Whether you love all things royals or you’ve been tuning into the story of the American princess, there’s no doubt you’ve heard the name Meghan Markle. From humble beginnings to popular television to the front page of news magazines and social media feeds around the United Kingdom, Meghan Markle has become a household name, both in the United States and abroad.
Her journey has been one of victories and challenges, of art, humanitarianism, and the uphill battle of living life in the public eye. And through it all, one common, overarching thread — true love. Learn more about our favorite paralegal-turned-attorney-turned-stylish-duchess today.
Meghan Markle’s Journey
While Kate Middleton’s marriage into the Royal Family caused quite a stir, nothing shook the sound waves of proper British society like an American television start stepping into their midst. And while Meghan Markle certainly isn’t the only Hollywood icon to marry into royalty, her story has been one of challenging the status quo. And it all starts with soap opera.
Just Starting Out
Meghan Markle has been open in her past about how her ambiguous ethnicity has made it difficult to land roles in film and television. For that reason, she supported herself with odd jobs, such as calligraphy, when she was first starting out on her acting career.
Eventually, she began landing a few roles, starting with a spot on General Hospital and including other guest positions on shows like CSI: NY. She served as a “briefcase girl” on the game show Deal or No Deal and in two early episodes of the show Fringe. Eventually, she started landing roles in movies with higher payouts, but her real break came when she got a lead role on the show Suits in 2011.
Suits is definitely having a Renaissance right now as the it-girl show to binge, and our favorite paralegal is just one of the reasons why. Meghan played the character of Rachel Zane, alongside some other big-name actors, including Gina Torres.
The show enjoyed critical and popular success and was nominated for several awards, including the SAG Award, TV Guide Award, and People’s Choice Award. It won Outstanding Performance In A Television Series from the NHMC Impact Awards in 2013 and the Best Supporting Actress/Television award from the Imagen Foundation Awards in 2018 for Gina Torres. The show lasted for nine seasons, but Meghan Markle left after the end of the seventh season in 2018. She’ll always be our Rachel Zane, though.
First Marriage and Relationships
One of the reasons Meghan’s association with the British Royal Family was so contested is because she had actually been married before. (And we all know how the Brits feel about divorce, looking at you, Henry). Her marriage was with Trevor Engelson, a film producer who helped her connect with some of her early roles.
The two first met in 2004, and they were married in 2011. Not long after, in 2013, they separated and then officially divorced the following year.
Meghan then had one more long-term relationship, when she lived with the popular chef Cory Vitiello until the spring of 2016. All that led her to the day she connected with our favorite ginger-haired prince.
Connecting with Harry
Fans of The Princess Diaries and just about every Hallmark movie ever have definitely thought about what might happen if they found out they were royalty — or that the handsome stranger they’ve been seeing is secretly a prince. Our girl Meghan made it happen.
According to the couple, they were actually introduced by a mutual friend (and that is one good friend!) and they eventually connected over Instagram in 2016. We love a modern media love story, for sure. That summer, they went on their first official date.
But while the bells were definitely ringing for this happy couple, there were a few major challenges they had to overcome. To start, the rules governing how paps and online journalists conduct themselves are different in the United Kingdom than they are in the U.S., and Meghan found herself right in the middle of the chaos. The media and online armchair experts were all abuzz about the potential relationship between an American and the prince, and eventually, Harry made moves to protect Meghan and their relationship from the press.
All the while, the two were falling deeper in love, attending events together and being seen publicly out on the town. And all that eventually led to a very special announcement.
Announcing the Engagement
It was clear that Harry and Meghan were in it for the long haul when they announced their engagement to the press in 2017, with the support of Harry’s father, Charles, who was the Prince of Wales at the time. While this did bring the couple under more scrutiny, there was a large amount of support for Meghan as the new type of royal, and if you just caught a glimpse of the way Harry looked at her, you couldn’t argue that it was true love.
It was at this point in her journey, as Meghan began planning for the wedding and a future in the British Royal Family, that she retired from acting and began the process of receiving her British citizenship.
Who doesn’t love a royal wedding? In advance of the nuptials, Meghan was actually baptized into the Church of England. She also shared a special vow ceremony with her husband-to-be Harry a few days before the big event, and then they were officially married on May 19, 2018.
The wedding took place at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, where many other royal weddings have been hosted, and the total cost for the event came in around $45 million. As Lorde once put it, we could never be royals.
With the wedding, Harry received the titles of Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton, and Baron Kilkeel (where’s a Debrett’s when you need one?) Meghan also received titles with her marriage to match Harry’s. She may have started as a paralegal on our fav serial drama, but she soon ended up the Duchess of Sussex, Countess of Dumbarton, and Baroness Kilkeel.
At Home in California
In the years since their wedding, Harry and Meghan have taken a step back from the public life of the British Royal family. In fact, they have officially stepped down from their positions as “senior royals” in the household due to the invasive nature and publicity associated with the roles and the challenges and difficulties Meghan has faced as an American, non-royal, and Black member of the family.
They have stepped into some other rather important roles, however, those of mom and dad. Meghan and Harry welcomed baby Archie in 2019 and Lilibet in 2021. They moved to California to achieve a more private way of life for their children and currently live in the Santa Barbara area.
While they have taken steps to live out relatively normal, no-nonsense lives, Harry and Meghan have collaborated on a few big projects, including books and television series. More importantly, they continue to maintain impressive charity, activism, and philanthropic efforts in the world of social causes, conservation, and equality.
In 2022, the couple was awarded the Ripple of Hope Award for their foundation’s efforts to support racial justice and mental health, and our baddie Meghan was named the Ms. Foundation for Women’s Woman of Vision Award in the spring of 2023. She may have stepped back from the spotlight, but there’s no doubt that Meghan’s in a starring role of doing good in the world.
Changing Roles, Changing Guard
We’ve all had that dream where we get swept away by the handsome prince and taken to the castle to live happily ever after (okay, maybe just some of us have had that dream). But the very real thing happened to actress and model Meghan Markle as she began a whirlwind romance with Prince Harry of the Royal British Family.
It’s a romance that has taken her around the world, helped her to grow her family, and given her even more voice and capacity to tackle the tough subjects of society today, like injustice and global health.
Through her journey, as she moved from a spotlight of her own making to the starring spot in British newspapers, Meghan has kept her head held high and a smile on her face. She has done all that is necessary to protect her family and taken steps with her husband to create a life they’re both proud to live. Today, Meghan is writing the script and living out the starring role in a story that is so much better than fiction. And this one, well, we just know it has a happy ending.