Meghan Markle: Life before royalty
Meghan Markle’s road to royalty hasn’t been a smooth one. The American Princess has had to deal with negative media attention, the demons from her past, and the responsibility of being a new royal.
However, even before royalty, she was an accomplished actress who lived quite a busy life. Here’s what the Duchess of Sussex was up to before she settled down with Prince Harry.
Before becoming actual royalty, she was a Hollywood princess
Yes, our precious American princess is a born and raised California girl. Born Rachel Meghan Markle, she got an early start in Hollywood, thanks to her dad, Thomas Markle, who worked as a lighting director on a few iconic sets.
Meghan said of her childhood, “Every day after school for 10 years, I was on the set of Married…with Children, which is a really funny and perverse place for a little girl in a Catholic school uniform to grow up. There were a lot of times my dad would say, ‘Meg, why don’t you go and help with the craft services room over there? This is just a little off-color for your 11-year-old eyes.'”
She became a feminist icon at age 11, thanks to dish soap
Yes, you read that correctly. At 11 years old, Markle inserted herself into the feminist agenda by challenging a pretty sexist TV commercial. It was for Procter & Gamble dishwashing soap, whose tagline was “Women all over America fighting greasy pots and pans.”
Although the project was initially for a school assignment, the young Duchess went above and beyond the call of duty. She wrote a stern letter to Procter & Gamble civil rights lawyer Gloria Allred, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, and Nick News anchor Linda Ellerbee. All this at age 11!
Markle was a ‘theater nerd’ at Northwestern University
It was clear that Meghan Markle had an inkling for the spotlight at a young age, but she “hated the idea of being this cliche – a girl from L.A. who decides to be an actress.” While attending Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, she was a double-major in theater and international relations.
During her 2018 speech at the University of the South Pacific, Markle disclosed, “It was through scholarships, financial aid programs and work-study where my earnings from a job on campus went directly towards my tuition-that I was able to attend university. And, without question, it was worth every effort.”
She hated being on ‘Deal or No Deal’
Before getting the lead role on Suits, Markle had to suffer through some jobs that she found quite cumbersome. While attending auditions, Markle worked as a briefcase girl as a side hustle on Deal or No Deal.
She told Esquire, “I was the ill-fated number 24 which, for some reason, no one would ever choose. I would end up standing up there forever in these terribly uncomfortable and inexpensive 5-inch heels just waiting for someone to pick my number so I could go and sit down.”
Her estranged half-sister called her a social climber
Since rising to fame, it seems that Markle’s family has had a lot to say about her in the press. Her half-sister, Samantha Grant, truly believes that Markle schemed her way into royalty.
When Markle and Prince Harry first began rendezvousing, Grant came out, claiming, “Hollywood has changed her. I think her ambition is to become a princess.” Ninaki Priddy, a close childhood friend of Markle’s, admitted to the Daily Mail, “I’m not shocked at all. It’s like she has been planning this all her life.”
Friends say she’s always been obsessed with the Royals
It seems that Meghan Markle’s old bestie sure has a lot to say about her in the media.
In Markle and Prince Harry’s BBC engagement interview, Markle admitted, “Because I’m from the States, you don’t grow up with the same understanding of the royal family. And so while I now understand very clearly there’s a global interest there, I didn’t know much about him.”
That’s all fine and dandy, but Ninaki Priddy told the Daily Mail a very different story about her dear friend’s childhood, stating, “I know the Royal Family was something she found fascinating. She had one of Princess Diana’s books on her bookshelf.”
Weirdly, Meghan and Harry are related
Yes, we’re aware that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle grew up worlds apart, but it looks like they have more in common than we thought. After looking into their family trees, The Mail discovered that they are distant cousins through a 15th Century ancestor of Queen Elizabeth.
Even more bizarre, it was discovered that Prince Harry’s ancestor, Henry VIII, executed one of Markle’s relatives way back when. So, is the couple’s connection really a big deal? Who knows, but it sure is interesting to think about.
Her career possibly interfered with her first marriage
We already know that the controversy over Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s engagement caused quite a stir in the media, but what caused the most outcry was Markle’s previous divorce. Before snuggling up to royalty, Markle was married to producer Trevor Engelson for two years.
Shortly after saying “I Do,” they had to skip the honeymoon when Markle went off to Canada to film Suits, while her husband remained in Los Angeles. Long distance eventually had its way with them, and they parted in 2011.
She struggled as a biracial actress
During a 2015 essay for Elle UK, Markle noted the hoops she’s had to jump through being a biracial actress. Although she initially thought her mixed background would help her nail auditions, she found the exact opposite happened.
“Sadly, it didn’t matter: 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,” she wrote.
She has broken royal protocol quite a few times
There’s a good chance that if you’ve read a recent headline mentioning Meghan Markle, it’s probably talking about some royal rule she’s broken since joining the royal family (she’s done this a lot, apparently).
Since Markle became the Duchess of Sussex, she’s been spotted showing her legs sans stockings (gasp!), wearing the wrong types of hats, and her hair has been in messy buns (Oh, the scandal!).
