April 2, 2021

Redefining Abundance: An Expat’s Journey

I’m about to take a sabbatical - a break from writing to do ... well, other writing, which means working on an unfinished book. I always enjoy reading (and occasionally posting) others’ work. This sample of Cecile Popp’s fine  

writing more than qualifies: I’m delighted to present it for your reading enjoyment. Cecile’s essay and bio address the “who, where, what, and why? questions. 

* * *

Cengiz likes to stop at a fruit stand on his way home from work, casually depositing pomegranates, persimmons and quince on the kitchen table when he walks in. 

Now I reach for a plump purple fig from the bowl before me. I’ve already eaten more than I’d care to admit, but indulge in another, gently peeling back its skin and biting into its soft flesh. How ordinary a gesture this has become!

We live in Adana, a city in the south of Turkey. Here, in what is arguably one of the most fertile regions in the world, something is always in season. Of course, I didn’t know this when I met my future husband and moved here. Or rather, I didn’t know how much this abundance would change me. 

Adana, Turkey

My thoughts drift to another time and place: Toronto, 15 years ago. There, in a supermarket, fresh figs beckon from nests of tissue paper. At $5 each, they’re too expensive for me. I’m intimidated. How does one even eat a fig?

* * *

When I followed Cengiz to Turkey, I noticed all the things Turkish people didn’t have. Reliable electricity and water; sidewalks; libraries. Houses were often sparsely furnished, their cracked walls and peeling paint left unrepaired. I’d come here from Canada, one of the richest, most developed countries in the world. How lucky Canadians are, I thought. How poor Turkish people are!

When it came to food, everything changed: Restaurant tables heaped with meze. Grilled fish, kebap, more hot bread arriving just as I thought I couldn’t eat another bite. Attendants hovering nearby, ready to replace my dirty plate with a clean one; ready to sweep sesame seeds from the tablecloth with stiff-bristled brushes. 

And the lingering. Dinners lasting hours. A musical troupe winding its way between tables. A reedy clarinet; a dizzying drum; singing. 

And later … endless delicate glasses of tea. Syrupy desserts. A fruit platter. Tiny cups of bitter coffee. 

* * *

For years, I was unable to reconcile these opposing aspects of life in Turkey, seeing only what was missing; only what was broken. 

On a December visit to Canada, walking barefoot through my father’s suburban home, I thought how cold our house had been, that first winter in Adana. Despite the temperate winter, our lack of central heating and insulation encouraged the concrete walls to absorb the damp. I’d been chilled through for three months straight.

Another year, in Toronto for the summer, it was the big-box supermarket that seduced me. Pushing a cart up and down the aisles, I savoured the varieties of salty snacks, peanut butters and cereals. I couldn’t find many packaged foods in Adana: I cooked everything from scratch, using fresh vegetables, dried chickpeas, and bulgur. 

As long as I continued to compare the two countries, all I could see were Turkey’s shortcomings. 

* * *

Over time, that opinion shifted. I thought less about the things in Canada I missed, and more about the things in Turkey I’d gained. Where else could I find tahini so fresh, it was still warm when I bought it? 

I came to understand financial wealth and abundance are not the same thing. Abundance is a mindset; an attitude; a way of looking at life. 

In the mahalle where Cengiz grew up and where his mother still lives, many households support unemployed family members. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to see three generations under one roof. Somehow, there’s always a hearty meal and a bed available - even if that bed is on a sofa, a balcony, or a rooftop. 

Growing beside a cracked driveway or over a cinderblock wall are fig trees. Gnarly and determined and resilient. Their fruit hangs ripe for passersby: A young boy in frayed sandals, an elderly woman in şalvar, and me. If the fruit is ripe and the skin is thin, I’ll pop it into my mouth without peeling.

© Cecile Popp, 2019; revised in 2021.

Cecile Popp is a Canadian educator and writer living in southern Turkey. For more than a decade, she taught high school English Language Arts in Tarsus and Istanbul. Now, seeking a quieter life, she has returned to the south to write and work on other projects, most notably a memoir about her Baltic-German grandparents. 

You can read more of Cecile’s writing in the anthology Expat Sofra (Alfa). Her YouTube channel, From Canada to Adana, features visual essays about her life in Turkey. A lecturer in the School of Foreign Languages at Adana’s Science and Technology University, Cecile lives in Adana with her husband and their three sons.

