Meghan Markle will have realised married life to Prince Harry is ‘no fairytale’ as they celebrate their one year anniversary, royal expert claims

WHAT a difference a year makes.

It’s an old cliché but as Meghan Markle, The Duchess of Sussex, woke up today it will have been impossible for her not to reflect on 365 days that have changed her life forever.

Sitting in her new home, with her new baby Archie and her husband of 12 months, what will be going through Meghan’s mind as she and Prince Harry toast their first anniversary?

On this day last year more than a billion people around the world watched what was surely the most magical if unconventional Royal wedding for generations.

A year on and the actress turned duchess is now one of the most talked about people on the planet.

Every aspect of her life, from the shoes she wears, to how she pronounces her words, has become the subject of intense scrutiny.

Unlike most ‘commoners’ who find themselves marrying into the Royal family, Meghan was no stranger to the limelight.

Since her teens she did everything she could to promote herself and build a career as an actress and outspoken celebrity.

Her decision to wed her handsome Prince has come at an unimaginable cost.

A blind date with one of the most popular members of the Royal family in the summer of 2016 turned everything on its head.

The whirlwind romance that catapulted Meghan to a level of stardom beyond her wildest dreams must have been as bewildering as it was overwhelming.

But now the reality of what it means to be a Royal has begun to sink in, Meghan will have realised that this is no fairy tale.

Her decision to wed her handsome Prince has come at an unimaginable cost.

Marrying Harry meant an end to her career, a move to a new country, giving up the freedoms of ordinary life not to mention the silencing of her Instagram posts that were followed by a million fawning fans.

All things considered Meghan’s first year as a Royal has been a resounding success.

She has built a close relationship with the Queen.

Her Majesty invited Meghan to join her on an official engagement, an offer that included a rare night staying on the Royal train.

Meghan’s first overseas tour to Australasia in September was met by universal acclaim.

Acres of coverage and crowds of adoring well-wishers desperate to catch a glimpse of the golden couple.

And in October a poll revealed the new member of ‘The Firm’ was already more popular than the 70-year-old Prince of Wales, Meghan ranking just behind her sister-in-law the Duchess of Cambridge.

But the past year has also been punctuated by negatives.

The fall-out from her father’s ‘betrayal’ the week before the wedding continues to haunt Meghan and sees no sign of going away.

When former Hollywood lighting director Thomas Markle was exposed as having done a lucrative deal with paparazzi photographers he naively crossed a long established red line in Harry’s eyes.

Less than three days later it was revealed that Mr Markle would not be attending the wedding, meaning Prince Charles walked his son’s bride down the aisle.

This was followed by scathing interviews and personal attacks by Meghan’s estranged half sister Samantha, who even accused her of faking a British accent.

Then there was the first of two famous pieces to camera Thomas gave to Good Morning Britain – effectively snapping any olive branch before it was even offered.

In reality, the Markle debacle only made Meghan appear more normal, after all everyone knows you can choose your friends but not your family.

Reducing the Markle family’s private business to a Jeremy Kyle Show-style depth of tackiness only damaged Samantha and Thomas in the eyes of the public.

But more harmful was the alleged ‘rift’ between Meghan and Prince William’s wife.

A story, yet to be denied by the Palace press buffoons, suggested Meghan has reduced Kate to tears as they chose outfits for the wedding.

After that there were reams of column inches claiming things were not all they seemed behind the staged managed smiles whenever the Fab Four appeared in public together.

Whatever the truth behind the falling out between the Sussex and Cambridge clans, it is damaging for Meghan to be singled out as a fly in the Royal chardonnay.

In many ways these unchallenged stories only fuelled those whose racist disposition empowered them to troll Meghan with the most vile insults on social media.

What has happened since the smiles and celebrations of this time last year, is that Harry has gone into overdrive to protect his wife from criticism, whether from her internet trolls or her own family.

The danger for the much loved but hot-headed Duke of Sussex is that his rage against the media will ultimately alienate him from the public who adore him.

One year into their marriage, Harry and Meghan should be proud of how things have gone so far.

But they need to remember being popular is not an entitlement, it has to be maintained.

But for now, they remain the golden couple who look set to survive whatever is thrown at them.

*Duncan Larcombe is former Royal Editor of The Sun and author of Prince Harry, The Inside Story.

See Meghan and Harry's unseen wedding photos released to mark their anniversary.

We also revealed how Meghan has been described as a "princess of the UK" on Archie's birth certificate.

And it was revealed that Meghan gave Archie the middle name Harrison as a "tribute to her favourite Beatle".

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