Meghan Markle’s star-studded New York baby shower showed the REAL her – flashy, publicity-hungry but undeniably independent

But the moment the Duchess stepped a black satin boot-clad foot from her plane (or private jet) in New York, her every move has been very well documented.

And the 37-year-old, who is due to give birth to her first child with Prince Harry in just a matter of weeks, has looked as though she is enjoying every moment of it.

Clearly, being able to break free from what Meghan could feel is restrictive palace protocol becomes the royal mother-to-be, who has acted more like a glamorous superstar than the wife of an heir to the throne.

And perhaps more telling is that the Duchess appears to be at home in the Hollywood limelight without her husband by her side.

Her visit to Manhattan is a trip that Meghan wanted to have an impact.

Wearing a £2,250 ($3,085) navy Victoria Beckham coat, with a notable group of A-list friends and visits to the swankiest restaurants, bars and hotels in the Big Apple, Meghan’s whirlwind visit has been anything but low key and modest.

The Duchess’s grand entrance on Tuesday night, accompanied by a bodyguard, in front of the cameras was more befitting a publicity-hungry star like Kim Kardashian – the opposite to her sister-in-law Kate, who on solo visits without William refuses to acknowledge the cameras, and looks debonair and slightly detached.

Instead, we’ve seen Meghan wearing glamorous makeup and smiling and waving to the cameras.

These aren’t paparazzi mobbing her. They are professionals invited to capture the Duchess’s city jaunt with her celebrity pals that include Serena Williams, Suits co-star Abigail Spencer and her BFF Jessica Mulroney.

It is believed Meghan took control of organising a press pit. Although, according to Cosmopolitan, this could have been Meghan’s way of controlling when and how the press captured her.

It’s a tactic that Kate and William employed during their skiing trip in the French Alps with Charlotte and George in 2016. One notable difference, though, was that the Cambridges kept the rest of their trip private.

However, for Meghan in Manhattan, it’s been a very publicity-driven trip – which flies in the face of George Clooney’s comment that Meghan is being “vilified and chased” by the press.

Rather than opt for modest venues, the former actress, carrying a £915 ($1,140) Stella McCartney bag, and her pals rocked up to Ralph Lauren's swanky The Polo Bar – one of Donald Trump’s favourite restaurants.

Then Meghan and Serena were photographed making their way to The Mark, “New York’s most boldly lavish hotel”, which has a £57,400 ($75,000)-a-night penthouse.

There was no attempt to not be seen, no arriving through a back door. Meghan and her pals brazenly used the front entrance, giving the impression they were enjoying being able to do what they like.

The only attempt by Meghan to hide was by wearing Jackie O-style glasses, which only did more to accentuate her celebrity status.

Even the theme of the trip – a baby shower – is very showy, very American – and has seen Meghan lavished with gifts, including a £290 cot delivered to her hotel.

And it’s not something we have seen Kate ever publicly enjoy – because, as royal expert William Hanson says: “Meghan is a very different royal bride to those who have gone before her, especially her more recent forerunner, The Duchess of Cambridge.”

Perhaps Meghan was just enjoying her time being in the spotlight by herself again – as she would have done when she starred in Suits.

Or it could be her way of publicly saying that being married to a prince doesn’t define who she is, that Harry doesn’t have a hold over her – that she’s a clever, independent woman who is free to live her life how she wants to, even if that means acting like a celebrity.

But her very glamorous trip does beg the question how is the Duchess of Sussex going to find returning back home to settle in tranquil Frogmore Cottage – whether she’s going to be able to adjust quickly to her new life remains to be seen.

Earlier today we reported how Meghan Markle’s minder stepped in after a heckler branded her a "charlatan princess" outside the New York hotel where she’s throwing her babyshower.

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