kate middleton with meghan markle

Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle: the special bond between the two Duchesses - full story

The Duchess of Sussex joined the royal family in May

Tracy Schaverien

As Meghan Markle settles into her new life as a member of the royal family, we take a look at how the Duchess of Cambridge is becoming her mentor and confidante. Kate, who was helped by the Countess of Wessex as she negotiated her way into 'The Firm' eight years ago when she got engaged to Prince William, can now pass the favour forward. HELLO! explores the relationship between Meghan and Kate and finds they have plenty in common. As well as falling in love with their Princes, the glamorous brunettes, who live next door to each other at Kensington Palace, share a sense of style, dedication to charity work and a love of the countryside.

Kate and Meghan's royal 'firsts':

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Style Queens

Meghan is already fashion royalty, with brands desperate for her to be seen in their labels and clothes selling out as soon as she wears them. The "Markle sparkle" is fast catching up with the established "Kate effect". The Duchess of Cambridge's fashion patronage has boosted British designers including Jenny Packham and Alice Temperley, as well as high street chains such as Zara and LK Bennett, and maternity wear from Séraphine and other labels. The two women share similar tastes: both love Mulberry handbags and Cartier watches, as well as dresses by British designer Erdem and coats by Canadian label Sentaler. Meghan has even adopted Kate's English country look of waxed Barbour jacket and wellies, worn during visits to the UK, while both like to dress down in jeans and casual shirts. When it comes to official duties, Kate may also advise Meghan to follow her lead and dress for diplomacy, choosing local designers when she tours overseas.

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Kate has been helping Meghan settle into royal life

Career change

Before joining the royal family, Meghan was known to fans as paralegal Rachel Zane in TV show Suits. After announcing her engagement, the former actress revealed that she would be giving up her career and focus on becoming a full-time royal, and championing her own charitable causes. Similarly, when Kate got engaged, she gave up her job looking after the website and marketing of her parents' online party supplies business so she could dedicate herself to royal life. At the time, William's spokesman said Kate would share duties at her husband's side before taking on a full royal role herself. He said: "Prince William wants to initiate her properly into the job, so at first she will not undertake any solo engagements."

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Both Meghan and Kate are patrons of The Royal Foundation

Charity work

Charity work is a huge part of royal life and each senior member of the family is a patron of many organisations. In this, Meghan has a head start – she is a global ambassador for World Vision and has spent time in Rwanda and India, promoting campaigns for clean water and feminine hygiene. Meghan started her activism early. Aged 11, she wrote to then US First Lady Hillary Clinton to complain about a sexist TV advert for washing-up liquid – corporate giant Procter & Gamble changed the ad. Upon joining the royal family, Meghan gave up her commitments but she is the fourth patron of the Royal Foundation, and will no doubt find her own charities and organisations to support. 

Prince William helped ease Kate into her royal duties, by taking her with him on his charity commitments before she carved out her own identity within the royal household. Kate, who has taken on patronage of several charities, including Action on Addiction and East Anglia Children’s Hospices, now regularly undertakes royal engagements alone and will be able to advise Meghan.

The "Markle sparkle" is fast catching up with the established "Kate effect"

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Love of Africa

Both Prince William and Prince Harry absolutely adore Africa, just like their late mother Princess Diana did. And it seems the royal brothers have passed on their passion to their wives. William chose to pop the question during a trip to Kenya in 2010, asking for Kate's hand in marriage at their isolated log cabin. "It was very romantic," said Kate. "I really didn't expect it. It was a total shock… and very exciting." Similarly, Harry whisked his then-girlfriend Meghan to Botswana for their third date, and the lovebirds returned various times to Africa while they were dating.

Home from home

Harry and Meghan currently live in the Prince's cottage at Kensington Palace – the same house William and Kate shared when they were first married. If the couple start a family, it's likely they will upsize to the palace's larger Apartment 1, which is next door to his brother, giving Meghan and Kate the opportunity to spend plenty of time together. Harry and Meghan also own a country retreat in the Cotswolds, where former Prime Minister David Cameron, David and Victoria Beckham and supermodel Kate Moss have homes.

Harry has been spotted in local pubs and driving through Oxfordshire's country lanes in a Range Rover. He is said to have tasked upmarket estate agent VanHan, founded by his friends Thomas van Straubenzee and Rory Penn, with finding him a suitable pad in the area. Meghan was reportedly keen to be close to trendy private members' hotel Soho Farmhouse, a favourite haunt of George Clooney and Princess Eugenie, while Harry is said to have wanted plenty of land. Kate will be able to give her new sister-in-law plenty of tips for country life – her weekend home is Anmer Hall, the ten-bedroom pile on the Sandringham estate that was a wedding gift from the Queen.

The couple have a Cotswolds retreat as well as their London palace base

Royal perks

Like other members of the royal family, both Kate and Meghan have personal protection officers who are always a few steps away from them when out in public. They had a similar level of protection even before their engagement while they were still royal girlfriends. Before her wedding, Meghan reportedly enjoyed the use of a sporty Volkswagen Golf when she stayed in London and was spotted being driven around the capital – just as Kate was pictured in an Audi A3 shortly before her engagement to William was announced. The royal family has a deal with Audi and its parent company Volkswagen, giving them a 60 per cent lease discount.

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