Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (born Rachel Meghan Markle: August 4, 1981), is a member of the British royal family and a former American actress. She undertakes royal duties in support of the Queen, and supports several charities and humanitarian organizations. Her husband, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex is the younger son of Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, and is sixth in the line of succession to the British throne.
Meghan Markle was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. After graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in theatre and international studies in 2003, she played small roles in several American television series. From 2011 to 2018, she portrayed the character Rachel Zane on the legal drama series Suits. Meghan’s film credits include supporting roles in Remember Me and Horrible Bosses.
When she was engaged to be married, she announced her retirement from acting. Upon her marriage in May 2018, she became Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex.
Early life: Rachel Meghan Markle was born on August 4, 1981, in Los Angeles, California. Her mother, Doria Ragland, a social worker and yoga instructor, lives in View Park–Windsor Hills, California. Her father, Thomas Markle Sr., who lives in Rosarito, Mexico, is a Daytime Emmy Award-winning retired lighting director, whose profession resulted in his young daughter often visiting the set of Married…with Children. Her father is an Episcopalian, and her mother is also a Protestant. Meghan’s parents divorced when she was six years old. She has two older paternal half-siblings, Thomas Markle Jr. and Samantha Grant.
Describing her ancestry, Markle said: “My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American. I’m half black and half white. … I have come to embrace this and say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident, mixed-race woman.” Her mother is descended from African Americans enslaved in Georgia, and her father from Dutch, English, and Irish settlers. Among her father’s ancestors are Captain Christopher Hussey, King Robert I of Scotland, Sir Philip Wentworth and his wife, Mary Clifford, a descendant of King Edward III of England.
Markle grew up in Hollywood. She was educated at private schools, beginning at Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse. At age 11, her successful campaign to get a company to change a national television commercial she viewed as sexist was profiled by Linda Ellerbee on Nick News. Markle attended Immaculate Heart High School, an all-girl Catholic private school in Los Angeles, although she identifies as Protestant. She then attended Northwestern University, where she joined Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. In addition to studying African American playwrights and speaking with her professor about what it means to be biracial, she participated in community service and charity projects. She graduated from Northwestern in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree and a double major in theater and international studies. She also served an internship at the American embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and studied for a semester in Madrid, Spain.
Career: Markle worked as a freelance calligrapher to support herself between early acting jobs. Her first appearance on screen was a small role as a nurse in an episode of the daytime soap opera General Hospital. Early in her career, Markle had small guest roles on the television shows Century City (2004), The War at Home (2006), and CSI: NY (2006). She also took on several contract acting and modeling jobs, including a stint as a “briefcase girl” on the US 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 had some difficulty getting roles early in her career. In 2015, she wrote: “I wasn’t black enough for the black roles and I wasn’t white enough for the white ones, leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn’t book a job.”
In July 2011, Markle joined the cast of the USA Network show Suits, playing Rachel Zane. The character began as a paralegal and eventually became an attorney. Markle completed work on that series’ seventh season in late 2017. She appeared in two 2010 films, Get Him to the Greek and Remember Me, and one 2011 film, Horrible Bosses. She also appeared in episodes of Cuts; Love, Inc.; 90210; Knight Rider; Without a Trace; The League; and Castle.
From 2014 to 2017, Markle was founder and editor-in-chief of lifestyle website The Tig. She derived the name from Tignanello red wine. One of The Tig’s features was Tig Talk, a column that profiled women including Jessica Alba, Gail Simmons, Ella Woodward, Daphne Oz, Elizabeth Hurley, Lauren Bush Lauren, Ivanka Trump Dianna Agron and Jessica Stam. In April 2017, she closed The Tig.
In November 2016, Markle and Canadian clothing company Reitmans released a line of women’s fashion workwear.