March 30, 2021

Sun, Peeking Through the Clouds

What’s on my mind? I awoke this morning thinking of the joy and enrichment of having had so many life experiences - of the close and intimate friendships; of the many people I’ve had the good luck to have met over my long and (mostly) happy life; of the many experiences I’ve been fortunate enough to have had (probably the most unusual of which was talking to a convicted murderer in her cell for hours until almost midnight very near to Christmas, and then driving home to write what would be her p. 1 story in the overnight hours); of my beloved children and husband; of the past marriages from which I’ve learned; of the countries I’ve lived ... 

Life is precious. I’m so grateful for mine, and for the lives of the people I know and love, especially that of Himself, my rock, who recently celebrated his 77th birthday. Together we laugh and play and trust without reservation. 

Particularly during this COVID crisis, I feel for those who are frustrated, angry, fearful, broke, homeless, friendless, mentally or physically ill, or unable to make good choices. 

Life can only improve if you make it improve, listening to voices other than those inside your head. 

Life can only improve if you learn to trust the sound judgment of others. Life can only improve if you seek help, as many of us need to do at critical points in our lives. 

For love to cure the world, self-love is an important first step. Know your worth. You can make a difference. Go do it.

© Nicole Parton, 2021

March 29, 2021


What’s on my mind? Himself celebrated a big birthday this week. I wanted to make the day ”special” - not the easiest thing to do during a pandemic. Our supermarket (the only one in our island village-that-calls-itself-a-town) delivered a birthday cake to the door. I told Himself to close his eyes and turn away while I parked the cake in the second fridge. 

With no idea what I was doing, he probably assumed I was stuck, trying to squeeze into an old bathing suit and didn’t want him to see. He didn’t guess there was a cake. 

(Wait for it. I’ve yet to reach the point.)

”Whad-do-I-do-whad-do-I-do-whad-do-I-do-o-o?” for a birthday during COVID.

By 11:30 that morning, I was desperate - no gift, nothing planned other than to smear Himself’s supermarket birthday cake a-w-w-w-ll over my b-a-w-d-y so he can lick it off. 



By 11:45, I had a brain wave: Ring our local sushi restaurant, order take-out, and have a picnic at the beach. 


(Have patience. I still haven’t got to the point.)

Parts 1 and 2 of my plan went smoothly as he waited in the car. Part 3 was a bit of a problem thanks to a hurricane at the beach. We ate our sushi in the car as suicidal masochists flew by, freezing off their patooties. 

Oh happy day! On opening what felt like a very heavy bag of sushi, I saw that someone else’s order had been packed with ours. Staring at it a few seconds, I thought: “Oh, well!” Even though we hadn’t paid for this largesse, there was zero chance the restaurant would take it back, so we stuffed it into our mouths.  

Being the uncoordinated type, I have no idea how to use chopsticks, and never will. Himself ripped the paper from his chopsticks but - on seeing the feast before us - reverted to a more efficient method, clawing at it with his fingers.

“MIFF ITH QUIDE A BIRFFDAY THURPITHE!” he said, cheeks puffed like a chipmunk. “YETH!” I said, taking credit for his assumption that I’d blown 50 bucks on his birthday when I’d coughed up only $17.50.

So here’s the point. Sure, Himself had wasted his chopsticks, ripping past the paper to go ‘Here a poke, there a poke, everywhere a poke-poke’ before his fingers let ’er rip. 

My chopsticks had never been used. My chopsticks never are. Carrying them home like a trophy, I deposited them in the kitchen drawer, beside a dozen or so never-used pairs.

Ever the efficient planner, I know exactly what I’m going to do with those chopsticks. I’m going to wait until I have 20 - maybe 24 - pairs in the drawer. And then I will remove them - lovingly, carefully - ensuring each pristine pair remains in its paper. And then I will carry them from the drawer, thinking of the many chop-sticked meals for which I’ve used a fork. And then I will chuck them into the trash.

© Nicole Parton, 2021

March 28, 2021

When Harry Met Meghan (Part 6)

What’s on my mind? Life is complicated. So are relationships. Who you know is sometimes more important than what you know. 

