It seems like Meghan Markle has lived over three lifetimes in the past three years. While she started out as a well-respected television actress on the hit show Suits, Markle is most famous today for her fairy tale wedding to Prince Harry—but also for the way she just threw all those royal privileges away. What was behind her decision, and what’s behind those Buckingham Palace doors? Read on to find out.
Meghan Markle Facts
1. It Don’t Matter if You’re Black or White
Markle is biracial; her mother Doria Raglan is black and her father Thomas Markle is white. Raglan worked as a makeup artist before having Meghan, while Thomas Markle worked as a lighting technician on television shows; the pair met on the set of General Hospital. That’s right, it turns out that show business runs in the family.
2. All in the Family
Even though she grew up in the City of Angels, Markle didn’t have the best childhood. Her parents divorced when she was just six years old, with her father eventually moving all the way to Mexico and Markle staying back with her mother. And when it came time for her royal wedding, her father dealt her a cold-hearted betrayal.
3. Father Knows Best
Just days before her wedding to Prince Harry, Meghan’s father Thomas started causing a hailstorm of trouble. Meghan has always been private, so when paparazzi photos of her father surfaced, she naturally wanted to protect him. She found out the dark truth later. Turns out, Thomas actually staged the photos in exchange for money—and that’s not even the worst part.
4. Papa Don’t Preach
When Harry and Meghan asked Thomas about the photos and the possibility that he sold them, he lied and told them he was innocent. He then rubbed salt in the wound by going on multiple talk shows to discuss his relationship with his daughter and Prince Harry, claiming that she would “be nothing without me. I made her the Duchess she is today.”
5. A Little Piece of My Heart
The “Thomas Markle Affair” became an instant media sensation, but few people know the heartbreaking coda to the story. Meghan wrote her father a private letter and confessed that he had broken her heart into “a million little pieces” with his behavior before the wedding. How do we know this? Thomas later publicized the letter for all to see, naturally.
6. A Royal Rift
Thomas Markle ultimately didn’t attend his daughter’s royal wedding, leading to speculation that Meghan had banned him entirely from the service. In truth, Thomas was undergoing heart surgery on the day, though many felt the timing was a little too convenient. According to Thomas, he and Meghan have not talked since the royal wedding. Shocker.
7. Second Time’s the Charm
When Meghan and Prince Harry got engaged, the public was happily surprised. But to royal insiders, there was one big problem. Markle is actually a divorcee; her first husband was producer Trevor Engelson. The British crown has a long and sordid history of disapproving of divorces, and for many this was a scandalous piece of her history.
But if some reports are to be believed, things only got worse from there.
8. From Royal Court to the Tennis Court
The guest list for Meghan and Prince Harry’s wedding read like a who’s who of both Hollywood and English society. Not only did people like Oprah Winfrey and Idris Elba make an appearance, but so did tennis champion Serena Williams. She and Markle are close friends, and Markle still supports Williams during her matches.
9. Can We Come to a Dinner Party?
Markle loves cooking. Her go-to dish is a roasted chicken, and she brings it to dinner parties wherever she goes. She calls it a “game changer,” and had said that it makes her a lot of friends. As for the chicken being a “game changer”? Well, let’s just say it was involved in the very night that Prince Harry proposed to her…
10. Sweet Moments
Markle and Harry have revealed details about the night that he proposed. Apparently, they were roasting Meghan’s famous chicken when the prince decided to get down on one knee. Markle claims she was so excited, she didn’t even wait for him to finish before she said, “Can I say yes now?” The pair were so in love, they even momentarily forgot about the ring.
11. Switching Sides
In January 2020, Thomas Markle dug the knife even deeper into his daughter’s side. In the wake of Harry and Meghan’s suit against The Daily Mail for hateful publications, the magazine has cited Thomas as a possible witness against the Duchess of Sussex. That’s right, he could testify against his own little girl in court.
