'Dear Meghan, beware what you have let yourself in for - I should know': An open letter to Prince Harry's new girl from his Uncle Andrew's ex-girlfriend, KOO STARK
It is a Royal relationship under the most intense scrutiny. A beautiful American actress and a handsome Prince, one of the world’s most eligible bachelors, appear to have fallen in love.
Over several precious months, they darted and dived discretely, finding many moments of intimate joy, far away from the public eye. But suddenly, they are thrust into the spotlight and every move she now makes is crucial.
The world is watching, and she is a rabbit caught in the headlights. Is she good enough for the most famous Royal dynasty in the world? And can she hope to sustain her acting career alongside the pressure of her newfound fame?
While this sounds like the current furore surrounding Prince Harry’s alleged relationship with the gorgeous Californian-born actress Meghan Markle, I’m actually describing the breaking news of my own royal romance some 35 years ago.
Lookalikes: Koo Stark in 1988 (right) and Meghan Markle (left) the American actress believed to be Prince Harry's new girlfriend
Make like Meghan in a metallic mini dress
Misha Nonoo Women's Valerie Metallic Dress
Sold out- click to shop the current collection!
Meghan Markle’s reportedly dating Prince Harry, and if the couple do become ‘official’ we’re set to have a whole new royal style icon on our hands.
Pictured at the Vogue Fashion Fund Awards last year, the actress sported a metallic plunging shift dress teamed with a clear clutch bag and matching PVC strappy heels.
A million miles away from what we’d expect the Duchess of Cambridge to wear on the red carpet, this super sexy look clearly ignored the age old legs or boobs rule, but as they saying goes, if you’ve got it, flaunt it!
This dress if by American designer Misha Nonoo who is rumoured to have actually set the pair up! We love this minimalist metallic hue combined with the shift silhouette that flatters Meghan’s figure perfectly.
Sadly it’s now sold out, but follow the link on the right to shop the current collection at Farfetch, then recreate the look with one of the options from our edit of alternatives in the carousel below.
As someone who has experienced being at the centre of intense press interest because of my association with the royal family, I have great sympathy for how she must be feeling about a situation she has no way of controlling.
I’d certainly be in a position to offer her some advice – or at least, a cautionary tale.
My own experience is, of course, very well documented. I began dating Prince Andrew, then second in line to the throne, after we were introduced by mutual friends at his 21st birthday party in February 1981. I was then an actress performing who’s afraid of Virginia Wolf at the National Theatre,
After he returned from the Falklands a handsome royal war hero the press were in a frenzy.
We landed in Mustique and immediately found ourselves subjected to a frenzy of media attention. We had managed to be together for about a year and a half before we were discovered, and the point at which we were finally exposed and hounded by the press was rather emotional for both of us. We carried on despite the attention and there was, from that point, a bounty on my head.
The attention in those days was unprecedented and the paparazzi were everywhere. I was once dragged from the back of a motorbike by the hair; I was hit in the solar plexus by a long lens. Photographers on motorbikes literally rode into restaurants to attempt to get pictures of us together. I moved address for 2 years every time my address was published.
For Meghan, too, this will be a turning point.
She’ll have to think very carefully about how she presents herself in public What she does, what she wears, how she behaves and what she’s seen doing with whom. Her behaviour to a certain extent, now reflects upon Prince Harry,
It’s hard to explain, a bit like the job of an ambassador, or a celebrity associated with an international luxury brand. It is crucial she does not offend anyone.
Of course, the Palace won’t step in to help her. I’d advise her to ask for their advice and counsel – after all, they are experts in their field. But she can’t expect any real professional help from them until the day she marries Harry, if that ever comes.
I remember once, in 1989, taking a phone call from Princess Diana’s brother, Charles Althorp.
He was engaged to Victoria Lockwood and the couple were, understandably, subject to a barrage of interest from the media. Charles told me he’d spoken to Buckingham Palace to ask for some advice on how to deal with it. Their advice to him was hilarious. ‘Call Koo Stark,’ they’d said. ‘Use the Koo Stark Rule.’
I had no idea there was such a rule, or that I’d had such an influence on Palace press policy! But I’d tell Meghan it’s this: ‘Keep quiet. Say nothing. Don’t answer the door. Call a good lawyer – straight away, don’t wait seven years like I did.’
As a trained actress, Meghan will be used to a certain amount of press attention. But I think she will find it extremely difficult to continue her career if her relationship with Harry continues. She may find Suits, the US legal drama she’s currently filming, is the pinnacle of her acting career.
Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Koo Stark at a champagne reception in aid of the NSPCC at Spencer House in 1999
I sometimes wonder what would have been my fate in real life if I had played the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars, which was offered to me rather than the role of Camie which George Lucas hastily wrote in.
There may be no role for Meghan other than being associated with Prince Harry, depending on how long the overwhelming media interest remains. I know this from personal experience. So much publicity came with my name and image, it was tempting to think that some of that could translate into professional success.
Sadly it wasn’t – and still isn’t – the case. The acting roles I was being offered were exploitative or unsuitable. Directors were either interested in the publicity I’d bring or seek to make money for the project based on my involvement.
I was asked to perform at the Chichester Theatre festival one year, but was devastated when that was called off because of the media circus. Similarly I lost a role in a film with Liza Minnelli because I got more press than the “star”. If Meghan is more passionate about her career than her Prince, she must walk away now.
There will be a conflict of interests in any interview she gives promoting films or plays in the future – there will inevitably be far more interest in her relationship. She’ll never get away from it.
I’ve already seen the saucy screen grabs of Meghan from her role in Suits being used against her, as if that’s who she is. Her career is already now a minefield.
Because of my personal experience and association with the Royal Family, people are still interested in me decades after the headlines faded. It’s absurd. Welcome, Meghan, to the Twilight Zone.
And as for the fact that she’s American – well, the Royals have some experience of that particular issue. Remember Wallis Simpson?
The xenophobia that existed 35 years ago is fortunately less socially and politically acceptable now, but be aware old habits die hard, and the circles in which you now find yourself by association are propped up by maintaining old habits.
I hope in the midst of all this that Meghan has a strong moral compass and a great sense of humour – she’ll need both. Being famous is incredibly draining so I suggest she finds happiness in the small things.
She already does yoga, so keep doing that. I found that crucial to remaining calm and collected. I also relied heavily on diet and nutrition to keep a healthy mind and maintain emotional balance.
The most important thing anyone can create in their lives isn’t wealth or fame. The most important thing is happy memories, those small moments and human relationships. Everyone should have someone who takes their breath away at least once in their lives. I hope they find privacy and peace to enjoy the simple pleasure of being together, alone.
So if she is his choice, I hope she’s a nice girl and doesn’t break his heart. My main concern is for him. He’s the one taking the big leap of faith. He doesn’t know if she’s going to be a loyal friend or not; whether she can stand the pressures or not. She needs to be able to put up, and shut up.
If they are both invested in this relationship, it can work. Times have changed, and the world is more generous. Look at Prince Charles, now married to a divorcee, and Prince William married a commoner.
Everyone loves a good love story. If that’s what this, then I hope it has a happy ending.
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