Will Meghan Markle be the first, gasp, mixed race/divorced/actress daughter in law of the British royal family?
By Mahlia Lone
The whole world knows who Prince Harry is, how he grew up and what he does now. The younger royal Prince has had two serious girlfriends, South African businessmanâ€™s lawyer daughter Chelsy Davy who he dated for seven years and aristocratic theater ingenue Cressida Bonas who he dated for two, both part of the jet set aristocratic circles that he moves around in. He has also had his share of partying and acting rebellious with the tabloids calling him a â€œwild child.â€ In 2012, he was photographed in the nude playing strip poker with scantily clad young women in Vegas. These days he has sobered up and is rumoured to have shacked up in his apartment in Londonâ€™s Kensington Palace with his new girlfriend Meghan Markle, a little known TV actress till she started dating the Prince. Itâ€™s been reported that they are on the cusp of a royal engagement. Letâ€™s steal a march on the others and find out more about her.
Born Rachel Meghan Markle in 1981 in the Valley in Los Angeles, the American actress, now aged 35, is three years older than Prince Harry. Her Dutch/Irish descent father,Â Thomas W. Markle Sr. is an Emmy Award winning director of lighting who worked for years on the long running successful sitcom Married…with Children. He grew up comfortably off in Long Island, near NYC. Her African-American mother Doria Radlan, who holds a Masterâ€™s degree in social work and works as a yoga instructor and social worker, came from a working class background. Her immediate ancestors included a presser at a laundry, a janitor and a cook, all residing in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She divorced Thomas in 2003 when Meghan was six years old and Doria relocated with her daughter to Crenshaw, a rough, gang infested neighborhood in LA to be near her sister. Because of where they lived, Meghan was educated atÂ private schools, which the majority of Americans donâ€™t do. She first attended the Little Red Schoolhouse elementary and then theÂ all-girls, Roman Catholic Immaculate Heart High School. Outspoken on womenâ€™s rights, at only 11, she wrote a letter to then First LadyÂ Hillary Clinton complaining that a soap advertisement showed women belonging in the kitchen. Due to her letter, the soapâ€™s manufacturer had to change the advertisement, so early on she learned that standing up for her beliefs gets results. She has also spoken out on racism and talked about growing up mixed race. Meghan graduated from Northwestern University in Illinois with a double major in theater and international relations.
The Royal Family at Trooping the Colour 2016
From 2002 to 2014, Meghan had small roles in one episode each of a daytime soap opera, several TV series and a couple of TV movies.Â To make money between jobs during her early acting days, she worked as a calligraphist. Money was tight and her mother declared bankruptcy, owing more than $50,000 on her credit cards. Meghan meanwhile managed to get small roles in five feature films. Since 2004, she was in a long term relationship with TV producer Trevor Engelson. They got married in 2011, the same year she was cast as paralegal on the popular legal drama Suits, but the marriage only lasted two years. With the security of her recurring role on the hit show, she passed up on receiving spousal support after her divorce and started dating Canadian restaurateur Cory Vitiello, whom she promptly dumped upon meeting Prince Harry.
Prince Charles & PrincessDiana dropping PrinceHarry to his first day atEton with Prince William
With girlfriend of 7 years Chelsy Davy
With ex-girlfriend Cressida Bonas
Playing strip poker in Las Vegas
Last year, Meghanâ€™s father declared bankruptcy owing $30,000 and relocated to Mexico. She has two half siblings from her father. Eldest sister Samantha, who used to work as a small time model, is a mother of three and suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. She says that she helped bring up Meghan till she was the age of 12. Samantha feels bitter because when she was diagnosed in 2008, and needed help from her younger sister Meghan, the latter cut contact with her and refused to help her out financially despite being able to afford it. Meghanâ€™s half brother Thomas Jr. has a drinking problem and was recently charged with holding a gun to his girlfriendâ€™s head during a fight. His son also named Thomas runs a pizza joint.
As a young girl in Crenshaw she enjoyed practising calligraphy
Her half sister Samantha, a mother of three & MS patient
Meghan has a lifestyle blog The Tig and frequently posts pictures of herself practicing yoga. She volunteered as a counselor for the international charityÂ One Young World and spoke at its annual summit in Dublin in 2014 on gender equality and modern-day slavery. In 2016, she became the Global Ambassador forÂ World Vision Canada, traveling toÂ RwandaÂ for the Clean Water Campaign.
At the all-girls, Roman Catholic Immaculate Heart High School
With yoga teacher mother Doria
The Prince first met the actress as recently as May of last year in Toronto where Meghan has been living to film Suits. The Prince was in town promoting the Invictus Games, a sporting event created by the Prince in which wounded, sick and injured servicemen take part in Paralympic-style games and sports. They were introduced by the fashion designer wife, Misha Nonoo, of one of his Etonian friends Alexander Gilkes, who have since separated. New York-based Misha and Meghan had previously holidayed in Spain together in a group. Harryâ€™s cousin Princess Eugenie is also a mutual friend of Mishaâ€™s since Prince Andrewâ€™s daughter worked for Alexanderâ€™s up-market Paddle8 Auction firm in NYC. Harry is very close to Eugenie, who also remains friendly with his last serious girlfriend, Cressida Bonas.Â The royalsâ€™ set it seems is as interconnected as social circles are in Pakistan.
