Meghan Markle is learning the ups and downs of life as the Duchess of Sussex

Meghan Markle has expertly navigated her new duchess role since joining the royal family two months ago. But between outings with the Queen and royal christenings, she’s learning the ups and downs of life as the Duchess of Sussex.

Although she has quickly adapted to many of the minutiae of royal dos and don’ts, she “has found certain rules in the royal household difficult to understand, like the fact that the Queen prefers women in dresses or skirts rather than trouser suits, and is often asking Harry why things have to be done in a certain way,” a source tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story.

“I think she finds it a little frustrating at times, but this is her new life, and she has to deal with it,” the source adds.

For more on Meghan Markle’s life as a duchess, check out this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.


Stepping into an entirely new world has also brought a new set of challenges. The outspoken former actress, who includes a reference to being a “feminist” on her page on the official British monarchy website, landed in the headlines after a July 10 garden party at the British ambassador’s residence in Dublin, when Senator Catherine Noone tweeted that Meghan had said she was “pleased to see the result” of Ireland’s recent referendum to legalize abortion. (Royal family members typically steer clear of political discussions, and Noone subsequently deleted the tweet.)

“That’s an example of her naïveté,” says Crown historical consultant and royal biographer Robert Lacey. “Within the royal family they talk freely, and everyone knows the rules. She’s learning the hard way that you can’t trust anyone outside the narrow circle.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex Attend Summer Party at the British Ambassador's Residence
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
| Credit: PA Images/INSTARimages

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Of course, she has her new husband by her side to help show her the royal ropes — along with the Queen’s former assistant private secretary, Samantha Cohen, who has been helping her with protocol.

“You can see Prince Harry’s hands-on approach, steering her, helping her,” photographer Mark Stewart tells PEOPLE.