Meghan, Duchess of Sussex

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Meghan
Duchess of Sussex (more)
Meghan Markle - 2018 (cropped).jpg
Markle in March 2018
BornRachel Meghan Markle
(1981-08-04) August 4, 1981 (age 37)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Spouse
HouseWindsor (by marriage)
FatherThomas Markle
MotherDoria Ragland
OccupationActress (2002–2017)
SignatureMeghan's signature

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (born Rachel Meghan Markle; August 4, 1981), is an American actress, philanthropist and equality advocate who became a member of the British royal family upon her marriage to Prince Harry.

Markle was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and is of mixed race heritage. During her studies at Northwestern University, she began playing small roles in American television series and films. From 2011 to 2017, she played Rachel Zane, on the American legal drama series Suits. An outspoken feminist, Markle has addressed issues of gender inequality, and her lifestyle website The Tig featured a column profiling influential women. She represented international charity organisations in the 2010s. She has received recognition for her fashion and style, releasing a line of clothing in 2016.

From 2011 until their divorce in 2013, Markle was married to actor and producer Trevor Engelson. In 2017, she announced her engagement to Prince Harry, grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, and moved to London. She retired from acting, closed her social media accounts, and started undertaking public engagements as part of the British royal family. She became the Duchess of Sussex on her marriage to Prince Harry in May 2018.

Early life and education[edit]

Rachel Meghan Markle was born on August 4, 1981, in Los Angeles, California,[1] at West Park Hospital in Canoga Park.[2] As of 2017, her mother, Doria Ragland, a social worker and yoga instructor lives in View Park–Windsor Hills, California.[1][3] Markle has often described a very close friendship with her mother.[4] Her father, Thomas Markle Sr., who lives in Rosarito, Mexico,[5][6] is a retired television director of photography and lighting director, whose profession resulted in his young daughter often visiting the set of Married...with Children.[7][8] Markle's parents divorced when she was six years old.[9][10] She has two older paternal half-siblings, Samantha Markle and Thomas Markle Jr., from whom she is reportedly estranged.[11]

Describing her heritage in a 2015 essay for Elle, Markle states that her "dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American. I'm half black and half white ... While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that. To say who I am, to share where I'm from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman."[12]

Markle grew up in Hollywood.[13] She was educated at private schools, beginning at age two at the Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse.[14][15] At age 11, her successful campaign to get Procter & Gamble to change a national television commercial she viewed as sexist was profiled by Linda Ellerbee on Nick News.[16] Though she was raised as a Protestant,[17] Markle attended Immaculate Heart High School, an all-girl Catholic private school in Los Angeles.[18] She then attended Northwestern University, where she joined Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and participated in community service and charity projects.[19][20] Markle graduated from Northwestern's School of Communication in 2003 with a bachelor's degree and a double major in theater and international studies.[21][22] She also served an internship at the American embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina,[22] and studied for a semester in Madrid, Spain.[20]

Acting career[edit]

Early in her career, Markle worked as a freelance calligrapher to support herself between acting jobs.[7] Her first on-screen appearance was a small role as a nurse in an episode of the daytime soap opera General Hospital.[23][24] Markle had small guest roles on the television shows Century City (2004), The War at Home (2006), and CSI: NY (2006).[24] 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.[7] She appeared in Fox's series Fringe as Junior Agent Amy Jessup in the first two episodes of its second season.[25] Markle had some difficulty getting roles early in her career. In 2015, she wrote: "Being 'ethnically ambiguous', as I was pegged in the industry, meant I could audition for virtually any role ... 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."[26]

Markle at a panel discussion of Suits, Paley Center for Media, 2013

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. She completed work on the seventh season in late 2017.[27] According to a critique in The Irish Times, Markle deftly and "actively re-positioned" her character from ingenue to "the show's moral conscience" and gave viewers the unique portrayal of a daughter, whose African-American father is in a position to help her career and advance her "desire to crack both racial and gender glass ceilings".[28] She appeared in two 2010 films, Get Him to the Greek and Remember Me, and one 2011 film, Horrible Bosses.[29] She also appeared in episodes of Cuts; Love, Inc.; 90210; Knight Rider; Without a Trace; The League; and Castle.[24][30]