Half brother Thomas Jr.â€™s mugshot
Wedding to TV producer Trevor Engelson
With ex-boyfriend restaurateur Cory Vitiello
Harry and Meghan apparently bonded as both had taken trips to Africa in a bid to improve lives there. Prince Harry spent a part of his gap year in Lesotho where he set up charities benefiting kids, while Meghan is the face of the Canadian charity World Vision in Rwanda. After hitting it off, the two holed up in secret at her Toronto apartment. When the Prince returned to London in June, they kept up by texting each other daily. Meghan started following his private Instagram account and herself fueled dating rumors when she posted a picture of her on Insta wearing an identical AfricanÂ bracelet to his. Then she posted a picture of two bananas spooning with the caption â€œSleep tight!â€ The Prince was also following the actress from his Instagram account.Â She followed him to London where they went out on a couple of dates to Soho House, where he was surrounded by his friends.
Harry also reportedly introduced Meghan to his father Prince Charles, who himself had set royal precedent by marrying a divorcee, Camilla Parker Bowles, now Duchess of Cornwall. Everyone wanted to know more about the little known actress. The press scrambled for details. A source revealed to reporters, â€œHarry loves that she is so into philanthropy. One of the first things they spoke about were her dogs rescued from an animal shelter. He loves that sheâ€™s so caring.â€
But then all sorts of stories about her family came to light. In October, Prince Harry canceled a trip last moment planned to visit her in Toronto.
The cast of Suits
To capitalize on her growing stardom, Meghan launched her line of lower priced womenâ€™s fashion workwear, not exceeding $70 for a garment, for Fall/Winter 2016, in collaboration with the Canadian clothing companyÂ Reitmans. Canadian newspaper theÂ Vancouver SunÂ published an interview with Meghan promoting her collection, in which she said, â€œI was not a girl who grew up buying $100 candles. I was the girl who ran out of gas on her way to an audition. Iâ€™m deeply and passionately involved in the design process. Iâ€™m a brash American.â€ Though she made no direct mention of Harry, she let drop the cryptic remark, â€œMy cup runneth over and Iâ€™m the luckiest girl in the world!â€
Meanwhile, haunted by the memory of Diana, Princess of Wales being hounded by paparazzi to her tragic death, soon after Prince Harry owned up to his relationship by having his communications secretary issue a statement for the press to stop harassing Meghan and her family.
Again a source close to the Prince told a reporter, â€œHeâ€™s happier than heâ€™s been for many years. Heâ€™s in a very relaxed period of his life and Meghan has come along at the right time.â€
In mid-November, Meghan was seen grocery shopping at Whole Foods near Kensington Palace, dressed casually in a black jacket and black Hunter Wellington boots, as British as you can get. She was trailed returning to the Princeâ€™s digs.
These days news travels at lightning speed. In late November, during an official visit to Antigua, Prime Minister Gaston Browne could not refrain from teasing Harry, â€œI believe we are expecting a new Princess soon. I want you to know that you are very welcome to come on your honeymoon here â€¦ there will be nowhere in the world as special to spend your honeymoon, when that day arrives,â€ quickly plugging his country as a desirable holiday spot. Harry â€œclearly embarrassed, went bright redâ€ at the remark. Prince William was reportedly not happy that Harry had gone so public with the relationship.
Certainly no shrinking violet, in response Meghan was photographed at a flower shop in Toronto, wearing a 14K gold Maya Brenner Asymmetrical Letter necklace with the initials â€œMâ€ and â€œH.â€ It was a trinket that spoke its own tale loud and clear.
Soon Prince Williamâ€™s staff issued a press release on his behalf, addressed to the Telegraph, refuting reports that William was unhappy that his younger brother had made his relationship public. It stated: â€œThe Duke of Cambridge absolutely understands the situation concerning privacy and supports the need for Prince Harry to support those closest to him.â€
Diana on a Red Cross trip to Africa
Prince Harry in Lesotho
Meghan in Rwanda
In December, Google confirmed that Meghan became the most-searched actress of 2016, with Brad Pitt becoming the most searched actor after his divorce.
After concluding his two-week tour of the Caribbean, Prince Harry took a 1,700 mile detour to see Meghan in Toronto before returning to London and more royal engagements where she soon followed him.
Back in London, Meghan and Harry were first spied out shopping for a Christmas tree at Pines and Needles in Battersea. The shopkeeper said, â€œThey came in at about 8.30 p.m. last night. Prince Harry was with Meghan and hilariously the staff only recognized Meghan at first â€“ they were so excited to have the girl fromÂ SuitsÂ there. It wasnâ€™t particularly cold but they were gloved and hatted out.â€ After picking out 6-feet tall lush Fir, Harry and Meghan loaded it in their car before heading back to Kensington Palace.
