Meghan, Duchess of Sussex

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (born Rachel Meghan Markle; August 4, 1981) is an American member of the British royal family, a philanthropist, and a former actress.

Meghan
Duchess of Sussex (more)
Meghan Markle - 2018 (cropped).jpg
The Duchess of Sussex in 2018
BornRachel Meghan Markle
(1981-08-04) August 4, 1981 (age 39)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Spouse
(
m. 2011; div. 2013)
IssueArchie Mountbatten-Windsor
HouseWindsor (by marriage)
FatherThomas Markle
MotherDoria Ragland
SignatureMeghan's signature
OccupationActress
Years active2002–2018
Television

Markle was raised in Los Angeles, California. During her studies at Northwestern University, she began playing small roles in television series and films. From 2011 to 2017, she played Rachel Zane on the American legal drama Suits. She is an outspoken feminist and has addressed issues of gender inequality, and her lifestyle website The Tig featured a column profiling influential women. She represented international charity organizations and received recognition for her fashion and style, releasing a line of clothing in 2016.

Markle was married to actor and producer Trevor Engelson from 2011 until their divorce in 2013. In 2017, she announced her engagement to Prince Harry, grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, and she moved to London. She retired from acting, closed her related social media accounts, and started undertaking public engagements as part of the British royal family. She became Duchess of Sussex upon her marriage to Prince Harry in 2018. They have a son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor. In 2020, the couple announced their intention to step back as senior members of the royal family and split their time between the UK and North America.

Early life

Rachel Meghan Markle[1] was born August 4, 1981, in Los Angeles, California.[2] Her mother, Doria Ragland, is a former social worker and yoga instructor living in View Park–Windsor Hills, California.[3][4] Markle has often been described as having a very close friendship with her mother.[5] Her father, Thomas Markle Sr., lives in Rosarito, Mexico,[6][7] and is a retired television director of photography and lighting director whose profession resulted in his young daughter often visiting the set of Married...with Children.[8][9] Markle's parents divorced when she was six years old.[10][11] Her older paternal half-siblings are Samantha Markle and Thomas Markle Jr., from whom she is reportedly estranged.[12]

Markle is descended on her mother's side from enslaved Africans,[13] and on her father's side from European settlers.[14][15][16] She described her heritage in a 2015 essay for Elle magazine: "My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American. I'm half black and half white .... While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that. To say who I am, to share where I'm from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman."[17]

Markle grew up in Hollywood.[18] She was educated at private schools, beginning at age two at the Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse.[19][20] Nick News with Linda Ellerbee profiled her successful campaign at age 11 to get Procter & Gamble to change a national television commercial that she viewed as sexist.[21] Raised as a Protestant,[22] she nonetheless attended Immaculate Heart High School, an all-girl Catholic private school in Los Angeles.[23] Markle was then admitted to Northwestern University, where she joined Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and participated in community service and charity projects.[24][25] She also served an internship at the American embassy in Buenos Aires,[26] and studied for one semester in Madrid.[25] She earned her bachelor's degree from Northwestern's School of Communication in 2003, with a double major in theater and international studies.[27][26]

Acting

Early in her career, Markle worked as a freelance calligrapher and taught bookbinding to support herself between acting jobs.[8][28] Her first on-screen appearance was a small role as a nurse in an episode of the daytime soap opera General Hospital.[29][30] Markle had small guest roles on the television shows Century City (2004), The War at Home (2006), and CSI: NY (2006).[30] She also took on several contract acting and modeling jobs, including a stint as a "briefcase girl" on the US game show Deal or No Deal.[8] She appeared in Fox's series Fringe as Junior Agent Amy Jessup in the first two episodes of its second season.[31]

Markle had some difficulty getting roles early in her career. In 2015, she wrote: "Being 'ethnically ambiguous', as I was pegged in the industry, meant I could audition for virtually any role ... Sadly, it didn't matter: I wasn't black enough for the black roles and I wasn't white enough for the white ones, leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn't book a job."[32]

