Seeing George and Amal Clooney rock up to Meghan Markle’s wedding last year came as a surprise to most people who hadn’t seen the guest list, but it made a certain amount of superficial sense that they would be friends, given Meghan’s showbiz career and the humanitarian and awareness-raising work she has been involved in since long before she met Prince Harry.
Then, last month, Amal brought a healthy serving of Hollywood glamor to Meghan’s baby shower, appearing, like a glamorous fairy godmother, in gold shoes and a red jumpsuit in a New York snowstorm at the Mark Hotel where she was co-hosting Meghan’s event with another high-achieving and powerful pal, Serena Williams.
Meghan has injected the royal family with high-octane glamour, and we have got used to the idea that she might be hanging out with the world’s most desirable power couple.
It was, however, more surprising to see the Clooneys in the role of star guest at a party in Buckingham Palace held by Prince Charles this week, to celebrate his long-running Prince’s Trust charity. But it was noticeable that neither Charles nor the Clooneys looked remotely starstruck at each other’s very different brand of celebrity.
That they should look so happy and relaxed in each other’s company is unsurprising given, as sources tell the Daily Beast, that their friendship goes back further than might be imagined.
Indeed, sources say that Charles and the Clooneys’ friendship predates the arrival of Meghan in the lives of the Windsors (although Meghan, another source says, has been friendly with the Clooneys for some time as well).
The Clooneys have steadily built up a friendship with Charles and Camilla over several years, founded on their mutual interests in social and charitable activism.
Indeed the Clooneys have been on Charles' radar ever since they acquired an extravagant 17th century mansion not far from Windsor Castle, in the millionaires’ playground of Sonning-on-Thames.
Although it is not known who introduced them, Charles has never shied away from actively using his position (and the perks that only a Prince of Wales can bestow) to actively cultivate powerful philanthropists.
Charles has a fondness for the jet set lifestyle (his parents are said to permanently despair of his extravagance, which has reputedly extended to having his bed and favourite paintings trucked to a friend’s house where he was staying) and it it is likely they were introduced by mutual friends in the neighborhood; the Clooneys’ neighbors include Prime Minister Theresa May, psychic Uri Geller and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.
That they should have gravitated towards each other is hardly surprising—and the relationship has certainly been beneficial. The Clooneys have been quiet but powerful backers of the Prince’s Trust for several years now, although they are rarely seen at public events because they keep an astonishingly low profile in the U.K.
Although they have homes all over the world, the Clooneys spend increasing amounts of their time at Sonning-on-Thames, sources say, although are not highly visible in the locality.
They are said to enjoy the fact that they are able to largely go about their daily business undisturbed, and are regulars at the local pub, The Bull.
They are said to feel significantly less intruded upon in the UK than they do at their home in Italy, the stunning 18th century Villa Oleandra on Lake Como.
Indeed, it is striking how many avid followers of celebrity gossip are unaware that George and Amal spend most of their life in England.
Amal, a British-Lebanese citizen, has an established human rights legal practice in London (which she made clear she was never going to give up).
George and Amal are known to have attended, in 2016, a 40th anniversary celebration of the Prince's Trust charity (long before Meghan Markle was part of Prince Charles’ life). And although they have no official role with in the organisation, which seeks to offer a helping hand to enterprising and troubled teens and young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds, they are described by sources as ‘supporters’ of the charity.
Although their relationship with Charles and Camilla predates the arrival of Meghan in the Windsor family, Meghan has been friends with the Clooneys ‘for some time’ sources at the palace say, but would not be drawn on the exact dates their friendship first blossomed.
E! News has reported that Meghan actually met the Clooneys through Harry, saying that it was George and Harry who first became friends after Clooney attended a charitable event at Kensington Palace and that when Harry started dating Meghan, he introduced her to the couple.
To be fair, there are few people on the planet to whom Meghan could turn to share the kinds of daily trouble she faces as one of the world’s most famous people, and the Clooneys have been only happy to lend a sympathetic ear.
As the baby shower made clear, Meghan counts Amal as one of her best friends. As a new mother (her twins are just one year old), Amal is able to relate to what Meghan is going through and, one assumes, offer help and advice. All new parents seek out other parents with kids of roughly the same age. They are more or less the only people who will put up with you.
But it was George, notably, who felt close enough to Meghan to issue a stark warning over the intrusion she has had to endure, as well as the negative press coverage of her that has been such a persistent feature of British media in recent months.
While promoting his new Hulu miniseries, Catch-22, Clooney attacked the Mail on Sunday newspaper for publishing excerpts from a personal letter Meghan wrote to her father.
“They’re just chasing Meghan Markle everywhere, she’s been pursued and vilified,” Clooney said. “I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to see that.”
‘Frustrating’ is an interesting choice of word here, as it suggests he is experiencing the pain of what Meghan is going through as well.
He added, “She’s a woman who is seven months pregnant and she is being pursued and vilified and chased in the same way that Diana was, and it’s history repeating itself. And we’ve seen how that ends.”
Inevitably the British media immediately circled the wagons to say how different the cases of Meghan and Diana are, and used their platforms to attack Clooney. The fact that he must have known the press would do exactly this and he said what he did anyway speaks eloquently of the depth of his concern for, and connection with, Meghan.
The relationship between Meghan and Amal is likely to flourish even further when the young royals move into their new home of Frogmore House, just a few miles down the river from Amal and George.
As Meghan faces into the challenges and excitement of the next few months, it’s not hard to imagine her having Amal or George on her speed-dial—and maybe the two of them standing at the font of St George’s Chapel as godparents in a few months time.