A few minutes. That’s how long it takes Meghan Markle to make the trip from Nottingham Cottage, the cozy two-bedroom she shares with fiancé Prince Harry, across the Kensington Palace grounds to Apartment 1A, Prince William and Duchess Kate’s sprawling 22-room spread.
Which is why Markle has made it a habit to “pop in” for a visit whenever she has a chance, a Kate insider reveals in the new issue of Us Weekly. Sometimes the avid cook will bring over “delicious treats” for pregnant Kate, the insider says. Other times she’ll proffer a healthy eating tip she’s read or maternity style pointers.
Kate, in turn, will share tales of her entry into “The Firm,” the cheeky name the royals have given to their family. Over cups of tea — and between rounds of gossip — says the Kate insider, “she’ll give her advice about adapting to the royal family.”
Markle has already aced the first step: Thou shalt befriend your future sister-in-law. Since their initial 2017 meeting, Markle, 36, has worked to win over the duchess. While a source close to Kate and William notes the former Suits star “has been nothing but warm and polite to everyone in Harry’s family,” she’s really strived to endear herself to Kate.
To philanthropic-minded Markle — a World Vision global ambassador and U.N. Women advocate — the 36-year-old mother of two and champion of children’s mental health issues is the perfect princess. Says a Markle pal, “She really admires how Kate has carved out her own space when it comes to humanitarian work alongside being an amazing mother.”
And the Kate insider says she appreciates Markle for more than her flattery. She finds the L.A.-bred star to be “such a breath of fresh air,” says the insider. “They have already firmly established a wonderful friendship.”
At her initial Kensington Palace meeting with Kate last winter, Markle struck just the right note. (She had met William, 35, two months earlier.) Since they were connecting a day after Kate’s January 9 birthday, when the then-Norfolk-based royal was in London for engagements, Markle gave the mom of Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2, a Smythson notebook. “Kate was touched by the little birthday present,” says the Markle pal, and gifted Harry’s girlfriend with her seal of approval. “It was a brief meeting,” notes the friend. “But as far as introductions go, it was a success.”
Throughout the spring, Markle continued to perform well. She and Kate would “cross paths,” says the pal, when the duchess was in London and Markle was visiting from Toronto, “and they’d just exchange small conversation.” But that March, they finally moved past pleasantries when Harry, 33, brought his gal three hours north of London to Norfolk to spend the day with William and Kate. “It was the first time they all sat down and had lunch together,” says the Markle pal, “and Meghan and Kate were able to properly get to know each other.”
For Markle, this was the biggest test. “She wasn’t sure how Kate felt about her at first,” says an insider, “and she was understandably a little worried.”
After all, says the source close to William and Kate, they were well accustomed to grilling Harry’s romantic prospects. “I think when anyone new enters the scene, be it friend or business acquaintance, it’s almost instinctive to be cautious before trusting them,” explains the source. “But it was different with Meghan.” Sensing how serious Harry was about his new love, “William trusted his judgment,” says the source. “And Meghan was welcomed with open arms.”
For more on Kate and Markle’s bond, pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands now and subscribe to our new podcast ‘Royally Us’ below!