From 2014 to 2017, she was founder and editor-in-chief of the lifestyle website The Tig,[31][32] a name she derived from Tignanello red wine.[33] One of The Tig's features was "Tig Talk", a column that profiled women including Jessica Alba,[34] Gail Simmons,[35] Ella Woodward,[36] Daphne Oz,[37] Elizabeth Hurley,[38] Lauren Bush,[39] Ivanka Trump,[40] Dianna Agron[41] and Jessica Stam.[42] She closed The Tig in April 2017,[43] and in January 2018, she deleted all of her social media accounts. At the time of its closing, her Instagram account had 1.9 million followers.[44] In a statement issued by Kensington Palace, Markle thanked "everyone who has followed her social media accounts over the years".[45][46]

In November 2016, Markle and Canadian clothing company Reitmans released lines of women's fashion workwear and casual-wear.[47] The lines, based on her personal style, and that of her Suits character, described as "aspirational girl next door", quickly sold out.[44] 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.[48] For her role on Suits, Fortune magazine estimated that Markle was paid $50,000 per episode, amounting to an annual salary of about $450,000.[49] In addition, it was estimated that as a lifestyle blogger she earned about $80,000 annually from endorsements and sponsorships.[48] In 2017, her total net worth was estimated at $5 million.[48] In 2018, she was among the nominees for the 2018 Teen Choice Awards in the category Choice Style Icon.[50]

Personal life[edit]

Markle began a relationship with actor and producer Trevor Engelson in 2004.[51][52] They married in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, on September 10, 2011,[53] and separated through a no-fault divorce in August 2013,[54] citing irreconcilable differences.[55] Markle's subsequent relationship with celebrity chef and restaurateur Cory Vitiello lasted almost two years, ending in May 2016.[56]

Markle and Prince Harry attending church on Christmas Day, 2017

In June 2016, Markle began a relationship with Prince Harry,[57][58] who was then fifth in line to the British throne.[59] Markle and Prince Harry met on a blind date set up by a mutual friend.[60] The press began to report on the relationship in October 2016.[61] The following month, the British royal family's communications secretary released an official statement that addressed a "wave of abuse and harassment" directed toward Markle.[62] The statement described sexism, racism and defamatory stories directed at her.[63][64][65] During a September 2017 interview with Vanity Fair, Markle spoke in public for the first time about her love for Prince Harry.[66] Later that month, they made their first public appearance together at an official royal engagement at the Invictus Games in Toronto.[67][68]

While working on Suits, Markle lived in a rented house in the Seaton Village neighborhood of Toronto, where the show is filmed.[69] She lived in Canada for nine months each year, making a few close friends.[44] She moved out in late November 2017 after work on the seventh season had been completed.[70]

Royal marriage[edit]

Markle's engagement to Prince Harry was announced on November 27, 2017 by Clarence House and Kensington Palace.[57][71] By then, she had met Queen Elizabeth II, Harry's paternal grandmother, several times.[72] The engagement announcement prompted generally positive comment about the possible social significance of a mixed-race member of the royal family.[73] The ring Harry gave Markle was made by Cleave & Company Ltd., and consists of a large central diamond from Botswana, with two smaller diamonds from the jewellery collection of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.[74] Markle revealed in the couple's engagement interview that they were having a quiet night at home, "roasting chicken", when Prince Harry got down on one knee and proposed.[75]

Following the engagement, Markle announced she would retire from acting,[76][77] and began the years-long process of becoming a British citizen.[78] 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.[79] The private ceremony, performed with water from the River Jordan, took place in the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace.[79] The marriage ceremony was held on May 19, 2018, at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.[80]