Case in point: Duck! Rabbit! - the best-selling, award-winning, 2009 children’s book illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld and written by the late Amy Krouse Rosenthal (@chroniclekidsbooks and its creators).  

Last May, media mogul Oprah Winfrey gave Archie Mountbatten-Windsor - son of Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and Harry, the Duke of Sussex - a copy of the book for his first birthday.

You already know much about M&H, who so famously traded the cloistered halls of the royal household for the “privacy” of Los Angeles. Inside the book was a sticker reading Archie’s Book Club. It’s been reported that the sticker’s design is very similar to the Oprah’s Book Club sticker.

Markle read Archie portions of the book as Harry filmed the event - which ended up on YouTube and elsewhere - ostensibly to benefit Save the Children (UK) and #SaveWithStories, though anyone can watch it free, with no obligation to donate. 

Although a grumpy, finger-wagging Nicole views this as further commercialization of the threesome’s lives, Markle’s down-to-earth reading (no makeup; greying hair on display) to the lovable Archie charmed me. Harry’s whoops of “Hurray! Bravo!” and Archie’s “Bye, bye, duh-wah!” directly into the camera warmed my cold, cold heart - as did Markle’s whispered translation of “Duck, rabbit,” also spoken to the camera). 

Where did I watch the video? On Oprah Daily’s automatic redirection to Instagram. This gave me pause, as did a December 15, 2020 story in The Daily Mail. Last December, Markle invested in Clevr Blends, a woman-led, California-based coffee company that makes powdered oat ‘super lattes.’

Markle described her “love” for the lattes, praising the company’s “holistic approach to wellness.” Markle then sent Oprah a Christmas gift basket of the product. Oprah, in turn, posted a video on Instagram, calling the lattes “my new drink of choice for the morning and night. Wish I had @clevrblends sooner cause I would’ve added it to my Favorite Things list.”

As the Daily Mail reported, “PR experts say Ms. Winfrey’s backing is worth millions in free publicity,” which means Markle’s investment in the product would likely have risen sharply. Two months later, Oprah interviewed the Duke and Duchess for which they were “not paid.”

I may be out-of-step with today’s fast-paced society, but I find this bit of transactional friendship unseemly - a potential conflict of interest. I would not have done this - period, full stop. 

*    *    *

Is the American public wearying of the Meghan ’n’ Harry Show? Headed Meghan and Harry Suck Up to Those Who Can Give More Exposure, an Aug 29, 2020 story in celebratingthesoaps.com begins: “It’s clear that many view Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as grasping wannabes in American society …” The story doesn’t get any better.

Many others, however, are the couple’s flag-waving supporters and fans, from Twitter’s … 

Meghan Markle Daily (self-described as Your #1 source for all things Meghan Markle) to ...

Musical genius Sir Elton John: “I highly respect and applaud both Harry and Meghan’s commitment to charity and I’m calling on the press to cease these relentless and untrue assassinations on their character.” to …

Tennis legend Serena Williams: “(Markle’s) words illustrate the pain and cruelty she’s experienced. I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of color to minimize us, to break us down and demonize us.” to … 

And Markle’s spelling-challenged Suits costar, Patrick J. Adams, who on March 5, 2021, tweeted: “It’s OBSCENE that the Royal Family, who’s newest member is currently GROWING INSIDE OF HER, is promoting and amplifying accusations of “bullying” against a woman who herself was basically forced to flea the UK in order protect her family and her own mental health.”

For any member of the royal family, having overly generous friends can sometimes pose ethical dilemmas in what can become a transactional relation: I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.

Google reports that: “George Clooney and his wife Amal were two of the 600 guests who attended Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan, Duchess of Sussex ... But according to a royal expert, Clooney admitted he did not know the Sussexes when he attended their wedding in May 2018.”

Example #1: Aug. 12, 2020, Hello Magazine reported: “(S)hortly after their royal wedding, the Sussexes joined Amal and George at their Italian villa on Lake Como …” The magazine’s source? None other than royal reporter Omid Scobie, co-author of the Markle/Harry book Finding Freedom. According to Hello, George Clooney “personally made sure to get the couple to Italy safely via his private jet.” 

Example #2: In August, 2019, when Sir Elton John invited the Duke and Duchess to his home in the south of France, he, too, dispatched a private jet for their visit. 

