Is this Meghan's new Sussex Squad? Duchess cosies with Universal execs

Is Meghan building a new Sussex Squad? Duchess cosies up with top Universal executives and Oscars president at glitzy LA gala (but there’s no picture of her with Oprah Winfrey)

Meghan Markle sat surrounded by executives from the Universal TV and film behemoth at a glitzy Hollywood bash last night – but was not seen with one of the guests of honour, friend and near-neighbour Oprah Winfrey, MailOnline can reveal today.

The Duchess of Sussex was on a table with many of the most powerful media executives in America at the Variety magazine’s star-studded ‘Power of Women’ gala.

During the meal Meghan smiled for a photographer as she sat next to Pearlena Igbokwe, the Nigerian-born Chairman of Universal Studio Group who runs the gigantic NBC TV network. Meghan was also all smiles as she stood next to Janet Yang, the American film producer who made her name working for Steven Spielberg and the current President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – who run the Oscars.

Oprah Winfrey appeared on stage and gave an animated speech, but Ms Winfrey, who famously interviewed Meghan and Harry after Megxit and was a cheerleader for the couple, was not pictured with Meghan last night.

Meghan was among many famous faces including Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Margot Robbie and Carey Mulligan, while Leonardo DiCaprio was on the table next to Meghan. But the American royal was sat with Universal, with Ms Igbokwe and her team including Erin Underhill, the President of Universal Television, Tracy St. Pierre, Universal Studio’s Communications and Marketing chief as well as Veronika Vandenberg, President of Universal’s distribution business.

Pearlena Igbokwe, Chairman, Universal Studio Group and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, as an event attended by the Duchess and Hollywood powerplayers last night

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex , and Janet Yang, American film producer and the current President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage – but she was not seen with Meghan, a near-neighbour and friend who was watching in the audience

Meghan Markle is seen on Thursday night at Variety’s ‘Power of Women’ gala 

Brand and culture expert Nick Ede told MailOnline that it is no accident that ‘shrewd player’ Meghan posed with two of the most powerful women in Hollywood – and says it is big hint that she is pushing to do more TV and film. 

WATCH: Awkward moment Meghan Markle is interrupted by aide while being photographed at glitzy Variety gala 


The recent writers’ strike means studios are desperate for content and it is telling that the Duchess chose to praise the ‘everlasting impact’ of Suits, which she made her name on, Nick Ede said.

A return to acting would see her earn up to £1million an episode on US channels – although a Sussex spokesman denied this was part of her plans earlier this month. 

Producing a film would bring home £2million-plus, as well as royalties on top if it was a box office hit. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame could also be in the offing, he claimed.

‘That the SAG strike is over Hollywood is going into overdrive to produce new content and Meghan riding high on the fact Suits is a sleeper hit on Netflix and has found a new generation of fans is looking to move back to her first love acting’, he said.

‘Not only is a part in a movie or returning series lucrative, it could establish Meghan as a serious player in Hollywood where she may act and produce too. She’s always said she loved acting and playing a character may be the perfect way for her to shut her detractors down and shine in a starring role.

‘She’s a shrewd player and this power move will play to her strengths. With her references to suits and her posing with some of Hollywood’s elite power women she’s going in a direction that could earn her millions and perhaps even a star on the Hollywood walk of fame’.

Leonardo DiCaprio attends Variety Power of Women. Meghan was seen on the Universal table in the background

Meghan with Erin Underhill, President, Universal Television, to the right in glasses

Meghan at her table with Universal’s distribution chief Veronika Vandenberg (front, left)

Meghan smiles for the assembled press in LA on Thursday evening

Meghan was clearly loving being on the red carpet for the event

Meghan was back out and about in LA, but Harry was not with her

Dua Lipa, left, and Margot Robbie arrive at Variety’s Power of Women event

Fantasia Barrino and Oprah Winfrey at the Variety Power of Women Los Angeles

On a night where she also praised the ‘everlasting impact’ of her TV series Suits, Meghan said: ‘We have so many exciting things on the slate. I can’t wait until we can announce them, but I’m just really proud of what we’re creating. My husband is loving it too which is really fun.’

The former actress did not reveal what the projects are – but told Variety on the red carpet that she wants to create ‘things that make people feel’ as well as create ‘a sense of community’.  

Multiple sources have claimed Meghan is about to announce a new project. Ms Markle has been much more visible on the LA scene recently, including two nights watching Beyonce. She also flew on a private jet with Harry and rich friends to see the final performance of Katy Perry’s Las Vegas residency.

Her appearance ‘mom’s night out’ gala in LA came hours after Sussex insiders told MailOnline that Harry and Meghan had nothing to do with Omid Scobie’s new book Endgame. They also denied that Mr Scobie is part of the ‘Sussex Camp’ and the journalist last night tweeted: ‘I’m not “Meg’s pal”, the Sussexes have nothing to do with it’.

