Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle greet well wishers as they leave after visiting
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Reuter

Apparently, Meghan Markle's close friends are sharing details about the woman they know and love.

After maintaining their silence for nearly two years, five women who form an essential part of Meghan's inner circle have spoken with People to "stand up against the global bullying we are seeing and speak the truth about our friend," says a longtime friend and former costar.

"Meg has silently sat back and endured the lies and untruths," her former costar says in this week's cover story. With Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry, expecting their first child this spring, "we worry about what this is doing to her and the baby," adds the costar. "It's wrong to put anyone under this level of emotional trauma, let alone when they're pregnant."

Reportedly in candid interviews, the women — who requested anonymity to protect the private relationships they hold dear — set the record straight on everything from Meghan's relationship with her dad to an up-close view of her wedding to the reality of her day-to-day life at Kensington Palace's Nottingham Cottage.

"We've all been to their cottage," says a close confidante. "It's small and she's made it cosy, but the perception of their lifestyle and the reality are two different things. Meg cooks for herself and Harry every single day."

A friend from L.A. recalls visiting the cottage, sharing, "We had a couple of days together recently. Her husband was out of town on work. In the room she made up for me, there was a candle lit by the bed, slippers and a robe. We were the only two in the house. It was our time. She made the most lovely meals. She made tea every day. It was raining and muddy outside, so the dogs got all dirty, and she's wiping them off with towels. How much she loves her animals, how much she loves her friends, how much she loves feeding you, taking care of you — none of that has changed."

For the friends who talk to her daily, Meghan is an ever-present support: a consummate listener who balances passion for her work with an intense interest in people. These things sure seem to corroborate what we have gotten to see of Meghan Markle. She has been brave and cheerful throughout her duties as the Duchess of Sussex and even being pregnant doesn't seem to have slowed her down.