Example #3: In February, 2019, Amal Clooney and Serena Williams reportedly co-hosted Markle’s afternoon baby shower in the $75,000-a-night, 10,000 sq. ft. penthouse suite of The Mark Hotel in Manhattan’s upper east side. 

Among the guests: TV host Gayle King, bestie to media mogul Winfrey. After Markle and Harry had clarified one point about the interview with Oprah, they (or their representative) sought out King to clarify another. The media may not have granted this privilege to any old Joe and Josephine.

Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, was “unfortunately unable to attend her (daughter’s) first baby shower due to work commitments …” Ms. Ragland is a yoga instructor in Los Angeles. 

Why do costly gifts and gifts-in-kind matter? The royal couple didn’t announce their intention to “step back” from the royal family until January, 2020, formalizing the split a year later. They accepted these costly gestures and gifts while senior royals. Should members of the royal family accept gifts that may compromise them in future?

The “gift policy” intended to guide the royal family states: “The fundamental principle governing the acceptance of gifts by Members of The Royal Family is that no gifts, including hospitality or services, should be accepted which would, or might appear to, place the Member of The Royal Family under any obligation to the donor.” You be the judge. 

*    *    *

Markle has called the couple’s departure from the royal family “liberating.” In some quarters, it comes as no surprise that Meghan Markle is all about Meghan Markle.

In 2020, an acerbic Donald Trump said of Markle: “I’m not a fan … I wish a lot of luck to Harry. He's going to need it.”

Will the couple’s marriage survive? Or will it gradually slide into the muck of its own making? I wouldn’t want to speculate. Over time, much will depend on whether the Duchess continues to strut the world stage in starring roles, relegating the pleasant, ginger-haired Duke to cameos and walk-on parts.

It’s been said that Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, gave his favorite grandson sage advice: “One steps out with actresses; one doesn’t marry them.” But when Harry and Markle “stepped out,” their departure ignited a firestorm. 

A series of “Lifetime” movies is franchising and  commercializing the couple’s every move even further, detailing their split from the royal family and enhancing the couple’s “brand.” Lifetime is jointly owned by the Walt Disney Company and Hearst Communications.

Already shown have been 2018’s Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance, and 2019’s Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal. Coming this Fall: Harry & Meghan: Escaping the Palace. A network press release says the story “will include details about Meghan’s growing isolation, the couple’s disappointment that those in power were not defending them against the press’ attacks, and Harry’s fear that history would repeat itself and he would not be able to protect his wife and son from the same forces that caused his mother’s untimely death.” 

The statement also promises to “reveal the private family feuds between Will and Harry, Kate and Meghan, and Harry with Will and Charles, that lead to the ultimate break from the royal ties.”

I don’t know how much Markle and le petit prince stand to make from this, but I can guess how much they stand to lose.

For Markle - polished actress, lover of spotlights - the soap opera has never ended. For Harry, it’s just begun.

© Nicole Parton, 2021

March 25, 2021

When Harry Met Meghan (Part 5)

What’s on my mind? 

There’s a lot to be said for chats at the kitchen table and meals made with love. There’s a lot to be said for beer slugged from the bottle, ’n’ cheese ’n’ beans ’n’ whoops! There’s a lot to be said for belly laughs, and a lot to be said for an untroubled life of simplicity - say what you mean; mean what you say. 

Harry, the Duke of Sussex, is a decent - but troubled - man.  

Both Harry and brother William, who’s second-in-line to the throne, have been dogged by mental health problems linked to the loss of their mother. Harry was 12 and William,15, when Diana died in a car crash, 24 years ago. Each son has been open about seeking help, and has encouraged others to do the same. It takes courage to expose vulnerability - particularly as a senior member of the royal family. 

Which is why a casual comment from Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, struck me as poignant and even cruel. During the couple’s recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, as a seemingly withdrawn Harry sat staring at the rescued chickens in son Archie’s “Chick Inn” pen, Markle told Oprah: “I love rescuing.”

Markle didn’t say: “It was important to us to save these chickens” or “Rescuing these chickens was the right thing to do.” What she said was: “I love rescuing.” I work with words: I recognize the power of shaded meanings. I believe the brevity and choice of these particular words was not accidental. 

As Markle aired the perceived miseries of her privileged life within the royal family, she agreed with Oprah’s suggestion that she felt “trapped.”

