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21 Photos of Meghan Markle’s Stunning Transformation Since Becoming a Royal

Watch as we trace the evolution of Meghan's style from Hollywood actress to HRH The Duchess of Sussex.

Anti Defamation League Awards Dinner Honoring Ryan Kavanaugh, Los Angeles, America - 11 Oct 2011Picture Perfect/Shutterstock

In her previous life…

Meghan Markle, born Rachel Meghan Markle, was once a fairly recognizable Hollywood actress, thanks primarily to her role on television’s Suits as “Rachel Zane,” the beautiful biracial paralegal who aspires to become an attorney and captures the heart of the series’ lead, Mike Ross. This photo was taken at the Anti-Defamation League Awards Dinner in Los Angeles in 2011—three months after the show’s premiere and one month after her real-life wedding to Trevor Engelson. Check out these 20 times Markle channeled her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana.

USA Upfront Presentation, New York, America - 17 May 2012Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock

Meghan, is that you?

On May 17, 2012, Meghan posed for the cameras at the USA Network’s Upfront Presentation, wearing a beige miniskirt and ivory sleeveless shell with cut-out open-toed pumps. Her hair appears to have been lightened to a chestnut-auburn shade. This is a look we aren’t likely to see the Duchess of Sussex trying out again because it goes against the Queen’s fashion rules in multiple ways. Find out more dress code rules the royal family needs to follow

Royal Wedding Meghan Markle, Toronto, Canada - 11 Sep 2012Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

A now-retired smile-style

In September 2012, Meghan posed for the cameras at the 13th Annual InStyle and Hollywood Foreign Press Association Toronto International Film Festival Party in Toronto with a pouty smile we haven’t seen since she became involved with Prince Harry.

Herve Leger Fashion show, Spring Summer 2014, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, New York, America - 07 Sep 2013Kristina Bumphrey/Starpix/Shutterstock

A body-con look she could still pull off…

…if she weren’t now a member of the royal family. Meghan looks amazing in a midriff-bearing bandage dress designed by Herve Leger for Max Azria at a 2013 fashion show. But if she got to keep the dress after the show, it’s likely gathering dust in her closet as Meghan hasn’t been photographed in anything this body-conscious since she married Prince Harry.

Tracy Reese show, Spring Summer 2014, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, New York, America - 08 Sep 2013Mediapunch/Shutterstock

Before she perfected her royal leg-crossing game

Also in 2013, this is what Meghan wore at New York City’s Fashion Week. Meghan looked entirely appropriate for a Hollywood celebrity attending a fashion show. But the leg-cross is all wrong for a duchess. Check out more etiquette rules the royal family is expected to follow.

Elton John's Aids Foundation: An Enduring Vision, New York, America - 28 Oct 2014Kristina Bumphrey/Starpix/Shutterstock

Another pose we rarely see now that she’s a duchess

In October 2014, at an event benefitting Elton John’s AIDS Foundation, Meghan struck this pose which is fairly routine for actresses and models in Hollywood but almost unheard of among members of the royal family.

CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Awards, New York, America - 02 Nov 2015Mediapunch/Shutterstock

A daring look from a matchmaking designer

At the Vogue Fashion Fund Awards in New York on November 2, 2015, Meghan modeled a daringly low-plunging dress designed by Misha Nonoo, who some speculate may be the person who introduced Meghan to Harry on a blind date in early July 2016. “We were introduced actually by a mutual friend,” Harry revealed during the couple’s first sit-down interview with the BBC following their engagement announcement. Others claim the mutual friend is Violet von Westenholz.

P.S. ARTS 25th Anniversary, Los Angeles, America - 20 May 2016Rob Latour/Variety/Shutterstock

Who wears short-shorts?

Apparently, Ms. Meghan Markle wears short-shorts—with pointy-toed stilettos. Or at least she did as of May 2016, when she was photographed at the P.S. ARTS 25th Anniversary Party in Los Angeles. Breaking fashion rules is nothing new to Meghan.

People-Meghan Markle, New York, USAEvan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Introducing… the new girlfriend of Prince Harry

When this photo was taken in September 2016, Meghan had recently been “outed” as Prince Harry’s new girlfriend. Her style—a relatively modest pants suit and slickly straight hair—is a very subtle hint at Meghan’s future style as Duchess of Sussex.