The Duke and Duchess live at Nottingham Cottage in London, in the grounds of Kensington Palace.[81] They are expecting their first child, who would be seventh in line to the throne, in 2019.[82] The couple will move to Frogmore Cottage in the grounds of Windsor Castle's Home Park following the birth of their child. Their office will continue to operate at Kensington Palace.[83][84]

Public life[edit]

Markle greeting the public in Belfast, March 2018

Markle accompanied Harry for the first time during an official public appearance after their engagement at a walkabout in Nottingham on December 1, 2017,[85][86] in connection with World AIDS Day.[87] The Queen invited them to celebrate Christmas with the royal family at her Sandringham estate.[88] In early 2018, Markle accompanied Harry on his engagements in Brixton,[87] Cardiff,[89] Goldsmiths' Hall,[90] and Edinburgh.[91] On February 28, Markle attended an official engagement at the first annual forum of The Royal Foundation, "Making a Difference Together" with the prince.[92] She became the fourth patron, alongside Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, after her marriage into the royal family.[93] Markle and Harry marked International Women's Day by attending an event in Birmingham hosted by the Stemettes.[94] Along with the Queen and other members of the royal family, she attended the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on March 12.[95] The couple made their first visit to Northern Ireland on March 23.[96] Markle carried out a total of 26 public engagements prior to the wedding.[97]

The Duchess's first official engagement after the wedding came on May 22 when she and her husband attended Prince Charles' 70th birthday garden party to celebrate his charity work.[98] Her first trip abroad at the request of the British government was to Dublin, Ireland, in July.[99][100] According to a review in The Irish Times, her visit became a unique national obsession.[101] In June, Kensington Palace announced that the Duke and Duchess would tour Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand around the time of the Invictus Games which will be held in Sydney in October.[102][103] On September 25, the Duchess undertook her first solo event on a visit to the Royal Academy of Arts to see the exhibition "Oceania", which featured artifacts from different regions of the Pacific Ocean.[104]

Fashion and style[edit]

Markle at the New York Fashion Week in 2013

Markle cited Emmanuelle Alt as her style inspiration in 2017.[105][106] In an interview with Glamour, the Duchess said that she favored "that French way of styling, where if your outfit is pulled together, then something's got to be dishevelled—your hair, your make-up".[105] In her youth, Markle's "sensibility had always been relaxed California girl style" consisting of jeans, cut-offs and flip-flops.[106] She usually prefers "streamlined dresses" with "neutral colors" and boat-neck necklines,[107][108] and likes "monochromatic and tonal dressing".[106] She has worn outfits and ensembles by a wide variety of fashion designers.[105]

In December 2017, Markle caused a surge in interest in Scottish retailer Strathberry after carrying one of their handbags to a public event shortly after her engagement.[109][110] This was reported as an indication that her fashion choices would produce her own version of the Kate effect.[109][111] It has been speculated that Markle's effect would be greater, as she has a strong appeal in America.[111] After Markle and Prince Harry's first appearance as a couple, brands Mackage, Birks, R&R Jewelers, Crown Jewelers and Everlane noted an upswing in their website hits and sales.[112][113][110] In 2018, Tatler named her on its list of Britain's best dressed people, praising her for redefining "modern royal style with every subsequent appearance".[114] Following the announcement of her pregnancy, the Duchess of Sussex appeared in a Karen Gee dress which resulted in the breakdown of the designer's website.[115]

Charity work[edit]

Markle and sportsmen Brian Urlacher and Doug Fister address the audience during a USO show at Naval Station Rota, Spain, December 6, 2014.[116]

Markle was a counselor for international charity One Young World. She attended its 2014 and 2016 summits.[117] At the 2014 summit in Dublin, she spoke on the topics of gender equality and modern-day slavery.[118] 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.[119][120][121]

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,[122][123][26] and she traveled to India to raise awareness of issues concerning women.[124] Upon returning from India, she penned an op-ed for Time magazine concerning stigmatization of women in regard to menstrual health.[125] She has also worked with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women as an Advocate.[122][126] The Duchess is a vocal feminist and likely to use her role as a member of the royal family to continue supporting women's rights and social justice.[127]

