Onboarding A Duchess: A Modern-Day Fairy Tale

Meghan Markle is set to join the British royal family in May. Before she takes up a full-time role at ‘the firm’, here’s a look at the essential on-boarding steps to help a newly appointed princess thrive within a modern royal family*.

*Or a recap of the steps HR should consider to successfully onboard a new hire!

Competency framework

HR professionals know that the key to hiring the right candidate is to consider the needs of the business and then the wider global context in which the business operates. From here you can build your ideal candidate profile, and any new hire can be considered within this framework. The approach enables you to analyze candidates more objectively, to assess how they fit the brief, and where they may need to develop skills to fulfil the role more exactly.

Fortuitously, Meghan and the royals have scored a perfect ten here! With an impressive resumé, albeit in a different vertical, Markle arguably has the core transferable skills required to fulfil the role as a representative of the British royal family. Her track record in using her own brand to drive the popularity of, and loyalty to, labels and causes she supports, coupled with her ability to use social media to connect with the global public, are key transferable skills. Her support for environmental and charitable causes demonstrates an alignment with the cultural values of the younger royals (the middle-managers, if you will), while her experience in running her own business suggests she’ll bring fresh ideas to help the Windsors’ continued evolution into relevant modern-day royals.

User-centric learning

It goes without saying that becoming a royal has strict, vertical specific, codes of conduct, knowledge and skills requirements. So, it is of little surprise that Markle is reportedly undergoing ‘princess training’. Having identified the gaps in knowledge, or areas for improvement, the House of Windsor, like all good employers, has put in place a user-centric coaching program. This will be designed to help their new recruit to develop the critical skills required to perform key activities in her role. If they’ve used an on-boarding expert of note, which is almost certainly the case, they will help her hone or refine her skills, and provide her with the knowledge to become a valuable contributor once her probation period is over.

On the job training

Pairing new recruits with top performers is an established way to help new employees learn on the job. This might explain Markle’s frequent but unofficial appearances alongside Prince Harry since their engagement announcement. Consider it the royal equivalent of the sales ‘ride-along’, where a manager spends time with a direct report ‘in-the-field’. One of the major benefits of this approach is that it enables the new recruit to experience live scenarios with the support of an experienced older hand that can help bridge the gap between their competencies and the more nuanced role requirements. On the job training is by far and away one of the most successful ways to ‘bed-in’ the skills required for any job. Supported by an ongoing coaching program and regular feedback, it is a sure-fire way to help the individual permanently adopt the behavioral change and competencies required to excel in their role.


Using top performers within an organization to mentor new recruits has long been established best practice. The royal family could learn from industry here. The royals aren’t short of good princess role models in the likes of the Duchess of Cambridge or Princess Diana. The key to success is in matching the mentor to the role that is being fulfilled. Princess Anne, the queen’s daughter, is frequently listed amongst the hardest working royals and her clearly defined role is in supporting her mother as sovereign of the Commonwealth realms. As Meghan and Prince Harry define their own roles within ‘the firm’ they could arguably provide one of support to Catherine and William when they eventually rule. Inspiration and mentorship can also be looked for outside of an organization.

Compensations and incentives

I can’t pass up the opportunity to talk about compensation and incentives, even when talking about princess training! There is no more certain way to get your sales team to support your strategy than to align your compensation plans to your mission critical objectives. It’s not clear how Meghan Markle will make her money when she joins, arguably, the most commercially viable royal family in the world. That said, it would certainly please me to think that a percentage of her salary at least was performance based!

So as the happy couple walk down the aisle on Saturday May 19, for many it will be the happy ending to a fairy tale romance. However, for me, along with all my sales enablement colleagues, the truth is very different. We know that this is only the beginning of the tale. Development doesn’t end when on-boarding finishes, or the bouquet has been thrown! Rather, if the royal family is committed to ensuring their latest recruit remains motivated and retained, continued reinforcement of key learnings, and ongoing development is an absolute must. A honeymoon addressing sales efficiencies? Anyone?

Tony Wand is a Senior Consultant at Strategy to Revenue, the award-winning sales enablement company

Discover More Insights From Our Experts

Garry Veale

Kane & Co. – Celebrate & Emulate!

Garry Veale

Great Sports Players Rarely Make Great Mangers. Sales Enablement Could Help

Mark Savinson

Relationship Goals: Make Your Sales Force Enablement Partnership a Lasting One

Mark Savinson

New Tech Hacks to Drive Sales Productivity

Garry Veale

How to Kick-Start Your Success As A New Sales VP

Tony Wand

Jackson Pollock and the Art of the Cold Call