 
Markle with co-star Patrick J. Adams at a panel discussion of Suits, Paley Center for Media, 2013

Markle appeared in two 2010 films, Get Him to the Greek and Remember Me, and one 2011 film, Horrible Bosses.[33] She was paid $187,000 for her role in Remember Me and $171,429 for her role in the short film The Candidate.[34]

In July 2011, Markle joined the cast of the USA Network show Suits. Her character, Rachel Zane, began as a paralegal and eventually became an attorney. She completed work on the seventh season in late 2017.[35] According to a critique in The Irish Times, Markle "actively re-positioned" her character from ingénue to "the show's moral conscience" and gave viewers the unique portrayal of a daughter whose African-American father is in a position to help her career and advance her "desire to crack both racial and gender glass ceilings".[36] While working on Suits, Markle lived for nine months each year in a rented house in the Seaton Village neighborhood of Toronto.[37][38] Fortune magazine estimated that Markle was paid $50,000 per episode, amounting to an annual salary of about $450,000.[39]

Personal life

 
Markle and Prince Harry attending church on Christmas Day, 2017

Markle began a relationship with actor and producer Trevor Engelson in 2004.[40][41] They were married in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, on September 10, 2011,[42] and concluded a no-fault divorce in August 2013,[43] citing irreconcilable differences.[44] Markle's subsequent relationship with celebrity chef and restaurateur Cory Vitiello lasted almost two years, ending in May 2016.[45]

In June 2016, Markle began a relationship with Prince Harry,[46] whom she had met on a blind date set up by a mutual friend.[47] At the time, he was fifth in line to the British throne;[48] his grandmother is Elizabeth II, queen of the United Kingdom and 15 other Commonwealth realms, as well as head of the Commonwealth.[49] In November, the British royal family's communications secretary released an official statement that addressed sexism, racism, and defamatory stories directed toward Markle.[50][51] In September 2017, Markle and Prince Harry appeared together in public for the first time at an official royal engagement at the Invictus Games in Toronto.[52][53]

Marriage to Prince Harry

Markle's engagement to Prince Harry was announced on November 27, 2017, by Clarence House and Kensington Palace.[46][54] The announcement prompted generally positive comments about the possible social significance of a mixed-race member of the royal family.[55] Markle announced that she would retire from acting,[56][57] and began the process of becoming a British citizen.[58] In preparation for the wedding, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, baptized Markle and confirmed her into the Church of England on March 6, 2018.[59] The private ceremony, performed with water from the River Jordan, took place in the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace.[59] The marriage ceremony was held on May 19 at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.[60]

After the wedding, the Duke and Duchess originally lived at Nottingham Cottage in London, on the grounds of Kensington Palace.[61] The couple later moved to the more than two-centuries-old Frogmore Cottage in the Home Park of Windsor Castle.[62][63] The Crown Estate refurbished the cottage at a cost of £2.4 million, paid out of the Sovereign Grant, with the couple picking up expenses beyond restoration and ordinary maintenance.[64][65] Their office was moved to Buckingham Palace.[66] On May 6, 2019, the Duchess gave birth to Archie Mountbatten-Windsor,[67] who is seventh in line to the throne.[68]

In April 2020, the couple selected Feeding Britain, which provides food packages to families in food poverty, to receive £90,000 from the broadcast of their wedding ceremony.[69]

Fashion and style

In 2014, Markle founded the lifestyle website The Tig, where she wrote about food, fashion, beauty and travel, and profiled inspirational women.[70] As the website grew, Markle brought in experts such as dieticians, make-up artists, and fitness and yoga instructors. The website's audience consisted primarily of the fans of Markle and Suits. Markle reinforced The Tig's messages of self-love, positivity, and spirituality on social media, reaching 3 million followers on Instagram, 800,000 on Facebook, and 350,000 on Twitter. She closed The Tig in April 2017, taking all of its articles offline, and deleted her social media accounts in January 2018.[71] It was estimated that, as a lifestyle blogger, Markle earned about $80,000 annually from endorsements and sponsorships.[34]

