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Who is the Duchess of Sussex?

Rachel Meghan Markle was born on 4 August 1981 in Los Angeles, California’s West Park Hospital to Doria (a therapist and social worker) and Thomas W. Markle. She is of mixed-race with her mother being African-American and her father being of Dutch and Irish descent. Meghan is the youngest of Thomas Markle’s three children and the only child of Doria. She has an older half-sister, Samantha and an older half-brother, Thomas Jr.

Meghan found her love for acting at a young age. With her father being an Emmy Award-winning director of photography, she spent many years on the set of the television show Married… With Children.

Meghan with her cast mates from Suits. Photo: Genevieve/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

Having been educated at private schools her entire life (including Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse and the all-girls Catholic Immaculate Heart High School), Meghan graduated in 2003 with a double major in Theater and International Relations from Northwestern University close to Chicago, Illinois. During her time at university, she interned at the United States Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and studied for a semester in Spain. As a result, Meghan has said that she can now speak Spanish. She also studied French for eight years but has called her knowledge in the language “deplorable.”

Meghan is an accomplished actress having worked on shows such as General Hospital, Fringe, Castle and, most notably, Suits where she played character Rachel Zane for seven seasons. In addition to television, she has also had small roles in a few movies including Horrible Bosses, Remember Me and Get Him to the Greek. She also starred in two made-for-tv Hallmark movies Dater’s Handbook and When Sparks Fly. In her spare time, she is also an accomplished calligrapher.

Before gaining international fame as the girlfriend of Prince Harry, Meghan was previously married to actor and producer, Trevor Engleson. They wed on 10 September 2011, after having dated since 2004. The couple split in May 2013, and their divorce was finalised in August 2013.

Photo: UN Women/Simon Luethi

In addition to acting, the Duchess has been an active humanitarian for many years. She has worked as a counsellor for the One Young World charitable organisation, where she spoke in Dublin at its annual summit in 2014 regarding gender equality and modern-day slavery. In 2016, she became the Global Ambassador World Vision Canada. In her role, she also travelled to Rwanda for the Clean Water Campaign. Her Royal High was was also once a United Nations women’s advocate for Political Participation and Leadership and was active in the HeForShe campaign. She spoke at a UN Women event where she told of how she has been advocating for gender equality since she was 11. She also wrote about this on her now-closed website The Tig

“I was just 11 years old when I was in my classroom at Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse, and a commercial came on for a popular dishwashing liquid. The tagline of the campaign said, ‘Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.’ The boys in my classroom yelled out, ‘Yeah, that’s where women belong. In the kitchen.’ My little freckled face became red with anger. I went home and wrote letters to powerhouse feminist attorney, Gloria Allred; to a host of a kids news program; to the soap manufacturer; and to Hillary Clinton (who was our First Lady at the time). With the exception of the soap manufacturer, they all pledged support — and within a few months, the commercial was changed to, ‘People all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.’”

Additionally, she has said regarding humanitarian work, “With fame comes opportunity, but in my opinion, it also includes responsibility — to advocate and share, to focus less on glass slippers and more on pushing through glass ceilings, and if I’m lucky enough –- then to inspire.”

The Duchess chose to start fresh with her humanitarian work once entering the Royal Family – ending her relationships with the organisations she worked with before marriage. She is now one of the patrons of the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

After secretly dating Prince Harry for months, their relationship was confirmed in a statement released by Prince Harry’s Communications Secretary on behalf of the Prince in late 2016 which addressed the “wave of abuse and harassment” directed at Meghan. The letter added that Prince Harry was “worried about Ms Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her.”

(c) Invictus Games Toronto 2017

For her part, Meghan confirmed the relationship in an interview with Vanity Fair for their September 2017 issue where she stated that they were “really happy and in love.” She would go on to join Harry in their first official joint appearance at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto at a wheelchair tennis event and the Closing Ceremony. She attended the Opening Ceremony but sat separately from the Prince.

Engagement rumours were rife after Harry whisked her away on a trip to Africa in August 2017, and they only strengthened with their joint appearance in Toronto the next month.

The 37-year-old former actress had been active on her social media platforms of Twitter and Instagram until her relationship with Harry became more serious. She closed her accounts after her engagement and thanked everyone who had followed her over the years. Meghan also co-designed a line for the Canadian fashion chain, Reitmans, which sold out quickly after her relationship with Harry was revealed.

Meghan has two beloved rescue dogs, a beagle named Guy and a Labrador-shepherd mix named Bogart. When she relocated to London, she had to make the difficult decision to leave Bogart behind in North America as he was too old to make the trip across the Atlantic. Guy, however, made the trip and lives happily with Harry and Meghan on the grounds of Kensington Palace.

Harry and Meghan in Nottingham for their first official engagement after announcing they were to be married. © Charlie Proctor

After wrapping the seventh season of Suits, Meghan moved in with Prince Harry at his two-bedroom Nottingham Cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace.

Their engagement was announced on 27 November 2017, and it was said that they had become engaged earlier in the month in London. Their wedding took place on 19 May 2018 at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. The couple reside at Nottingham Cottage.

Additional reporting by Europe Editor, Brittani Barger

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