Little Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor should be grateful for a lot of things.
He will get to enjoy piggybacks from none other than charmer extraordinaire Prince Harry. His mum, the Duchess of Sussex, is a hugger par excellence. And, lastly, that a certain chef in Toronto and his girlfriend split way back in 2016 because without that breakup, Archie would not be here.
That man is Cory Vitiello, Canada’s version of Jamie Oliver (sans failed restaurant empire) and Meghan Markle’s former boyfriend of two years. A boyfriend she only parted ways from a matter of weeks or months before she and a certain roguishly charming royal started dating.
But, let’s rewind shall we?
In 2014, Meghan was living in Toronto, working incredibly long hours on Suits and recovering from her divorce from her first husband Trevor Engelson. She was very close to her co-star Gina Torres, and the pals regularly hit up some of the city’s cooler joints for vino and dinner. On that list was the Harbord Room, owned by hot (in every way) chef Cory Vitiello.
Cory was quite the catch: He was wealthy, very successful and very connected. Reports vary about how exactly Cory and Meghan got together. Some say they were set up by a mutual friend (Megs clearly loves a set-up clever girl) and others that they got to know each other when she popped by the restaurant for a plate of pasta.
Either way, at some stage in 2014, he and Meghan started dating and became something of a stealth power couple in Toronto. For her 33rd birthday that year, the Suits cast and crew gathered at, where else, but the Harbord Room to toast the actress’ big day.
While she was the star of a hit US TV show, according to the Daily Mail, “Vitiello was the real celebrity in his home city.”
Basically, in Canada, Cory was the bigger deal, and he provided Meghan with an entree into the upper echelons of Canadian society.
Theirs was a very low-key romance. She would go to his restaurant after a long day of filming and wait for him to finish. Neighbours have reported spying them wandering around a local supermarket shopping together, and they rarely attended fancy society shindigs together. (There is pretty much only one photo of them together taken at an event.)
It was through Cory that Meghan met Markus Anderson, the global membership director of the exclusive Soho House who would go on to become one of her best friends. (He would also be responsible for arranging Meghan and Harry’s very private first date at the London outpost of the famed members-only establishment.)
By Christmas of 2015, things between the couple were so serious Cory took her to spend the holidays with his parents who were reportedly somewhat taken aback when she turned up with her beloved dogs Bogart and Guy.
His mother Joanne Vitello has told the Daily Mail: “We are very fond of her. She is a lovely, lovely woman. Very smart, very bright, very caring. She’s a warm personality, very sincere.”
Quite at what stage things started to sour for Meghan and Cory is uncertain. However, The Sun reported things ended for the couple in May 2016 — the same month Harry visited Toronto to promote the Invictus Games.
What better way to get over a breakup than a girls’ trip to Europe? At this time, Meghan packed her bags and headed to London, Madrid and the Amalfi Coast with good mates producer Lindsay Roth and designer Misha Nonoo, according to royal biographer Katie Nicholl.
Some stage on that trip Meghan and Harry enjoyed their first date, and the rest is glorious history. There are two main theories how this fabled evening came to pass. The first is Nonoo played fairy godmother as her husband Alexander Gilkes is a good friend of Harry’s.
The second is Meghan knew Ralph Lauren PR Violet von Westenholz. Violent has known Harry for years — her father, Olympic skier Baron Piers von Westenholz, is good mates with Prince Charles. There is a very good chance Violet was cupid and, at some point during that fateful European holiday, arranged for the couple to meet up for drinks.
What makes this so intriguing is the gap between relationships (Cory and Harry) is not huge.
The Telegraph has reported Harry and Meghan met while she was still dating Cory. The same story also alleged it was only a matter of weeks between Meghan calling time on her relationship with Cory and being in contact with Harry. At that stage, he is said to have started following her on Instagram using an account under a pseudonym.
No matter the beginnings of the Sussexes’ history-making romance, today their love and commitment is apparent whenever they appear in public together. (Never has there been a royal couple who enjoys getting quite so touchy-feely in public. Bless.)
Don’t worry, things ended well for Cory too. Last year he had his first child — a son he adoringly posts about on Instagram — with his partner, singer Martina Sorbara.
And obviously things ended perfectly for Harry and Meghan. And Archie? He has several weeks in 2016 to thank for his parents becoming an item and thus his being here at all.