Ask Natalie

While the saying goes “you can’t pick your family,” you can pick how you want to respond to them, and in the world of soon-to-be bride (and royal) Meghan Markle, she is choosing to ignore those members of her family who seem hell-bent on smearing her in the press leading up to her fairy tale day. Maybe it’s jealousy? Perhaps it’s hurt feelings? Whatever the reason behind the venom spewing from her estranged half-sister and half-brother, it seems relentless.

This behavior in the tabloids started nice enough. Her older half-sister, Samantha Grant, stated months ago that she wished that they could reconnect during this happy time. But, those comments have since taken a different tone as it was recently reported when Prince Harry announced that 1,200 people will be able to watch the royal couple get married at Windsor Castle on Saturday. It was recommended that these people bring a picnic basket, to which Samantha tweeted: “Wow, do they get sent to dungeons if their children get grouchy and express that they’re hungry with no catering? Bring your own picnic basket? Really? Even low-budget film sets have roach coaches selling burgers and taquitos.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, Ms. Markle also has to contend with her older half-brother, Thomas Markle Jr., who recently penned an open letter to the royal family that was published in In Touch Weekly. He urged Prince Harry to reconsider marrying Ms. Markle, stating that “as more time passes to your royal wedding, it became very clear that this is the biggest mistake in royal wedding history,” the 51-year-old wrote. “Meghan Markle is obviously not the right woman for you.” He adds that she is a “jaded, shallow, conceited woman that will make a joke of you and the royal family heritage.” He says later in the letter that he isn’t “bitter just baffled” that he hadn’t received an invitation.

Well, gee, I wonder why? Even though some within the castle have reportedly advised the couple to invite the estranged family members to help squash the negative talk in the press, I don’t blame her one bit for sticking to her guns and refusing to allow such negativity near her on her special day. Weddings are stressful enough. There are so many political landmines to avoid in any wedding, let alone a royal one. Even if she wanted to relent and invite them, at this point it is too late. It would look like the only reason she would be including them is to appease them and stop the negative stories. Plus, can you imagine the dirt they would spill after the wedding to the press?

While that might delight the tabloids and bloggers, I can’t imagine that would be a great way to start a marriage. The tweets and letters put out by her half-siblings say a lot more about them than they do about Ms. Markle, and if my family members were saying things like that about me publicly, they would be put on the “do not invite list,” too.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Remember that line: “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold”? It applies to networking, as well. While new contacts can be exciting and keep things fresh, you never want to forget people who worked with you in the beginning. Nurture old relationships, too, because you never know what ideas you may be able to spark!

Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email, nbencivenga@post-gazette.com; or through postal mail to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)

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