Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton Bond Over Motherhood at Wimbledon

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Ever since Meghan Markle entered the royal spotlight, she’s faced backlash about almost everything — from the way she holds baby Archie to wearing jeans to Wimbledon. Above all, the Duchess of Sussex bears the brunt of scrutiny when it comes to her relationship with sister-in-law, Kate Middleton. After Meghan and Prince Harry moved out of Kensington Palace (which, of course, sparked rumors about the royal couples’ frayed kinship) they were able to focus on themselves and life as new parents. However, now that Markle is adjusting to motherhood (on her own terms!), PEOPLE confirmed that her new status has fostered the duchesses’ connection. “There is a sense of [Meghan and Kate’s] relationship strengthening,” says the royal source.

Motherhood brings people together—and the royal moms are no exception. Markle and Middleton may be different, (the former Duchess is more traditional, while the latter has broken royal traditions), but sitting next to each other at a Wimbledon game last week proved that bonding over their babies became their secret friendship sauce. At the famed London tennis match an insider says that they “were genuine and sweet together.” And when Markle’s friend, Serena Williams, lost the match, a close observer says that Kate rubbed Meghan’s back to console her.

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A few days earlier, Meghan and Kate brought their kids to an annual charity polo match which marked the royal cousins’ first playdate. Even though they come from different backgrounds, their shared commonalities have broken any possible strife they had. “Babies are a great leveler,” says Victoria Arbiter, whose father Dickie Arbiter was a press spokesman for Queen Elizabeth. “The minute you’re bonding over your stories and sleepless nights, suddenly all the stuff that mattered before doesn’t matter anymore.”

For years, tabloids have tried to paint a sinister picture of the high-profiled royal women, but motherhood clearly was the silent extended olive branch they needed.

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