12. Age Ain’t No Thing
When it comes to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, age really is just a number. At 38 years old, Markle is actually three years older than the 35-year-old Harry.
13. The Princess Diaries
Rumors of Markle’s relationship to Prince Harry began in October 2016, but the palace didn’t confirm it until closer to the end of that year. All of this talk ended up making her the most Googled actress of 2016, which is pretty impressive when you consider the other Hollywood heavy-hitters she was up against.
14. We All Need New Friends
Markle and Prince Harry met in a very unconventional way: A mutual friend actually set them up on a blind date. This one meeting ended up creating a whirlwind romance, with each of them falling quickly in love with the other. No, really—Prince Harry admitted that Markle “just tripped and fell into my life.”
15. The Big Day
The royal wedding took place on May 19, 2018 at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor. Before the wedding, the media speculated endlessly about what Markle would wear, and she did not disappoint. Her wedding dress was from high-end fashion label Givenchy, and sported an elegant bateau neckline and a long train. But the details give away Markle’s personal secrets.
16. Veiled Symbolism
Markle’s bridal veil was chock full of symbolism. The fabric had 55 embroidered flowers that represented not only the 53 Commonwealth countries, but also contained the blooms wintersweet and the California Poppy. Why these two flowers? They symbolize Harry and Meghan’s union: Wintersweet grows outside Nottingham cottage where they live, and the poppy is the state flower of Markle’s native California. Aw.
17. The Royal Rebound
It’s a little-known fact that when Markle first met Prince Harry, she was actually on the rebound. She had dated celebrity chef Cory Vitiello for almost two years, but the relationship ended in May 2016. She then met Prince Harry the very next month, in June. Can’t say a quick rebound works out for everyone, but it certainly did for her.
18. All That Glitters
Markle’s engagement ring truly is something special. Prince Harry created the ring himself with help from royal jewelers Cleave and Company. One large diamond he got from Botswana flanks two smaller stones from his mother Princess Diana‘s own personal collection. The meaning behind these stones is beautiful.
Harry and Markle have a special relationship to Africa, which explains the Botswana connection. Meanwhile, he continues on Diana’s legacy with her gemstones.
19. Crowning Glory
To top off her bridal attire, Markle wore an unforgettable diamond bandeau tiara that made the whole world gasp. The custom jewelry piece was made especially for Queen Mary, the wife of King George V, all the way back in 1932. Queen Elizabeth II lent it to Markle from her own personal collection as a sign of her support.
20. Happily Never After
After marrying her prince, Meghan was supposed to live happily ever after. But nothing could be further from the truth. Since the wedding, British publications have continually attacked Markle, with occasional help from sources inside the palace. Things got so bad that the royal couple are even suing the tabloids for running certain stories, including publishing Markle’s private letter to her father Thomas.
21. The Little Master
On May 6, 2019, Harry and Meghan welcomed a son: little baby Archie Mountbatten Windsor. Both parents want the boy to grow up as normal as possible. As a result, he has no fancy titles: he’s styled simply as “Master” Archie. How is that even more adorable somehow?
22. Father Figure
Since Thomas Markle was unable to attend the wedding, Meghan was left scrambling for someone to walk her down the aisle. The royal family stepped up in the best possible way. In a heartwarming act of kindness, Harry’s father Prince Charles—AKA the next in line for the throne—performed the duty. What a way to say “welcome to the family.”
23. The Markle Effect
As a visible member of the royal family, Markle’s fashion instincts often become worldwide phenomena. When she announced that she was pregnant with baby Archie, she wore a white Karen Gee sheath dress. Such was the “Markle effect” that that very same day, the Karen Gee website crashed because of all the requests for the same dress.
24. Love at First Sight
When someone asked Prince Harry when he knew Markle was “The One,” his answer was like something out of a rom-com. As he confessed, he knew “The very first time we met.” Now that’s a fairy tale romance.
