The Necklace That Got Meghan Markle in Hot Water with Palace Aides
In Finding Freedom, authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand write that Meghan was scolded for wearing a necklace that caught the eye of the press
Meghan Markle stepped out in a necklace with special meaning in December 2016 — and was caught off guard by what happened next, a new book claims.
In the early days of her romance with Prince Harry, Meghan was photographed in a 14-carat gold chain bearing the initials "H" and "M" by The Right Hand Gal. Created by two sisters and based out of Montreal and Toronto in Canada, the jewelry company, which is rooted in women's empowerment, was thrilled when they received the necklace order from Meghan herself in October 2016.
"We knew her as Meghan from Suits. Nobody knew the 'H' was for Harry," Randi Herlich, who started the company with her sister Shawna in 2008, tells PEOPLE. "We thought maybe she had a dog that it would stand for or a new boyfriend, but we never imagined it would be for Prince Harry. When she stepped out wearing it, we knew we were part of royal history. This was her subtle way of telling the world that they were together."
In the best-selling new book Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family by veteran royal journalists Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, the authors report that the necklace sparked blowback from palace aides.
"She was advised that wearing such a necklace only served to encourage the photographers to keep pursuing such images — and new headlines," Scobie and Durand write in the book, which was excerpted in PEOPLE.
A spokesperson for Meghan, 38, and Harry, 35, previously said in a statement, "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed and did not contribute to Finding Freedom. This book is based on the authors’ own experiences as members of the royal press corps and their own independent reporting."
During a conversation with one senior Kensington Palace aide, the book reports, Meghan "said little during the call, choosing instead to simply listen to the counsel. But after hanging up, she felt frustrated and emotional. While she knew the aide had good intentions, the surreal experience of having someone from her boyfriend's office tell her what kind of jewelry to wear or not to smile at a photographer was too much."
According to the book, a "distraught" Meghan then called a friend, saying, "I can't win. They make out like I'm to blame for these pictures, that it looks like I'm encouraging them, that me even acknowledging the cameras may not be sending the right message. I don't know what to say. It was only yesterday that people online were saying I look miserable in pictures, because I was trying to just ignore the [photographer]."
Meghan, write Scobie and Durand, "felt damned if she did and damned if she didn't."
But the Duchess of Sussex didn't put the necklace away for good. She wore it again two years later to the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney.
"We had all wondered why she hadn't been wearing it," Herlich, co-owner of The Right Hand Gal, tells PEOPLE. "When she walked out wearing it, we were so excited."
Finding Freedom explores the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's journey, starting from the early days of their fast-moving romance and culminating in their decision to step down as senior members of the royal family and move to Los Angeles with their 14-month-old son Archie.
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