Meghan Markle‘s childhood boyfriend has said he does not believe that she ever bullied members of staff, saying that his guess was she refused to ‘fall in line’ and spoke out against being disrespected.
Joshua Silverstein, a Los Angeles-based actor, told Us Weekly on Wednesday that he does not ‘personally see her’ mistreating employees of the royal family.
In a report on March 2, days before Markle and Prince Harry‘s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, The Times reported that members of their household in London were left traumatized by working with the former actress, and senior members of their team were deeply troubled at the ‘bullying’ of junior staff members.
Silverstein, who was Markle’s first kiss, aged 13, and dated her throughout that summer, said he could not believe the allegations.
Joshua Silverstein met Meghan Markle at summer camp when they were both 13
Silverstein said he could not believe allegations that Markle bullied members of staff
‘I see her doing whatever it is she feels like she should do in order to be happy and coexist within a system that has probably not been very welcoming to who she is and where she comes from,’ he told the magazine.
‘When you find women of color — particularly black women — standing up for themselves and speaking out and speaking against what they feel [is] disrespect or oppression, often times whiteness tends to classify that in negative ways because they don’t want that to happen.
‘It’s almost like people are expected to know their place and whenever they don’t fall in line with that, then people say it’s a problem.’
The Times was told that staffers were reduced to tears and couldn’t ‘stop shaking’ following a confrontation with Markle – claims she vehemently denied.
Markle, 39, was said to be ‘saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma.’
Buckingham Palace is currently investigating the claims.
Silverstein, now a married father of two who will be conducting a summer session at Cazadero Performing Arts Family Camp, said he doubted the ‘scrutiny’ and ‘negative criticism’ will disappear with the Sussexes settled in California.
Silverstein (as a child, left), met Markle (as a teenager, right) when they were both 13
A 15-year-old Markle poses in front of Buckingham Palace during a European trip in 1996
But he said that her happiness was all that mattered.
‘She’s probably having to make hard decisions and uncomfortable ones for the sake of just being able to smile the next day,’ he said.
‘That’s what life is about — making tough decisions so that you can live the life that allows you to thrive as the person you want to thrive as.
‘As long as she’s happy and he’s happy, that’s all that matters.’
Silverstein and Markle’s teenage romance began after the pair met at a drama-focused summer camp organized by the Agape International Spiritual Center in California.
Founded in 1986, adherents, who include Meghan’s mother Doria and Winfrey, believe that God is everywhere, that sickness starts in the mind and that positive thinking has a healing effect.
As a result, Silverstein says, participants in the camp were encouraged to take part in meditation sessions as well as in acting and dance workshops – the latter much loved by Meghan, then a budding actress.
He says the pair initially bonded over their mixed race heritage, telling DailyMailTV in 2018 that they found themselves thrown together because of their ‘intimate’ class of 15.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s engagement photo
Silverstein told Us Weekly that Markle and her father Thomas had a ‘challenging’ relationship.
‘I knew her dad growing up as kids,’ he said.
‘I didn’t see him often, but I did know that Meghan’s relationship with her dad was complicated and I understood that as most teenager-to-parent relationships are.
‘Being there when Meghan’s parents were divorced at that time – it’s hard raising your kids without the secondary parent.
‘It’s all challenging. I don’t think there was anything specifically surprising to find out at that time because there were a lot of people that I knew [who] had challenging relationships with their parents. But I did know about it.’
He said that he ‘couldn’t speak to the specificity of what Meghan went through’ with her father, but said that he remembered having ‘very cordial’ interactions him.
Their relationship as father and daughter ‘might have been strained’ at the time as a result of the divorce, Silverstein said.
Meghan’s father moved to Mexico, living south of Tijuana, and the pair have been estranged since he began speaking to the tabloid press shortly before her wedding.
They are no longer in contact.
‘I think at the end of the day, we’re all human beings and we all have to create boundaries with people that we may not want to create boundaries with,’ said Silverstein.
‘But at the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you and your family.
‘If that means creating a boundary with your parents, sometimes that’s what you have to do.’
Silverstein describes the 13-year-old Meghan as being ‘very sweet’, charming and ‘quirky’ but already displaying the determined streak that took her to success in Suits.
Silverstein described Markle, aged 13, as very sweet, kind, talented and ambitious
‘Meghan as a 13-year-old was very kind, very sweet, very talented, very interested in the theater camp – it was then that we saw how impressive she was on stage,’ he said.
‘She was charming and quirky. She wasn’t a stereotypical 13-year-old girl; she wasn’t decked out in pink every single day, she wasn’t flaunting make-up or anything.
‘She was her own person, very authentic to who she was at the time. She was curious, I think she was serious about her craft.’
In true teen fashion, the pair realized they liked each other after telling friends about their respective crushes.
‘I found out from our friends that she liked me and I liked her and I just think we decided it would be a good idea to become boyfriend and girlfriend,’ Silverstein said.
The relationship wasn’t his first: he had previously kissed girls at kindergarten and had a ‘girlfriend’ in first grade.
And it certainly wasn’t to be his last: the pair splitting up at the end of the summer before starting high school because neither wanted to let it put a ‘dampener’ on their interactions with others.
After that, Silverstein says, he saw Meghan only ‘three or four more times’ – all during their high school years – and always at church.
The pair then lost touch, although he says he was kept up-to-date on her exploits via her mother Doria until four years ago, when he stopped attending services at the Agape church.
‘After high school, I hadn’t seen her,’ Silverstein said. ‘But her mom still went to Agape so I saw her mom often and I was friendly with her mom.
‘Her mom would always fill me in – ‘oh Meghan’s overseas modeling or Meghan’s acting now’. I think the last check in I had with Meghan’s mom was Meghan was getting married [to ex-husband Trevor Engleson].
‘Or it might have been Meghan’s on a show – I can’t remember the show details. But I think that there was always a sense of pride from Meghan’s mom – whatever Meghan was doing, she’s proud of Meg. Proud and happy for her.’