Basically, there are lots of things you shouldn’t do as a royal, and it didn’t help that Markle was already in the limelight before joining the royal family. We bet there’s a ton of stuff the Queen wouldn’t approve of in Suits.
Markle has taken a lot of pages from Princess Di’s book
Princess Diana, a.k.a the people’s princess, was on People magazine’s cover a record-breaking 57 times. It seems that Markle seems to share Princess Di’s complicated relationship with the media, which could be the reason behind her choice to remain out of the spotlight.
Markle’s biographer, Andrew Morton, writes, “according to family friends, she was intrigued by Diana, not just for her style, but for her independent humanitarian mission, seeing her as a role model.” Besides using public appearances and press to win people’s hearts like Diana, Markle is also noted for her philanthropic endeavors.
She’s been deemed ‘Princess Pushy’
Since stepping into the royal spotlight with Harry on her arm, Markle’s been at the butt of the media’s jokes. The British press regards her as “Princess Pushy,” an American woman who breaks royal custom deliberately out of ignorance and egotism.
The claims have become so vicious that Prince Harry set a lawsuit in motion against the Daily Mail as a plea for publications to cease the “ruthless campaign” against his wife.
During a press conference announcing the lawsuit, Harry pleaded, “I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother, and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”
When Harry met Meghan
The famous couple met in May, 2016 in Toronto, while Harry was visiting Canada to promote the Invictus Games for wounded, sick, and injured army personnel and veterans. The pair was set up by a mutual friend, and they became inseparable after their first date.
The Express became the first newspaper to publish the news about the youngest prince’s new romance. Prince Harry knew Meghan was “the one” from “the very first time we met.” After just two dates, Harry asked Meghan to go with him on a trip to Botswana, and the rest is history.
She had a really weird side gig
In 2013, Meghan Markle told Esquire that she had developed quite a talent for calligraphy since studying it as a child. While struggling to book auditions, Markle worked as a freelance calligraphy writer for celebrities in Los Angeles.
She said of her extracurricular:
“I went to an all-girls Catholic school for six years during the time when kids actually had handwriting class. I’ve always had a propensity for getting the cursive down pretty well. What it evolved into was my pseudo-waitressing job when I was auditioning. I didn’t wait tables. I did calligraphy for the invitations, for, like Robin Thicke and Paula Patton’s wedding.”
She considered going into politics
During her junior year of college, Meghan Markle received an internship at the U.S. Embassy in Argentina. It was there that Markle became interested in a career in politics. In 2013, she told Marie Claire, “Our Secretary of the Treasury at the tim, Paul O’Neill, was there, so I’m 20 years old, in Buenos Aires, in a motorcade, doing that whole thing.”
She continued, “I thought for sure I would still have a career in politics.” While in Argentina, she took the Foreign Service Officer test which, “is a mix of politics, history, general knowledge, and maths.” Unfortunately, she failed the exam.
She uses her celebrity status wisely
Even before becoming a full-fledged duchess, Meghan Markle was adamant about using her platform for advocacy. In 2016, she became a global ambassador for World Vision Canada, traveling to Rwanda for the Clean Water Campaign.
That same year, she went to India to raise awareness for women’s issues and worked with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women as an Advocate.
Now, as a duchess, it seems Markle intends to continue to support women’s rights and social justice. She and Prince Harry announced that they are establishing their own charity foundation.
She ran a lifestyle blog
Back in her Suits days, Meghan Markle prided herself on running a lifestyle blog called The Tig, that covered food, travel, fashion and beauty. The blog had interviews with chefs, product reviews, beauty and style inspiration, and exercise regimes. She started the blog in 2014 but, sadly, shut it down in 2019.
A palace spokesperson confirmed there are no plans to relaunch the site, telling People magazine, “The lasting trademark is to prevent false branding, to avoid others purporting to be the duchess or affiliated with her.”
Although the site is down for good, we’re still hoping she’ll bring it back so we can get an inside look into the palace.
She left her job to fulfill marriage life
Fans of Markle were both surprised and saddened to hear about her retirement from acting in 2017. After seven successful seasons on the drama, Suits, Markle decided to retire from acting to pursue family life with her prince.
During the royal couple’s first joint interview on BBC in 2017, Markle admitted, “I don’t see it as giving anything up. I just see it as a change. It’s a new chapter. And keep in mind I’ve been working on my show for seven years. We were very fortunate to have that sort of longevity on a series.”
She started her own fashion line
We already knew the duchess had style via her blog but, she finally decided to bring her own creations to life. In September 2019, Markle debuted her charitable collection with Smart Works — a company that offers coaching and styling for unemployed women who can’t afford to purchase business style clothing — called the Smart Set.
“Since moving to the U.K., it has been deeply important to me to meet with communities and organizations on the ground doing meaningful work and try to do whatever I can to help them amplify their impact,” Markle said of the line.
She dated someone else before Prince Harry
The last relationship Meghan Markle was in before she became the Duchess of Sussex was with celebrity chef Cory Vitiello. The couple met when Markle visited The Harbord Room to do a piece for her blog.
