Rachel Meghan Markle (born August 4, 1981) is an American actress from Los Angeles, Califonia, model, and humanitarian. Since 2011, Markle has portrayed Rachel Zane on the legal drama series Suits. She is also known for her role as special agent Amy Jessup in the sci-fi thriller Fringe. She had previously worked as a freelance calligrapher.
Markle was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in theater and international studies.
She is engaged to marry Prince Harry of the British royal family. Their engagement was announced on November 27, 2017, and they intend to marry in May 2018 at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. Following her engagement, she plans to retire from acting and devote her time to humanitarian causes.
Rachel Meghan Markle was born on August 4, 1981, in Los Angeles. Describing her parents, she has said, “My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American. I have come to embrace [this and] say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident, mixed-race woman.” Her mother, Doria Ragland, has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California, lives in View Park-Windsor Hills, and works as a psychotherapist and yoga instructor. Her father, Thomas W. Markle, who lives in Mexico, is an Emmy Award-winning lighting director whose profession resulted in his young daughter often visiting the set of Married with Children. Markle is of Dutch and Irish descent through her father.
Markle grew up in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles. From age five, she was educated at private schools; first at Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse and later at Immaculate Heart High School, an all-girl, private Catholic school in Los Angeles. She graduated in 2003 from Northwestern University, near Chicago, where she took theater studies before completing her bachelor’s degree in theater and international studies; coursework included an internship at the US embassy in Buenos Aires.
Markle worked as a freelance calligrapher in order to support herself between early acting jobs. She also took on several contract acting and modeling jobs that included a stint as a “briefcase girl” on the US game show Deal or No Deal. In 2002, Markle appeared in an episode of the daytime soap opera General Hospital. She appeared in Fox’s series Fringe as Junior Agent Amy Jessup in the first two episodes of its second season.
Markle had some difficulty getting roles early in her career. In 2015, she wrote: “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.”
Since July 2011, she has played Rachel Zane on the USA Network show Suits, which is filmed in Toronto, Ontario. The character began as a paralegal who eventually became an attorney. She completed work on that series’ seventh season in late 2017.
Markle has appeared in two 2010 films, Get Him to the Greek and Remember Me, and one 2011 film, Horrible Bosses. She appeared in the short film The Candidate (seen on the KQED public television show ImageMakers: the Company of Men) as a secretary in 2012. She has also appeared in episodes of Century City, Cuts, Love, Inc., The War at Home, 90210, Knight Rider, Without a Trace, The Apostles, CSI: NY, The League, and Castle.
During a BBC interview, Markle said that she would not return to Suits and that after she marries, she will transition out of her work as an actress.
Markle was founder and editor-in-chief of lifestyle website The Tig, which closed in April 2017. In November 2016, Markle and Canadian clothing company Reitmans released a line of women’s fashion workwear.
Philanthropy and civic engagement
As a child, Markle objected to a Procter Gamble television commercial for a dish soap, which featured the line “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans,” which she believed to be sexist. She took action by writing letters to lawyer Gloria Allred (who often advocates for women’s issues) and the then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. Months later the offending line was changed to “People all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.”
In 2016, Markle became a global ambassador for World Vision Canada, traveling to Rwanda for the Clean Water Campaign, the agency’s campaign to provide safe, clean drinking water.
She has also worked with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women as an Advocate. Markle was a counsellor for international charity One Young World, speaking at the 2014 annual summit in Dublin on the topics of gender equality and modern-day slavery. She also attended the 2016 One Young World summit in Ottawa.
Prince Henry of Wales
Markle was in a relationship with actor and producer Trevor Engelson from 2004 until 2011. They married on September 10, 2011, and divorced in August 2013. Since June 2016, she has been in a relationship with Prince Harry, who is fifth in line to the British throne. Prince Harry and Markle met on a blind date that a mutual friend set up. The press reported on the relationship in October 2016.
On November 8, 2016, the Royal Family’s communications secretary released an official statement that addressed the “wave of abuse and harassment” directed toward Markle.
The statement spoke to the sexism, racism and defamatory stories directed at Markle, including an unspecified “smear on the front page of a national newspaper”. It urged the press to “pause and reflect” before driving these storylines.
During a September 2017 interview with Vanity Fair, Markle spoke in public for the first time about her love for Prince Harry, saying, “We’re two people who are really happy and in love. We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news, and I was working during that whole time, and the only thing that changed was people’s perception.” Later that month, they made their first public appearances together at an official royal engagement—the wheelchair tennis event, and the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games in Toronto.
Markle maintained an apartment in Toronto because Suits was filmed there but moved out in late November 2017 after work on the seventh season had been completed. On November 27, 2017, it was announced that Markle and Prince Harry had become engaged to marry. By then, she had met Prince Harry’s family and had met several times with the Queen. The couple will live together at Nottingham Cottage in London, on the grounds of Kensington Palace, after the wedding in May 2018.
The engagement ring given by Harry to Markle consists of three diamonds, two of which were taken from the jewellery collection of the Prince’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
The engagement announcement prompted much comment about the possible social significance (or insignificance) of Meghan Markle becoming a proudly mixed-race royal.
Markle is a self-proclaimed foodie, which was incorporated into her Suits character Rachel Zane.
Though she attended Catholic school as a child, Markle identified as a Protestant prior to her engagement to Prince Harry. Following her engagement, it was announced that she would be baptised and confirmed into the Church of England before the wedding. She will also become a British citizen.
Research compiled in 1997 by historians including Markle’s great-uncle, Mike Markle, found that her paternal great-great-great-grandmother was New Hampshire landowner Mary Hussey Smith (1823–1908), a descendant of nobleman John Hussey, 1st Baron Hussey of Sleaford, who was beheaded in 1537 at the order of King Henry VIII.
Through Lord Hussey, Markle is a descendant of King John. Markle is also a descendant of Captain Christopher Hussey, Esquire (d.1686) who was appointed in 1679 by King Charles II to govern the Royal Province of Hampton, New Hampshire. He was a Founding Father of Nantucket.
Markle is a distant relation of Prince Harry. Their common ancestors are Elizabeth Bowes (1505–c.1572) and her husband, Richard Bowes, son of Sir Ralph Bowes of Streatlam Castle and High Sheriff of County Durham—ancestors of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (née Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon).
Markle’s maternal great-great-great-grandfather was a slave on Georgia plantations before being emancipated with the abolition of slavery in 1865.