In a wide-ranging interview after Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced their engagement, Ms. Markle admitted — “as naïve as it sounds now” — to being taken aback by the intensity of the tabloid spotlight and scrutiny.
“I’ve never been in tabloid culture, I’ve never been in pop culture to that degree,” she said.
Though Prince Harry is sixth in line for the throne, she has nonetheless drawn intense scrutiny because she is unlike any other person who has joined Britain’s royal family in recent memory. And that is what makes this royal wedding so exciting for so many.
Here’s everything you need to know about Ms. Markle before she walks down the aisle on Saturday at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
Meghan Markle is a 36-year-old Californian.
Ms. Markle was born and raised in Los Angeles. Her parents, Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle, divorced when she was young, and she was mostly raised by her mother. She has two older paternal half-siblings, Samantha Markle and Thomas Markle Jr.
Ms. Markle graduated from Northwestern University in Illinois in 2003 and became an actress best known for her role in the television drama “Suits.” She’s also known as a champion for women’s empowerment, having served as an ambassador for World Vision and an advocate for U.N. Women.
She’s a divorcée.
Ms. Markle married Trevor Engelson on a beach in Jamaica in 2011. The two divorced two years later.
This is notable, as divorce was once a deal breaker in royal marriages. In 1955, the queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, was told she needed to choose between the divorced man she loved and her royal title and privileges. She kept the privileges.
Today, three of the queen’s four children are divorced from their spouses.
Prince Charles will walk Meghan down the aisle
On Friday, Kensington Palance announced Prince Charles would be walking Ms. Markel down the aisle.
The announcement came after a day after Ms. Markle released a statement saying that her father, who planned to walk her down the aisle, would no longer be attending the wedding.
While the statement referenced health issues, Mr. Markle had also been caught in a scandal when the The Daily Mail reported that he had collaborated with paparazzi on photos of himself preparing for the royal wedding.
In a departure from royal customs, Ms. Markle’s mother will ride with her daughter to St. George’s Chapel. The mother of the bride is traditionally in the background, with the father of the bride taking the parental spotlight.
Meghan is the first person of color in the modern British royal family.
It has been rumored that Princess Sophie Charlotte, who married King George III in 1761, had Africanancestry. But Ms. Markle, the child of a black mother and a white father, is the first person to join the British royal family who identifies as biracial.
The child of a black mother and a white father, Ms. Markle’s soon to be royalty has been meaningful for many, like Tshego Lengolo, an 11-year-old black girl who lives in southeast London.
“There is nothing that racist people can do about it,” she said happily. “So they might as well get used to it.”
Prince Harry’s relationship with Ms. Markle was, in fact, confirmed in November 2017 when he released a statement attacking British news coverage and social media harassment of his then girlfriend.
People of color are underrepresented in British politics and not represented in the British monarchy, so having a biracial woman in the royal family gives many a reason to celebrate. At the same time, others say the marriage will have little impact on British society.
Still, after the couple announced the engagement, the hashtag #blackprincess gained traction across Twitter and Instagram.
She’s responsible for a 20,000-person wait-list … for a tote.
Though she deleted all her social accounts, she’s perhaps the biggest influencer. Ms. Markle can shift fashion trends, buoy brands and change the perception of the royal family.
She already has.
The coat that Ms. Markle wore during the announcement of her engagement to Prince Harry? It sold out immediately, crashing the brand’s website within an hour.
There are 20,000 people on a waiting list for an Everlane tote she carried. After she wore a pair of Hiut Denim jeans, the small Welsh brand had to relocate to a bigger factory to fulfill demand.
She’s expected to push fashion forward.
The dress Ms. Markle wore in her royal engagement photo was called “radical” by some. The gown’s sheer black top embroidered with gold leaves sent waves across the fashion world: Ms. Markle knows what she’s doing.
Because Prince Harry is sixth in line for the throne, he and Ms. Markle have different expectations, meaning Ms. Markle can push the envelope when it comes to her fashion choices. The engagement photo was a public signal — she’s a different kind of royal.
Now all eyes have turned to the altar. The wedding dress Ms. Markle wears will signal the future fashion choices we can expect from the princess.
Yes, the queen’s dogs approve of Meghan.
Yes, Ms. Markle is definitely a dog person. She immediately was befriended by the queen’s dorgis. No, that’s not a typo. Dorgis are a breed of dog created when a dachshund belonging to the queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, mated with one of the queen’s corgis.
She converted to England’s official religion.
Ms. Markle was raised Protestant but converted to Anglicanism, the official religion in England.
Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, baptized Ms. Markle in March.
Her title is likely to be duchess.
She’s likely to gain the title of Duchess of Sussex. While many may be tempted to call her Princess Meghan, only women born into the royal family are technically given the title.
She also intends to become a British citizen.
She is saying goodbye to “Suits.”
Ms. Markle will be on your TV only as herself — she’s leaving her acting career behind. “I just see it as a change,” she said. “It’s a new chapter,”
She said goodbye to her role as Rachel Zane fittingly, in a wedding dress. Her character closed the series by marrying her love interest on the show Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams).
She also will need to leave some of her advocacy work behind, as royals are expected to show political restraint.
But wait, there’s more!
Head over to our F.A.Q. to learn more about Meghan Markle and the Royal Wedding.