Harry, too, told Oprah he was “trapped, but I didn’t know I was trapped …” Asked if he would have stepped back from his royal role were it not for Markle, he said he wouldn’t have.

During the interview, Markle denied “manipulating” Harry, instead suggesting she’d sacrificed a lucrative acting career for the royal family. How noble and brave to sacrifice herself so! The interview’s old news: Forgive me for dwelling on it (this is the last time I will), but the couple’s comments were revealing. 

Who’s driving this bus? Just as Harry didn’t know he was trapped, he may not recognize the perception in some quarters that he’s been occupying in the passenger seat. After Harry expressed his desire to move to Canada, the bus stopped there briefly before trundling to Los Angeles, city of angels and ambitions, which just happens to be Markle’s birthplace. Her mother is there; her friends are there; her Hollywood contacts are there; and now, she and Harry are there. 

If clocks could be rewound, I’d be surprised if HRH Prince Harry envisioned moving to LA three years ago. But with his and her HRH honorifics stripped away, the couple now lives in Montecito, 90 minutes north of Los Angeles. Theirs is a nine-bedroom, 16-bathroom, US $14.65 million house bought last June. As any financially responsible couple might do, they’re working hard to address the US $9.5 million mortgage they’re carrying. Very hard.

Show Me the Money, Honey: 

Through his private estate, Prince Charles had at one point paid 95 percent of the couple’s personal and professional expenses. As working royals, Markle and Harry also received an income through the Sovereign Grant British taxpayers fund. When they “stepped back,” announcing they would no longer shake all those hands and embark on all those goodwill tours as working Royals, the Grant - and Charles’ financial support - stopped.

Which came first? Harry’s squeaky indignation that the royal family had “literally cut me off financially” or the couple’s claim of seeking financial independence? As Harry admitted, without the money his mother left him, “we wouldn’t have been able to do this.” Diana left Harry an estimated £6 million - slightly more than US $8 million. Other estimates suggest US $10 million.

And so the ostentatious Duke and Duchess went to work, as most blokes do. Except that their income, employment, and staff weren’t quite the same as most blokes’. Some might say their networking and multi-million dollar business deals have landed them in the category of “nouveau riche” - an unfortunate status, unworthy of Harry’s lineage.

By January, 2020, with the couple still ensconced in the royal family, it was already rumored (and later confirmed) the limelight-loving Duchess had signed a deal with Disney+  two months before the announcing their decision to “step back” as senior working royals. In a nice bit of charitable public relations, Markle’s agreement to do a voice-over for a documentary about elephants specified her fee be channeled to an elephant conservation fund, rather than into her pocket. 

But then things changed. Not long after their arrival in the US, the couple inked a deal with the world’s top speaker’s agency at a rumored $1 million per talk. While Oprah made clear the couple wasn’t paid to bare their souls in the early March interview, their heightened profile from the interview didn’t hurt their chances in the working world.

This week, it was announced that Harry would become “chief impact officer” of BetterUp, a Silicon Valley start-up promoting mental health and proactive coaching. In an email announcing his new role, he wrote: “I intend to help create impact in people’s lives.” 

The nebulous statement attributed to Harry is not unlike those the couple has issued on signing a maelstrom of multi-million dollar deals. Whether Harry will or won’t draw a one-time payment, a salary, shares in the company, or mere recognition is unknown, but the exposure is certain to help BetterUp.

Netflix: In a multi-year deal, Netflix will pay the couple’s Archewell Productions to make documentaries, docu-series, feature films, scripted shows, and children’s programming. Another report refers to “documentaries, docu-series, feature films, scripted shows and children’s programming.” To my knowledge, no word when. Says a statement on behalf of the royal couple: “Our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope … impactful content that unlocks action.” Fuzzy, fine-sounding words. An unsubstantiated article in Marie Claire magazine reports the deal to be worth $100 million-plus.

Spotify podcasts: In December, The Guardian reported: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced a multi-year partnership with Spotify to produce and host podcasts that highlight and elevate diverse perspectives and voices … The specifics were vague: “Programming that uplifts and entertains audiences around the world.” The deal promises“different perspectives” and interviews with “amazing people.” Spotify aired their first podcast, a holiday special in December. The world has anxiously awaited the next. 

