being a reality (I had a high clearance so I was considered a kidnapping risk) but in the moment it was really exciting to do. Especially the defensive/offensive driving courses.

    • Lala456 says:

      There’s a thing in british culture of being suspicious of anyone who is too ambitious, successful or “good.” “Very British Problems” on youtube goes over it pretty well

  5. Ohpioneer says:

    I like to imagine Princess Anne leading the security training.
    As an American with British roots I am saddened by the disdain some Brits clearly have for Americans. My love of all things British has declined rapidly over the last couple of years. Seems the “special relationship “ between us is only special when Brits need something from us and even then the disdain is barely beneath the surface.
    I am glad the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are out of that country With its toxic atmosphere and my hope is they have a long and happy life here.

    • fluffy_bunny says:

      My desire to go to the UK has absolutely waned. I used to love all things British. I’ve been dying to do afternoon tea in London. Not so much anymore. I have M&H’s wedding tea from Fortum & Mason and I bought 2 tins and went through the first tin quickly but the second tin is still half full because it being British turns my stomach. I now only use it to celebrate wins with the Sussexes.

      • L84Tea says:

        Same here. I’ve been a UK admirerer with a love of all things British my whole life and I have always wanted to go. But watching this all unfold the last couple of years has soured the UK so much in my eyes and it makes me so sad. It’s like finding out that someone you’ve idolized your whole life is actually a complete jerk.

      • MerryGirl says:

        I visited England in pre-Brexit 2016 and so loved visiting the historic sites and doing all the British things like tea and such. I also thought London to be an interesting melting pot of cultures. What I’ve seen it become now post-Brexit with the hatred of all things immigrant and foreign, compounded by the horrendous treatment of Meghan has made me vow never, ever to go there again as the curtain has been pulled away on what the real Britain really is.

      • Ellie says:

        “but the second tin is still half full because it being British turns my stomach”

        LOL the drama some people create for themselves!

    • Lady D says:

      ” My love of all things British has declined rapidly over the last couple of years.” Amen, sister.

    • Alexandria says:

      I’m not even American or an Anglophile. But I’m very angry with the RF, RR and palace treatment of Meghan. I won’t miss the Queen when she’s gone. I had basic respect for her. Gone.

  6. Phuggi says:

    That comparison from the unnamed courtier just *smacks* of classism and racism and sexism all rolled into one awful person. Kate was lovely and shy (read quiet) who was watchful (read: knew her place, did the proper obeisances to us, the powerful courtiers) and apologized a lot (read: for asking me to do my job!). But Meghan? “Who do you think you are?!” indeed! How dare this woman come in, not prostrate before me, not acknowledge how much lesser she is and how much higher than her we all are!

    • ABritGuest says:

      “Who do you think you are” is the running theme in Meghan’s interactions with the courtiers. In the New Yorker Camilla tominey said when she wanted scented candles for the wedding (same as Kate mind) who do you think you are was the reaction of courtiers. That Tom Quinn KP book said that the more conservative courtiers looked down on Meghan and she knew it& it made her overreact compared to Kate. There was also that quote, which if correct, I bet was from AK47 about ‘serving Queen & country not a cable actress’. Some of the staff didn’t like working for Meghan because of her background.

      It’s interesting as there was just a documentary about Anne turning 70 that was celebrating her being headstrong and rebelling against protocol& stuffy courtiers. As a former businesswoman I’m assuming Sophie might have brought that experience and her own ideas to the role when she started as a working royal after Sheikhgate. So why was Meghan coming to the Firm as a fully formed person who had experience of charity work so maybe her own ideas, such an issue?

      No matter how people try to dress it up-prejudice is a large factor in this and the only way Meghan might have had an easier time would have been to play very small

      • MerryGirl says:

        The only way Meghan might have had an easier time would have been to be a white woman who kept silent.

    • HeyJude says:

      Really I’m surprised they didn’t come right out and say the word “uppity” point blank.

  7. Priscila says:

    Courtiers want their princess to be meak, in a constant state of distress and white.

    Courtiers do not want their princess to be strong, resourceful and self reliant and most of all, half black.

    • Stacy Dresden says:

      It would probably be awesome to be an assistant to Meghan!

      • Sid says:

        I remember that Amy Pickerill was always smiling and seemed almost proud of Meghan when she was out accompanying her on engagements. And didn’t Samantha Cohen end up staying with her longer than originally planned? Their old social media manager David also always looked happy when you saw him.

    • Ginger says:

      They want their princesses to be empty vessels they can mold into whatever narrative they are trying to push. Kate has been shy and quiet, a leader of the monarchy, a hands on mom and a top ceo that works herself into the ground with no vacation.

      They can’t do that with Meghan. They have tried but there are plenty of receipts that prove otherwise.

