While the Duchess of Sussex may have stepped away from her senior royal duties, it seems she's still celebrated among the royal family. Members of Britain's royal family wished Meghan Markle a happy birthday over social media on Tuesday and Queen Elizabeth's tribute for her granddaughter-in-law included a lovely photo from their very first official outing together.
"Wishing The Duchess of Sussex a very happy birthday," the queen's birthday greeting to Markle reads alongside a photo of the two during their first joint royal visit to Chester in 2018. According to Vanity Fair, the event was Markle's first royal appearance without Prince Harry and was organized following a personal invitation from the queen. Together Markle and the queen watched local children perform before opening the Mersey Gateway Bridge and touring Storyhouse Theatre.
At first glance, the queen's tribute to Markle on her 39th birthday seems to be a simple one. But as Marie Claire's Emily Dixon pointed out, the photo accompanying the queen's well wishes could contain a "subtle" clue about the pair's relationship as that specific outing showcased "a strong rapport between the two [royals]." After all, photos from the day's event captured the queen and Markle smiling and laughing together as if they were already close friends.
The queen wasn't the only member of Britain's royal family to publicly wish Markle a happy birthday. Prince Charles, Markle's father-in-law, wished her a happy birthday through his office's official Instagram account. "Happy Birthday to The Duchess of Sussex!" a post on the Clarence House Instagram account read.
Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, also posted across their social media accounts to wish their sister-in-law a happy birthday. "Wishing a very happy birthday to The Duchess of Sussex today," the pair said in an Instagram post Tuesday.
Of course, it's unlikely the queen personally selected the photo that accompanied the public happy birthday greeting she posted for Markle. Britain's monarch is too busy to be crafting social media posts, after all. Still, it's quite possible the photo represents a fond memory of an enjoyable day the pair spent together. Heck, as Harper's Bazaar reported in 2018, the two traveled by "royal train" together, a first for Markle, to the event.
While it's impossible to know the inner workings of their relationship, the queen did share her support for Markle when she and Prince Harry, who turns 36 next month, announced their departure from their senior royal roles earlier this year.
"Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family. I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life," Queen Elizabeth wrote in a statement in January. "I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family. It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life."