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Happy birthday Meghan! 39 facts about the Duchess of Sussex

Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex
Nils Jorgensen/ i-Images

On Tuesday, the Duchess of Sussex celebrates her 39th birthday. To mark the occasion, Royal Central is looking back at 39 fun facts about Meghan.

1. Meghan was born on August 4, 1981, in Los Angeles, USA. She was the third child for her father, Thomas Markle, and the only child of her mother, Doria Ragland.

2. Meghan is actually her middle name after her parents called her Rachel. However, she was known as Meghan from quite a young age. 

3. Coincidentally, the Duchess would later find fame playing a character called Rachel while working on legal drama Suits.

4. Meghan isn’t the only member of her family to get involved in the showbiz industry – her father won an Emmy award for his work as a lighting director on TV.

5. Meghan was educated at an all-girls Catholic Secondary School in LA called Immaculate Heart High School.

6. Meghan wasn’t the only budding actress among her classmates. She became good friends with Smash and Scorpion star, Katharine McPhee, and the pair had roles in their school musical productions.

7. Meghan practically grew up on the set of Married with Children where her father Thomas worked. In 2018, she told Esquire magazine how she dropped by each day after school, but sometimes her father thought the scenes they were shooting were a bit too risqué for Meghan to see. “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,” she said.

8. Meghan’s parents divorced when she was six-year-old.

9. Meghan went to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois for four years where she double majored in Theatre and International Relations.

10. While attending university she joined the sorority Kappa Kappa Gramma.

11. As part of her studies, Meghan completed an internship where she worked at the US embassy in Argentina.

12. Meghan speaks three languages- English, French and Spanish. She honed her Spanish skills while studying in Madrid for a semester while on exchange.

13. The Duchess worked for a short time as a suitcase girl on Deal or No Deal while she auditioned for acting gigs. She held suitcase No. 26 which never contained the top prize money during her time.

 14. Meghan also ran her own business using her calligraphy skills. Some of her gigs included hand designing the invitations for Robyn Thicke and Paula Patton’s wedding and writing the holiday cards for Dolce and Gabbana.

 15. Another unusual job she held was as a bookbinding teacher. During her Royal Tour of southern Africa in 2019, she visited Victoria Yards — a social enterprise that gives a platform to local craftsmen and start-ups — where she bought three notebooks, before revealing that she used to teach workshops in bookbinding herself.

16. Meghan was the most googled actress of 2016 – the same year she started seeing Prince Harry.

17. Meghan co-designed a capsule collection of clothing for Reitmans in 2015.

18. Meghan told Allure magazine that the one product she never travels without is tea tree oil. “The one thing that I cannot live without when I’m travelling is a small container of tea tree oil. It’s not the most glamorous thing, but if you get a cut, a mosquito bite, a small breakout, no matter what it is, it’s my little cure-all. It’s inexpensive, it’s small enough to carry on, and I bring it with me all the time,’ she said.

19. Meghan started taking yoga at age seven, being taken along to Mummy and Me classes by her mother Doria. While Meghan wasn’t keen on it as a child, she is now a passionate yoga devotee.

20. Meghan was previously married to producer Trevor Engelson. The pair tied the knot in Jamaica, in September 2011, after six years of dating. They divorced in 2013.

21. The Duchess loves a good drop of red wine. “At the end of a long day, there is nothing I enjoy more than a glass of wine. I used to be of the ‘it doesn’t matter, so long as it’s red’ persuasion, but then I grew up, and so did my palate,” she wrote in a Today Blog Post before her wedding.  

22. Meghan loves red wine so much, she named her now-defunct lifestyle blog The Tig after her favourite drop. The name was inspired by Tignanello, which she first tried while on holiday in Italy. 

23. Meghan volunteered at soup kitchens in both Los Angeles and Toronto before she was a royal.

24. Her first onscreen appearance was a small role as a nurse in soap opera General Hospital

25. In 2018, Time magazine included Meghan on its list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

26. In 2016, Meghan became a global ambassador for World Vision Canada, travelling to Rwanda for the Clean Water Campaign.

27. In 2019, the Duchess was a contributor and guest editor for the September issue of British Vogue, which became the magazine’s fastest-selling issue in history.

28. As well as the title Duchess of Sussex, Meghan has two other titles. In Scotland, she is known as the Countess of Dumbarton and in Northern Ireland, she uses Baroness Kilkeel.

29. The Duchess is distantly related to William Shakespeare. Following her engagement, looked into Meghan’s family tree and found a connection between her ancestors on her father’s side, who were related to the playwright’s mother.

30. Meghan had small roles in several films including Remember Me and Horrible Bosses before her breakout role in Suits. 

31. Meghan has two older half-siblings through her father, a sister name Samantha and a brother named Thomas Jnr. She is estranged from both her siblings. 

32. Meghan has two goddaughters, Rylan,9, and Remi, 7, who are the children of her good friends Benita and Darren Litt. The two little girls were flower girls at her wedding.

33. Meghan met Harry through a blind date organised by a mutual friend when she was in the UK in July 2016 to promote her show.

34. For Prince Harry, it was love at first sight. During a photocall in Kensington Palace gardens,  following their engagement announcement, Harry was asked when he knew Meghan was the one. He quickly replied, “the very first time we met.”

35. For their third date, the prince whisked Meghan away for a week of camping in Botswana where they bonded over their love of Africa and commitment to charity work.

 36. Meghan was raised as Protestant but converted to the Church of England following her engagement.

 37. Known for her work promoting women’s rights, Meghan was a proud feminist by the age of 11. After seeing a sexist ad for dishwashing liquid on TV, Meghan started a letter-writing campaign which saw Procter & Gamble remove it. 

38. Meghan gave birth to her son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, on May 6, 2019. He is seventh in the line of succession to the British throne. 

39. Early in 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex ‘stepped down’ from their role as full-time royals. After a short stay in Canada, they now reside in LA.

About author

Kylie is a journalist whose words have appeared in some of Australia and New Zealand's best selling magazines including Woman's day, Girlfriend, OK and that's life! and online at Daily Mail Australia. Kylie has a strong interest in royal fashion and her wardrobe contains over 100 of the same dresses, shoes and clutches, seen on the Duchess of Cambridge. When not writing, you'll find her searching for Sydney's best brunch spot. Follow her on Instagram @theladywallace