17 Things You Didn’t Know About Meghan Markle
The Duchess of Sussex, who turns 38 on August 4, may be a fixture in the public eye since her marriage to Prince Harry, but here's what the American-born princess's life is really like.
She has a degree in international relations
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is best known as a former actress who appeared on the USA series Suits for seven seasons. But the former Ms. Markle wasn’t always a drama “queen:” She prepared for a role in global affairs, too. “I had always loved politics, so I ended up double-majoring in theater and international relations,” the Northwestern graduate told Marie Claire. “I applied for an internship at the U.S. Embassy, so I ended up working in the [U.S.] embassy in Buenos Aires for a few months. I thought for sure I would still have a career in politics.” Little did she know she’d be joining the royal family of another country, putting her international expertise to use in a different way: These are all the royal rules Meghan Markle must now follow.
She has excellent handwriting
Some aspiring actors pay the bills waitressing, but Duchess Meghan had a different kind of side gig: as a calligrapher, thanks to handwriting classes she had to take in school. “I did calligraphy for invitations, [such as] Robin Thicke and Paula Patton’s wedding,” she told Esquire. “I used to do it for Dolce & Gabbana’s celebrity correspondence over the holidays. I would sit there with a little white tube sock on my hand so no hand oils got on the card.” The Duchess says it’s a lucrative business because not many people can do it anymore. What’s the trick to this lost art? “The number-one thing is you have to take your time,” she says. “Just do fluid strokes, you don’t have to have a fancy pen by any means, and write in a way that’s authentic to you.” Here’s what Meghan’s handwriting reveals about her personality.
She grew up on a television set
A Los Angeles woman at heart, Duchess Meghan spent her early years watching her father work in television. “My dad was a lighting director and director of photography for Married…with Children,” she told Esquire. “Every day after school for ten years, I was on the set of Married…with Children, which is a really funny and perverse place for a little girl in a Catholic school uniform to grow up. There were a lot of times my dad would say, ‘Meg, why don’t you go and help with the craft services room over there? This is just a little off-color for your 11-year-old eyes.'”
She got a major company to change a sexist ad—when she was 11
Royal watchers know Duchess Meghan is passionate about her causes: Her current official patronages include the National Theatre, education, animal welfare, and helping women find employment. But her activism goes way back. When she was just 11, she successfully campaigned to get Proctor & Gamble to rethink the language on a dish-washing ad. “They changed it from, ‘Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans’ to ‘People all over America.’ It was at that moment that I realized the magnitude of my actions,” she would later tell the UN Women’s Conference. “At the age of 11, I had created my small level of impact by standing up for equality.”
She’s a foodie
The new mom, who gave birth to Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor on May 6, may not have time to go out to gourmet restaurants. But that’s OK, because she’s a natural in the kitchen—and she doesn’t shy away from her guilty pleasure food. “I love to cook…I’m always on the quest to find amazing new recipes,” she told Marie Claire. Her love of cooking hasn’t altered even during Meghan’s transformation since becoming a royal. “Meg cooks for herself and Harry every single day,” a friend told People before Master Archie’s birth (hopefully Prince Harry’s helping out now). Another pal who spoke to People said of a recent visit, “She made the most lovely meals. She made tea every day. How much she loves feeding you, taking care of you—none of that has changed.”
She even made “engagement chicken”
In fact, the way to Prince Harry’s heart may have been through his stomach. During their official engagement interview, Duchess Meghan revealed that she had been roasting a chicken with the Prince when he popped the question. In an earlier interview with Good Housekeeping, the Duchess revealed her favorite recipe: “There is nothing as delicious or as impressive as a perfectly roasted chicken,” she said. “If you have an Ina Garten–level roasted-chicken recipe, it’s a game-changer.” Barefoot Contessa chef Garten, who has a recipe for “engagement chicken,” so-called because an urban myth has it couples get engaged over the meal, has jokingly taken credit for the royal match. “Without me, it would’ve never have happened,” she said on Sunday Today with Willie Geist.
She named her blog after a wine
The Duchess also discovered a love of wine and used it as a metaphor for uncovering your own personal taste when she named her lifestyle blog, The Tig. “It’s named after a wine called Tignanello,” she told Allure in 2017. “I had a sip of it six years ago, and it was my first ‘a-ha’ moment. You spend years going, ‘Oh, I’ll just have red or white. I don’t really know what the difference is.’ But then one day you take a sip of something and you’re like, I get it. So the Tig became this personal idea of getting it—fashion, travel, beauty, all of it.” Sadly, she had to close her blog as she became part of the royal family. But you can still find her on social media: The Sussexes recently created their own official Instagram account.
She bonded with Beyoncé
All eyes were on Duchess Meghan with the Queen—not Queen Elizabeth II, but Queen Bey at the Lion King premiere in London recently. Beyoncé, who stars in the film as the lioness Nala, reportedly called the Duchess “my princess” (although this is why Meghan isn’t technically called a princess). Hugs were given all around, even though they just met—some thought it was breaking protocol to hug a royal, but it’s OK as long as the royal initiates the contact. All smiles, Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z discussed parenting with new mom and dad Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry. The Duchess was also heard at the premiere saying, “It’s date night for us!” Every new parent, even a royal, needs a break now and then.