Invictus Games, Toronto, Canada - 25 Sep 2017Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

The iconic “husband shirt”

Another design by Misha Nonoo, the “husband shirt,” worn with ripped, faded jeans, is rumored to be the “piece of clothing that ‘sealed the deal'” with Prince Harry. The happy couple is pictured here at the Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada on September 25, 2017, a mere two months before Harry popped the question.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit a Terrence Higgins Trust World AIDS Day Charity Fair, Nottingham Contemporary, UK - 01 Dec 2017Shutterstock

Evolving a more modest style

Prince Harry had proposed to Meghan only days before this photo was taken on December 1, 2017, at an AIDS Day Charity Fair in Nottingham, United Kingdom. In a tulip-skirt, long-sleeved sweater, and chunky, slouchy boots, it’s clear Meghan’s style is evolving.

Commonwealth Day observance service, Westminster Abbey, London, UK - 12 Mar 2018Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

First official engagement with the Queen

Pictured with Prince Harry at her first official engagement as a future member of the royal family (the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey, which was also attended by Meghan’s future grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II), Meghan looks like an entirely different person from the Meghan of 2011 in a coat and dress by British designer, Amanda Wakely, and a very royal-esque matching beret.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit to Edinburgh, Scotland - 13 Feb 2018Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Looking unmistakeably royal

On February 13, 2018, Prince Harry and Meghan paid a visit to Edinburgh Castle, with Meghan wearing a tartan coat by Britain’s Burberry over flared black trousers.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK - 23 Mar 2018Shutterstock

The tulip skirt makes an appearance again

On March 23, 2018, for a one-day visit to Northern Ireland, Meghan once again went with a tulip skirt, which she coordinated in this case with a modest crew-neck sweater by Britain’s Victoria Beckham. Here are the details you might have missed from Harry and Meghan’s wedding.

Britain Wimbledon Tennis, London, United Kingdom - 14 Jul 2018Tim Ireland/AP/Shutterstock

Her first Wimbledon as a royal

For the Duchess of Sussex’s first Wimbledon Championships as a member of the royal family, she dressed the part in a blue and white striped button down and wide-legged white pants as she stood beside her sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton), except for one small detail: her entire outfit was by classic American designer, Ralph Lauren. Don’t miss these 16 photos that show Kate Middleton’s style evolution as well.

Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex tour of New Zealand - 31 Oct 2018Shutterstock

A variation on the tulip skirt

The Duchess of Sussex clearly knows that a flared skirt flatters her figure while still maintaining the decorum required of a royal. On October 31, 2018, she wore a blue pleated and flared skirt with a matching sweater, her baby bump almost invisible still.

Meghan Duchess of Sussex visit to Brinsworth House, Twickenham, London, UK - 18 Dec 2018Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Second-trimester style

On a visit to Brinsworth House in Twickenham, London on December 18, the Duchess of Sussex wore a floral-print dress that showed off her baby bump but kept it classy and British with a coat by Soia & Kyo, a Canadian label, and a handbag by Britain’s Wilbur & Gussie. Find out the products under $20 Meghan Markle can’t leave home without.

Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex visit to Morocco - 24 Feb 2019Shutterstock

Blue blazers

Meghan stepped out in a long blue blazer, black skinny jeans, and sensible black flats during a visit to Morocco in February of 2019 while pregnant. A classic pair of sunnies rounds out the look.

Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex visit to Morocco - 25 Feb 2019Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Gorgeous floral prints

This light blue floral dress was another iconic look that Meghan wore on her royal tour of Morocco in February of 2019. She wore this flowy Carolina Herrera gown while visiting the residence of King Mohammed VI in Rabat.

Commonwealth Day, London, UK - 11 Mar 2019Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Custom fit

The Duchess of Sussex wore another stylish maternity pick when she visited Canada with Prince Harry on March 11, 2019, in honor of Commonwealth Day. Markle wore a rich green custom coat with a matching knee-length dress by Canadian designer, Erdem Moralioglu.

Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex new baby photocall, Windsor Castle, UK - 08 May 2019Domic Lipinski/PA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

New mom style

New mom Meghan stepped out in a white dress with a tie waist and buttons by London-based designer Grace Wales Bonner for her first appearance with baby Archie. The glowing Duchess paired the simple white dress with pointed toe heels and her hair down. Check out these tiny details you probably missed from Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s royal baby debut.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.