Meet Meghan Markle: The biracial, divorced actress about to rock Buckingham Palace


When Meghan Markle weds Prince Harry on Saturday, she will become something unheard of to the British royal families of old: a mixed-race, divorced, American actress princess.

It’s an unconventional, thoroughly modern fairy tale shaking up the stuffy world of blue bloods.

So how did Meghan, 36, go from B-list actress and humanitarian to the Duchess of Sussex (a title the queen is most likely to bestow after her wedding)?

Andrew Morton’s new book, “Meghan: A Hollywood Princess,” details Markle’s stunning trajectory from LA’s Valley to Kensington Palace.

Born to a black mother, Doria Ragland, and Thomas Markle, a white father with two children from a previous marriage, Rachel Meghan Markle has always inhabited multiple worlds. Before marrying in 1979, her parents first met when Thomas was a soap-opera lighting director and Doria temped at the studio.

The family settled in a neighborhood that lacked diversity, and neighbors mistook Doria for Meghan’s nanny, according to a 2015 Elle UK article by Markle. It would be the first of her numerous encounters with racism.

After her parents divorced when she was 6, Markle divided her time between parents. Her father supported her private education, in part, by winning $750,000 in the California State Lottery in 1990, though he would declare bankruptcy a few years later.

Until she was 11, Markle attended the posh Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse before enrolling in the private, all-girls Catholic school Immaculate Heart, where alums include Tyra Banks and Mary Tyler Moore.

Markle has always been comfortable navigating conflicting identities. In fact, her circumstances have required it. She once described growing up biracial as “a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating.”

Her parents encouraged her to be proud of her heritage: Thomas blended two sets of Barbie families as a Christmas present for his daughter. After she was stymied by a school census whose choices didn’t reflect her mixed-race makeup, Thomas told the then-seventh-grader to “draw your own box,” despite her teacher’s urging to check “Caucasian” “because that’s how you look, Meghan,” the actress recounted in Elle.

Markle was exposed at a young age to equal parts social justice and celebrity. Doria, a yoga teacher and social worker, would take her daughter on goodwill missions to the slums of Mexico and Jamaica, visiting the needy and exposing her daughter to others’ hardships. After school, she would visit Thomas on the set of shows such as “Married With Children,” where he was a longtime lighting director.

Prince Harry and Meghan MarkleGetty Images

Perhaps it was that early exposure to Hollywood that put stars in her eyes: She would go on to act in high-school productions that drew sold-out crowds.

“A lot of pupils went to the show just to see Meghan,” Immaculate Heart drama director Manny Eulalia told Morton. “She certainly had a fan club. Quite a few of the boys had crushes on her.”

But high school wasn’t easy. In 2014, Markle wrote on her erstwhile lifestyle blog, The Tig: “My high school had cliques: the black girls and white girls . . . Being biracial, I fell somewhere in between. So every day during lunch, I busied myself with meetings . . . not so that I was more involved, but so that I wouldn’t have to eat alone.”

Still, she couldn’t deny the acting bug, later writing in Elle UK that it was “either ironic or apropos” that she was drawn to a “label-driven industry.” “Perhaps it is through this craft that I found my voice,” she wrote.

In 1999, her ambition led her to competitive Northwestern University. It was there that she came into her own, sharpening not just her acting but her diplomacy skills as a double major in theater arts and international relations.

A former classmate told The Post in October that Markle was “very sophisticated for a college student. We were in our early 20s but she seemed like someone 10 years older. She had the poise and grace it takes to being a royal.”

At 20, she embarked on a six-week internship at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires as a junior press officer and even took — though failed — the notoriously difficult three-hour Foreign Service Officer Test.

It was goodbye State Department, hello Hollywood.

After graduating in 2003, she nabbed the occasional bit part, with more career lows than highs. In 2010, an anonymous blog believed to be written by Markle called Working Actress described the brutal business: “I’m not gonna lie. I’ve spent many days curled up in bed with a loaf of bread and some wine. A one woman pity party. It’s awful and ridiculous.”

