Inside Meghan Markle’s Life as ‘Suits’ Star to Unhappy Senior Royal

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex—formerly known as Meghan Markle before marrying into the royal family—is carving out a whole new life for herself and her family in California, following her highly-publicized exit from the royal family in early 2020. Meghan has been staying busy, welcoming a brand-new baby girl as well as adding the title of bestselling author to her resume. Still, many fans of Meghan can’t help but hearken back to the early days, when she was first embarking on her whirlwind romance with Prince Harry, one of England’s favorite members of the royal family. 

Prince Harry & Meghan Markle’s relationship timeline

Prince Harry & Meghan Markle Relationship Timeline: Meghan Markle became the Duchess of Sussex after marrying Prince Harry. Pictured here is the royal couple after the announcement of their engagement.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

In July 2016, when Meghan first met Harry through a mutual friend, she was a hardworking Hollywood actor, best known for her work in the TV series Suits. Meghan and Harry started dating immediately after they met, and by the end of 2016, rumors about their alleged romance had started to leak to the press. The two dated for a little more than a year before announcing their engagement in November 2017.

As with most royal engagements, Meghan and Harry didn’t wait long to tie the knot. The couple got married in May 2018, in a grand ceremony that was televised to enthusiastic viewers all around the world.

The wedding, a stunning affair with many Hollywood guests in attendance, was the start of Meghan’s official life as a senior member of the royal family She assumed her royal title at the time of the wedding, becoming the Duchess of Sussex. As it turns out, Meghan’s time in the royal ranks would be very complicated. 

Does Queen Elizabeth approve of Meghan Markle?

Does Queen Elizabeth approve of Meghan Markle? Pictured here Meghan and the monarch are laughing at a royal event.
Meghan Markle and Queen Elizabeth | Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

From the very beginning, Queen Elizabeth made it clear that she welcomed Meghan into the royal family. The two were spotted out on several solo engagements during Meghan’s time as a senior royal, and they always seemed at ease. In recent months, Meghan confirmed she has always had a good relationship with the queen, telling Oprah Winfrey that the queen has “always been wonderful” to her.

Even before Harry married the American actor, the queen proved that she was in Meghan’s corner by breaking several long-standing royal traditions for her — including designing an exclusive coat of arms just for her and inviting her to the 2017 Christmas gathering that had previously been for royal family members only. At the time, Meghan and Harry were not yet married — further proof that the queen wanted to make Meghan feel welcome. 

Meghan Markle is not the first biracial member of the royal family

Despite what many think, Meghan Markle not the first birachial member of royals. Pictured here, Meghan is smiling, tucking her hair back.
Meghan Markle | Daniel Leal-Olivas/Getty Images

From the start of Meghan’s association with the royal family, much was made of the fact that Meghan was unique among all royal spouses. Not only was Meghan a working actor, but she was a divorcee and a biracial woman. While some publications wrote less than savory stories about Meghan, many more praised her philanthropic efforts and her dedication to charity.

Still, Meghan is likely not the first biracial woman in the royal family. In 1761, a woman named Sophia Charlotte was married to King George III. Some experts have speculated that Queen Charlotte was of African descent, and was, therefore, the first biracial woman in the royal family. While this remains unconfirmed, it is fascinating nonetheless. Even if Meghan isn’t the first biracial woman in the royal ranks, she’s definitely been the most outspoken, dedicated feminist who works hard for what she believes in — regardless of what she might be going through in her personal life. 

Meghan stepped down as a senior royal in January 2020, but people everywhere are still invested in her life and projects. Meghan, who married Harry in May 2018, initially rose to fame as an actor, well-known for her work in the TV show Suits. Still, well before she was a Hollywood actor, she was earning recognition in her inner circle, establishing close relationships that would last well into her professional life. 

Meghan Markle’s education includes time at Northwestern

Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane on 'Suits'
Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane on ‘Suits’ | Christos Kalohoridis/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank

Meghan was born in California in 1981. Born into a blended family, Meghan’s parents divorced when she was only six years old, and she went on to spend the majority of her early years with her mother.

Meghan grew up in the LA area, developing a strong sense of personal responsibility and a work ethic that would carry her far in life. She received a top-notch education, attending a Catholic high school called Immaculate Heart High School and going on to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Meghan was active in extracurricular activities in college, joining the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, later serving as the chair of recruitment, and participating in Northwestern’s annual Dance Marathon for charity. She also attended a study abroad program, where she continued her study of other cultures and political situations in countries outside the United States. In 2003, Meghan graduated from Northwestern University, receiving her bachelor’s degree with a double major in theater and international studies.

Meghan Markle’s family 

Meghan Markle family includes mother Doria Ragland and father Thomas Markle. Pictured here, Meghan and Doria arrive at the Cliveden Hotel in 2018.
Meghan Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland. | Steve Parsons – Pool / Getty Images

Throughout her early years and her time in college, Meghan relied not only on her sense of self and personal responsibility to get through challenging times — but on the unwavering support of her family as well. Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, is a yoga instructor and former social worker who helped instill a love of charitable endeavors in her young daughter.

Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, worked as a director of photography and lighting on the popular TV show Married….with Children. Meghan would later attribute visiting her father on the set of the show as one of the reasons that she developed her affection for acting and the entertainment business.

Growing up, Meghan had a good relationship with her father as well as her mother. However, in recent years, Meghan and her father started to experience some problems, and these days, they are estranged. Meghan also has several half-siblings, Samantha Markle and Thomas Markle Jr. 

Meghan Markle starred on ‘Suits’

Meghan Markle Suits: Pictured here, Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane on 'Suits.'
Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane on ‘Suits’ | Ian Watson/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

After Meghan graduated from college in 2003, she decided to pursue an acting career. Still, she had a difficult time getting started in the industry, later attributing it to being “ethnically ambiguous.” A few of her early roles included parts in TV shows like General Hospital, The War at Home, and CSI: NY. She also acted in a few movies, appearing in Get Him to the GreekRemember Me, and The Candidate.

It took a few years, but Meghan finally got her big break in 2011, when she landed the role of Rachel Zane in the TV series Suits. She made waves for her portrayal of the earnest paralegal, and in the years that followed, she became a Hollywood mainstay.

She continued to act on the series until late 2017 when she left behind her acting career in order to focus on her budding relationship with Harry. Over the next several years, Meghan would undoubtedly use the training that she acquired in Hollywood to help get her through some tough public situations.

When Meghan married Harry in May 2018, her whole life changed — both personally and professionally. Meghan had chosen to leave her acting career behind in order to focus on her new responsibilities as a royal, and while from the outside, the transition might have looked seamless, the new Duchess of Sussex had a hard time behind the scenes. Notably, Meghan struggled with bullying from certain British tabloids, as well as near-constant rumors of feuding and tension with other members of the royal family. 

How are Meghan Markle and Princess Diana different and similar?

How are Meghan Markle and Princess Diana different? Royal fans often draw comparisons between the two. Here, the Duchess of Sussex is pictured at the 'Together' cookbook launch.
Meghan Markle at the ‘Together’ cookbook launch. | Ben Stansall – WPA Pool/Getty Images

From the beginning of Meghan’s time in the royal family, she earned comparisons to the late Princess Diana, Harry’s mother. Diana, who was born into privileged circumstances, married Prince Charles when she was very young and found herself thrust into the spotlight — similar to Meghan’s situation as a woman who suddenly found herself at the center of a media firestorm.

Diana was also a paparazzi target, and often became a subject of tabloid headlines — just like Meghan. Additionally, both Meghan and Diana share a devotion for charitable endeavors and have consistently spoken out about various issues that matter to them. Although they couldn’t be more different on the surface, with Meghan having grown up as a California girl to divorced parents, the two share deep similarities in the way that they relate to people. 

Meghan did not thrive as a senior royal

Harry and Meghan attend an event. Prince Harry wears a blue suit, a white button-up shirt, a light blue tie with a darker blue pattern. Meghan Markle walks next to him, holding his hand a solid green dress and green hat. The background is a city scene with blurred cars and people walking behind.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Karwai Tang/WireImage

Meghan might have started out strong in the royal family, accompanying Harry to many events and activities during her first few months as a married woman — but as it turns out, she was struggling behind the scenes. During her March 2020 interview with Winfrey, the Duchess of Sussex revealed that she had a hard time with the negative way that British tabloids portrayed her and that she even had suicidal thoughts at one point. As Meghan stated, “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.”

The pressure didn’t let up after Meghan and Harry welcomed their son Archie in May 2019. The duchess received even more negative press, with tabloids and critics claiming that she was shaking up the royal family by not allowing her infant son to be in the spotlight. The clock was ticking, and Meghan knew that something needed to change. 

Harry and Meghan’s royal exit, plus where are they now?

Oprah Winfrey interviewing Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for primetime special.
Oprah Winfrey interviewing Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. | Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese via Getty Images

In January 2020, Meghan and Harry dropped a bombshell, revealing that they would be stepping away from their status as senior members of the royal family. In a statement that they released on Instagram, the couple talked about their desire to be financially independent, working as free entities all while working toward their own goals of operating a new charity and pursuing new business interests. Rumors swirled regarding the royal family’s reaction to the news — but the senior royals remained mostly mum, with the queen releasing a statement that Meghan and Harry remained “much loved members” of her family.

In short order, Meghan and Harry had relocated their family to California, establishing a new home base there. During the early days of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the couple remained mostly out of the spotlight, emerging only rarely via video chat or social media statements. However, within the past few months, Meghan and Harry have come out strong, announcing a series of bold new projects, including a new limited series, a bestselling book, and a memoir. It seems as though the trials and tribulations that Meghan went through have all led to a fulfilled future, in which she is able to work on what appeals to her, all while raising her family in peace.

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