As editor-in-chief of The Tig, Markle became known for her fashion sense.[38] She released two fashion collections with Canadian clothing company Reitmans in 2015 and 2016.[71] The lines were based on her personal style and that of her Suits character, described as "aspirational girl next door", and quickly sold out.[38]

 
Markle at the New York Fashion Week in 2013

Markle has cited Emmanuelle Alt as her style inspiration.[72][73] In an interview with Glamour, the Duchess said that she favored "that French way of styling, where if your outfit is pulled together, then something's got to be dishevelled—your hair, your make-up".[72] In her youth, Markle's "sensibility had always been relaxed California girl style" consisting of jeans, cut-offs and flip-flops.[73] She usually prefers "streamlined dresses" with "neutral colors" and bateau necklines,[74][75] and likes "monochromatic and tonal dressing".[73] She has worn outfits and ensembles by a wide variety of fashion designers.[72]

In December 2017, Markle caused a surge in interest in Scottish retailer Strathberry after carrying one of their handbags to a public event shortly after her engagement.[76][77] This was reported as an indication that her fashion choices would produce her own version of the Kate effect.[76][78] After Markle and Prince Harry's first appearance as a couple, brands Mackage, Birks, R&R Jewelers, Crown Jewelers and Everlane noted an upswing in their website hits and sales.[79][80][77] It has been speculated that Markle's effect would be greater, as she has a strong appeal in America.[78] She caused a boost in the sales of yellow gold in the first quarter of 2018 in the United States.[81]

In 2018, Tatler named the Duchess on its list of Britain's best dressed people, praising her for redefining "modern royal style with every subsequent appearance".[82] Following the announcement of her pregnancy, the Duchess appeared in a Karen Gee dress that resulted in the breakdown of the designer's website.[83] She was ranked one of the best dressed women in 2018 by fashion website Net-a-Porter,[84] and was nominated for the 2018 Teen Choice Awards in the category Choice Style Icon.[85] In 2019, British brand Reiss reported a growth in profits, after the Duchess was seen wearing a mini-dress by them on International Women's Day.[86]

Public role

 
Markle greeting the public in Belfast, March 2018

Markle was politically vocal before joining the British royal family. She backed Hillary Clinton during the 2016 United States presidential election and described Clinton's opponent, Donald Trump, as "misogynistic" and "divisive". The same year, when the referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union resulted in 51.9% of voters being in favor of Brexit, Markle expressed her disappointment on Instagram and posted a placard saying: "If EU leave me now, you take away the biggest part of me."[87] This, as well as her recommendation of Noam Chomsky's book Who Rules the World?, led Emine Saner of The Guardian to write that Markle would become "the most leftwing member of the royal family".[88] Members of the royal family are politically neutral by convention, and Dickie Arbiter, former press secretary to Prince Charles, expects the Duchess to follow suit.[87] Historian Robert Lacey said she was the most "feisty and spiky" person to marry into the royal family since her grandfather-in-law Prince Philip.[87]

After the engagement, Markle's first official public appearance with Prince Harry was at a World AIDS Day walkabout in Nottingham on December 1, 2017.[89][90] The Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on March 12 was the first royal event she attended with the Queen.[91] The couple made their first visit to Northern Ireland on March 23.[92] Markle carried out a total of 26 public engagements prior to the wedding.[93]

 
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex welcomed to New Zealand, October 2018

The Duchess's first official engagement after the wedding came on May 22 when she and her husband celebrated the charity work of his father, Prince Charles.[94] Her first trip abroad at the request of the British government was to Dublin, Ireland, in July 2018.[95][96] The Duchess takes part in her husband's work as youth ambassador to the Commonwealth, which includes overseas tours.[97] The first such trip was to Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand in October 2018.[98][99] Despite public debate on the future of the monarchy in Australia, the couple were greeted by crowds in Sydney, and the announcement of the Duchess's pregnancy hours after their arrival was received enthusiastically by the public and media.[99][100] During their visit to Morocco in February 2019, the Duke and Duchess focused on projects centered on "women's empowerment, girls' education, inclusivity and encouragement of social entrepreneurship".[101]

