Meghan Markle is opening up for the first time about the death of Queen Elizabeth II — her husband, Prince Harry’s, late grandmother. In a new cover story for Variety, the 41-year-old Duchess of Sussex breaks her silence following the passing of the British monarch and the subsequent events thereafter.

The initial Variety piece had been set to run earlier this year, but Markle asked for it to be delayed in the wake of the queen’s death. She notes concern that any comments about her husband’s estranged family might be a “distraction” from continued mourning, but did take the time to speak about the queen.

The mother of two joined her husband for several of the official events for Queen Elizabeth, including the state funeral, which took place on Sept. 19 at Westminster Abbey in London.

“There’s been such an outpouring of love and support. I’m really grateful that I was able to be with my husband to support him, especially during that time,” Markle tells Variety.

She describes the events following the queen’s death as “a complicated time,” but shares that Prince Harry had a particularly touching silver lining to his grandmother’s death.

“My husband, ever the optimist, said, ‘Now she’s reunited with her husband,’” she recalls, referencing Prince Philip’s 2021 death at the age of 99.

Markle also calls the late queen a “shining example” of female leadership, noting that she feels “deep gratitude” for the time she got with the monarch.

“I’ve reflected on that first official engagement that I had with her, how special that felt. I feel fortunate,” she says. “And I continue to be proud to have had a nice warmth with the matriarch of the family.”

As for how she and Harry are moving forward in the wake of the queen’s death, Markle says their focus is on the future.

“In big moments in life, you get a lot of perspective. It makes you wonder what you want to focus your energy on,” she shares. “Right now, we feel energized and excited about all of the things we’ve been building toward. We’re also focused on our foundation. So much of the work we do includes the philanthropic space.”

The British monarch died at the age of 96 on Sept. 8. Shortly after her death, Markle’s husband, Prince Harry, released a statement.

“In celebrating the life of my grandmother, Her Majesty The Queen—and in mourning her loss—we are all reminded of the guiding compass she was to so many in her commitment to service and duty,” Harry said in the statement released on his Archewell website. The statement was issued according to official protocol and held an extra day out of respect for the anniversary of Sept. 11th.

“She was globally admired and respected. Her unwavering grace and dignity remained true throughout her life and now her everlasting legacy,” he continued. “Let us echo the words she spoke after the passing of her husband, Prince Philip, words which can bring comfort to all of us now: ‘Life, of course, consists of final partings as well as first meetings.’”

The Duke of Sussex was at Balmoral Castle in Scotland just after Her Majesty’s death, along with several other members of the royal family, including Harry’s brother, Prince William, and father, King Charles. However, a source told ET that Meghan was not invited to the castle at the time.

On Sept. 10, Meghan and Harry reunited with Kate Middleton and Prince William outside of Windsor Castle to view floral tributes in honor of Queen Elizabeth.

Harry and Meghan had been abroad when the news first came that the queen’s health was declining. They attended the One Young World Summit in Manchester, England, before heading to Dusseldorf, Germany, for the One Year to Go launch event for The Invictus Games. Meghan then stayed behind in London while Harry traveled solo to Scotland amid the news of his grandmother’s declining health.

The 37-year-old grandson of the late British monarch currently resides in Montecito, California, with Markle and their two children, son Archie, 3, and daughter Lilibet, 1, who is named after her late great-grandmother.

The couple has been estranged from many of the royals since the couple stepped down as senior members of the royal family, a decision which was made official in spring 2021.

Harry notably returned to the U.K. in April 2021 for the funeral of his grandfather, Prince Philip, as well as a statue unveiling at Kensington Palace in July 2021 in honor of his late mother, Princess Diana, on what would have been her 60th birthday.

In his March 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry praised his relationship with his grandmother, despite living across an ocean from her.

“I have spoken more with my grandmother in the last year than I have done in many, many years,” he said. “My grandmother and I have a really good relationship and a good understanding.”

But recently, a source told ET that the “royal family is disappointed by Meghan Markle’s latest comments in New York Magazine’s The Cut and on her podcast. They are distressed that after stepping back from the royal family — claiming a need for privacy — she continues to publicize family matters in public.”

In her Variety interview, Markle addresses The Cut interview that some found snarky.

“The [New York] story was intended to support [my podcast] Archetypes and focus on our projects. I’ve had some time to reflect on it. Part of me is just really trusting, really open — that’s how I move in the world,” she says. “I have to remember that I don’t ever want to become so jaded that that piece of me goes away. So despite any of those things? Onward. I can survive it.”

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