The Evening Standard states that Markle and Vitiello were seen at the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards in April 2016. A month later, she met Harry in Canada.
Although we’re not exactly sure when the couple broke up, gossip magazines claim that Harry was the reason behind the couple’s separation.
She once made headlines…for shutting her own door
Its hardly newsworthy, but when you’re on display 24/7, everything you do has meaning. This is why, when Markle arrived at London’s Royal Academy without Prince Harry on her arm for the first time, she made headlines when she got in her royal ride and *gasp,* closed the car door herself!
Big deal, right? Well, apparently, it is unheard of for a royal to close their own car door. So, kudos, to you, Duchess. We just wish we got the same recognition for closing our own doors, too.
Her ‘Vanity Fair’ cover raised some eyebrows
It isn’t unusual for royals to show face on the cover of magazines (remember Kate Middleton’s iconic British Vogue cover?). But what caused some finger wags from the press was Meghan Markle’s in-depth interview about her pre-engagement life with Prince Harry. Since the royal family has always been so private, it was astonishing to get a detailed look into just how in love the couple was.
“We’re two people who are really happy and in love. We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news, and I was working during that whole time, and the only thing that changed was people’s perception. Nothing about me changed,” she gushed to the magazine.
The duchess doesn’t need a stylist
Every time Meghan Markle goes out on the town, she’s dressed to the nines. So, who exactly is behind all of her impeccable fashion choices? Markle, herself! This should come as no surprise, seeing as she has her own fashion line now.
Markle has actually opted out of having a makeup artist, too. There are probably few royals (or celebrities, for that matter) who leave their homes without checking in with a stylist or a makeup artist and, for that, we take our high maintenance hats off to you, duchess!
She had to change her style drastically
Meghan Markle’s style has come a long way since meeting Prince Harry. She used to walk down the red carpet, wearing plunging necklines, short skirts, and daring gowns. Of course, she has always looked incredible, but her overall look and style has evolved since becoming a duchess.
As a royal, there are a ton of bizarre rules the duchess has to keep in mind when choosing her daily looks. For example, some royal rules include bright colors when walking in crowds, no short skirts or sleeveless shirts, makeup must always be natural, and absolutely no flat shoes.
She’s related to Shakespeare
We’ve already gone over Meghan and Harry’s weird family ties, but it looks like she has more English roots than we initially thought. A report done on Markle’s ancestry by MyHeritage, revealed that the duchess has ties to William Shakespeare.
A spokesperson for the site told Newsweek, “We are not sure if Ms. Markle is aware of her connection to such eminent Britons, however, it seems that she was always destined to be a Brit.”
She didn’t always ride around in style
These days, Meghan Markle is driving around with a chauffeur, but she wasn’t always traveling around in style. In 2017, she told Entertainment Tonight that, at one point, she was driving around in a “beat up, hand-me-down-but-awesome Ford Explorer.”
She said the car “sounded like a steamboat engine” when it started, and her license plate was “hanging on with a bungee cord.” She added, “So what I would start to do is literally go to these auditions, park at the back of the parking lot, and I would open my trunk…and crawl into the back of my car to the front seat to drive off to my next audition.”
She’s BFFs with Serena Williams and Priyanka Chopra
Meghan Markle was already hanging with the A-list crowd waaaay before she met her Prince Charming. Some of her famous besties include tennis champion Serena Williams, who Markle talked about on her lifestyle blog, The Tig.
Markle wrote, “[Williams] quickly became a confidante I would text when I was traveling, the friend I would rally around for her tennis matches, and the down-to-earth chick I was able to grab lunch with.”
Markle met the star of Quantico, Priyanka Chopra, at the annual ELLE Women in Television dinner. Chopra fondly reflected, “We bonded as actors. We just became friends, like two girls would.”
The duo was spotted together at Markle’s wedding in 2018.
She took a selfie at Buckingham Palace as a teen
As a teen, it looks like Meghan Markle was just as intrigued by royalty as the rest of us and, although she lives there now, back then, she was just a young tourist.
After some deep diving into Markle’s past, The Daily Mail found a photo of Markle and a friend in front of the Buckingham Palace when she was just 15 years old. It’s weird to think that her future husband, Prince Harry (12 at the time), was right beyond the gates.
She was the most Googled actress of 2018
Dating Prince Harry is a surefire way to get the world to obsess over you in a short amount of time. 2018 was the year of Meghan Markle, seeing as her name was mentioned on the cover of every magazine and publication.
Joining Meghan Markle on the most-searched on Google list were the terms “royal wedding” and “royal baby.”
She feels a strong connection with her ‘Suits’ character
The Duchess of Sussex’s real first name is actually Rachel, (yes, like her Suits character), and she has previously admitted that she feels a powerful connection with the motivated Rachel Zane from Suits.
“Rachel and I [are] very similar: ambitious, driven, and always trying to take the bull by its horns. I love the intelligence that’s written into Rachel. Maybe that’s where I’m similar to Rachel, in that I’m harder on myself than anyone else might be,” Markle said.