The Duchess of Sussex is the butt of a string of catty quips in the new television series, The New Pope.
The timing of the show – the follow-up to The Young Pope – could not be worse for the former American actress, after the bombshell announcement that she and Prince Harry were stepping back from frontline royal duties.
The cheeky smash-hit Vatican drama that saw Jude Law’s dishy American pope struck down by a heart attack in the first series, has Markle bombarding his replacement with demands for fashion advice in the second.
“What a nuisance!” barks the fictional Pope John Paul III played by Hollywood star John Malkovich as his butler fields another call supposedly from Markle.
“Wear the yellow Dior because it plays up the contrasts with your complexion,” Sir John Brannox, the aristocratic English prelate played by Malkovich tells Markle in one scene.
“No, Meghan I am adamant, wear the yellow,” he adds.
“She calls me 25 times a day for beauty tips. She thinks I’m gay,” he later confesses to the Vatican’s spin doctor.
While Markle – who wore Dior for the baptism of son Archie in July – does not appear herself, she is a recurring presence in the series’ early episodes.
“They want to be influencers but they have no idea of colour combinations,” Malkovich’s character adds in one of many takedowns aimed at Markle.
In the series, Brannox is voted pope after Law’s immediate replacement, Pope Francis II, dies in mysterious circumstances after threatening to give away all the Church’s riches.
“What will Meghan do without me?” Malkovich sighs after he finally agrees to be pontiff.
Its award-winning Italian director Paolo Sorrentino insisted he “has nothing against Meghan. But to make people laugh I am ready to detest anyone.”
Despite its gags at the expense of Markle, “The New Pope” – which also features a “resurrected” Law – is being billed for its feminist take on the machinations inside the Catholic church.
NUNS ON STRIKE
As well as a teasing trailer that featured Law’s pope walking along the beach in a pair of skimpy white swimming trunks, it has the Vatican’s nuns go on strike and actresses Cecile de France and Ludivine Sagnier in key roles.
“The Church is much more sexist than the rest of the world,” Sorrentino told AFP.
“Women absolutely do not have the same rights; they cannot say Mass, they live according to how men want them to. This is a situation that will end,” added maker of the Bafta-winning film La Grande Bellezza.
Sorrentino said that far from being shocked by the sex, corruption and constant back-stabbing that the series portrays, Vatican insiders seemed to enjoy it.
He insisted that there was nothing in it that would shock priests “who are listening to sins all day long in the confessional boxes”.
The series comes at a time of unprecedented interest by Hollywood in the inner workings of the Catholic church, with Jonathan Pryce nominated for an Oscar on Monday for his performance as the real Pope Francis in Netflix’s The Two Popes.