Apple TV+: In April, 2019, Before relinquishing their Royal Highness titles, the Duke and Duchess entered into an agreement to produce an Oprah Winfrey/Apple TV+ project involving mental health.

Note: Archewell Productions is not to be confused with the Archewell Foundation, through which the Duke and Duchess’ “core purpose is to uplift and unite communities - local and global, online and offline - one act of compassion at a time.” Well intended, to be sure, but more undefined fuzzification.  

Then there’s sweet, innocent Archie, the wunderkind who will be two in May. Is the boy named after the brand, or is the brand named after the boy?

Coming up in a couple of days: My final post in this series … A close look at the delightfully named Duck! Rabbit!; a rah-rah from Markle’s supporters; and a few words from the ever-unpleasant, ever-brash, ever-vulgar Donald Trump. 

© Nicole Parton, 2021

March 21, 2021

When Harry Met Meghan (Part 4)

What’s on my mind? 

“From what I understand, she (was) on a little TV show here in the US, and she’s saying she sacrificed this tiny celebrity show status to go be a princess and that’s a tremendous sacrifice.” 

- Behavioral analyst Chase Hughes 

What’s on my mind? Polls are for dogs. Ain’t it the truth? Among Americans, Meghan Markle’s positive polling stands at 45%, well above the 36% positive rating for the Queen’s corgis. In the UK, only 31% of respondents like her; I can only surmise how many fancy the corgis.


Polls can mislead, depending which polls ask which questions to which subjects. In other words,  GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. Polls rise and fall on the fickle whims of the day, so Markle needn’t dab away tears that not everyone’s a fan. 

Foremost among those who’ve suggested Markle’s pants are on fire is Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan who, after watching the March 6/7 Oprah Winfrey interview, said: “I don’t believe a word she says … I wouldn’t believe it if she read me a weather report.” Morgan became the program’s former host after more than 41,000 complaints flooded into the ITV network. Included among those was a formal complaint from Markle and another sent sent the country’s broadcast regulator.

Words offer a smorgasbord of choices from formal to relaxed. As a former interviewer, I’m interested in why people pick one word over another, particularly when the choice of word seems jarring. It’s a small thing, but shortly after the Oprah interview started, I felt uneasy when Markle stated that “in and of itself,” it was a “miracle” to have slept through the night before her wedding day. 

I hope I’m not being unfair to the Duchess, but “in and of itself” is a phrase one doesn’t normally hear in everyday conversation. One might hear it in a boardroom, or a lawyer’s office, but it’s an odd turn of phrase with reference to one’s wedding day. 

“This woman wants to impress upon people that she’s ‘smart’,” I thought. 

Which Markle most certainly is. She’s also articulate, attractive, genuinely concerned about social issues, superficially charming, and a beaming mother to son Archie, now 22 months old. 

The reason I raise this picky point about language is that I heard a markedly sharp contrast between Markle’s use of this formal phrase and the vague, stream-of-conscious sentence fragments she spun when it suited her in the Oprah interview. I found Markle adept at blurring her words with what I’ve concluded to be intentional ambiguity, as she did while claiming the palace failed to “protect” her.

As an experienced interviewer, I found few (if any) substantiations for Markle’s veiled, shadowy insinuations.

Markle holds a position of considerable power. Any serious public allegations she makes should be substantiated with a clearly stated “who, what, where, and when.” When Markle’s mostly unverifiable allegations met blow-back, Markle - or her representative -  went to Oprah’s best friend, TV host Gayle King, to say Markle had “proof” of everything she’d said. 

This woman needs to develop a thicker skin and get on with it, rather than issuing lawsuits, threats, and complaints while trying to curry favor from key corners of the media. Markle’s whining about “unfair treatment” is frankly becoming tedious. I say that not to be nasty, but in kindness, as a retired columnist and reporter. If Markle wants the media to stop commenting about her, she should lower her profile, assume an aura of demure elegance, and zip her lip. 

The queen’s response to Markle’s complaints was pointed and direct: “Some recollections may vary.” Markle’s issues will be addressed within the royal family. The queen is astute, experienced, and wise. She would never trade insult-for-insult.

At the interview’s conclusion, actress Markle was clearly eager to leave viewers with a few well-rehearsed words worthy of her alter-ego, TV paralegal Rachel Zane: “Life is about storytelling - about the stories we tell ourselves, the stories we are told, and the stories we buy into.” 