The mother of two is said to be looking to move closer to Hollywood as she and her husband attempt to build on their brands and media careers

Meghan praised the legacy of Suits – but her team have insisted there will be no return to acting

Experts believe that Meghan’s relaunch is imminent, especially given how 

The 42-year-old appeared to be attending the Los Angeles event without her husband, Prince Harry

The Duchess of Sussex teased that she and Harry have new projects in the pipeline

Markle was Variety’s cover star last year, but was unable to attend the gala in 2022 due to the Queen’s death

Excerpts of Endgame, out later this month, has infuriated Palace officials. It claims that Harry ‘remained in the dark’ about the Queen’s health in her final moments because of his family. 

Harry and Meghan’s olive branch to the King on his 75th birthday. It also reopens Royal Family wounds in the aftermath of Megxit, branding Charles III ‘unpopular’, William ‘power hungry’ and says Harry was ‘betrayed by his own family’.

Ms Markle was among those gathering for Variety magazine’s Power of Women gala. She was their cover star last year and was among those garlanded in 2022, but was unable to attend the fall 2022 event due to the death of the Queen. 

Entertainment Tonight asked her if it was ‘Mom’s night out’, and the mother-of-two laughed and replied: ‘Exactly.’ 

She was asked by Variety what she was working on, and said it was projects ‘that make you feel’ – adding that she could not wait to speak more about her forthcoming work.

She said she had ‘no idea’ why Suits suddenly regained popularity.

‘It was great to work on,’ she said. ‘Such a great cast and crew. We had a really fun time. I was on it for seven seasons, so quite a bit.

‘But it’s hard to find a show you can binge-watch that many episodes of these days, so that could have something to do with it.

‘But good shows are everlasting.’ 

Meghan stopped briefly for questions and laughed and said ‘yes’ when asked if it was a ‘mom’s night out’

Meghan wore an expensive camel, off-the-shoulder Proenza Schouler dress

Meghan said Prince Harry was ‘excited’ about new projects they were working on

When asked about Archewell’s work, which included the Netflix documentary and her Archetypes podcast, she said: ‘I’m just really proud of what we’re creating’

Glamorous gals! Margot Robbie looked stylish as ever

Dua Lipa was also at Variety’s star-studded Power of Women event in Los Angeles on Thursday

Emily Blunt was chic in a white dress with feather sleeves 

Riley Keough looked sensational in a gold and white dress matched with gold boots 

Carey Mulligan on the red carpet

Meghan sits at a table during the ceremony

Markle was asked what was now ‘driving the things you put out in the business.’

She replied: ‘Things that make people feel… I was going to say things that make people feel good, but it’s more than that. Things that make people feel something, right? And a sense of community.

‘But we have so many exciting things on the slate, I can’t wait until we can announce them. I’m just really proud of what we’re creating.’ 

The Duchess said that she was appreciative of other women in show business supporting each other.

‘This industry is so special and you see how many women use the platform that they have and channel it for good.

‘And the more we support each other, it amplifies the work, amplifies our community – and I’m just thrilled to be back in it.

‘And be able to sit in this room, be in such good company tonight.

‘And also to focus so much on how this is the crossroads of entertainment meeting philanthropy. So it’s really close to my heart. It’s going to be a fun night.’

This year’s honorees included Carey Mulligan, singer Fantasia Barrino, ‘Killers of the Flowers Moon’ star Lily Gladstone, and Billie Eilish – who performed ‘What Was I Made For’ alongside her brother Finneas O’Connell. 

The magazine presented a Producer of the Year Award to Margot Robie, who produced Barbie, and an Alumni Award to Emily Blunt.

Other attendees, Variety reported, included Leonardo DiCaprio, Dua Lipa, Emerald Fennell, Oprah Winfrey and Riley Keough.

Eilish was sporting a black hair-do with dyed red roots, paired with a black blazer ensemble and a matching headscarf, while Saltburn star Mulligan opted for a black off-the-shoulder dress with a short bob haircut.

Mulligan posed with British actress Emily Blunt wearing a white sparkly number with feathered sleeves, who said she ‘cry-wept’ at Mulligan’s performance in Maestro which she also described as ‘one of the best things’ she’d ever seen.

Similarly, on the red carpet Mulligan said she ‘worships’ Barbie star Robbie, who was styling a black off-the-shoulder dress paired with a classic red lip.

Speaking about her production company following the end of the Sag-Aftra US actors’ strike, Robbie said: ‘I don’t have much of a voice right now but we really believe (in) people with original ideas and original voices, people like Emerald (Fennell) with Saltburn and Greta (Gerwig) with Barbie.

‘They are both such visionary directors with such original voices and they had such an original take on the story they wanted to tell and committing to that on the side of it coming out can seem scary but when you do, amazing things happen.’

The red carpet also saw singer-songwriter and actress Dua Lipa styling a red silk strappy dress with a bow.

Speaking about her work on the Argylle film, she said: ‘No music for this one, just focusing on the acting.

‘I had the most fun, honestly being on a motorcycle doing all the stunts, it was just so much fun and working with Henry (Cavill) was amazing and Matthew (Vaughn) is just such a great director so I really thoroughly enjoyed that experience.’