  8. JaneDoesWerk says:

    I was shouted down when I pointed this out a few days ago, but Kate was absolutely given etiquette training and “princess lessons” before and after her wedding. She had a much gentler winding up to her “duties”. Meghan sort of dove in head first and it sounds like the courtiers attitude was “oh, you want to hit the ground running? Go ahead!” And intentionally didn’t offer her trainings that she could have used knowing she would be eviscerated a racist press. It felt like they enjoyed watching her stumble, and when she didn’t they twisted whatever did into an etiquette violation.

    • Myra says:

      Within the same year that Meghan got married, a professional acquaintance mentioned to me that she believed Meghan had received training. I told her I doubted that, Meghan appeared to my eyes, at the time, to be a natural at what she was doing. I do not believe she ever really stumbled, at least not in public. She carried her role with grace, was empathetic and very hands-on. It was the reaction to her (the leaks, criticisms, racist and sexist insults) that was over the top. Years from now, we will all question everyone’s role in this mess and some people will say 2018 – 2019 was a different time.

    • Ginger says:

      The etiquette lessons didn’t work for Kate since she kept flashing her ass countless times

      • Alexandria says:

        And etiquette wise there was nothing major that Meghan did. The best they pointed out was the car and handbag placement? I mean, are you going to look at the average working taxpayer in the eye and tell them this is an abomination and insult to their tax money?

  9. A says:

    Vilifying women for having their own opinions is an incredibly modern idea and I commend the Palace for their avant garde approach to what we all know to be a truly terrifying concept. Also, I sincerely appreciate that courtiers, who work for the Royal Family and would have decades of experience dealing with diplomatic and political intrigue from all over the world, act like Meghan Markle busted through the front gate of Buckingham Palace like Yosemite Sam screaming ‘yeehaw, I’m here to make the Queen vegan’.

  10. Betsy says:

    She just seems so grounded, even with all the implications that she’s so woo. I’m still disappointed that it didn’t work out. I probably wouldn’t be disappointed if the Trumpvirus weren’t still a thing and we actually got to see Meghan and Harry in action (or pictures, after the fact), but for right now it saddens me that the Royals had two dedicated workers and they… let William bully them out.

  11. Amy Bee says:

    I’m not too concerned about her not getting etiquette lessons. Most actresses are taught how to get out of cars etc. I think the main problem is the palace did not know how to work with a person who is fully formed and has work experience. Meghan didn’t show deference to courtiers like Kate did and they didn’t like that.

  12. Feeshalori says:

    I can just envision the courtier disdainfully spitting out “Californian” as if it were a dirty word.

  13. Sarah says:

    Hi (waves British passport and tax records showing what I’ve contributed to maintain this family) that may be YOUR opinion random quote person/courtier or whatever but please speak for yourself. It was so refreshing to see a woman willing to marry into the royal family who had all those characteristics, it’s what made her necessary and exciting to me. Having said that I am SO glad she and Harry are our and now want to know how we can get rid of the rest of them. They are ‘benefits Britain’.

  14. Mich says:

    Oh the irony. Courtiers who demanded in a say in every facet of Meghan’s life – right down to her choice of nail polish – bemoan crass American telling people how to live.

  15. Sara says:

    Can someone just please do a book on the courtiers. I’ve never seen a group of men be so obsessed with their standing.

    It’s almost as if they take on the hierarchy of who they are representing. It would be hilarious, if it wasn’t so sad and annoying.

    Also, I’m sure Meghan got etiquette training that we don’t know about. I highly doubt that she would go into this situation without being totally prepared.

  16. MarcelMarcel says:

    So clearly Meghan was the target of misogynoir. Harry leaving the institution was the healthiest choice but…
    Is the average British person really that concerned about Kate or Meghan or their perceived attitudes? Because the English friends I have don’t want the monarchy and don’t care enough about either Duchess to have detailed opinions.
    Like there’s clearly a market who actively read articles where Meghan is bullied. I’m just curious if it’s like the majority of the population or a small devoted following.

    • Lady D says:

      The Daily Mail sells a million copies a day. The comment section on Meghan stories can have up to 17,000 comments and 16,900 are bad or worse. The pushback against this journalism is almost non-existent. It gives one pause.

  17. Mirage says:

    Not giving etiquette lessons to Meghan was pure sabotaging from the Palace, that is all.
    Regardless of whether Kate had them or not, they should have helped her perform her very public duties by giving these guidelines.

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      I agree it was probably sabotage, but what’s hilarious is that I think they assumed Meghan would *need* etiquette lessons. She didn’t. She has good manners & is a professional who does her homework.

      And maybe Kate should get a refund on her lessons, since I still don’t know what Meghan’s ass cheeks look like.

      • Alexandria says:

        Meghan wasn’t even a normal civilian. She has attended black or white tie events as an actress, or mingled with ambassadors or high profile businesspersons during her stints with the UN and US embassy. She knows how to behave and which utensil to pick up and how to dress.

        However, knowing how to act as a representative of the RF, how to interact with the Queen and understand the royal hierarchy protocol lessons would be needed. They owe her that.

