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Meghan, Duchess of Sussex: A History

Photo: PA

The Duchess of Sussex has certainly had an eventful 2 years since marrying Prince Harry in 2018, but there is a lot more history to unpack in the 36 years prior to becoming the Duchess of Sussex. Meghan was born Rachel Meghan Markle in Los Angeles California to Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle. The Duchess has two older half siblings on her father's side but they did not spend too much time together growing up due to a fifteen year and nineteen year age gap.

Photo: PA

Meghan spent much of her childhood on film sets, specifically on Married...With Children, where her father worked as a lighting director. Her parents divorced when she was six years old but she is said to have remained close to both of them growing up. She attended private school in Los Angeles and she has been an outspoken feminist since she was a child. At age 11 she wrote to Procter & Gamble about a dish soap ad she felt was sexist. Her campaign to change the ad was documented on Nick News.

She went on to attend Northwestern University in Illinois where she double majored in Theater and International Studies. She spent one semester studying in Madrid and took an internship at the American Embassy in Buenos Aires. She was a member of the sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma where she participated in charity projects including the sororities national philanthropy, Reading is Fundamental.

After graduating Meghan returned to California where she worked as a freelance calligrapher in between acting jobs. She had guest appearances in popular shows such as General Hospital, CSI: NY, and Fringe. The Duchess took modelling jobs early in her career as well including "briefcase girl" on Deal or No Deal.

Photo: Getty

Meghan began acting in movies in 2010 before landing her biggest role the following year as Rachel on the USA law drama, Suits. Later that year, Meghan married her longtime boyfriend, Trevor Engelson, in a destination wedding in Jamaica. The couple later divorced citing irreconcilable differences.

Photo: The Tig

The Duchess acted on Suits for six years and picked up some small roles in films as well as starring in TV Movies on Lifetime and Hallmark. She founded a lifestyle blog which she named The Tig (after her favorite wine, Tignanello) where she wrote about fashion, food, beauty, travel and activism.

Meghan's hobbies expanded beyond blogging and acting between 2014 and 2017 as she began to design capsule collections for Canadian clothing brand, Reitmans. She also stepped into the political arena, expressing her opinions about the 2016 U.S. Presidential Candidates and sharing her views on Brexit. During this time her charity work expanded as she began going on USO tours in support of U.S. Troops, she was an ambassador for World Vision Canada and she worked with the U.N. on Gender Equality and Empowerment for Women.

Photo: Rex Photos

During this time she also began dating celebrity chef, Cory Vitiello, before the relationship ended in May 2016. Meghan and Harry met soon after and the couple were confirmed to be dating in November 2016 when Kensington Palace released a statement on behalf of Prince Harry which addressed the negative treatment of Meghan by members of the press. They were first photographed together in December 2016 but did not make an official appearance together until September 2017 when Meghan accompanied Harry to an Invictus Games event in Canada.

They announced their engagement in November 2017, one year after they first confirmed their relationship. Similar to other royal engagements before them, they sat down for an interview about their relationship and what they hoped to accomplish after their wedding. The Duchess of Sussex became the first royal fiance to join the family for Christmas Day Service at Sandringham, something that has now been done by Princess Beatrice's fiance, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. The pair toured parts of the United Kingdom before their marriage and Meghan joined the family at Westminster Abbey for the Commonwealth Day service that March.

Photo: Getty

Harry and Meghan were married at St. Georges Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle on May 19th 2018. Wedding guests included Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, much of Prince Harry's family and extended family as well as celebrities such as Serena Williams, Oprah, James and Victoria Beckham, Priyanka Chopra and George and Amal Clooney. An estimated 1.9 Billion people tuned in to watch the wedding.

Photo: Shutterstock

After joining the family, Meghan continued her work with women and girls empowerment and animal welfare and expanded her charity work to include education, specifically for girls and women. As members of the Royal Family cannot be politically active, due to the U.K. being a constitutional monarchy. Meghan, therefore, stepped back from some roles she held that had a political connection and instead became patron of four organizations; Mayhew, Smart Works, The Association of Commonwealth Universities, and the Royal National Theatre.

The Duke and Duchess announced they were expecting their first baby in October ahead of their first tour of Australia. The couple enjoyed a warm welcome on their tour which included stops in Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. They Sussex's also toured Morocco and Ireland before they welcomed their first son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten Windsor. While they had been living on the grounds of Kensington Palace after their marriage, it was announced they would be renovating Frogmore Cottage on the grounds of Windsor Estate to be used as their family home once their son was born. Frogmore House allowed them more privacy and it was said that Windsor was a very special place to them as they were married on it s grounds.

Photo: Sussex Royal

Meghan enjoyed a maternity leave following their sons arrival which allowed them to focus solely on their young family. Archie was christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the private chapel at Windsor Castle. his maternal grandmother was present as well as the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and his late grandmother Princess Diana's sisters. Harry & Meghan chose not to release the name of his godparents but it is believed they were also present.

Photo: Getty

Her first public project afterwards was a guest editing position for British Vogue. The Duchess chose fifteen women she viewed as Forces for Change, which was the title of the issue. She also launched a capsule collection in partnership with Marks & Spencer, Misha Nonoo, John Lewis & Partners and Jigsaw. The collection was released on a one for one basis meaning that for every item purchased, one would be donated to Smart Works, one of the charities Meghan supports as Patron.

Photo: Getty

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex toured South Africa in Autumn 2019 where they focused on raising awareness for violence against women, conservation and African culture. The tour also marked the first time Archie was seen in public when he met Desmond Tutu alongside his parents. The tour was an incredible success, however, tensions between the Sussex's and the media had been building behind the scenes, which prompted an announcement that Meghan would be suing the Mail on Sunday for publishing a letter she had written to her father at the end of the tour.

It was also announced at the end of the tour that Harry and Meghan would be taking a break from royal work until after the holidays. The young family were believed to be staying in Canada during this time but it was not confirmed for a substantial period. Upon returning to the United Kingdom in January, Harry and Meghan went to Canada House in London to thank them for their hospitality.

Photo: Chris Jackson

Not long after, news broke that Harry and Meghan had decided to step down as senior members of the royal family. They shared the news via their Instagram saying that they would be splitting their time between the U.K. and North America (at the time, it was believed they would be moving to Canada) and they also shared their desire to become financially independent.

Photo: Sussex Royal

The news was seen as controversial as Buckingham Palace quickly released a statement saying that conversations in regards to this were still ongoing, leading some to believe the announcement came as a surprise to other members of the royal family. However, talks quickly progressed and it was decided the change would not take affect until Spring 2020 in order to allow both parties time to work out a solution that benefited all sides.

The final plan was revealed on March 30th and included that Harry and Meghan would continue to support their patronages and were still a valued part of the Royal Family. However, they would no longer be using their HRH titles (the titles were not stripped as some outlets misreported) and Harry would be stepping back from his military appointments. The plan is to be reviewed in one years time to make any further adjustments that may or may not be needed.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are now living in Los Angeles with Archie. They are continuing to support organizations and charities as much as they can amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.


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