JUST days after taking the editor’s chair at society magazine Tatler, Richard Dennen said: “I’m obsessed with Meghan.”
And referring to one of his predecessors, he added: “Tina Brown had Princess Diana, I have Meghan Markle.”
This obsession could explain the unprecedentedly fiery row between the glossy publication and Kensington Palace that has erupted in the past few days after a no-holds-barred article on Meghan’s sister-in-law Kate.
And it is a row that some friends of Meghan seem to be enjoying rather too much from over the Atlantic.
The dispute kicked off last week with a feature headlined “Catherine the Great”, which made a series of derogatory claims about the Duchess of Cambridge, 38.
It alleged she has been left “exhausted”, “trapped” and “furious” with the extra workload after Harry and Meghan fled to LA.
And it said she felt her young children had been “thrown under a bus”.
'KATE NEVER SAW THIS COMING'
So-called friends were quoted as saying, “I don’t know who she is”, and describing her as “impenetrable”.
While the author, journalist Anna Pasternak, described her as having “an aura of blandness”.
She also took a swipe at Kate for crafting a “posher” accent after being born a commoner.
And she sneered at the influence mum Carole Middleton, 65, is believed to have had on Kate and William’s Norfolk home, making it “very Buckingham- shire”.
As the royal couple take legal action against Tatler for alleged “inaccuracies and false misrepresentations”, senior courtiers directly pointed the finger at Meghan, 38, for influencing the piece.
The tone of the article would have come as a major shock to Kate as the magazine — loved as much by the hunting and shooting set as Made In Chelsea stars — has previously championed her as a society icon.
And we can reveal that editor Richard is an old friend of hers from St Andrews University — and even went on holiday with her twice.
Tonight, a source told The Sun: “Kate remains hurt and upset by the article. It was very unpleasant.
"But she also feels betrayed, as Richard had been a friend from the St Andrews set. Kate never saw this coming.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions, particularly who said these things to Tatler because her real friends would never talk that way about her.”
William, 37, did not get away unscathed, with a deeply personal and patronising jibe that he sees mother-in-law Carole as “the mummy he always wanted”.
The description of fitness fanatic Kate being “perilously thin” is believed to have shocked the whole family.
Kate feels betrayed, as Richard had been a friend from the St Andrews set. She never saw this coming.
While there were also claims that Meghan and Kate fell out over whether Princess Charlotte, five, could wear tights to Meghan and Harry’s 2018 wedding — a row that is said to have left Kate in tears.
A Kensington Palace spokesman complained: “This story contains a swathe of inaccuracies and false misrepresentations which were not put to Kensington Palace prior to publication.”
Tatler’s reply poured more fuel on the fire. It said “Editor-in-chief Richard Dennen stands behind the reporting of Pasternak and her sources.
“Kensington Palace knew we were running the ‘Catherine the Great’ cover months ago and we asked them to work together on it.
"The fact they are denying they ever knew is categorically false.”
Kensington Palace has now filed legal action and asked for the story to be removed from its website.
Tatler responded saying the legal complaint “has no merit”.
The brazen reply stunned palace sources and sparked fears Meghan — whose friends have previously been caught going to the Press — had a hand in the article.
Chicago-born Dennen, known as Tricky Dickie, was a close pal of Kate’s from her days at university.
'SHE IS VERY MEASURED'
They were on the same art history course there, lived two streets away and even went to France together in 2004 while Kate was taking a relationship break from William.
They were so close he shared a cheeky photo he took of her at an airport eating a sandwich, with the caption: “Before life got serious and we still ate wheat and flew economy.” The Instagram post has since been deleted.
It is also believed he was a guest at her 2011 wedding and both receptions.
Dennen has said of Kate: “She’s very measured, very controlled.
“That is perfect because you don’t want someone who’s going to be falling out on the Kings Road face down, wasted after a boozy session.
"There was this nightclub that everyone went to called Boujis and she was famous for always nipping into the bathroom, checking her hair and make-up before she left because she knew there were photographers waiting outside.”
The editor claims he has only met William once or twice.
The author behind the piece, however, has form for upsetting the Firm.
Pasternak, who is known for airing royal laundry in public, made her name with the racy 1994 book Princess In Love.
Compared at the time to a Mills & Boon novel, it told the story of Princess Diana’s love affair with Captain James Hewitt and was published when William was aged just 12.
She has also written a book on American socialite divorcée Wallis Simpson — whose love affair with King Edward VIII led to him giving up the throne — and a newspaper article headlined, “To stop history repeating, Meghan must learn from Wallis Simpson”.
'BUILT UP TO KNOCK HER DOWN'
But the real finger of suspicion has led to the US after The Sun revealed that Vanessa Mulroney, the sister-in-law of Meghan’s close pal Jessica Mulroney, once worked for Tatler and still has friends there.
Meghan has previously been accused of asking Jessica to intervene in stories to ensure a more “favourable” slant.
Meghan herself is currently suing The Mail on Sunday over its printing of a private letter from her to her father Thomas, 75.
In its defence, the newspaper claims Meghan has enlisted friends to intervene quietly in stories to get her side across.
Five of Meghan’s friends famously briefed People magazine on her behalf, including telling it about her letter to her dad.
Meghan also got Jessica to intervene in a story to put pressure on a former business adviser to ensure “a more favourable article”.
In legal documents in the High Court, The Mail on Sunday says it will seek disclosure from Meghan on “any other occasions in which the Claimant has caused or permitted her friends to provide information about her to the media”.
Predictably, as the royals sued Tatler this week, Meghan’s friends leapt to her defence.
A close pal accused Kensington Palace of “pulling out all the stops” to protect Kate while leaving her and Harry high and dry — in a billionaire’s mansion in LA.
Protected or not, the damage for Kate has already been done.
Ingrid Seward, editor of Majesty magazine, said: “This story is not going away, which I am sure she would prefer it to.
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“But the article is not something you’d like to read about yourself.
“It was very Tatleresque. Built up in order to knock her down. It is not fair to say someone is exhausted.
“It was critical of her work and she takes her work very seriously. So that is probably what really hurt her.”
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