Meghan Markle gifted Kate Middleton a Smythson notebook the first time the pair met to help break the ice, according to the new bombshell biography about the Sussexes.
In Finding Freedom, which is released next week, authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand say The Duchess of Cambridge loved the book from her future sister-in-law which she was gifted in January 2017.
They wrote: ‘Meghan bought a present for the duchess, who had celebrated her birthday just a day earlier.
‘The soft leather Smythson notebook helped to break the ice, as did Meghan’s cooing over then 20-month-old Charlotte.’
Kate is currently staying at Amner Hall in Norfolk with Prince William and the couple’s children Prince George, seven, Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, two. Meanwhile, Meghan is living in her native Los Angeles with Prince Harry and their son Archie, one.
The Duchess of Cambridge was spotted carrying her speech notes in a monogrammed Smythson of Bond Street folder as she attended the ‘Back to Nature’ Festival at RHS Wisley in Saptember last year, but it’s not known if this was the stationery item gifted by Meghan.
Smythson notebooks seem to be a go-to for the Duchess of Sussex; in August 2019, Meghan sent personalised thank you gifts to British Vogue contributors who helped her on the issue of the fashion bible which she guest edited.
The Duchess sent her writers a personalised black leather notebook engraved with ‘Forces For Change’.
And it appears the upmarket quintessentially British brand, founded in 1887 by Frank Smythson, has become a popular stationery and accessories choice for royals.
As well as Kate’s book, which was engraved with a gold monogrammed ‘C’ complete with a crown, Smythson has long been a favoured brand among the upper echelons of high society.
Its brightly-coloured, hand-embossed diaries, notecards and travel wallets are beloved by the likes of Madonna, Dame Helen Mirren and Samantha Cameron – who was once an adviser to the company.
The brand holds three Royal Warrants, a mark of recognition of those who have supplied goods or services to the Households of HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales for at least five years, and who have an ongoing trading arrangement.
The company’s first shop was opened in 1887 by Frank Smythson, a silversmith by training, on New Bond Street.
It supplied London society with high-class stationery, but it was the featherweight diaries that really made Smythson’s name.
The calf leather Panama Diary was created in 1906, and has been a bestseller ever since.
Katharine Hepburn and Grace Kelly had Smythson diaries – Hepburn’s was stamped with ‘London, New York, California’ in gold.
Samantha Cameron, then the firm’s creative director, launched the ‘Nancy’ and ‘Daphne’ models in 2007.
Smythson was bought in April 2005 by a group of prominent City figures for some £15.8million, by which point Samantha had worked her way up to the company’s creative director.
Despite rumoured rifts between the Sussexes and Cambridges, Meghan and Kate initially seemed to hit it off.
Speaking about meeting each other’s family during Harry and Meghan’s engagement interview with the BBC in November 2017, Meghan said: ‘His family has been so welcoming. The family has been great and over the past year and a half we’ve just had a really nice time getting to know them and progressively helping me feel a part of not just the institution but also part of the family, which has been really special.’
In the book, Scobie and Duran claim relations between the Sussexes and the Cambridges grew so bitter that by March 2020 the couples were barely speaking.
Scobie and Duran say they have spoken to more than 100 sources including ‘close friends of Harry and Meghan’s, royal aides and palace staff (past and present)’, with all the information in the book having ‘at least two sources.’
The Duke and Duchess deny giving any interviews or contributing to the book directly, but the intimate nature of some details raises questions over who the sources were.
The explosive biography has claimed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ‘hurt’ the Queen by unilaterally mapping out their future royal roles without her approval.
Her Majesty is said to have been ‘blindsided’ by the launch of the SussexRoyal website which accompanied their Megxit announcement in January.
There are also fears the book’s publication could spark a fresh rift within the Royal Family.
The Duke of Sussex, who now lives in Los Angeles with Meghan and their son Archie after the couple stepped down as working royals, made no mention of the book’s publication when he spoke at a virtual summit this week.