Image: Lia Toby/WENN.com
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle dated for some time before they announced their engagement. But a lot of people held off on getting to know Meghan until it was official. Listen, we'd had our hearts broken by Harry before, we weren't going to let it happen again! But once they made it official, all eyes were on this new addition to the royal family. And we'll be honest - we fell in love with her immediately. It isn't just that Meghan is beautiful and smart and talented. It's not that she's socially conscious and not afraid to speak her mind. A lot of it had to do with the fact that she is such a departure from what we've come to expect from royal relationships. She isn't even British, for crying out loud!
All it took was one look at how Harry looked at Meghan, and we knew she was special. But we didn't know much about her before she got engaged to Harry. It's been nearly a year since Harry and Meghan tied the knot, and we've learned so much about her and her life before she was royaled (you see what we did there?). And we have to say, she's led a fascinating life! Here's your chance to learn more about Meghan Markle before she became a Duchess.
While growing up in Los Angeles, Meghan attended the private all-girls Catholic school, Immaculate Heart High School. And while Meghan is the picture of sophistication and glamour now, her days as a Catholic schoolgirl were anything but. Says Meghan, "Just picture me with my curly hair and a gap in my teeth and my little school uniform with Keds on". Awwwww, Meghan, we all had that awkward phase in high school! Some of us are still in that awkward phase, LOL. It's safe to say that she's ditched the Keds and uniform in favor of designer heels and priceless tiaras.
If you thought attending a Catholic school would put Meghan on a certain path, it seems like our girl had her own plans! When she was young, her father worked as a lighting director on the popular show Married ... with Children. He even won an Emmy for his work! He would frequently take Meghan to the set, where the atmosphere was strikingly different than what she was accustomed to at school. Meghan says, "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.'"
Even though she grew up in Los Angeles and came from an entertainment industry family, Meghan initially wanted to avoid the whole "LA girl with dreams of acting fame" thing. She also loved politics, so what did she do? She combined her passions! Meghan double majored in theater and international relations at prestigious Northwestern University. If you've ever heard her speak about social and political issues, then you know she's well-versed in them. And we all know that she ended up following that LA girl-turned-actress cliche after all, but it worked out very well for her! Harry got him a girl who could do both.
While working on a homework assignment about commercials, 11-year-old Meghan Markle heard an Ivory dish washing soap ad that was pretty clearly geared toward only women. She said at the time, "I don't think it's right for kids to grow up thinking these things, that just mom does everything". So her parents encouraged her to write letters to people in positions of power, like Hillary Clinton and Gloria Allred. Meghan's letters worked, and Proctor & Gamble changed the slogan from "Women All Over the World" to "People All Over the World" just days later. We be there's a pretty fair balance of chores in the Sussex household!
After graduating from Northwestern University, Meghan Markle planned to pursue a career in politics. Being the smart and ambitious woman she is, she had nearly finished her credits needed for graduation by her junior year. So she applied for an internship at the U.S. Embassy, and ended up in Buenos Aires working at the embassy there. Meghan says, "It was their economic devaluation and our Secretary of the Treasury at the time, Paul O'Neill, was there, so I'm 20 years old, in Buenos Aires, in a motorcade, doing that whole thing. I thought for sure I would still have a career in politics."
It's no secret that getting your foot in the door in Hollywood is no easy feat. A lot of working actors have side gigs to make ends meet in between jobs. Meghan was no different! She turned her natural talent of beautiful handwriting into a sweet little side hustle, and worked part-time as a calligrapher. She was even asked to design wedding invitations for celebrities. In an interview with Esquire Meghan said, "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."
The competition in Hollywood is really tough. Actors and actresses work tirelessly to land their big break, and they take whatever jobs come their way to get there. Meghan says she typically filmed a pilot every single TV season before finally landing her role on Suits. And while auditioning for shows, she worked as a case model on the hit TV game show, Deal or No Deal. But it wasn't her favorite gig. She said of the job, "I was the ill-fated number 26, which for some reason no one would ever choose. I would end up standing up there forever in these terribly uncomfortable and inexpensive five-inch heels just waiting for someone to pick my number so I could go and sit down."
Suits premiered in 2011, with Meghan Markle starring at Rachel Zane. Meghan has said she felt very connected to her character, and saw a lot of herself in the fictional Zane. "Rachel and I very similar: ambitious, driven, and always trying to take the bull by its horns," she said in an interview with Marie Claire. Rachel Zane can be pretty hard on herself in the show, which Meghan also relates to. She continued, "And again, maybe that's where I'm similar to Rachel, in that I'm harder on myself than anyone else might be." Fun fact: Meghan's first name is actually Rachel, so that's one more thing they have in common!
Suits was filmed in Toronto, Canada, so when the show got picked up, Meghan had to pack it up and relocate to our neighbors to the north for most of the year. She rented a home in the Seaton Village area, and hobnobbed with some of Toronto's VIP's. She spent a lot of time with Jessica and Ben Mulroney. Jessica is a former fashion adviser to Justin Trudeau's wife Sophie, and Ben is the son of an actual former Prime Minster. Meghan seems to look back on her time in Canada fondly, calling herself an "adopted Canuck". We all know why she ultimately left Canada, but we bet she misses it from time to time.
