"Ever since Queen Victoria's reign, women have dominated and ruled the House of Windsor," says royal biographer Andrew Morton

With Meghan Markle’s phone streaming vintage soul and rock tunes on Spotify and her faithful rescue beagle, Guy, at her feet, it could have been any other sunny morning for the Los Angeles-raised actress as she sat having her hair and makeup done.

Only on this day, stylist Serge Normant was fashioning her ‘do around a glittering tiara on loan from Queen Elizabeth as she prepared to meet her groom, Prince Harry, at Windsor Castle.

“It was just like hanging out with your friend on her wedding day,” her make-up artist Daniel Martin, tells PEOPLE. “The last thing we said to each other was, ‘See you on the other side.’ ”

The “other side” is proving to be a bold, fresh one, not just for Meghan, 37, but also for the royal family itself. Meghan and Harry’s May 19 wedding ushered in a new era for the Windsors — whose journey, helmed for the past 66 years (and counting!) by the 92-year-old Queen, is being written by women.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle kiss as they exit St George's Cha
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their wedding day

“Ever since Queen Victoria’s reign, women have dominated and ruled the House of Windsor,” says royal biographer Andrew Morton.

The Duchess Of Sussex Undertakes Her First Official Engagement With Queen Elizabeth II
Meghan Markle and Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

In this week’s issue, PEOPLE explores the story of royal women from the Queen — who unexpectedly found herself immediately in line for the throne when her uncle Edward VIII abdicated his duty on the throne in favor of marrying a twice-divorced American, Wallis Simpson — to the late Princess Diana and how she changed the monarchy. It brings the story up to date with Meghan’s wedding and the birth of Prince Louis, a third child for Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle
| Credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Morton, who penned Diana Her True Story, and Martin are among the friends, experts and palace insiders who appear in The Story of the Royals, a two-night PEOPLE and ABC television event airing on August 22 and 23.

Talking candidly about the landmark moments from the Queen’s coronation to the newest royal baby, the special explores the remarkable evolution of the world’s most famous family.

The Story of The Royals, a two-night television event presented by PEOPLE, airs Aug. 22 and Aug. 23 from 9-11 p.m. ET on ABC.