Meghan Markle has always remained very private about her faith — but it is an essential part of her life.
“Meg is extremely faithful,” a longtime friend tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “We pray a lot together. We meditate. She has had, and especially has now, a very close relationship with God.”
Meghan, 37, was baptized into the Church of England in a secret ceremony last spring ahead of her wedding to Prince Harry. And the intimate service, which was a significant nod to Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth’s role as head of the Church of England, had special meaning for Meghan, as faith is a key pillar for her.
“A deep sense of gratitude and humility has guided her,” the friend continues. “We can still be modern women and feel all the feels with feminism and be strong moms and strong wives but understand that [our] relationship [with God] is so critical.”
Meghan has also grown close to the Archbishop Justin Welby, who not only conducted her baptism, but also officiated her wedding. It’s her respect for the church that leads another close confidante to call rumors that Meghan insisted for St. George’s Chapel to be sprayed with air freshener ahead of the ceremony “outrageous.”
“I can’t think of anything more ridiculous. If people knew how spiritual she is and how serious and respectful she takes her relationship with God—she would never ask for something like that,” the longtime friend adds. “The day after the wedding I said, ‘You were so serene.’ She has a huge loving fondness for Archbishop Welby. She’s like, ‘I’m there, I’m with Harry, I’m with you guys, and I’m with the leader of my church.’ She doesn’t think about the narrative: ‘What will people think?’ She doesn’t do that. She really lives in the current moment. And when you do that, there’s no fear.
“She and Harry are both very grounded. She has a firm understanding of the things she can and can’t control. And she tries not to put any effort into the things she can’t control.”
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Her strong sense of faith thas helped Meghan navigate her new world as the Duchess of Sussex.
“Her lifestyle can be very isolating. The rest of us get to go out, see each other for coffee, just go, ‘I’m having a [bad] day, I’m going to have lunch or do a little shopping.’ She can’t. So you kind of have to look inward and go, ‘How can I be part of my own solution?’ And that’s really challenging.”