She’s headed to Africa with Prince Harry and Archie
The royal couple attended The Lion King premiere in support of their conservation work in Africa, and the whole family—Master Archie included—are taking an official tour of southern Africa in the fall. They’ll be stopping in South Africa, Malawi, Angola, and Botswana. Africa holds a special place in the couple’s hearts. Prince Harry, following in the footsteps of his mother, Princess Diana, has long been involved in conservation and community efforts there; and the Duchess has also traveled to Rwanda to work on World Vision Canada’s Clean Water Campaign. Plus, the couple, who met on a blind date, bonded early in their relationship on a camp-out in Botswana. “I managed to persuade her to come and join me in Botswana,” Prince Harry revealed in their engagement interview. “We camped out with each other under the stars. She came and joined me for five days out there, which was absolutely fantastic.” Prince Harry and Meghan also have a secret heartache that bonded them.
Growing up biracial was difficult
Duchess Meghan, whose mother is black and whose dad is white, faced criticism over her background when her relationship with Prince Harry was announced. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the first time she encountered bias. Writing about it in Elle, she talked about a form she had to fill out in school indicating her ethnicity. “You could only choose one [box], but that would be to choose one half of myself over the other,” she wrote. “I put down my pen. Not as an act of defiance, but rather a symptom of my confusion. I left my identity blank, much like how I felt.”
Later, she described the difficulty in getting roles. “I wasn’t black enough for the black roles and I wasn’t white enough for the white ones,” she said. But eventually, she came to an understanding about her background. “While my mixed heritage may have created a gray area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that,” she wrote. “To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.”
She has girls-day-outs with Duchess Catherine
Although feud rumors persist about the royal sisters-in-law, Duchesses Meghan and Catherine actually have a great time together—they even appeared at Wimbledon recently, recalling their first sisterly outing at the tennis tournament a year ago. The subtle difference in Meghan and Kate’s photos reveals their differing personalities, but that doesn’t mean the women don’t get on well. The duo, joined at Wimbledon by Duchess Kate’s sister Pippa Middleton, cheered on Duchess Meghan’s good friend Serena Williams in the Ladies’ Singles Final. After the match, Williams told reporters of her royal pal, “She’s such a great friend and a great person as well. And always positive, no matter what.”
She and her new family moved out of London
Another reason royal watchers think all’s not well with the “Fab Four” (aka Princes William and Harry and Duchesses Kate and Meghan) is that the Sussexes have recently moved out of Kensington Palace in London, where the Cambridges live, to Frogmore Cottage, 25 miles away in Windsor Castle’s Home Park. But, it’s likely that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan are just looking for their own country retreat to bond with their new baby. The cottage is on the grounds of Frogmore House, where the couple had their wedding reception and where their engagement photos were taken. “Windsor is a very special place for Their Royal Highnesses and they are grateful that their official residence will be on the estate,” said a statement from Kensington Palace. Here’s what it’s like inside Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s new home.
She redesigned her engagement ring
Duchess Meghan’s engagement ring features a center diamond from Botswana, flanked by diamonds from his mother’s collection, as Prince Harry explained in their engagement interview. It’s one of the things Duchess Meghan inherited from Princess Diana. But look closely at the latest photos of her ring to spot some recent changes: The yellow gold band has been altered to a micro-pavé one, a row of tiny diamonds on the band. Why the change? She may have needed to resize the band due to her pregnancy, and also to match the eternity band Prince Harry gave her to celebrate their first anniversary. Along with her Welsh gold wedding band, the Duchess now wears all three rings together.
She wanted her wedding to feel intimate
Speaking of her anniversary, Duchess Meghan has revealed details about her nuptials in a surprising source: The audio guide to the exhibit “A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex,” now on display at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland. “A great level of detail went into the planning of our wedding day,” she reportedly says on the guide. “We knew how large the scale of the event would be, so in making choices that were really personal and meaningful, it could make the whole experience feel intimate.” The exhibit features her wedding dress, Prince Harry’s uniform, and niece Princess Charlotte’s bridesmaid dress. Here are some of those tiny details you may have missed at Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding.
She’s been mom-shamed
The critics still don’t go easy on Meghan, even now that she’s a Duchess and official member of the family. While she was applauded at the Lion King premiere for her real-life post-baby body—”Meghan looks like a woman who gave birth two months ago, and not only embraces her post-pregnancy body, but also loves it too,” one admirer wrote on Twitter—she was also cruelly attacked for how she was spotting holding baby Archie at a recent polo match. Critics said the baby was in an awkward position and even that she “looks like she’s about to drop him.” But, as a pediatrician told Today, there isn’t actually anything wrong with how she was holding him.
She loves animals—and vice versa
Duchess Meghan has long been an animal lover, adopting two rescue dogs before moving across the pond (one came with her to England, the other was given to a friend). So it was natural she chose an animal welfare program as one of her official charities. “As a proud rescue dog owner, I know from personal experience the joy that adopting an animal into your home can bring,” Duchess Meghan wrote in the foreword to the group’s annual review. The feeling is mutual: Prince Harry remembered in their engagement interview how the Queen’s dogs instantly responded to Meghan. “The corgis took to [her] straight away,” he said. “I’ve spent the last 33 years being barked at. This one walks in, absolutely nothing. Just wagging tails and I was just like, ‘Ugh!'”
She’ll celebrate her birthday with the Queen
Prince Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, and Duchess Meghan reportedly get along great, thanks to a shared sense of humor and love of dogs. The Queen has even broken royal tradition for Meghan. And now it appears the Duchess may be getting another honor from the monarch: Her first invitation to the Queen’s summer vacation home, Balmoral Castle in Scotland, for Duchess Meghan’s birthday on August 4. According to reports, the royal family will celebrate the Duchess with a special afternoon tea, a present from the Queen, and a birthday cake.