The soiree came as the Sussexes attempted to deny Scobie’s claim in his new book that Markle and Prince Harry were kept in the dark about the Queen’s impending death.

The Duchess opted for a floor-sweeping beige gown

Markle wore her favorite Cartier bracelet and carried a black clutch bag

The 42-year-old slicked her hair back for the glamorous Hollywood event

Margot Robie was presented with an award for her work producing the film Barbie

The Australian actress produced the film alongside her husband, Tom Ackerley, and their co-founder Josey McNamara

She was joined by her husband Tom Ackerley, 33, for the bash

Margot Robie and Dua Lipa caught up on the red carpet

Dua Lipa, 28, thrilled in a busty red hot silk gown that tied at the front. She coordinated the dress with her fiery auburn tresses, which were styled in light waves

Riley Keough was also among those attending Thursday’s event

Actress and singer Sofia Carson is seen arriving at the LA event

Carson, 30, wore a dramatic patterned number for the gala

Emily Blunt, 40, wore a chic white sequin dress with fun feather sleeves and gold heels

Blunt was pictured with a stylish Carey Mulligan, 38

Margot Robie and Carey Mulligan are seen mingling inside the event in Los Angeles

In an excerpt of his latest book, Endgame, Scobie alleges that Prince Harry was ‘kept in the dark’ about the Queen’s health in the hours before she died, and that Prince William feels that he has ‘lost Harry and doesn’t want to know this version of him’.

Scobie, who previously released a biography on the Sussexes titled ‘Finding Freedom,’ said Harry, 39, and his 42-year-old wife Meghan had ‘no idea’ the Royal Family were preparing for the Queen’s death last year. 

Yet MailOnline understands that Meghan and Harry categorically deny any suggestion they are ‘affiliated’ with the book. 

They are also denying that Scobie – who has been friendly with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and co-wrote their biography Finding Freedom – is part of the ‘Sussex Camp’.

Experts have said that the Sussexes’ favored royal reporter’s new book is threatening a potential thawing in relations between the King and his youngest son. 

The denial came after Harry and Meghan’s olive branch to the King on his 75th birthday.

Harry is believed to have telephoned his father on Tuesday – and they have reportedly agreed to chat again next week. 

The Duchess of Sussex is also said to have spoken to her father-in-law from their home in California while the couple’s children – Archie, four, and Lilibet, two – recorded a video of themselves singing happy birthday to their grandfather.

Royal courtiers are said to be furious over the claims made by Harry and Meghan’s biographer Omid Scobie, who alleges that the Prince of Wales ignored the Duke of Sussex ‘s calls as he raced to be at the bedside of the Queen (pictured) in Scotland in September last year

According to the Mirror, Scobie has said there was ‘no proof’ King Charles called his youngest son during the Queen’s death

In Endgame, Scobie recounts how the Sussexes had visited the UK for a series of engagements in September 2022 when the palace announced that Queen Elizabeth had been advised by her doctors to rest.  

He writes: ‘By the next morning, the Sussexes had no idea that Buckingham Palace was already planning for the Queen’s final hours and the first days of the monarchy’s new era — until the duke’s phone started ringing. An unknown number. He usually ignored those.’

Meghan told her husband to pick up the phone and he accepted the call ‘just before it stopped’, the author wrote. 

He continues: ‘Harry hadn’t spoken to his father much that year, but this was not the time for any father-and-son tension. Charles told him he and Camilla were about to leave Dumfries House for Balmoral, where Princess Anne was already by the Queen’s side. He told Harry to make his way to Scotland immediately.’

Harry sent a text message to his brother William asking how he and Kate planned to travel to Scotland and whether they could travel together, but got no response, Scobie claims. 

He was later told William had managed to secure a flight with his uncles Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle with King Charles and Queen Camilla at the Queen’s funeral last year. Harry had reportedly not spoken to his father for a long time

Omid Scobie is set to use his new book to launch a salvo of attacks on the Royal Family 

An emotional Harry travels in an official car to Balmoral after the Queen’s death was announced to the nation 

The Prince and Princess of Wales join the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for a walkabout at Windsor to meet mourners after the Queen’s death in September 2022  

‘It was upsetting to witness,’ Scobie claims he was told by a source close to the Sussexes. 

‘[Harry] was completely by himself on this.’ 

Scobie alleges that Palace ‘sources’ briefed certain newspapers that Charles had personally shared the news of the Queen’s illness with his son. He quoted a friend of the duke who said this left Harry ‘crushed’.

The journalists makes fresh claims about the damaged relationship between William and Harry. 

The author also suggests William and Harry’s relationship is beyond repair because the Prince of Wales sees his brother as a ‘defector’

And in the extract shared with People, he claims ‘there is no going back’ for the brothers and ‘absolutely nothing has changed’ since the Duke of Sussex released his memoir, Spare, earlier this year.

A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace refused to comment on Endgame, due to be released on November 28, when approached by MailOnline. 

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