Listen, when Ellen DeGeneres tells you to do something, you do it! Meghan mentioned the funny anecdote in an interview with Best Health. She ran into Ellen and wife Portia de Rossi at an animal shelter, and Ellen convinced Meghan to take her pup Bogart home. She says, "I said, 'Well, I'm deciding,' and she's like, 'Rescue the dog!' It’s sort of like if Oprah tells you to do something. I’m sitting there holding him, and she’s like, ‘You’re taking the dog home.’ And she walks outside to get into her car, but instead of getting in, she turns around and comes and taps on the window glass and she yells, ‘Take the dog!’ And so I brought him home because Ellen told me to."
Like everyone else and their mother in 2014, Meghan Markle was a blogger! Her popular lifestyle website, The Tig, covered food, travel, fashion, and beauty. She pulled the plug on the publication after her engagement (obviously). You can still access the farewell message, which says: After close to three beautiful years on this adventure with you, it’s time to say goodbye to The Tig. What began as a passion project (my little engine that could) evolved into an amazing community of inspiration, support, fun and frivolity. You’ve made my days brighter and filled this experience with so much joy. Keep finding those Tig moments of discovery, keep laughing and taking risks, and keep being ‘the change you wish to see in the world.’ Above all, don’t ever forget your worth -- as I’ve told you time and time again: you, my sweet friend, you are enough. Thank you for everything."
It's pretty clear that Meghan Markle is big fan of fashion. So it's no surprise that she channeled her creativity to collaborate with Canadian retailer Reitmans. In the fall of 2015, the retailer signed Meghan to their label as a brand ambassador in an attempt to breathe some new life into the line. The following year, Reitmans released an entire capsule collection of dresses co-designed by the future Duchess of Sussex. It's obvious that Meghan Markle has an incredible work ethic, and she seems to have a lot of interests that she's managed to turn into actual jobs over the years.
If you were a Tig reader, or just a fan of Meghan's before she met Harry, than you probably know that this girl LOVES her food. In fact, her character on Suits was written as a foodie to mirror Meghan. She told Marie Claire, "My character is a foodie because they know that I'm a foodie. I'm always on the quest to find amazing new restaurants and new recipes." And as a native Californian, she's been into fine dining and fresh food since forever! I'm a California girl, right? I grew up with that farm-to-table dining before it was sweeping the nation. I do think there's some value to really throwing yourself into food and embracing where it comes from", she told the mag.
Rumor has it that Meghan Markle was set up with Prince Harry by a mutual friend. Could that friend have been the one and only Serena Williams?! Meghan and Serena hit it off immediately when they met at a charity event in 2014. Meghan wrote about their friendship on The Tig, saying "She 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 just a couple weeks ago in Toronto. We are both the same age, have a penchant for hot sauces, and adore fashion, but what connects us more than those things is perhaps our belief in exceeding expectations–our endless ambition."
Meghan Markle married producer Trevor Engelson in 2011, but the pair split two years later. In this day and age, it's almost unheard of to find an eligible bachelor or bachelorette who hasn't been down the aisle at once before! Some people tried to make it a scandal when she and Harry got engaged. But the palace says it ain't a big deal. In general, royals don't marry divorcees. However, Prince Charles sort of challenged that quasi-rule when he married Camilla Parker Bowles. They had both been married before! In 2002, the Church of England relaxed on the whole no-marrying-divorced-people thing, allowing them to marry in the church.
Meghan is an ambassador for World Vision Canada, and has traveled to Rwanda and India to support initiatives for clean water and education for women. In a blog post on The Tig she wrote, "My mother raised me to be a global citizen, with eyes open to sometimes harsh realities". Meghan continued, "I’ve never wanted to be a lady who lunches -- I’ve always wanted to be a woman who works. And this type of work is what feeds my soul, and fuels my purpose. The degree to which I can do that both on and off camera is a direct perk of my job." Her official list of royal patronages include organizations that focus on access to education and animal welfare.
It wasn't long after Meghan and Harry announced their engagement that the drama started with members of her family. Her father, Thomas, was busted after selling images of himself to tabloids before the wedding. He did not attend the event, with both parties claiming his health was too poor to travel. But since then, he's taken quite a few cheap shots at the royal couple in the press. Meghan's sister isn't any better; Samantha Markle is allegedly writing a book about growing up with Meghan, and has criticized her and called her fake. Luckily, Meghan has her mom Doria Radlan by her side. Meghan has spoken openly about her close relationship with her mom, and credits her for being the woman she is today.
As a working actress, Meghan Markle probably spent a lot of time and effort staying in shape. And growing up and living in California, it should come as no surprise that her workout routine is very California-girl. Meghan told Marie Claire, By virtue of growing up really outdoorsy in California, I love running. And I do a lot of yoga, as well, so I think you just find that balance." We're not sure how much running or yoga she's doing these days; after all, she's pretty pregnant, the UK can be cold and gloomy, and she can't very well just hit the streets for a quick jog. But we're sure she finds the time.