25. I’ve Got News for You
On January 8, 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle surprised both the normal world and the royal palace when they announced that they’d be stepping back from their duties. Reportedly, neither the Queen nor Prince Charles knew of the so-called “Megxit,” and sources close to the palace say Harry’s father was “furious” at the news. So why did they make such a sudden decision? More on that later.
26. O Canada
After deciding to curb their royal duties, Prince Harry and Meghan also decided to leave the UK and live on the other side of the Atlantic. They currently reside in a mansion in Vancouver, Canada that’s worth millions of dollars, and are looking for a second home in Markle’s native Los Angeles, where her mother still lives. Retirement doesn’t look so bad!
27. Give It up
Markle gave up a lot to join the royal family when she married Prince Harry. Not only did she quit her acting career, she also completely shut down her popular lifestyle blog The Tig, deleting all the previous posts and social media. After all, a member of the royal family can’t be seen as relatable now, can they?
28. Put (Another) Ring on It
Markle had lots of little nods to Prince Harry and his family during the public wedding, but few people know about the massive tribute she made to Princess Diana in private. At the closed reception held only for friends and family, Markle stepped out in a white halter dress and an enormous Aquamarine ring that used to belong to Diana.
29. I Will Remember You
Princess Diana was obviously tragically absent on her son’s big day, but Prince Harry made sure to remember her. His tribute was incredibly touching. Harry actually handpicked Markle’s bouquet that day, and he included forget-me-nots specifically in honor of his late, beloved mom. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
30. I’ve Got the Blues
Markle took her “something old, something new” to the next level. Her dress and tiara were new and borrowed, respectively, but her “something old” was actually fabric from Princess Diana’s wedding dress that she had sewn into her outfit. Perhaps even more sweet, Markle’s “something blue” was a piece of the dress she wore on her first date with Harry.
31. Mommy and Me
Markle’s mother Doria has had a great influence on her life. As a yoga instructor, her mom brought her to “mommy and me classes” when she was little. She also made sure her daughter was a global citizen, and they travelled to many remote places that opened Markle’s eyes to poverty and the harsh realities many people around the world face.
32. This Beauty Has Brains
Markle completed her Communications degree from Northwestern University, where she also joined the illustrious Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. After graduating, she travelled to Buenos Aires, where she worked for the US Embassy. She hasn’t ruled out more schooling, either, saying that she’s considered going for her Masters.
33. And They Called It Puppy Love
While Markle was shooting Suits in Toronto, she had three dogs: a beagle named Guy, a Labrador named Oz, and a Lab/German Shepherd mix named Bogart. But when Markle moved to the UK to be with Prince Harry, she had to make a heartbreaking decision. Because Bogart was too old to fly, she left him behind in North America with friends.
34. The Peasant Presents
You’d expect the royal wedding gift bags to be full of swag, but that wasn’t exactly the case. The presents Harry and Meghan gave to members of the public at the wedding were so low-key, I’d be a little insulted. The bags contained: a chocolate gold coin, a fridge magnet, a bottle of water, some shortbread, and a 20% off coupon for the Windsor Castle gift shop. Um, what?
35. Hello, Nurse!
Markle’s very first acting gig was a small part as a nurse on General Hospital, the same show her parents met on.
36. Never Stop Learning
As an actress, Markle went through the ringer more than a few times on set. In the 2005 movie A Lot Like Love, a scene required her to learn how to drive a manual engine, all just an hour before she actually filmed it. One way or another, the future Duchess pulled it off. At least it was good practice for living in the United Kingdom?
37. Tiny Crusader
The press has accused Markle of purposely defying old royal traditions, but we’re going to guess that Markle is proud of this. After all, she’s always been outspoken. When she was 11, she penned a letter to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton to complain about an ad for soap, which claimed a woman’s place was in the kitchen. Thanks in part to Markle’s efforts, the company changed the ad.
