Meghan, Duchess of Sussex is an American member of the British royal family and former actress.
Markle was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Her acting career began while at Northwestern University. Her last and most significant on-screen role was that of Rachel Zane for seven seasons (2011–2018) in the American TV legal drama Suits. She also developed a social media presence. This included The Tig (2014–2017) lifestyle blog which garnered recognition for her fashion sense and led to the creation and release of two clothing lines in 2015–2016. During The Tig period, Markle became involved in charity work focused primarily on women's issues and social justice.
Markle was married to American film producer Trevor Engelson from 2011 until their divorce in 2013. She retired from acting upon her marriage to Prince Harry in 2018 and became known as the Duchess of Sussex. In 2020, the pair stepped back as senior members of the royal family and later settled in her native California. They now have two children, Archie and Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor.
Early life and education
Rachel Meghan Markle was born on August 4, 1981, at West Park Hospital in Canoga Park, Los Angeles, California, and identifies as being mixed race. Her parents separated when she was two years old and divorced four years later. Markle's father, Thomas Markle Sr. (b. 1944), worked as a director of photography and lighting for Married... with Children, and Meghan frequently visited the set of the television series as a child, but she is now estranged from her father and paternal half-siblings, Samantha Markle and Thomas Markle Jr. She has a close relationship with her mother, Doria Ragland (b. 1956).
Growing up in Los Angeles, Markle attended Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse. At age 11, she and her classmates wrote to Procter & Gamble to gender-neutralize a dishwashing soap commercial on national television. Three months later, P&G changed the commercial. She was raised as a Protestant, but she graduated from L.A.'s Immaculate Heart High School, an all-girl Catholic school. In 1999, Markle was admitted to Northwestern University (NU) in Evanston, Illinois, where she joined Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. After her junior year, she secured an internship as a junior press officer at the American embassy in Buenos Aires, reportedly with the help of her uncle Michael Markle, and considered a political career. However, she did not score high enough in the Foreign Service Officer Test to proceed further with the US State Department, and returned to NU. She also attended a study abroad program in Madrid. In 2003, Markle earned her bachelor's degree with a double major in theater and international studies from Northwestern's School of Communication. In her youth, she worked at a local frozen yogurt shop and later as a waitress and babysitter. She also volunteered for the Glass Slipper Project and at a soup kitchen in Skid Row, Los Angeles.
According to Markle, she had some difficulty getting roles early in her career due to being "ethnically ambiguous" because "I wasn't black enough for the black roles and I wasn't white enough for the white ones." To support herself between acting jobs, she worked as a freelance calligrapher and taught bookbinding. Her first on-screen appearance was a small role as a nurse in an episode of the daytime soap opera General Hospital, a show for which her father served as a lighting director. Markle had small guest roles on the television shows Century City (2004), The War at Home (2006) and CSI: NY (2006). For her role in Century City, she initially told the casting directors that she was a SAG-AFTRA member, but after being cast as a non-union member the employers helped her join the union according to the Taft–Hartley Act. She also did several contract acting and modeling jobs, including a stint as a "briefcase girl" on the US-version of the game show Deal or No Deal. She appeared in Fox's series Fringe as Junior Agent Amy Jessup in the first two episodes of its second season.
Markle appeared in small roles in the films Get Him to the Greek, Remember Me (produced by her then-partner Trevor Engelson) and The Candidate in 2010 and the film Horrible Bosses in 2011. She was paid $187,000 for her role in Remember Me and $171,429 for her role in the short film The Candidate. In July 2011, she joined the cast of the USA Network show Suits through to late 2017 and the seventh season. Her character, Rachel Zane, began as a paralegal and eventually became an attorney. While working on Suits, she lived for nine months each year in Toronto. Fortune magazine estimated that she was paid $50,000 per episode, amounting to an equivalent annual salary of $450,000.
Markle and American film producer Trevor Engelson began dating in 2004. They were married in Ocho Rios, Jamaica on September 10, 2011 and concluded a no-fault divorce in August 2013, citing irreconcilable differences. Markle's subsequent relationship with Canadian celebrity chef and restaurateur Cory Vitiello ended in May 2016 after almost two years.
n July 2016, Markle began a relationship with Prince Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II. In November, the prince directed his communications secretary to release a statement on his behalf to express personal concern about pejorative and false comments made about his girlfriend by mainstream media and internet trolls. In September 2017, Markle and Prince Harry first appeared together in public in Toronto at the Invictus Games, of which Harry is founding patron.
Marriage to Prince Harry
Meghan Markle's engagement to Prince Harry was announced on November 27, 2017, by Harry's father Charles, Prince of Wales. The announcement was greeted with enthusiasm by the British media, and prompted generally positive comments about having a mixed-race person as a member of the royal family, especially in regard to Commonwealth countries with populations of blended or native ancestry. Markle announced that she would retire from acting, and her intention to become a British citizen.
In preparation for the wedding, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, baptized Markle and confirmed her into the Church of England on March 6, 2018. The private ceremony, performed with water from the River Jordan, took place in the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace. The marriage ceremony was held on May 19 at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. Her wedding dress was designed by the British designer Clare Waight Keller. Markle later revealed that there was a private exchange of vows three days before with the Archbishop of Canterbury in the couple's garden. However, this private exchange of vows was not an official legally recognised marriage.
It was reportedly agreed in advance that excess funds generated from the BBC broadcast of the wedding ceremony would go to a charity chosen by the newlywed couple. In April 2020, Feeding Britain (which provides food packages to families in food poverty) was nominated to receive £90,000 from the BBC.
After the wedding, the Duke and Duchess lived at Nottingham Cottage within the grounds of Kensington Palace in London. They later moved to Frogmore Cottage in the Home Park of Windsor Castle. The Crown Estate refurbished the cottage at a cost of £2.4 million, paid out of the Sovereign Grant, with the Duke later reimbursing expenses beyond restoration and ordinary maintenance. Meghan gave birth to a son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, on May 6, 2019. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's office moved to Buckingham Palace and officially closed on March 31, 2020, when the Sussexes withdrew from undertaking official royal engagements. After some months in Canada and the United States, the couple bought a house in June 2020 on the former estate of Riven Rock in Montecito, California, where they own a chicken coop with hens rescued from a factory farm. The next month, Meghan suffered a miscarriage. She gave birth to a daughter, Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor, on June 4, 2021.