Most people have to wait until they turn 100 years old to get a birthday message from the Queen but there are different rules for duchesses.
Yesterday, 808 days after she officially joined the house of Windsor, Meghan Duchess of Sussex celebrated her 39th birthday with very public wishes from not only Her Majesty but two future kings (Prince Charles and Prince William); a future princess consort (Camilla Duchess of Cornwall); and the next queen consort (Kate Duchess of Cambridge).
At first glance, this birthday should be one of joy for Meghan. After 20 months of royal duty, a period that per the prevailing Sussex narrative was marred by suffocating protocol and an implacable palace machine, she and husband Harry are free.
Free to hug, hashtag and rustle up lucrative deals, all without dyspeptic courtiers glowering over their shoulders. Added to which, she and Harry are back in her native city after several years of British weather and British disapproval.
However, look a little harder at the overall for Meghan and that picture starts to lose its rosy hue – fast.
On Thursday, a judge in London will decide if five of her friends who spoke to People magazine in 2019 and whose identities have never been revealed will be unmasked. (They spoke to the magazine of their own volition.)
The Duchess has been fighting tooth and nail to keep their names a secret and losing this round would be a blow. And this is all before the actual case is heard, a courtroom showdown that may not even take place this year.
This is just the latest development in her lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday's parent company for allegedly breaching her privacy after the paper published parts of a letter she had sent her estranged father Thomas Markle. (The existence of the letter was first revealed by one of her friends in the People story.)
Last week it was revealed that she would have to pay about A$120,000 ($129,861) to the Mail for their legal costs after losing the strike-out hearing in May in what must have been a galling loss for the Duchess.
But wait, there's more! Lawsuits I mean, of course. Last October, Harry took legal action against The Sun (whose parent company News Corp also owns news.com.au) and the Daily Mirror over alleged phone hacking.
Meanwhile, late last month the couple filed a lawsuit in LA trying to stop photos of their son Archie taken in the garden of the mansion via drone and helicopter being sold.
Just think about all those billable hours. Just think about how stressful this must be for the beleaguered Duke and Duchess.
Then there's Finding Freedom, the much hyped biography of the royal writers Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand which was supposedly going to set the record straight about Harry and Meghan and bolster their tarnished image.
Based on excerpts from the book which have been published by The Times and The Sunday Times (the title is not out until August 11), this does not seem to be the case, rather what is known about Finding Freedom makes the work appear to be recitation of previously aired grievances from the couple about their treatment by the royal family and palace operatives.
Harry and Meghan come across as slightly petulant and overly sensitive, their noses put out of joint because those higher up the line of succession were prioritised over the wildly popular Sussexes.
Far from coming across as martyrs to the monarchy, the impression is of a duo flummoxed why, in a deeply hierarchical organisation, their popularity did not mean they got higher billing. (If true, why they ever even entertained the notion that the House of Windsor might be some sort of meritocracy is a head scratcher.)
In short, it seems highly unlikely that the release of Finding Freedom, unless there are myriad other revelations to come, will do much to sway public opinion about the Sussexes in the UK. (A poll done in July found that only 35 per cent of Brits thought Harry was a positive asset to the royal family while over half of respondents said that Meghan was a "liability" to the royal family. Ouch.)
So, having wrested themselves from the confines of the royal family, what of this much vaunted "freedom" that Harry and Meghan have found?
They are yet to put down permanent roots and are currently still living in Tyler Perry's A$30 million ($32.47m) Beverly Ridge faux-Tuscan pile.
The relentless paparazzi are allegedly flying drones and helicopters over their vast garden in an effort to snap pictures of their tiny son and Meghan is estranged from her father and half-siblings, reportedly leaving only her mother Doria Ragland in her life.
Despite announcing in January that they wanted to become financially independent (to their credit), neither she nor Harry have inked any significant business deals. Sure, this effort will have been stymied by the fact that they, like tens of millions of people across the US, might be essentially stuck at home right now but surely projects like podcasting or writing could still be on the table.
Then there's Archewell, the Sussexes' new charitable entity, the launch of which has had to be mothballed until 2021 due to the Covid crisis. Ditto the couple's Instagram presence. Denied the possibility of continuing to use their Sussex Royal branding, their former account with its 11 million followers lies idle.
Consider, just for a moment, what things looked like this time last year. While she and Harry might have been facing some brickbats but there were still a lot of wins in their column.
The couple might have faced heavy criticism for their four private jet flights, they still got to enjoy holidays in Ibiza and the South of France; Meghan was being feted for her Vogue issue; they had their Southern Africa trip to look forward to and they were trumping the Cambridges at the Instagram game.
To be fair, many of the issues that the Sussexes face lie far beyond their control, their bright west coast future significantly dulled by the coronavirus pandemic. However, it's hard not to look at the laundry list of challenges they are currently facing and think things are looking somewhat bleak for the birthday girl.
Back in the days of Meghan's blog The Tig she once wrote: "I was born and raised in Los Angeles, a California girl who lives by the ethos that most things can be cured with either yoga, the beach, or a few avocados."
With their multiple court cases still to run, with Covid rampant in the US, the economy faltering and with perpetual paparazzi interest in the family, I think Harry and Meghan are going to need all the yoga, sunshine and avocados they can get their hands on.
• Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with more than 15 years' experience working with a number of Australia's leading media titles.