In 2018, Time magazine included Markle on its list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World,[102] and placed her on its shortlist for Person of the Year.[103] She was also chosen as one of the most influential women in the United Kingdom by British Vogue magazine.[104] Her influence was also recognised in both the 2019 and 2020 editions of Powerlist, the 100 most influential Britons of African and Afro-Caribbean descent.[105]

As part of setting up their separate office or 'court' in 2019, the Duke and Duchess created an Instagram social media account, which broke the record for fastest account to reach 1 million followers.[106] In August 2019, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were criticized by environmental campaigners for using private jets regularly when taking their personal trips abroad, which would leave more carbon footprint per person compared to commercial planes. The criticism was in line with the reactions the royal family faced in June 2019, after it was revealed that they "had doubled [their] carbon footprint from business travel".[107][108]

The Sussexes' discontent with their public roles and unfavourable media scrutiny grew in 2019.[109] In May 2019, Splash News issued a formal apology to Harry and his wife for sending photographers to their Cotswolds residence, which put their privacy at risk. The agency also agreed to pay a "substantial" sum of damages and legal costs associated with the case.[110][111] At the end of their tour of Southern African countries in September–October 2019, it emerged that the Duchess was suing The Mail on Sunday and MailOnline over the publication of a letter she had sent to her father.[112][113] Seventy-two female British MPs sent a public letter of support to the Duchess, condemning the "outdated, colonial undertones" in the press.[114] On 30 July it was reported that Markle, who had lost the first round in the court case with the Daily Mail earlier in the year, would have to pay £67,000 worth of legal costs. Around the same time, she was trying to prevent the release of the names of her friends who had told People magazine about the letter to her father.[115]

In January 2020, the Duke and Duchess announced that they were stepping back from their role as senior members of the royal family, and that they would balance their time between the United Kingdom and North America.[116] The couple also said that they would seek financial independence while continuing to support their charities and the Queen.[117] In the same month, the couple's lawyers issued a legal warning to the press after paparazzi photographs were published in the media.[118] The Duchess's final solo engagement as a senior royal was a visit to Robert Clack School in Dagenham ahead of International Women's Day. She and her husband officially stepped down on March 31.[119] She has spoken out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.[120]

Charity work

 
Markle and sportsmen Brian Urlacher and Doug Fister address the audience during a USO show at Naval Station Rota, Spain, December 6, 2014.[121]

Markle was a counselor for international charity One Young World.[122] At the 2014 summit in Dublin, she spoke on the topics of gender equality and modern-day slavery.[123] Also in 2014, she toured Afghanistan and Spain with the United Service Organizations.[124][125][126]

In 2016, Markle became a global ambassador for World Vision Canada, traveling to Rwanda for the Clean Water Campaign.[127][128][32] After a trip to India focused on raising awareness for women's issues, she penned an op-ed for Time magazine concerning stigmatization of women in regard to menstrual health.[129] She has also worked with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women as an Advocate.[127][130] The Duchess is a vocal feminist and intends to use her role as a member of the royal family to continue supporting women's rights and social justice.[131] In 2017, Markle joined Prince Harry in teaming up with the charity Elephants Without Borders to assist with the conservation efforts taking place in Botswana.[132]

Markle became interested in the Hubb Community Kitchen, run by survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, in January 2018. She visited the kitchen regularly, and suggested that the displaced women publish a cookbook to assist in funding for the group.[133] Together: Our Community Cookbook, her first charity project as Duchess of Sussex, was announced in September.[134]

The Duchess's patronage of London's National Theatre, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, Smart Works, and Mayhew reflects her earlier interests in the arts, access to education, women's empowerment, and animal well-being, respectively.[135] The Duchess was appointed the vice president of the Queen's Commonwealth Trust, which focuses on projects involving children and welfare of prisoners, in March 2019.[136] In October 2019, the Duchess voiced a Public Health England announcement with other members of the royal family for the "Every Mind Matters" mental health program.[137]