Her first steady gig was as a briefcase girl, with model Chrissy Teigen, in the popular game show “Deal or No Deal” from 2006 to 2007. The job came with a skimpy wardrobe, with more than just the briefcase on display.

While she grappled with trading on her looks, Markle yearned for a role she could be proud of. That moment came when she landed the part of sassy paralegal Rachel Zane on the USA drama “Suits,” which debuted in 2011.

Prior to that: “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,” Markle wrote in Elle. “Suits,” on the other hand, was her “Goldilocks” gig — one that was “just right,” she said, and allowed her to embrace her biracial identity.

It was a good year for Markle, who married longtime boyfriend, producer Trevor Engelson, in Jamaica in September 2011. But the long-distance marriage — he in LA and she in Toronto, where “Suits” filmed — fizzled after two years, with Markle returning both the diamond engagement and wedding rings by registered mail, according to Morton.

Her former best friend and maid of honor, Ninaki Priddy, didn’t take Markle’s side in the split. “She is very strategic in the way she cultivates circles of friends,” the jewelry designer told the Daily Mail. “Once she decides you’re not part of her life, she can be very cold . . . Trevor definitely had the rug pulled out from under him. He was hurt.”

Prince Harry and Meghan MarkleAP

After the divorce, Markle’s star was on the rise. She launched The Tig in 2014 and began making more public appearances, sitting front row at Fashion Week and championing international causes. She rubbed shoulders with Bono and Kofi Annan at an international summit for young leaders in Dublin, worked with people in Rwanda, and visited an Afghanistan military base as part of a USO holiday tour. In 2015, she spoke before the UN about gender equality.

She also began dating Toronto-based celebrity chef Cory Vitiello, with the two-year relationship reportedly ending in 2016.

Markle also made an acquaintance, Violet von Westenholz, a Ralph Lauren PR exec who was family friends with Princes William and Harry. During a trip to London to do press for “Suits” in the summer of 2016, von Westenholz suggested the single Markle meet Harry.

It was a whirlwind romance, writes Morton: a clandestine first date at Soho House, a second date the following day, and an invitation to safari in Botswana in August away from the media glare.

Last May, Markle attended Pippa Middleton’s wedding reception, but the prince and actress wouldn’t make their status official until a joint appearance at September 2017’s Invictus Games. Markle’s mom joined the pair for the closing ceremonies, and a gushing Vanity Fair article that month made it all but a foregone conclusion that Markle was an American princess in the making.

An engagement was imminent.

But first, the queen needed to grant her royal seal of approval. On a gloomy day in October 2017, according to Morton, the American actress had tea at Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth II, part of the daily royal ritual. The one-hour meeting was a smash. Even the royal corgis took to her.

“She’s an incredible woman,” Markle would later tell the BBC in a joint interview with Harry.

On Nov. 27, the beaming couple formally announced their engagement to the world, posing for photos in Kensington Palace’s Sunken Garden, one of Diana’s favorite spots.

“The stars were aligned,” Harry, 33, said in the interview.

Of his late mother, Princess Diana, and his fiancée, he added: “They’d be thick as thieves, without question. And she would be over the moon, jumping up and down, so excited for me.”

Markle would likely have had an ally in her mother-in-law, whose own father suffered from health problems before her marriage to Prince Charles. (On Thursday, Markle announced that her dad, 73, would not attend her nuptials after undergoing heart surgery.)

Like Markle, Diana was a woman who blazed her own path amid uptight royals and negative press.

“The people who are close to me anchor me in knowing who I am. The rest is noise,” Markle told Vanity Fair last year. “Nothing about me changed. I’m still the same person that I am, and I’ve never defined myself by my relationship.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link


About us

Leverage agile frameworks to provide a robust synopsis for high level overviews. Iterative approaches to corporate strategy foster collaborative thinking to further the overall value proposition. Organically grow the holistic world view of disruptive innovation via workplace diversity and empowerment.


CONTACT US