Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (/ˈmɛɡən/; born Rachel Meghan Markle; August 4, 1981) is an American member of the British royal family and a former actress.
Markle was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Her acting career began while she was studying at Northwestern University. As an actress, she was most known for her role as Rachel Zane in the American legal drama Suits for seven seasons (2011–2017). Markle's lifestyle blog, The Tig (2014–2017), featured a column profiling influential women. She also gained recognition for creating and releasing two fashion lines of clothing in 2015–2016.
Markle had some difficulty getting roles early in her career due to being "ethnically ambiguous" because "I wasn't black enough for the black roles and I wasn't white enough for the white ones." To support herself between acting jobs, she worked as a freelance calligrapher and taught bookbinding. Her first on-screen appearance was a small role as a nurse in an episode of the daytime soap opera General Hospital. Markle had small guest roles on the television shows Century City (2004), The War at Home (2006) and CSI: NY (2006). She also did several contract acting and modeling jobs, including a stint as a "briefcase girl" on the US-version of the game show Deal or No Deal. She appeared in Fox's series Fringe as Junior Agent Amy Jessup in the first two episodes of its second season.
Markle appeared in small roles in the films Get Him to the Greek, Remember Me and The Candidate in 2010 and the film Horrible Bosses in 2011. She was paid $187,000 for her role in Remember Me and $171,429 for her role in the short film The Candidate. In July 2011, Markle joined the cast of the USA Network show Suits through to late 2017 and the seventh season. Her character, Rachel Zane, began as a paralegal and eventually became an attorney. While working on Suits, Markle lived for nine months each year in Toronto.Fortune magazine estimated that Markle was paid $50,000 per episode, amounting to an equivalent annual salary of $450,000.
Meghan Markle's engagement to Prince Harry was announced on November 27, 2017 by Harry's father Charles, Prince of Wales. The announcement prompted generally positive comments about having a mixed-race person as a member of the royal family, especially in regard to Commonwealth countries with populations of blended or native ancestry. Markle announced that she would retire from acting, and began the lengthy process of becoming a British citizen, which is subject to strict immigration rules about living outside of the UK for more than 90 days.
In 2014, Markle founded her own lifestyle blog The Tig. She wrote about food, fashion, beauty, travel and inspirational women. The viewing audience consisted primarily of the fans of Markle and Suits. Promotion of the blog on other social media platforms targeted 3 million followers on Instagram, 800,000 on Facebook, and 350,000 on Twitter. In April 2017, The Tig closed. In January 2018, Markle took all articles offline and deleted her social media accounts. It is estimated that Markle's social media activities annually earned her about $80,000 from endorsements and sponsorships.
Markle became known through The Tig for her fashion sense, releasing two fashion collections with Canadian clothing company Reitmans in 2015 and 2016. The lines were based on her personal style and that of her Suits character. Markle has cited Emmanuelle Alt as her style inspiration.
Shortly after her engagement to Prince Harry in 2017, Markle caused a surge of interest in Scottish retailer Strathberry after carrying one of its handbags to a public event. This was reported as an indication that her fashion choices would produce a variation of the Kate Middleton effect. After Markle and Prince Harry's first appearance as a couple, brands Mackage, Birks, R&R Jewelers, Crown Jewelers and Everlane noted an upswing in their website hits and sales. It was speculated that Markle's effect would be broader internationally because she already had a strong American appeal. Consequently, the United States saw a boost in yellow gold jewelry sales in the first quarter of 2018.
In 2018, Tatler named Meghan with other senior royal women on its list of Britain's best dressed people. Following the announcement of her pregnancy she appeared in a Karen Gee dress that resulted in the Australian designer's website crashing. Fashion website Net-a-Porter ranked Meghan as one of the best dressed women in 2018. and was nominated for the 2018 Teen Choice Awards in the category Choice Style Icon. In 2019, British brand Reiss reported a growth in profits after Meghan was seen wearing a mini-dress by them on International Women's Day.
