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The Sussexes

The Duchess of Sussex at 40: Meghan’s childhood

Rachel Meghan Markle was born 4 August 1981 in Canoga Park, Los Angeles, California. The only child of an African American mother, Doria Ragland (b. 1956), and a white-American father, Thomas Markle (b.1944), Meghan grew up in what was considered a prosperous part of Los Angeles.

Meghan’s father worked as a director of photography and lighting for Married…With Children, an American TV sitcom that ran from 1987 to 1997. During her childhood, Meghan would frequently visit the sets of television series with her dad. Her mother worked as a makeup artist and met Thomas when they both worked on the American soap opera General Hospital. When Meghan was six, her parents divorced but both still contributed to raising their daughter.

Growing up in Los Angeles, Meghan attended Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse. At the age of 11, she wrote to Procter & Gamble asking the company to gender-neutralize a dishwashing soap commercial on national television by changing the word “women” to “people.” Three months later, Meghan’s letter made a difference and the company changed the commercial.

“It was at that moment that I realised the magnitude of my actions,” Meghan once said on the impact her letter had. “I had created my small level of impact by standing up for equality.”

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Raised as a Protestant, Meghan graduated from L.A.’s Immaculate Heart High School, an all-girls Catholic School. After high school, she attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. In her junior year, she interned at the American embassy in Buenos Aires where she considered a political career. However, she did not score high enough in the Foreign Service Officer Test to proceed further with the US State Department. Meghan continued her studies at Northwestern where she joined Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She would also spend time studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. In 2003, Meghan graduated with her bachelor’s degree, a double major in theater and international studies.

Meghan would then go on to get her foot in the door in Hollywood. She appeared on several shows and in several movies at the start of a career that would cover both TV and film.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.