LONDON • Did Meghan Markle drop her former husband in pursuit of personal fame and glory?
That is one contention advanced in a new biography of Prince Harry's fiancee that also details her lifelong embrace of good causes, even as it points to a calculating streak in the 36-year-old.
The American actress, who is set to marry her royal beau on May 19, is fiercely protective of "Brand Meghan" and sidelines people as she moves ahead in life, according to people who know her and are cited in the book.
Meghan: A Hollywood Princess, which is due out in Britain on Thursday, is authored by Andrew Morton, the British royal writer who penned the 1992 blockbuster Diana: Her True Story.
The book claims that as Markle found success as an actress, she shed her old acquaintances, including her film producer-husband Trevor Engelson, who helped her get on the acting ladder with early parts.
"Her friends in Los Angeles noticed the change in her now that she was on the way up," Morton wrote.
"She no longer had the time for friends she had known for years.
"A networker to her fingertips, she seemed to be carefully re-calibrating her life, forging new friendships with those who could burnish and develop her career."
Markle had been with Engelson since 2004 and they married in Jamaica in 2011.
Shortly after their engagement, she landed her signature role as Rachel Zane in the American legal drama television series Suits (2011 to present).
Filmed in Toronto, their relationship became long-distance as she became a star. The marriage collapsed in 2013.
"Trevor went from cherishing Meghan to, as one friend observed, 'feeling like he was a piece of something stuck to the bottom of her shoe'," the book reads.
Another friend said the decision to end the marriage was made by Markle and that she sent her rings back in the post.
Morton also details Markle's fascination with Prince Harry's mother Diana around the time of her death in 1997, watching her funeral in tears and viewing old tapes of her marriage to Prince Charles.
Family friends said she was intrigued by Diana "not just for her style, but also for her independent humanitarian mission, seeing her as a role model".
Markle's childhood friend Ninaki Priddy was cited as saying: "She was always fascinated by the royal family. She wants to be princess Diana 2.0."
Morton says comparisons with Diana are inevitable, given her humanitarian work and glamorous appeal.
However, he notes the crucial distinction between the timid Diana, who married Prince Charles at age 20, and Markle, the Hollywood professional.
"In some ways, the groomed and camera-ready Ms Markle was the woman Diana always strove to become," he wrote.
His conclusion is that Markle "will make the monarchy seem more inclusive and relevant to multicultural Britain".
Armed with a sharp mind, sophistication, beauty and talent, she "will complement her husband and the august institution she has married into, bringing a freshness, diversity and warmth to the chilly corridors of Buckingham Palace".