A Royal Rundown of the Complicated Life of Meghan Markle
Ever since becoming Prince Harry's significant other, Meghan Markle's fame has skyrocketed. However, this trend-setting new member of the royal family found her own success long before her marriage. What was her life like before becoming royalty? Take a look — you may think you know this well-mannered princess, but things are always more complicated than they appear on the surface.
Her Name Isn't Really Meghan
Perhaps one of the most surprising facts about Meghan Markle is that her name isn't actually Meghan — it's Rachel. Rachel Meghan Markle is the name this actress-turned-princess was born with, but for some reason, she elected to use Meghan instead of Rachel.
Her Parents Met on the Set of This Show
Just like Meghan Markle's own eventual love story, her parents met in a romantic way. They both found themselves working on the same television show: General Hospital. Meghan's father, Thomas, was the lighting director, while her mom, Doria, was an aspiring makeup artist.
They Split Up When She Was Young
Despite their romantic love story, Meghan's parents couldn't make the relationship last. They decided to get a divorce when Meghan was just six years old and parted ways for good. However, this didn't stop Meghan from having a fulfilling relationship with both.
She Overcame an Identity Crisis
Meghan is relatively open about her experience growing up biracial — she has a black mother and a white father. She struggled with her heritage and didn’t want to fully identify one way or the other. Because her parents were divorced, she also felt like she had to choose between the two.
Many Assumed Her Mom Was the Nanny
Meghan Markle grew up in a neighborhood that wasn't racially diverse, and people often assumed her mother was the nanny. They didn't consider the fact that a black woman could be the wife of a white man and mother of a light-skinned baby.
Showbiz as the Family Business
As you may be aware, Meghan had an acting career before meeting Prince Harry. She was introduced to the business through her parents, especially her father, who was the lighting director on Married ... With Children and of course, General Hospital.
Meghan Markle's family tree is full of interesting connections, and plenty of experts have taken the time to sketch it out. On Meghan's father's side, for instance, were two men who fought for the Union Army during the Civil War.
She Also Has Slave Ancestors
Both branches of Meghan’s family have something in common: they both fought in the Civil War for the Union. On her mother's side, it was Joseph, a slave that volunteered to fight for his freedom.
She Spoke Out at a Young Age
Meghan Markle was never afraid to speak her mind, even at only 11 years old. At that age, Meghan saw a soap commercial that was marketed exclusively towards women, and she didn't like the message it sent. She thought advertisements shouldn't perpetuate moms as the ones that have to do everything, including cleaning, so she sent the company a letter.
She Was a Sorority Girl ... and a Theater Nerd
It's no secret that Meghan Markle is a smart woman. She went to Northwestern University where she studied theater and international relations and graduated in 2003. It’s hard to imagine a better skill set for a future royal.
She Did Deal or No Deal
In Meghan Markle's journey as an actress, she had a role that not many know about: She was a briefcase girl on Deal Or No Deal. According to Meghan, her number, 26, didn't get chosen much, and she never had the winning briefcase,
An Invitation to Meet Family
In the excitement surrounding Meghan's lineage after her betrothal to Prince Harry, some Georgians discovered they were related to the soon-to-be-princess. They were cousins on Meghan's mom's side, and neither had known the others existed for many years. The revelation was an exciting one.
A Stab at Calligraphy
While Meghan’s acting career has quite successful, with roles in productions like 90210, CSI: NY, Horrible Bosses, The Candidate, Remember Me and her big break on Suits, she’s also dipped her toes into other professions as a means to pay the bills.
Canada Has a Special Place in Her Heart
Even though Meghan Markle was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, she holds Canada very close to her heart. It was during her time on Suits playing the character Rachel that Meghan found herself a place in Toronto, Canada, which quickly became home
She Has Royal Blood
That’s right — Meghan is technically a very, very distant relative of the royal family. On her mother's side, Meghan is a descendant of King Edward III. She has her own royal blood, even it is a very, very small portion of her lineage.
She's a Divorcee
Another scandalous detail from Meghan's past — at least by the crown's standards — is her previous marriage to Trevor Engelson. The two met in 2004 and were together six years before finally deciding to get married in an extended celebration in Jamaica.
Some Family Members Are Estranged
Meghan Markle doesn't have a perfect relationship with everyone in her family. Her two half-siblings on her dad's side, Samantha and Thomas Jr. (pictured), have been estranged from her for some time. They all lived together when Meghan was very young, but the siblings were never close.
She's Related to a Baseball Player
Meghan’s newfound levels of fame with Prince Harry also led to yet another surprise in her web of relations. Red Sox player "Mookie" Betts turned out to be a cousin of Meghan's, and the two had a cheerful meeting one day at a baseball game.
Despite her many loving relatives, Meghan has one family member that seems to have it out for her. Her half-sister Samantha, 17 years her senior, has spoken out against Meghan in the media, calling the princess narcissistic and selfish.
Her Dad Didn't Come to the Wedding
Unfortunately, Meghan's relationship with her father is also strained. Although she had a happy upbringing with him, things have gone sour since her relationship with Harry. Not all the details have been divulged, but apparently he staged photos for the paparazzi before her wedding.
She Inherited Some Things From Her Mom
While Meghan's relationship with her father is rocky, she's closer than ever with her mother. The two spend plenty of time together and share many common interests. They can often be seen heading out together with yoga mats tucked under their arms.
She Has a Cannabis Strain Named After Her
Long before Meghan met Harry, she had a life with ex-husband Trevor Engelson and his family. During that time, her ex-sister-in-law had a son named Tyler Dooley, whose specialty was growing cannabis. He decided to give Meghan a special gift for her birthday.
She Used to Write The Tig
As part of the royal family, Meghan is no longer as outspoken as she used to be; after all, royals are required to refrain from making political statements. Before taking on her role as Harry's wife, however, Meghan was accustomed to speaking her mind.
She Enjoys a Glass of Wine
Meghan Markle is a woman who enjoys a good bottle of wine. Red wine has always been her staple. In fact, she used to drink anything red no matter the brand, but nowadays, her taste has evolved.
Her Famous Best Friends
Meghan Markle is no stranger to powerful, influential people. Ever since attending Northwestern University, she's managed to befriend well-known people no matter where she goes. Some of her best friends are the talented tennis player Serena Williams and successful actress Priyanka Chopra.
She Had a Head Start on Philanthropy
Meghan Markle took to the philanthropic life of royalty effortlessly. After all, she had already been involved in philanthropic endeavors for many years: she loved to volunteer in soup kitchens in L.A. and Canada
She Was Always Ambitious
As her degree in international relations suggests, Meghan Merkle has a keen interest in global politics. In fact, shortly after graduating college, she worked as an intern at the U.S. embassy in Argentina.
She Knows Her Fashion
Fashion has always been one of Meghan's great loves. For instance, during her acting career, she landed the opportunity to be a brand ambassador for the Canadian clothing brand Reitmans.
She Was Close to the Suits Crew
Meghan's role on Suits lasted for seven seasons before she left to marry Prince Harry. In that time, she says the cast grew very close. They spent holidays together and stayed up late playing games and drinking scotch, as close as friends can be.
She's Shaken Things Up
Needless to say, Meghan Markle's unique past and nontraditional family make her a modern addition to the royal family. She's had a lot of firsts as princess and duchess, as well, including the first self-made female millionaire in the family, the oldest pregnant royal at 37 years old, and of course, the first bi-racial person in the family.