How will Megxit affect the Meghan Markle lookalike business?


Sarah Mhlanga, 37, lives in North West England with her husband, Jabu, 39, and their children, Josiah, nine, and Mimi-Raie, seven.

‘The first time I heard the name Meghan Markle I was in Ikea, of all places. Someone came up to me and told me I looked identical. As I don’t watch the news much, I had to Google her to find out who she was.

‘I didn’t think much of it until a month later when Meghan and Harry got engaged. I was featured in a newspaper article – and the floodgates opened. Offers of work came rolling in, from Royal-themed parties to walkabouts, promotional work and TV appearances.

‘It’s all been a bit bonkers – I had no idea that looking like someone could be a thing.

‘But over time being Meghan became second nature to me. I’ve got a wardrobe full of ‘Meghan’ clothes and I’ve studied footage so I can incorporate her facial expressions and the little tics she has – like playing with her hair – into whatever I’m doing.

‘I’ve been told I’m the No 1 Meghan lookalike in the UK, but even so there are peaks and troughs.

‘In the run-up to the Royal Wedding I was doing one or two Meghan bookings a week and the phone was ringing off the hook to the extent that I was thinking about giving up my day job,’ says the performing arts school director.

‘I’m glad I didn’t, though, as it went quiet after that and you are waiting for the next milestone to put them back into the limelight. It’s not really a way to spend your life.

‘Where Megxit will leave me is anyone’s guess. I think what they are doing is a brave decision, especially for Harry – he’s moving away from everything he really knows, and I am not sure the grass is going to be greener.

‘I might be busy in the short term while she’s back in the limelight but overall I think it’s time for a change.

‘I certainly won’t miss being Meghan. I’ve had two years and I’m ready for a new challenge.’

Office manager Danielle Bourne, 39, is single and lives with her seven-year-old son in Surrey.

‘The thing about being a lookalike is that the work depends on what’s going on in the real world – and if Meghan is having a low-key time, then so am I.

‘In the run-up to the Royal Wedding the phone rang almost non-stop, but since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex went to ground in Canada, it’s been really quiet.

‘Now I have no idea which way the wind is going to blow – although I suspect it means less work for me.

‘I’ve done some fun stuff too, from pretending to look at baby clothes for a magazine, to whizzing round a village in a vintage open-top sports car for a local festival, to posing at an event for Virgin Atlantic.

‘I remember the sharp intake of breath when I walked into a room full of their employees – they thought I was the real deal.

‘Shortly after Harry and Meghan announced their engagement, we had to walk around near Windsor Castle.

‘Within minutes there was a crowd around us, snapping away, taking selfies, and shouting, ‘Congratulations!’

‘I wanted to say, ‘It’s not me!’ But I nodded and smiled as if I really was a member of the Royal Family.

‘I earn anything up to £800 per session and I’ve made a few thousand over the past couple of years, which has been welcome, especially as most of the time it doesn’t remotely feel like working.

‘One time, I was asked to film something outside Buckingham Palace with my ‘Harry-a-like’ for an Australian television show and we got so mobbed by tourists that the cameramen had to pull us out of the crowd.

‘It made me think that I wasn’t sure I could deal with this on a daily basis. It’s one reason that I am totally behind the Sussexes’ decision to lead a more independent life: it’s no picnic being scrutinised 24 hours a day.’

Stephanie Kane, 31, lives in Warwickshire and runs a basement-conversion company with her husband Richard.

‘I’d had people commenting on my similarity to Meghan for years – men would come up to me in bars and tell me I looked like the good-looking one in Suits.

‘Then, as she got more involved with Harry, more women started to notice. I signed up with Susan Scott’s lookalike agency and my first job was for Ladbrokes, filming a promotional campaign in the form of a cheesy hen party for Meghan featuring Kate and Pippa and her Majesty.

‘I had a ball. I’ve done a lot of American TV, including being broadcast live across the states on NBC News from outside Buckingham Palace. I’ve been filmed having facials with Meghan’s skin care expert, Sarah Chapman, and trying on dresses at designer Amanda Wakeley. I’ve done some corporate work, too.

‘I’ve earned a few thousand but it’s been less about the money than having an adventure. It’s been really fun, but even the minuscule amount of scrutiny I got was quite enough for me. I think my Meghan days are probably numbered.

‘Meghan and Harry gave Royal life a try and it hasn’t suited them. I say good luck to them, even if it does mean saying goodbye to my own inner Meghan.’

I’m a teacher by day and Meghan by night

Sylvia Lilford, 39, is a teacher at a private preparatory school for girls in London. She’s married to Chris, a fellow teacher, and they have two children, Jake, nine, and six-year-old Emma.

‘When the news broke of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to go their own way, I woke up thinking, ‘Goodness. As quick I was into this business, I’m out again.’ 

‘I’ve only been doing Meghan work for a few weeks, through, and I’ve had quite a few jobs already. Then, almost overnight, my friends were teasing me saying, ‘Your career is over.’

‘My first event was at the end of November in Central London – a big-budget affair for a large company and 1,200 guests.

‘ ‘Harry’ and I just wandered around, chatting to people and having our photographs taken. It was pretty straightforward, and I had a lot of fun. I was booked for another party at the same venue a couple of weeks later and for a Christmas party at a local stately home.

‘Obviously it all had to fit around my teaching job, although the school where I work have been incredibly supportive. The kids and the staff have always called me Meghan – it’s been a longstanding joke. Whether they will do for much longer is anyone’s guess.

‘Some people say I’ll be busier than ever post-Megxit, but I think that while looking like a celebrity is great, it’s the Royal hallmark that makes you stand out.’

Billie-Jean Bazell, 35, lives in Romford where she runs an eyebrow-tattooing business.

‘When Meghan started dating Harry barely a day went by without people stopping me to tell me I looked like her. And when a friend sent my pictures in to an agency, I was signed up straight away.

‘My first booking – for domestic-appliance firm Smeg – came the very same day: I was paired with a Harry lookalike and we had to browse around a shop looking like we had been caught shopping for wedding gifts by paparazzi.

‘In the event, the real paparazzi turned up and before we knew it there were massive groups of Chinese tourists trying to get selfies, although I imagine that the moment we opened our mouths – me with my Essex accent, Harry speaking broad Yorkshire – we gave the game away.

‘There was an occasion when I had to go to a party at a big fashion house. Another time I made an appearance at a high-end cake shop. It’s all a bit ad hoc because I run my own business so I see being Meghan as just a bit of fun – although the few thousand pounds it has made me are a nice bonus.

‘It was fun while it lasted.’


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