Kensington Palace sits on a quiet (private) street where $180 million buys you a lovely three-storey Georgian pile or the Russian embassy, your choice.

The palace might look genteel, a massive regal edifice set back from the prying eyes of the public by a vast lawn and the beginnings of a whopping hedge.

But inside, war has broken out.

On one side is the Duchess of Sussex whose propensity for spontaneous banana-related gestures and vast closet full of custom-made Givenchy outfits is well known.


And on the other side, a formidable foe.

No, I don't mean the Duchess of Cambridge with her vast array of Alice bands, prim Alexander McQueen coats and steely determination.

I mean the faceless men and women who actually run royal life. The courtiers. They are the unseen hands and faceless coterie who steer the royal ship. They are quite literally the power behind the throne. And whether she knew it or not, Meghan Markle has declared all out war against them.

The opening salvo came a couple of weeks ago. Let's just imagine the scene inside the royal press office: They were probably going about their normal day, working out how to quash stories about Prince Philip's driving record or Prince Andrew's latest trip to hang out with his Kazakh dictator bestie.

Then, according to reports, an American TV producer rang to ask if they had an comment after Meghan's bombshell People story.

"What ho?" I'm guessing they responded.

The Kensington Palace press office had no idea that their latest charge had just lobbed a dramatic broadside in the PR war over her image. The courtiers were caught off-side and on the back foot (and no doubt needed a very strong cup of Earl Grey to contend with the shock.)

To give you some background about why they would have been so shocked. By and large, royal press strategy has always been to not deny incorrect reports, the thinking being, one you started you would never stop. (Remember the Fergie years?)


In this vein, they have largely ignored the barrage of ferocious criticism the Duchess of Sussex has faced in the press over recent months.

Here's the rub: Meghan is a woman used to rigorously controlling her image, so she took a leaf out of Princess Diana's playbook and used a group of close mates to leak overly sunny titbits about her to a trusted magazine. (C'mon: NO ONE is that perfect a homemaker/friend/wife/dog lover and humanitarian. At least pretend Megs sucks at, say, replying to WhatsApp group messages or returning borrowed Louboutins.)

By going down the People route, she totally circumvented and ignored the massive media apparatus at her disposal and the opinion of the courtiers.

Whether out of naivete or hubris, she has pitted herself against the people Diana called the "Grey Men", AKA the courtiers and this is a feud I'm not sure she can win.

Being a royal means keeping a lot of people on side: Her Maj, the hoi polloi, the tabloid press, the vast retinue of courtiers and probably even Princess Anne's horses. By and large, Kate has done an excellent job at just this.

Going off piste and putting out her own counter-narrative, Meghan has upset most of these people, at exactly the moment she should not be adding to her list of adversaries.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their tour of New Zealand. Photo / Getty
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their tour of New Zealand. Photo / Getty

Princess Diana ultimately won the media war with the "Grey Men" but it was a bruising, gruelling, decade-long battle that was at times humiliating and tawdry.

She might have outwitted the courtiers, finally, but it came at serious personal expense, especially to her sons.

Meghan would be wise to call a truce in Kensington Palace now and de-escalate the tensions behind that vast lawn.

It might be time to get on the phone to Fortnum & Mason for some apology gift baskets, after all, they do a wonderful $1800 Windsor gift hamper.