38. A King’s Ransom
Fairy tale days come with a high price tag. From Markle’s stunning dress, to the cake, to the lavish reception, experts estimate that Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding cost somewhere around 32 million British pounds. Bu don’t worry: His family paid for it.
39. Deal With It
Few people remember Markle’s humble Hollywood beginnings even before she joined Suits. Before the hit show, Markle actually worked as one of the briefcase models on Deal or No Deal—and she didn’t enjoy it. She said she was always uncomfortable standing in her five-inch heels, and loved when someone called her number because it meant she could sit down.
40. True Love Conquers All
Markle is the first American to marry into the British royal family since 1937. The last time this happened, it was the tragic story of King Edward VIII and his beloved divorcee Wallis Simpson. Although the pair did get married, Edward had to abdicate the throne to accomplish it. Thank goodness Harry and Meghan weren’t put through that circus.
41. Flower Power
Markle’s mother Doria Raglan gave Meghan the nickname “Flower” when she was growing up. It ended up suiting her very nicely: Markle loves flowers, and her favorite blooms are peonies.
42. Sussex Royal
On the morning of their wedding, Queen Elizabeth II officially granted Harry and Meghan the titles of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
43. Love of the Written Word
If you ever need someone with gorgeous writing, be sure to call Markle up. When she was struggling to make ends meet as an actress before landing her role on Suits, she relied on her calligraphy skills for weddings and events to pay her bills. Markle even did the invites for Robin Thicke and Paula Patton’s wedding.
44. The Bride Wore White
According to palace insiders, Harry’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth II was shocked by the color of Meghan Markle’s dress. Since she had been married before, the Queen didn’t expect to see her newest granddaughter-in-law walking down the aisle in a white dress. You heard it here, folks: Queen Elizabeth is just like other grandmas.
45. What’s in a Name?
Meghan is actually Markle’s middle name. Her first name is Rachel, which is coincidentally also her character’s name on Suits.
46. As Seen on TV
Meghan Markle admitted that while filming her first intimate scene in Suits, she actually found it a little “weird,” and that shooting the racy romps that fans love was always a bit strange. When asked about what scenes were specifically tough to shoot, she said, “in the file room was weird. Yeah, that was a little strange.”
As her co-star Patrick J. Adams said, “Meghan and I are like brother and sister at this point, so a scene like that is basically just hilarious for us to shoot, but also really fun, because for these characters this is a big moment.”
47. The Only Way
Harry and Meghan have since given some insight into their unprecedented decision to recede from royal life. Though some have argued it was actually the palace’s doing, most believe the royal couple is trying to get away from the racism and malice of the tabloids. As Harry put it, “There really was no other option.” But one recent interview gives even more details.
48. Keep Calm and Carry on
As a part of their work in Africa, a film crew followed Harry and Meghan for a documentary. During one interview about media pressure, Markle was more candid than any royal has ever been. She revealed that though she “really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip” about the tabloid scrutiny, she ultimately couldn’t. Harry’s comments, though, give another heartbreaking angle.
49. A Raw Wound
In the same documentary, Harry revealed that his mother Princess Diana still haunts him in his marriage. Harry confessed that though he thought he was over his mother’s tragic fate, “suddenly it all came back” when the media started attacking Markle. As he said, “So everything that she [Diana] went through and what happened to her is incredibly raw every single day.”
50. Sister Spats
According to some sources, Markle and her sister-in-law Kate Middleton are “very different people” and don’t actually get along very well. Although this is a vague rumor, one unsettling story hints at the truth. After Middleton went into a bridesmaid’s fitting just before Harry and Meghan’s wedding, she reportedly left the room in tears.
Further details about the incident are scarce, but given Harry and Meghan’s recent decision to leave the royal family, it seems like all was not well in paradise. As one royal source put it, “Kate had just given birth to Prince Louis, so maybe she was a little bit emotional. But whatever the thing was, the future queen of England was in tears over what Meghan had said to her.”