My advice to Meghan

In the spirit of the 12 Days of Christmas, which end tomorrow on January 5th, here are 12 bits of advice I’d offer our future royal family member. I myself married into the establishment 23 years ago from across the pond – a different sort of establishment, but nevertheless, the esteemed role of being an Oxford don’s wife.

  1. No matter how long you live here, people will hear your accent first. Not your words or what you’re saying, your accent. So just accept that you will always be ‘that American Harry married.’
  2. Keep your sense of humour. The British are far too serious sometimes.
  3. Learn to play silly games – Sardines, I went to the shop and bought…, Chase the Tail of the Dragon, etc.
  4. Stay yourself. No matter how many times you might hear, ‘we don’t do that over here’, keep your style and mannerisms.
  5. Dress American. Nothing like shopping at Old Navy every one once in a while – no one will be wearing what you’ll have on in the circles you’ll be moving in.
  6. Expose any future children to regular doses of America – they’ll be dual from birth, so give them their homeland as often as you can face the 10-hour journey with screaming kids.
  7. Learn the correct usage of ‘quite.’
  8. Try not to get annoyed when people say, ‘right’. They just mean ‘OK’, but it can grate on the nerves until you get used to it.
  9. And accept that British English really is a different language.
  10. Master the art of understatement, even though it usually doesn’t work when delivered in an American accent.
  11. Try to pace yourself with the amount of food and drink – breakfast, coffee time, lunch, tea time, dinner, late night snack – food/drink every two hours breaks the day up nicely but portion-control is key.
  12. Enjoy the amount of holidays the Brits have – it really is a completely different culture. People work so that they can go on holiday. And holiday does not mean time for home improvements and visiting the relatives, it actually means holiday. A complete revelation to me.

And if you need to hang out with someone who might understand (a little), get in touch.

* Kirsten Johnson was the PPC for Oxford East in the 2017 General Election. She is a pianist and composer at

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  • My advice would be to stop wearing ostentatious £ 56,000 dresses. Let them eat cake is not a popular slogan in a Britain of food banks and homelessness.

  • paul barker 4th Jan '18 - 9:02pm

    My advice is to ignore people who moan about expensive clothes, if you dont spend enough the Papers will slag you off for looking scruffy. You cant win on that one so dont try.

  • Yeovil Yokel 5th Jan '18 - 9:45am

    Advice to Meghan? OK, here’s my ha’pennyworth:
    1. Ignore the advice about what to wear: when an outsider joins The Firm she is no longer the mistress of her own destiny, she will be directed by others and the guidance will be extremely British and subtle.
    2. Soften the accent: the British media is so dominated by American voices that it grates on our (=my) ears.
    3. There is a world beyond London called the Provinces, it’s where most British people live and work. If, God forbid, you should ever meet a genuine local and they eye you up warily saying “You’re not from round these parts, are you?” in a strange accent then don’t worry, they won’t bite, it’s just meant as a light-hearted welcome to a being from another planet.
    4. Don’t take Kirsten’s advice about British holidays at face value, it’s a more mixed picture than that. With ref. to (1) above, the choice of where, when & how you spend your free time will no longer be yours anyway.
    5. Ignore the paparazzi, they only mean well.
    6. There’s still time to change your mind.

  • Yeovil Yokel 5th Jan '18 - 10:01am

    P.S. Don’t forget to discuss Brexit with every British person you meet, they can’t get enough of it.

  • Yeovil Yokel 5th Jan '18 - 10:11am

    P.P.S. Get someone to show you how to make a proper cuppa and you’ll go far.

  • Dear Kirsten perhaps you can thank those who work in retail. Who have to work through the Christmas and New Year period so those who have holidays during this time can continue shopping during the holiday season.
    Those working in retail tend to be forgotten. Especially during holiday time.

  • Yeovil Yokel 5th Jan '18 - 10:59pm

    More advice for Meghan: if you want to understand the British watch Fawlty Towers (co-written and acted in by an American, Connie Booth, John Cleese’s then wife); the 12 episodes are some 40 years old but still relevant now – I can lend you the DVD boxed set if you like.

  • Tony Dawson 6th Jan '18 - 10:41am

    My advice to Meghan would be to hurry up and get her forms in to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK and be prepared to encounter officials who will tell her to go back to the USA and try to get her husband to be permitted by the US authorities join her there.

    For no one is, surely, suggesting that Ms Markle would be permitted ‘special treatment’?

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