In 2019, the Duchess was a contributor and guest editor for the September issue of British Vogue and highlighted the works of 15 women from different areas, who were described as "Forces for Change".[138] Edward Enninful, editor-in-chief of the British Vogue, later revealed that the issue had become the "fastest-selling issue in the history of British Vogue".[139] In the same issue, it was announced that she had collaborated with a number of British fashion houses and stores to launch a capsule collection, called The Smart Set, in September 2019 to benefit the charity Smart Works, of which she is a patron. The collection sought to help "unemployed and disadvantaged women", through selling items "on a one-for-one basis, meaning an item is donated for each item purchased".[140] Taking advantage of "the Meghan effect" (driving consumer purchases), in 10 days the collection provided a year's worth of clothes for the charity.[141]

Before their marriage, the couple attended the first annual forum of The Royal Foundation in February 2018.[142] After her marriage into the royal family, the Duchess became the foundation's fourth patron, alongside Prince Harry, his brother Prince William, and sister-in-law Catherine.[143] In June 2019, it was announced that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would split from the charity and establish their own charity foundation by the end of 2019. It was reported that the couples would collaborate on mutual projects, such as the mental health initiative Heads Together.[144][145] In July 2019, Harry and Meghan's new charity was registered in England and Wales under the title "Sussex Royal The Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex".[146] However, on 21 February 2020 it was confirmed that "Sussex Royal" would not be used as a brand name for the couple following their step back from public life as working royals.[147] In April 2020, responding to inquiries from The Telegraph, the couple confirmed their new foundation would be called "Archewell".[148] The name stems from the Greek word "arche", which means "source of action"; it is the same word that inspired the name of the couple's son, Archie.[148]

In March 2020, it was announced that the Duchess would serve as the narrator of Disneynature's documentary Elephant. The proceeds from the documentary are donated to Elephant Without Borders for species conservation in Botswana.[149][150] The Sussexes then volunteered to deliver foods prepared by the Project Angel Food to Los Angeles residents amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States in April.[151]

Titles, styles, and arms

 
The Duchess of Sussex's monogram

Upon her marriage to Prince Harry, Meghan Markle became a princess of the United Kingdom entitled to the style of Royal Highness, as well as Duchess of Sussex, Countess of Dumbarton and Baroness Kilkeel.[152][153][154] She is styled as "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex",[155] the first person to hold that title.[156] Following a decision to step back from royal duties, she and her husband have agreed not to use the style "Royal Highness" from early 2020, although they still retain the style.[157][158][159]

Coat of arms of the Duchess of Sussex
 
Notes
Meghan bears the arms of her husband impaled with her own. Thomas Woodcock, Garter King of Arms, the senior officer of the College of Arms, helped the Duchess with the design, which was approved by the Queen.[160][161]
Adopted
May 25, 2018
Coronet
Coronet of a child of the heir apparent[160]
Escutcheon
Quarterly 1st and 4th Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or armed and langed Azure (England), 2nd Or a lion rampant Gules armed and langued Azure within a double tressure flory counterflory (Scotland), 3rd Azure a harp Or stringed Argent (Ireland), the whole differenced by a label of five points Argent, the first, third and fifth points charged with an escallop Gules (Prince Harry); Impaled with a shield Azure a feather bendwise Argent quilled Or between two bendlets Or all between two like feathers Argent quilled Or (Markle).[162]
Supporters
On the dexter side the lion used as a supporter by the Duke of Sussex and to the sinister a songbird Argent wings spread, unguled Or and gorged with the coronet of the Duke of Sussex.
Compartment
Below the shield, a mount of grass with golden poppies and wintersweet in flower.
Symbolism
The blue background of the shield represents the Pacific Ocean off the California coast, while the two golden rays across the shield are symbolic of the sunshine of the Duchess's home state. The three quills represent communication and the power of words. Beneath the shield on the grass sits a collection of golden poppies, California's state flower, and wintersweet, which grows at Kensington Palace. The songbird with wings elevated as if flying and an open beak represents the power of communication.[160][161]