Reread and consider those words. Coming from a woman whose “truths” to Oprah didn’t always ring true, I find those words curious. In my view, they were the truest words to fall from Markle’s mouth during the entire interview.

*   *   *  

Why do some people feel Meghan Markle’s saccharine sweetness isn’t the real deal?

Among those questioning Markle’s sincerity are internationally recognized body language and behavior analysts Chase Hughes, Greg Hartley, Scott Rouse, and Mark Bowden. In a two-hour panel discussion, the experts gave their opinions of Markle’s (and Harry’s) demeanor and language.  

Panelist Rouse’s introduction of what was to come was more than interesting: “All we’re doing is telling you the body language we see … (not) whether anybody’s innocent, guilty, or anything like that … We’re Switzerland. We don’t care. We’re just telling you what we see …”

Hartley: “She starts with kind of a curt, smirked lip, and then when she says ‘I did not …’ (Google Harry or the royal family) Look, none of us believe(s) that. None of us. If you were going to date a prince tomorrow, you’d look him up.” 

One panelist referred to the patterns of Markle’s  shoulder shrugs (“.. a classic sign of deception”), eye flutters, blinking, requests for approval, and more. “It’s a subtle pattern, but it’s there. It’s a thread that runs through this.” 

Said another: “I think it’s really notable that she’s using the word “Meg” in the third person. The only time she does it is when there’s something negative: ‘That’s ‘somebody else.’ So she’s dissociating herself from the negative activities that are happening …” For the full discussion, see:


Interesting people tend to have many interests: Markle writes in calligraphy, a precise, fancy script that requires more time and attention than users would normally apply to cursive writing in Romance languages. 

Forensic handwriting examiner Sheila Lowe addressed Markle’s writing style in the May, 2019 online issue of SheKnows magazine:


“Calligraphy is by its nature stylized and is all about 

appearances. Someone who chooses a calligraphy form of writing ... cares about how they come across … Meghan’s beautiful writing has many flourishes that on one hand draw attention to her, but on the other, there is a formality that also keeps a distance. What this tells us is, Meghan wants to project an image of beauty, perfection and uniqueness which serve to hide some insecurity … The degree of control seen in this handwriting reveals a woman of strong emotion who works to hold back the tide and only show what she wants others to see.” 

Next: The Duke and Duchess’ “brand.” Does money buy happiness?

© Nicole Parton, 2021 

March 20, 2021

When Harry Met Meghan (Part 3)

What’s on my mind? Once upon a time, a handsome young Prince roamed the world looking for his mother. Prince Henry Charles Albert David (known as Harry) was only 12 when his mother died in 1997.  

“Mother! Mother!” called the Prince, but heard only the echo of his own voice. “Mo-ther!” The young Prince didn’t know it, but his mother was always by his side, watching over him. 

The young Prince’s older brother also missed his mother, who died when he was 15. Second in the line-of-succession to the throne, the older Prince married commoner Kate Middleton, who grew up in the village of Chapel Row, in the English county of Berkshire. Meeting in university, the couple had known one another nine years before their 2011 marriage and initial move to what has been described as a “modest beachside farmhouse.”

Kate performed the domestic duties without household help while William served as an Air Ambulance search-and-rescue pilot before turning to his royal duties. Now the mother of three, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, appears content to be beta to William’s alpha. Kate is 39; William will be 39 in June.

Harry, the young prince, also served his country, rising to Captain in the British Army over 10 years and two tours in Afghanistan. In 2011, the young prince assumed his royal duties before meeting American actress Meghan Markle in July, 2016. Commoner Markle grew up in Los Angeles. 

Everyone loves a love story: Endings are tinged with sadness. Until she met Harry, Markle was in a relationship with celebrity chef Cory Vitiello from 2014 until July 2016. Markle had formerly been in an 11-year relationship with American actor and producer Trevor Engelson. Married in Jamaica in 2011, the couple cited “irreconcilable differences” on their 2013 divorce. 

In the Nov. 30, 2017 edition of The Grazia Gazette, Markle friend Abby Wathen said the divorce “empowered” Markle. Engelson’s net worth is an estimated $12 million. 