In 2010, Markle was paid $187,000 for her role in Remember Me and $171,429 for her role in the short film The Candidate. For her role on Suits, Fortune magazine estimated that Markle was paid $50,000 per episode, amounting to an annual income of about $450,000. In addition, it was estimated that, as a lifestyle blogger, she earned about $80,000 annually from endorsements and sponsorships. Her total net worth has been estimated at $5 million.
Personal life: Markle began a relationship with actor and producer Trevor Engelson in 2004. They married in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, on September 10, 2011, and divorced in August 2013.
Since June 2016, Markle has been in a relationship with Prince Harry, who is sixth in line to the British throne. Prince Harry and Markle met on a blind date that a mutual friend set up. The press began to report the relationship in October 2016. On November 8, 2016, the British royal family’s communications secretary released an official statement that addressed a “wave of abuse and harassment” directed toward Markle. The statement described sexism, racism and defamatory stories directed at her, including an unspecified “smear on the front page of a national newspaper”. During a September 2017 interview with Vanity Fair, Markle spoke in public for the first time about her love for Prince Harry. Later that month, they made their first public appearances together at an official royal engagement at the Invictus Games in Toronto.
While working on Suits, Markle lived in a rented house in the Seaton Village neighborhood of Toronto, Canada, where the show is filmed. She moved out in late November 2017 after work on the seventh season had been completed.
In January 2018, Markle deleted her social media accounts and, in a statement issued by Kensington Palace, thanked “everyone who has followed her social media accounts over the years”.
Engagement and marriage to Prince Harry: Markle’s engagement to Prince Harry was announced on November 27, 2017. By then, she had met Queen Elizabeth II, Harry’s paternal grandmother, several times. The engagement announcement prompted much comment about the possible social significance of someone proudly mixed-race joining the royal family. The ring Harry gave Markle consists of a large central diamond from Botswana, with two smaller diamonds from the jewellery collection of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Following the engagement, Markle announced she would retire from acting.
Markle’s first official public appearance with Harry after their engagement was a walkabout in Nottingham on December 1, 2017, in connection with World AIDS Day. They were invited to celebrate Christmas 2017 with the royal family at the Queen’s Sandringham estate. In early 2018, Markle accompanied Harry on his engagements in Brixton, Cardiff, Goldsmiths’ Hall, and Edinburgh. On February 28, 2018, Markle made her first joint official engagement with Harry, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Harry’s brother and sister-in-law), at the first annual forum of the Royal Foundation, “Making a Difference Together”. Markle is expected to become the fourth patron, alongside Harry, William and Catherine, after her marriage into the royal family. Markle and Harry marked International Women’s Day by attending an event in Birmingham hosted by the Stemettes. Along with the Queen and other members of the royal family, Markle attended the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on March 12, 2018. The couple made their first visit to Northern Ireland on March 23, 2018.
In preparation for the wedding, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, baptised 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 took place on May 19, 2018, at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. After becoming engaged, Markle began the years-long process of becoming a British citizen. After the wedding, the couple will live at Nottingham Cottage in London, on the grounds of Kensington Palace.
Humanitarian work: Markle was a counselor for international charity One Young World, speaking at the 2014 annual summit in Dublin on the topics of gender equality and modern day slavery. Also in 2014, she traveled to Afghanistan and Spain as part of the United Service Organizations Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Holiday Tour. In 2016, Markle became a global ambassador for World Vision Canada, traveling to Rwanda for the Clean Water Campaign, the agency’s campaign to provide safe, clean drinking water, and she traveled to India to raise awareness of issues concerning women. Upon returning from India, she penned an op-ed for Time magazine concerning stigmatization in regard to menstrual health. She has also worked with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women as an Advocate. She identifies as a feminist. Markle again attended the One Young World summit in 2016.
In 2018, Time magazine selected Markle as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World”.
Titles and styles: Meghan is, by marriage, a member of the British royal family and entitled to the style of Royal Highness. She is styled as “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex”. She is also Countess of Dumbarton and Baroness Kilkeel.