After becoming engaged, Markle's first official public appearance with Prince Harry was at a World AIDS Day walkabout in Nottingham on December 1, 2017. On March 12, the 2018 Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey was the first royal event she attended with the Queen. On March 23, Harry and Meghan made an unannounced day visit to Northern Ireland. In total, Markle attended 26 public engagements prior to the wedding. Meghan's first official engagement after marriage was on May 22, when she and her husband attended a garden party celebrating the charity work of the Prince of Wales.
In July 2018, Meghan's first official trip abroad as a royal was to Dublin, Ireland, alongside Harry. In October 2018, the Duke and Duchess traveled to Sydney, Australia for the 2018 Invictus Games. This formed part of a Pacific tour that included Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. As representatives of the Queen, the couple were greeted warmly by crowds in Sydney, and the announcement of Meghan's pregnancy hours after their arrival delighted the public and media. During their visit to Morocco in February 2019, the Duke and Duchess focused on projects centered on "women's empowerment, girls' education, inclusivity and encouragement of social entrepreneurship". It is otherwise noted that Meghan participated in her husband's work as youth ambassador to the Commonwealth, which included overseas tours.
As part of establishing a separate office from Kensington Palace in 2019, the Duke and Duchess created an Instagram social media account, which broke the record for fastest account to reach 1 million followers to date. In August 2019, Meghan and her husband were criticized by environmental campaigners for using private jets regularly when taking their personal trips abroad, which would leave more carbon footprint per person compared to commercial planes. The criticism was in line with the reactions the royal family faced in June 2019, after it was revealed that they "had doubled [their] carbon footprint from business travel".
In January 2020, Meghan and Harry returned to the UK from a vacation in Canada and announced that they were stepping back from their role as senior members of the royal family, and would balance their time between the United Kingdom and North America. A statement released by the Palace confirmed that the Duke and Duchess were to become financially independent and cease to represent the Queen. The couple would retain their HRH stylings but not be permitted to use them. The formal role of the Duke and Duchess was subject to a twelve-month review period, ending in March 2021. Meghan's final solo engagement as a senior royal was a visit to Robert Clack School on March 7 in Dagenham ahead of International Women's Day.
Until February 2021, Meghan and Harry remained president and vice president respectively of The Queen's Commonwealth Trust (QCT). Periodically, online QCT chat sessions were conducted and uploaded to YouTube for general public viewing. In June 2020, they signed with the Harry Walker Agency, owned by media company Endeavor, to conduct public speaking engagements. In September 2020, the Sussexes signed a private commercial deal with Netflix "to develop scripted and unscripted series, film, documentaries, and children programming for the streaming service". In December 2020, it was announced that she had invested in Clevr Blends, a coffee company based in Southern California. In the same month, Meghan and Harry signed a multi-year deal with Spotify to produce and host their own programs through their audio producing company, Archewell Audio. The debut episode of the podcast, a holiday special, was released on the service in December 2020.
In January 2018, Markle became interested in the Hubb Community Kitchen run by survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire. She visited the kitchen regularly, and suggested that the displaced women publish a cookbook to assist in funding for the group.Together: Our Community Cookbook, her first charity project as Duchess of Sussex, was announced in September.
In March 2020, it was announced that Meghan's first post-royal project would be the narration of Disneynature's documentary Elephant, which was released on April 3. In support of elephants, Disneynature and the Disney Conservation Fund would donate to Elephant Without Borders for species conservation in Botswana. In April 2020 Meghan volunteered with her husband in a private capacity to personally deliver foods prepared by the Project Angel Food to Los Angeles residents amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. In July 2020, she spoke in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In 2019 Meghan was a contributor and guest editor for the September issue of British Vogue and highlighted the works of 15 women from different areas, who were described as "Forces for Change".Edward Enninful, editor-in-chief of the British Vogue, later revealed that the issue had become the "fastest-selling issue in the history of British Vogue". In the same issue, it was announced that she had collaborated with a number of British fashion houses and stores to launch a capsule collection, called The Smart Set, in September 2019 to benefit the charity Smart Works. The collection sought to help "unemployed and disadvantaged women", through selling items "on a one-for-one basis, meaning an item is donated for each item purchased". Taking advantage of "the Meghan effect" (driving consumer purchases), in 10 days the collection provided a year's worth of clothes for the charity.
