An unexpected mentor has popped up in Meghan Markle’s life just shy of a month to her wedding day – Lady Julie Montagu, an American who married into the British aristocracy.
Lady Julie Montagu spoke to a reporter at Town & Country about what marrying into aristocracy – in her case, Lord Luke Montagu, heir to the Earl of Sandwich – meant for her, and what it’ll likely mean for fellow American Meghan.
“People don’t realise that when you marry into a British aristocratic family, you have to really know the history and the paintings and the furniture and what it dates back to,” Montagu said.
“Meghan will have to know the House of Windsor forward and backward, just like I’ve had to learn and am still learning the House of Montagu.”
Montagu married her husband in 2004 and said she didn’t know he had a title until she saw his name printed on his credit card, which had Viscount ahead of his name. She will be providing commentary to the BBC on Meghan’s wedding day.
Montagu was previously a cast member on Ladies of London, a reality television programme that followed the lives of several women who lived in London, some American and some British.
Montagu said that etiquette will also be a top priority for Meghan, noting that “the amounts of knives and forks and cups, and how everything needs to be lined up” will be important information in her arsenal, as will knowing the proper titles of people she meets.
“It was a long while before I really felt comfortable in addressing people and making sure that I got their titles the right way.”
Montagu said that she believes Prince Harry will help his future wife out in any way he can, but that being an American is a fact that some will just never forget.
“I suspect she will face some [criticism]. It’s like anything in life. We are outsiders coming in, and some people don’t like outsiders. I have heard through the various English aristocracy grapevines that I’m the Scarlet Letter ‘A’, the American with it emblazoned on my forehead.”
But that doesn’t mean Meghan should forget her American roots, Montagu said. It was her biggest advice, and that she should make sure she visits the States every once in a while.
“I’m sure that one of the main draws Prince Harry had to Meghan was her energy and her optimism and that American can-do attitude because I know that’s what my husband says about me.
“It’s kind of the American way. We were told that you can be anything you want to be and do anything that you want to do, and it’s not so much in the UK. This country really has a class system.”