Meghan Markle is a 35-year-old, American divorcée currently working as an actress on the legal drama “Suits” and based in Toronto. If anything about that says “future member of the British Royal Family” to you, then you have a better nose than I do, because I wouldn’t have called this in a million years. I wouldn’t have called it, but the more that we learn about her, the more I think…she might be perfect.
Meghan’s relationship with Prince Harry came to light when Kensington Palace issued a long, candid press release in November railing against the media for its sexist, racist and bullying coverage and harassment of the couple’s then-rumored romance. I’ve already shared my thoughts on the release itself, so we’ll blow right by that and focus, instead, on who this Meghan Markle character is.
Meghan was born in 1981 in Los Angeles, California where she graduated from Immaculate Heart High School in 1999 (so let’s go ahead and add “possible Catholic” to our laundry list of reasons why she’s raised some eyebrows). She went on to major in theater and international relations at Northwestern University in Illinois, from where she graduated in 2003.
Around 2004 she started dating film producer Trevor Engelson, whom she married in 2011 and filed for divorce from in 2013. It’s been reported that distance was to blame, Meghan having landed her role in “Suits” shortly before the wedding. With filming taking place in Toronto and Engelson still based in LA, the relationship fell apart.
She has also, like Prince Harry, had a long-time interest in various human rights issues, particularly women’s rights. She launched a lifestyle website called, “The Tig,” which is specifically focused on “self-empowerment” and features inspirational women from various industries. In 2016, Meghan was named the Global Ambassador for World Vision Canada, which campaigns for better access to education, necessities and healthcare for children. Within that capacity, she traveled to Rwanda to help address and raise awareness for the need for better access to clean water in the region.
In a telling anecdote, at the age of only 11, Meghan wrote to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton (among others) complaining that a soap commercial targeted towards women implied women “belonged in the kitchen.”
She has been candid about her own mixed-race heritage and, at one point, wrote on The Tig that, “I’ve never wanted to be a lady who lunches – I’ve always wanted to be a woman who works.”
The exact when and where of how Harry and Meghan came to be is unknown, but they reportedly met in London at Soho House earlier in 2016. Harry also spent some time in Canada that year, while Meghan has been to the UK repeatedly over the last few months. What tipped off reporters and royal watchers was Meghan’s Instagram feed, which at one point featured her arm wearing Harry’s bracelets. Their respective travel schedules fairly public (particularly Harry’s), it was fairly easy to sketch out a timeline which would allow the two to have met and gotten to know each other.
And get to know each other they did. Shortly after KP issued their press release, Meghan was spotted leaving Harry’s residence to go grocery shopping. Harry jetted off to Toronto instead of returning to the UK after a recent overseas tour. And then, finally, the couple were spotted in London in December by paparazzi on a date. In January they were reportedly in Norway for a holiday to see the Northern Lights.
And just yesterday Emily Andrews at The Sun broke yet another sighting of them walking hand-in-hand down a street in London, returning from dinner.
So how serious is this? Pretty serious, according to an unnamed source, who says that Meghan has all but moved into KP now that she’s on break from “Suits,” and the couple are inseparable. Btw, this source from The Sun article refers to Meghan as “Meg” and is quoted with the below:
“I can see them engaged by spring. I know that sounds a bit crazily soon, but he’s head over heels and they can’t bear to be apart. She’s said she’s ready to give up acting and move to London. He wants to start a family and so does she. Watch this space.”
This relationship, which has been in the public consciousness for less than three months, has moved fast – especially when compared with the seven/eight-year-long courtship of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. But Harry and Meghan are both older than William and Kate were, and as of this spring, will have been together for a year. That takes it squarely out of the crazy realm.
Most critically, for all that makes them seem like polar opposites – nationality, religion, location, occupation, the list goes on – there are other telling similarities. A love of travel, a commitment to philanthropy and activism, an open and transparent way of talking about themselves. The last point is perhaps most critical of all, because it speaks to Meghan being comfortable in the public eye – she is significantly more famous since she’s been linked to Harry, but interviews, photographs and media interest aren’t foreign to her. Her occupation, for all that it’s not traditional royal duchess training, has likely prepared her well.
In some ways, I actually think she could deliver on all the qualities that some royal watchers are waiting for from Kate. And I kind of hate to say that, because I don’t want to help along the conversation that holds up two women and judges them against one another, but in this case the glaring dichotomy between the two kind of stares you in the face.
Both women are the same age and appear to be genuinely kind-hearted people, but it’s hard not to compare Meghan’s quote about wanting to be a woman who works with Kate’s low engagement numbers and seeming desire to stay home with her family as much as possible. Or Meghan having the wherewithal to write to the First Lady and support feminist causes with Kate saying last week that the best part about being a princess is that she’s “well looked after” by her husband.
Now, if Meghan and Harry do get married, I’m fairly confident that Meghan and Kate would get along well. But I also suspect that the love affair and newfound interest that the press have with Harry’s new wife won’t go too well for Kate and she’ll be held up as lacking where Meghan thrives – public speaking, openness, easiness, a long history of working hard and taking charity seriously. It could also not go very well for Meghan, in the sense that there are many people who likely applaud Kate for her more traditional appeal and have grown used to her diplomatic, blank slate way of approaching her role. It’s speculation of course, we have no idea how Meghan will respond to having her own children, or how Kate will evolve into her role as her children get older and she takes on more substantial royal duties.
For that matter, we don’t know whether Harry and Meghan will even become engaged. But as Prince Philip once said in 2000, in one of the most hilarious (and tone deaf) quotes I’ve ever heard from him:
“People think there’s a rigid class system here, but dukes have been known to marry chorus girls. Some have even married Americans.”
I, for one, find myself rooting for them.
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