Despite her new duchess life, Meghan Markle has remained true to her pre-royal self

By Erin Hill and Simon Perry
September 13, 2018 08:00 AM
Meghan Markle
Neil Mockford/GC Images

A lot has changed for Meghan Markle in the short four months since she became an official member of the royal family.

She has become fast friends with Queen Elizabeth, joined new sister-in-law Kate Middleton on several royal outings and she’s getting ready to jet off for her first major international tour with Prince Harry.

But despite her new duchess life, she’s remained true to her pre-royal self — and she has the support of her closest friends as navigates her new world.

“There’s a small group of us that check in with her and see how she’s doing, but she’s still the same person,” Daniel Martin, Meghan’s wedding makeup artist and longtime friend, tells PEOPLE.

“That’s why it’s so bizarre for me sometimes to even think about her in that way, because that’s not who I know,” he adds.

Daniel Martin
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As Meghan settles into palace life in London, she is also expanding her social circle to include new friends through her husband, which was evident at the Aug. 4 wedding of Harry’s close pal Charlie van Straubenzee.

As Harry tended to his ushering duties, Meghan “was happy and smiley,” says a fellow guest. “She was in lovely form.”

Meghan Markle
Karwai Tang/WireImage

Up next for the couple is their 16-day whirlwind tour Down Under in October, which will see the royal training she’s received in the past year put to the test.

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“The tour is going to be her chance to shine,” says Ingrid Seward, author of the recent biography of the Queen and Prince Philip, My Husband & I. “She knows she’ll be center stage and everyone is going to want to meet her. It is her biggest part yet. I’m absolutely confident she will be very, very good.”