Harry and Meghan’s May, 2019 wedding drew a worldwide TV audience of more than 29 million. The couple now has a son, Archie, and - post-Megxit - expect a daughter this summer. They live in a nine-bedroom, 16-bathroom mansion in Los Angeles on which they’re reported to hold a $10 million US mortgage.

Numbers, numbers ... Meghan and Harry’s lives always seem to come down to numbers. More about money issues in a few days.

As originally reported in The Sun’s Fabulous Magazine, when British TV presenter Lizzie Cundy heard the news of the royal romance, she immediately texted Markle: “What a catch!” Markle’s reply: “Yeah, I know!” But then, who wouldn’t be delighted to date a prince?

Has the young prince found his mother figure? Markle will be 40 in August - some than three years older than Diana, on her death. Harry will be 37 in September. Some might say Markle is the alpha to Harry’s beta, whose role within the royal family appears to have diminished and whose voice has weakened since Megxit and this month’s tittle-tattle Oprah interview criticizing the Crown. More about Markle’s charges - and others’ rebuttals - later this week.

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It’s often said history repeats itself. The story of Wallis Simpson, the divorced American socialite who became a duchess, is well known.

 In 1936, after less than a year on the throne, the weak-willed King Edward VIII abdicated to marry to his mistress, Wallis Simpson. The lengthy affair had been an open secret, beginning when he was a prince and she, a femme fatale

The headlines were brutal (as they’ve been for Meghan Markle ... Sexist and racist headlines she doesn’t deserve). On leaving the throne to marry Simpson, Edward became Prince Edward, the Duke of Windsor. When commoner Simpson married Edward, she became Wallis, the Duchess of Windsor. On Edward’s scandalous departure and moves to the Bahamas and to Paris, the vapid partying began.

From something bad, something good can emerge: Edward’s abdication led to the coronation of his younger brother, King George VI. George’s premature death in 1952 led to the coronation of a truly magnificent queen. Sixty-nine years later, Elizabeth II continues to hold the throne.

When Harry met Meghan, 80 years after Edward’s abdication, a similar version of history would soon repeat itself when a prince and newly minted princess spurned the Crown. Each would lose their titles of Your Royal Highness, becoming simply Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. 

In an astonishing twist of history, the Rolls-Royce that bore American socialite and divorcée Wallis Simpson to bury a King, is the very same Rolls that carried American actress and divorcée Meghan Markle to marry a Prince. 

Before this event, in the Autumn of 2018, Queen Elizabeth presented Harry and Meghan with the 10-bedroom Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Estate. The couple’s extensive, $3 million US renovations to Frogmore delayed the move into the historic home. Slightly more than a year after moving in, and Markle’s complaints to Harry of feeling “unprotected,” the couple left Britain for a new life in Canada. When Markle felt “unprotected” there, too, they moved to Markle’s familiar stomping grounds in L.A.

It’s been reported that Markle was “deeply unhappy” in Frogmore, feeling “isolated” and “convinced there was a conspiracy against her ... This wasn’t the life she was used to and she wanted out.” 


Whether Markle knew it or not, Wallis Simpson, who died in 1986, was interred in the Royal Burial Ground on the Frogmore Estate. 

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Markle took care in selecting her “look” for the Oprah interview: With her hair up and parted at the center, she wore a diamond bracelet that had belonged to Harry’s mother, Diana, as well as other jewelry rich in symbolism. 

It was Markle’s dress - an eye-catching Armani design adorned with white lotus flowers signifying rebirth - that drew murmurs of surprise. After watching the couple’s blockbusting interview, world-renowned behavior analyst Mark Bowden said Markle’s body language “just begs belief … This is an actress.” Among his comments, Bowden called Markle’s dress a “costume.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYyEx20DiKU 

Indeed: A well-known, iconic photo of Wallis Simpson shows Markle’s “look” similar to Simpson’s.

There appears to be a concerted effort among Markle-boosters to compare her much publicized unhappiness in the royal household to Diana’s - a distraction that minimizes the similarities to Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor. I find the Meghan/Diana comparison off-putting. Markle may wear Diana’s jewelry, but will never generate the love and respect accorded “the people’s princess.” 

Tomorrow: Four body-language  experts, a handwriting analyst, and Meghan Markle. 

© Nicole Parton, 2021