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In this Nov. 27, 2017, file photo, Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for the media in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London.Eddie Mulholland/The Associated Press

In fairy tales, meeting a prince is the gateway to an escape. A mythical hand extends to lift a damsel out of whatever distress she finds herself mired in – poverty, evil stepsisters, a coma. Beginnings are novel, romantic and exciting, imbued with the buzzy chemistry that comes with fresh love. From what little we know of the pairing of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Hollywood couldn’t write a fairy tale quite this perfect. A gorgeous American actor meets a handsome British prince, they begin covertly dating across oceans and fall madly in love, are engaged within 15 months, become a couple beloved the world over.

Much of their courtship has seemed like a mythical romance, from Harry’s declaration that he knew Markle was the one after their first date, to his purported refusal to sign a prenuptial agreement to protect his estimated US$30-million fortune. The trajectory of their relationship plays into the culturally enduring idea that when you meet “the one,” you cross a metaphorical finish line and want the rest of your life to start right away. But what happens after the credits roll? “Marry for love,” Diana, Princess of Wales, told Harry when he was a boy. But we all know that this marriage is more of a job than most. And the trappings of real-life royalty may not be so liberating, as Markle is about to learn.

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There are certainly perks to the job. The estimated US$200,000-plus clothing allowance the Duchess of Cambridge (a.k.a. Kate Middleton) gets, for example, to pay for the wardrobe she wears to her share of the 2,000 official engagements attended by the Royal Family every year. The cozy Nottingham Cottage, where Meghan and Harry live and will entertain some of the 70,000 people the royals host annually at their residences. A country home that will likely make up part of their wedding gifts, such as Anmer Hall did for William and Kate. Markle has already taken calligraphy classes, which will certainly help when she answers her share of the 100,000 letters received by the Royal Family. And while she’ll have aides working behind the scenes to arrange the minutiae of her life, says Myka Meier, founder of Beaumont Etiquette, a finishing school run out of New York’s Plaza Hotel that has featured workshops entitled “Marry Harry” and “The Duchess Effect,” this is one job that doesn’t come with an off switch. “It’s 24/7,” Meier says. “She’s considered a working royal as soon as she becomes part of the Royal Family.”

Much ado has been made about how the royal life is turning Markle, a Hollywood actor from Los Angeles and the former star of TV show Suits, into a proper princess. She has tightened up her fingers when she waves, and has perfected the Cambridge Cross seating posture, with an egg’s distance between the back of the chair and her back, legs together, ankles neatly crossed. And according to some reports out of Britain earlier this year, she’s also been kidnapped in a terror-training course that involved live ammo and secret-service operatives. (Diana also underwent the training, a must for members of the Royal Family, but fared worse than Markle did when her hair caught fire after a grenade exploded.)

“It’s not like Ms. Markle is sitting in morning classes every day,” says Meier, who herself was trained by a member of the Queen’s royal household. Rather, after the wedding, it will be more of a learn-on-the-job type of gig. “If she’s going to a state dinner, she’ll be briefed on who’s attending, what the topics are, how she should greet foreign dignitaries. Her training will be event-specific.”

The last time an American divorcée married into the Royal Family was in 1937 when Wallis Simpson married King Edward VIII, who would eventually abdicate his royal role rather than leave his love. The couple spent the rest of their lives in effective exile, living in Paris, New York and the Bahamas. A more relevant comparison is to Kate, who divides her time between charity work, meeting with lay people to better understand the issues facing Brits today and representing Britain on foreign tours and at state functions, from local ribbon-cutting ceremonies to the annual diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace every year. Soon after the wedding, Markle will be expected to publicly declare the specific charities and causes she will devote her energies to. And Harry and Meghan have already publicly declared their desire to start a family quickly so, as with Kate, Meghan will eventually add mothering to that list, too.

Not everyone is convinced of the merits of Markle’s new job. Feminist and philosopher Germaine Greer told 60 Minutes Australia last month that she thinks the marriage is doomed. “She will see vistas of boredom that are unbelievable,” Greer said. “I think she’ll bolt.” It’s too soon to say for certain how Markle might upend her royal obligations. She’s already spoken out about #metoo, a bold move considering the royals aren’t supposed to make known any of their political views.

Regardless of how you feel about the monarchy, there’s no doubt that Markle has the showmanship aspect of her upcoming job covered. Thanks to her Hollywood roots, she already knows how to pose, how to handle crowds and how to react to cameras and questions. “I think in a world that could use a little bit of kindness, seeing people who are ‘celebrities’ using that for positive change is so admirable,” Meier says.