A couple of days later, they were publicly holding hands while strolling together after catchingÂ The Curious Incident of the Dog in the NighttimeÂ at the Gielgud Theatre in the West End.Â They were wearing his-and-hers beanies and admiring the Christmas lights along Piccadilly.
After spending NYE together in London, Meghan and Harry took their first official vacation together, jetting off to the Norwegian fjords. There they stayed with a close friend of Harryâ€™s, expedition guide and polar consultant Inge Solheim at his luxury property in TromsÃ¸. The couple stayed in a cabin, whale-watched, took a lake trip and looked at the Northern Lights. Harry had reportedly â€œput a lot of thought into it and wanted to make it as romantic and special as possible.â€
Eagle eyed fans spotted the two sporting similar African bracelets
The relationship had grown serious overnight and in mid January this year, Harry invited Meghan to stay with him at Kensington Palace where Harry lives near the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, plus the junior royals. Harry took her over to apartment 1A where she met Kate. Not only did Meghan give Kate a belated birthday gift, she also played with Princess Charlotte. A source told the Sunday Express, â€œWilliam and Kate really liked her and she fitted in straight away.â€
Meghan was photographed buying flowers in Kensington High StreetÂ wearing Harryâ€™s favourite brown baseball camp.
In late January, while Harry was busy attending events in support of Heads Together (his charity with Prince William and Kate) in London, Meghan carried out her duties as a World Vision ambassador on a visit to India where she learned about various issues affecting women and young girls in slum communities, including education and health care. She mirrored his philanthropic activity with one of her own.
Prinyanka Chopra, a close friend of Meghan’s, answered a reporter at this year’s Golden Globes, “I’m just happy for Meg. And I hope whatever she does, wherever she goes in life, she’s always happy”
By February, sources said the actress has â€œvirtually moved inâ€ with Harry at his cottage in Kensington Palace.
Northern Lights of Norway
An anonymous friend said, â€œI know that sounds a bit crazily soon, but heâ€™s head over heels and they canâ€™t bear to be apart.â€
Just before Valentineâ€™s Day, the couple was seen holding hands after a dinner at the exclusive Soho House. She was photographed wearing a ring with an â€œHâ€ initial. Keen to spot another sign, press speculated that itâ€™s a promise ring from the Prince, implying an early engagement.Â V Day itself they spent cosily together in his cottage at the Palace.
Forced to briefly return to Toronto to film Suits, a show she has now refused to be in next season so sheâ€™s able to be with Harry full time, Meghan was invited by the Prince to join him at his best friendâ€™s wedding in Jamaica in March. There, the pair was spotted leaving the church before heading to the reception at a nearby hotel.
A plot twist occurred when, seeing that she is in dire need of money while her half sister is lording it with the royals, Meghanâ€™s half sister Samantha is seeking revenge and has threatened to write a tell-all book titled The Diary of Princess Pushyâ€™s Sister. In her interviews, Samantha called Meghan â€œa social climber who grew up following the royal family and having a thing for ginger haired men.â€ She added, â€œThe royal family would be appalled by what sheâ€™s done to her own family. The truth would kill her relationship with Prince Harry. Her behaviour is certainly not fitting of a Royal Family member.â€ She claims that the actress is â€œnarcissistic and selfish,â€ as well as shallow, hypocritical and calculating. Their family, however, said that Samantha is envious of Meghanâ€™s good fortune. When they were living together as a family apparently the former used to tell visitors that her stepmother Doria was the maid since she is black.
At a wedding in Jamaica this March
In the April issue of Vanity Fair, Meghan takes centre stage in a glossy photo shoot on the Ottawa River, celebrating the 1,300 â€œexceptional young global leaders of tomorrowâ€ who attended the One Young World Summit in Ottawa last September. On one side of her stands the former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, Pakistani writer Fatima Bhutto, and Saudi womenâ€™s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul. British actress Emma Watson, American singer/actress Cher (aged 71), and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, all of whom spoke at the 2016 Summit, are also featured in the photo shoot by American photographer Jason Schmidt. I wonder, had it not been for her association for Prince Harry, whether Ms Markle would have been chosen for such a prominent position. As it is, the story about the upcoming shoot went viral due to her newly found fame.
Chances are very good that Ms Markle will marry the younger Prince; in fact bookies have significantly reduced the odds on their getting engaged this year. Meghan seems a determined woman who knows what she wants and how to get it, is supremely confident despite her family background and knows how to expertly work social media and the PR machine in her favour. Doubtlessly, sheâ€™s not letting this Prince go, and thereâ€™s another royal wedding on the horizon.
As we were going to press, Meghan Markle announced that she is shutting down her lifestyle blog The Tig after three years. She gave no reason, but it’s widely speculated that she has done so as her engagement to Prince Harry is imminent.