  18. Redgrl says:

    In addition to all the racism and classism, what is really emerging is how utterly sexist the BRF (and many of its supporters, presumably) are. The whole “good, modest, quiet” woman BS is nauseating in this day and age. I think a lot of us knew it already, but it seems to be crystallizing more now, if that makes any sense.

  19. Emmitt says:

    There was no need for Meghan to have princess lessons because she was never going to be a princess…the wedding was to be stopped by Thomas Markle.

  20. JanetDR says:

    Am I the only one who looks at the “FF:” and interprets it as FFS?!

  21. LRobb says:

    I would like an hour with said “courtier” in a private room.
    Me: “Listen a**h***. The answer to your question about ‘who does she think she is’? She is, as you already know, a grown educated accomplished beautiful generous & articulate force of nature. She deigned to put up with your bull out of love for her prince & a sincere desire to serve the Queen through hard work & creative problem solving. Now, talk about her to my face. I’ve had my own version of SAS training too.”

  22. MA says:

    They’re really telling on themselves. They’re comparing Meghan’s demeanor to that of teenage Kate. They’re admitting that Meghan wasn’t halting, deferential, girlish enough for them. Except they didn’t expect this of Sophie, another career woman who didn’t come in like an unsure girl. Interesting how they had an issue with the one but not the other not lowering herself and acting helpless.

    • kerwood says:

      Good point. And then Sophie decided to make a little cash on the side with her royal connections and she was STILL allowed to stay in the family.

      Hearing about Meghan having to go to kidnapping school, reminds me of how President Obama wore a suit lined in Kevlar for his inauguration because of the record-setting number of death threats. I’m already afraid for Kamala Harris but it looks like her husband knows how to deal with anyone who gets to close.

  23. Maria says:

    There was a lot of assumptions made when Meghan came on the scene. When a courtier told her that she was doing an engagement with the Queen, he said that the Queen would wear a hat, meaning that Meghan was expected to wear a hat. But she was new to the UK and she wouldn’t necessarily know that, so she didn’t wear a hat and got flak for it.

    • MsIam says:

      That always seemed like a strange story because I believe Samantha Cohen went with her on that trip with the queen. Wouldn’t she know about the hat rule? Makes me wonder if there really is any such thing. Plus there are pics of Camilla and Kate with the queen not wearing hats when the queen wore one.

    • windyriver says:

      It says in the book that Meghan wasn’t required to wear a hat on that trip. Besides, if she was told TQ was wearing a hat, I’m sure she would have cross checked the protocol with other people/her staff. She was new to the whole hat thing, so would have paid close attention to that requirement particularly.

  24. Charfromdarock says:

    I know she needs to know this training but just reading this has me tearing up.

    “ took part in a staged kidnapping, where she was bundled into the back of a car by a “terrorist,” taken to a different location, and then “saved” by officers firing fake guns (the kind used in Hollywood filming) for realism.”

    That’s intense. I actually had my yearly threat training refresher yesterday and we only talk through scenarios and watch videos and it messes me up for days and gives me nightmares every time.

    • Alexandria says:

      Yea. If it were me, it would be at that point where I’d question having kids with Harry. Would break my heart exposing them to such dangers. Good thing Meghan appears stronger and more composed than I am.

    • Jedi says:

      I had to take part in similar training done by my government for my job. I’m not particularly high up, but it’s standard if you travel to certain countries for work. It is not fun. It is horrifying and realistic and I ran. They storm into the classroom and take you and yell in another language to simulate how it feels and to help you try to practice staying calm. I ran the first chance I got after we were moved to a field. They called off the exercise because I didn’t stop running lol.

  25. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    Meghan didn’t need etiquette lessons.

    But I’m sorry she didn’t stay long enough to teach the Brits how to eat properly. Put down the knife; you don’t need to keep it clenched in your fist so you can shovel the food down as fast as you can, as if it’s a race to see who can gobble down their food first. Just put the knife down. Also, the fork is curved for a reason; if you point it in the proper direction, the food won’t fall off – and you won’t need to use mashed potatoes as “glue” to hold the food on, and you won’t need to smash the food onto the fork to keep it from falling off, and you won’t need to hunch over the plate to quickly shovel the food in your mouth before is falls off. Just point the fork in the correct direction. Do Brits use their spoons upside down too, because they don’t understand how gravity works?

    And do they understand how hats works? There are picture of royal women squinting in the sun despite wearing very wide-brimmed hats — because the hats are plastered to the *sides* of their heads. Instead of learning “etiquette” they need to learn the fundamentals of how hats and sunlight and forks and gravity work.

    • MerryGirl says:

      LOL….I so never understand how you can place food on you ford upside down – it’s the most stupid thing I’ve ever witnessed.

  26. A says:

    The most telling part of the book was when it mentioned that many of the palace aides and courtiers are actually much more conservative in their attitudes regarding the monarchy than even the monarchs themselves. That says it all really.

  27. Mariane says:

    @A its because they mostly employ tories! These people are so uptight and think they are above everyone even in this case the royals themselves it seems
    The book really exposes how powerless the monarch is. Charles better read it and see how insignificant he seems