FOR years she has been Meghan Markle’s best friend, style adviser, wedding planner and even babysitter.
But now Canadian socialite Jessica Mulroney is embroiled in an embarrassing public race row which has seen her TV appearances cancelled and lucrative endorsements shelved.
And the Duchess of Sussex is said to be “mortified”.
The pair have been close since Meghan was a little-known actress in TV drama Suits.
Having moved from her native Los Angeles to Toronto, she found a soulmate in confident TV presenter Jessica, who quickly took her into her inner circle and introduced her to the city’s movers and shakers.
Since then, Jessica — often dubbed the “Gwyneth Paltrow of Canada” — has been a constant source of support for Meghan, with her influence even extending to helping to plan her 2018 wedding to Prince Harry and her outfits for their tour of Australia.
Indeed earlier this year, when Meghan and Harry flew back from their Canadian hideaway to carry out their final royal engagements, they are thought to have left their baby son Archie with Jessica.
With their long, dark locks and chic fashion taste, the two women even mirror each other’s image.
But that relationship is now said to be in jeopardy following the humiliating row, particularly as Jessica appears to have used their friendship to try to prove she isn’t racist.
Meghan is reported to be “absolutely mortified that she has been dragged into this complete mess.”
One of her friends told a website they would not be surprised if this marked the beginning of the end of the friendship.
It all started when black US blogger Sasha Exeter accused Jessica of taking “offence” when she urged white influencers to support the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd last month.
Single mum Sasha, who has 131,000 Instagram followers, claims in an 11-minute video that 40-year-old Jessica showed “textbook white privilege” in refusing to add her support.
She adds that she was then “paralysed with fear” when Jessica threatened her career, telling her: “I have spoken to companies and people about the way you have treated me unfairly.
“You think your voice matters — well, it only matters if you express it with kindness and without shaming people who are simply trying to learn. Good luck.”
Jessica has since issued an apology on her social media, saying: “As some of you may have seen, @Sasha Exeter and I had a disagreement.
“She rightfully called me out for not doing enough when it came to engaging in the important and difficult conversation around race and injustice in our society.
“I took it personally and that was wrong. I know I need to do better.”
In another response, she apparently referenced Meghan, saying: “I have lived a very public and personal experience with my closest friend where race was front and centre. It was deeply educational.”
But after the apology, Sasha claims Jessica sent a private message which appears to threaten to sue.
At a time when protests highlighting the Black Lives Matter movement and racial injustice are happening all over the world, those associated with Jessica have moved quickly to distance themselves.
Canadian network CTV has cancelled her wedding reality show I Do, Redo, tweeting: “Recent conduct by one of our show hosts, Jessica Mulroney, conflicts with our commitment to diversity and equality.”
Canadian department store Hudson’s Bay has also ended its collaboration with Jessica, as has US TV show Good Morning America, on which she has regularly hosted fashion segments.
The controversy makes life hard for Meghan, who has made public a speech she gave to her former high school about George Floyd’s death.
A friend told a website: “She said Jessica is in no way a racist, but the way she handled the situation was tone-deaf and heartbreaking.”
Only last August, Jessica publicly supported Meghan, calling those who criticised her green credentials for taking Elton John’s private jet to the French Riviera as “racist bullies”.
But the friend added: “Meghan said friends reflect friends and because of what’s at stake she can no longer be associated with Jessica, at least not in public.
“She has to do what she has to do in order to preserve her dignity and her own reputation.”
Jessica, who comes from a wealthy Montreal family, has long been a fixture of Canada’s upper social circles.
She belongs to the country’s Browns shoe shop dynasty, reportedly worth £50million, and has made her own connections through TV presenting and styling the stars.
She is married to fellow TV presenter Ben Mulroney, son of former Canadian Prime Minister Brian, giving her access to some of the most influential people in the country.
One of her friends is Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, wife of the current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
Another is businessman Markus Anderson, who introduced her to Meghan.
Both were keen yoga fans and instantly bonded. Jessica provided advice for red-carpet outfits and contributed tips to Meghan’s lifestyle blog The Tig.
Her nine-year-old twins, Brian and John, were page boys at Meghan’s wedding and carried her train as she walked down the aisle. Their seven-year-old sister Ivy was a bridesmaid.
Throughout Meghan’s relationship with Harry, Jessica has shown discretion.
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar after their wedding, she refused to be drawn on her famous pal.
“Every person has to have a bit of privacy in their life,” she said. “There are things I’ll never talk about, for sure.”
Whether that loyalty is enough for Meghan now, in the face of such a public furore, remains to be seen.
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