Filmography

Television

Year Title Role Notes
2002 General Hospital Jill 1 episode[29][30]
2004 Century City Natasha 1 episode "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Lose" (season 1: episode 4)
2005 Cuts Cori 1 episode "My Boyfriend's Back" (season 1: episode 5)
2005 Love, Inc. Teresa Santos 1 episode "One on One" (season 1: episode 9)
2006 1 vs. 100 Herself 1 episode Mob member number 7
2006 The War at Home Susan 1 episode "The Seventeen-Year Itch" (season 1: episode 17)
2006 CSI: NY Veronica Perez 1 episode "Murder Sings the Blues" (season 3: episode 7)
2006 Deceit Gwen Television movie
Deal or No Deal Herself Holder of Case #24; 34 episodes[163]
2008 Good Behavior Sadie Valencia Television movie
2008 90210 Wendy 1 episode "We're Not in Kansas Anymore" (season 1: episode 1)
"The Jet Set" (season 1: episode 2)
2008 'Til Death Tara 1 episode "Joy Ride" (season 3: episode 2)
2008 The Apostles Kelly Calhoun Television movie
2009 Knight Rider Annie Ortiz 1 episode "Fight Knight" (season 1: episode 14)
2009 Without a Trace Holly Shepard 1 episode "Chameleon" (season 7: episode 15)
2009 Fringe Junior FBI Agent Amy Jessup 2 episodes "A New Day in the Old Town" (season 2: episode 1)
"Night of Desirable Objects" (season 2: episode 2)
2009 The League Random Girl 1 episode "The Bounce Test" (season 1: episode 2)
2010 CSI: Miami Officer Leah Montoya 1 episode "Backfire" (season 8: episode 20)
2010 The Boys & Girls Guide to Getting Down Dana Television movie
2011–2018 Suits Rachel Zane Series regular (seasons 1–7), 108 episodes
2012 Castle Charlotte Boyd/Sleeping Beauty 1 episode "Once Upon a Crime" (season 4: episode 17)
2014 When Sparks Fly Amy Peterson Hallmark Channel television movies
2016 Dater's Handbook Cassandra Brand

Film

Year Title Role Notes
2005 A Lot like Love Passenger on plane
2010 Remember Me Megan
2010 Get Him to the Greek Tatiana Uncredited
2010 The Candidate Kat Short film
2011 Horrible Bosses Jamie
2012 Dysfunctional Friends Terry
2013 Random Encounters Mindy UK Title: A Random Encounter
2015 Anti-Social Kirsten
2020 Elephant Narrator Disneynature film; credit: Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex[150]

Authored articles

  • Markle, Meghan (May 2015). "It's All Enough". Darling Magazine., republished online, November 6, 2018.
  • Markle, Meghan (July 2015). "I'm More Than An 'Other'". ELLE., republished online, December 22, 2016.
  • Markle, Meghan (November 9, 2016). "With Fame Comes Opportunity, But Also A Responsibility". ELLE.
  • Markle, Meghan (March 8, 2017). "How Periods Affect Potential". Time.
  • HRH The Duchess of Sussex, "Foreword", in: The Hubb Community Kitchen (2018). Together: Our Community Cookbook. Ebury Press. ISBN 978-1529102925. OCLC 1055685147.
  • HRH The Duchess of Sussex (July 29, 2019). "HRH The Duchess of Sussex Introduces The September Issue In Her Own Words". Vogue (British ed.).
  • HRH The Duchess of Sussex (July 31, 2019). "HRH The Duchess of Sussex Shares A New Smart Works Initiative". Vogue (British ed.).

See also

References

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External links

Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
The Duchess of Cambridge
Ladies
The Duchess of Sussex
Followed by
Autumn Phillips