In September 2018, the Duchess announced her support for a charity cookbook (for which she wrote the Foreword) titled Together: Our Community Cookbook.[128][129] The book, which is written by women from the Grenfell community, features recipes from around the world.[130] Meghan, who has regularly visited the Hubb Community Kitchen since January 2018,[130] said in a statement: "Through this charitable endeavour, the proceeds will allow the kitchen to thrive and keep the global spirit of community alive."[128]

In 2018, Time magazine included Markle on its list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.[131][132] She was also chosen as one of the most influential women in the United Kingdom by Vogue magazine.[133]

Titles, styles, and arms[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

Royal monogram

Upon her marriage to Prince Harry, Meghan Markle became a princess of the United Kingdom entitled to the style of Royal Highness, as well as Duchess of Sussex, Countess of Dumbarton and Baroness Kilkeel.[134][135] She is styled as "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex",[136] and she is the first person to hold that title.[137]

Arms[edit]

Ancestry[edit]

On her mother's side, the Duchess of Sussex is descended from African Americans enslaved in Georgia,[141] and on her father's side from German,[142] English,[143] and Irish settlers.[144] One of her possible forefathers, Heinrich Martin Merckel, emigrated to the United States from Lampertsloch, an historically German-speaking town in Alsace, and later changed the spelling of his name to Markle.[142] Among her father's distant ancestors are Captain Christopher Hussey, King Robert I of Scotland, Sir Philip Wentworth, and Edward III of England.[145][146]

Filmography[edit]

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2002 General Hospital Jill 1 episode (aired November 14, 2002)[23][24]
2004 Century City Natasha "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Lose" (season 1: episode 4)
2005 Cuts Cori "My Boyfriend's Back" (season 1: episode 5)
2005 Love, Inc. Teresa Santos "One on One" (season 1: episode 9)
2006 1 vs. 100 Herself Mob member number 7
2006 The War at Home Susan "The Seventeen-Year Itch" (season 1: episode 17)
2006 CSI: NY Veronica Perez "Murder Sings the Blues" (season 3: episode 7)
2006 Deceit Gwen TV film
2006 Deal or No Deal Herself Holder of Case #24; 34 episodes[147]
2008 Good Behavior Sadie Valencia TV film
2008 90210 Wendy "We're Not in Kansas Anymore" (season 1: episode 1)
"The Jet Set" (season 1: episode 2)
2008 'Til Death Tara "Joy Ride" (season 3: episode 2)
2008 The Apostles Kelly Calhoun TV film
2009 Knight Rider Annie Ortiz "Fight Knight" (season 1: episode 14)
2009 Without a Trace Holly Shepard "Chameleon" (season 7: episode 15)
2009 Fringe Junior FBI Agent Amy Jessup "A New Day in the Old Town" (season 2: episode 1)
"Night of Desirable Objects" (season 2: episode 2)
2009 The League Random Girl "The Bounce Test" (season 1: episode 2)
2010 CSI: Miami Officer Leah Montoya "Backfire" (season 8: episode 20)
2010 The Boys & Girls Guide to Getting Down Dana TV film
2012 Castle Charlotte Boyd/Sleeping Beauty "Once Upon a Crime" (season 4: episode 17)
2014 When Sparks Fly Amy Peterson Hallmark Channel TV film
2016 Dater's Handbook Cassandra Brand Hallmark Channel TV film
2011–2018 Suits Rachel Zane Series regular (seasons 1–7)

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2005 A Lot like Love Passenger on plane
2010 Remember Me Megan
2010 Get Him to the Greek Tatiana Uncredited
2010 The Candidate Kat Short film
2011 Horrible Bosses Jamie
2012 Dysfunctional Friends Terry
2013 Random Encounters Mindy UK Title: A Random Encounter
2015 Anti-Social Kirsten

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Essays[edit]

Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
The Duchess of Cambridge
Ladies
HRH The Duchess of Sussex
Followed by
Autumn Phillips