Sussex Royal and Archewell
In February 2018, Markle and fiancé Harry attended the first annual forum of The Royal Foundation. After marriage Meghan became the foundation's fourth patron alongside Prince Harry, Prince William and his wife, Catherine. In June 2019, it was announced that Harry and Meghan would split from the charity and establish their own foundation. Nevertheless, the couples would collaborate on mutual projects, such as the mental health initiative Heads Together. The following month, "Sussex Royal The Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex" was registered in England and Wales. However, it was confirmed on February 21, 2020 that "Sussex Royal" would not be used as a brand name for the couple following their step back from public life as working royals. On August 5, 2020, Sussex Royal Foundation was renamed "MWX Foundation" and dissolved the same day.
In March 2021, it was reported that the Charity Commission for England and Wales was conducting a review of the Sussex Royal organization in a "regulatory and compliance case" regarding its conduct under charity law during dissolution. Representatives for the couple claimed that Sussex Royal was "managed by a board of trustees" and that "suggestion of mismanagement" directed exclusively at the Duke and Duchess would be incorrect.
In April 2020, Meghan and Harry confirmed that an alternative foundation (in lieu of Sussex Royal) would be called "Archewell". The name stems from the Greek word "arche", which means "source of action"; the same word that inspired the name of their son. Archewell was registered in the United States. Its website was officially launched in October 2020.
In May 2019, the Splash News agency issued a formal apology to the Sussexes for sending photographers to their Cotswolds residence, which put their privacy at risk. The agency also agreed to pay "substantial" damages and legal costs associated with the case. In January 2020, lawyers for the Duke and Duchess issued a legal warning to the press in general after paparazzi photographs were published in the media.
At the end of the tour of Southern African countries in September and October 2019, it emerged that Meghan was suing The Mail on Sunday and MailOnline for alleged breach of privacy, infringement of copyright, and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018 over the publication of a letter she had sent to her father. She subsequently received support from more than 70 female MPs from different parties who in an open letter condemned the use of "outdated, colonial undertones" against her in some national media outlets. Although Meghan lost the first round in the High Court of Justice case with the Daily Mail and was ordered to pay legal costs on a preliminary matter, the High Court granted summary judgement in her favor in February 2021, finding the news organization invaded her privacy. On March 2, the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday were ordered to pay Meghan 90% of her estimated $1.88 million legal expenses. On March 5, The Mail on Sunday was ordered by a High Court judge to publish a front-page statement about Meghan's victory in her case against the paper, and MailOnline was instructed to have the statement on its homepage for a week. "However, the statement is temporarily on hold as Associated Newspapers has been granted a stay until April 6 to submit to a Court of Appeal against the judgement." Matters related to the exclusive ownership of the letter are expected to be decided later in the year.
In March 2020, the couple took Splash UK to court after Meghan and her son were photographed without permission during a "private family outing" while staying in Canada. The case was settled later that year with Splash UK agreeing to no longer take unauthorized photos of the family. On April 20, 2020, the Duke and Duchess announced that they would no longer cooperate with the Daily Mail, The Sun, Daily Mirror and Daily Express. In July 2020, Meghan jointly launched legal action with her husband against an unidentified individual for taking pictures of their son in Los Angeles. American news agency X17 issued an apology. It also agreed to reimburse some of the other party's legal fees, hand over photos on hand, destroy any copies in its possession and cease distribution of the images. In March 2021, a mutual report by Byline Investigates, BBC and The New York Times revealed that The Sun hired an American private investigator, who unlawfully handed over personal details about Meghan to the tabloid, including her Social Security number, cellphone number and address, when she first started dating Harry in 2016. Meghan and her husband condemned the "predatory practices" of the British tabloids, while The Sun stated that the investigator "was instructed clearly in writing to act lawfully", and they did not "use the information he provided for any unlawful practice".
In March 2021, The Times reported that a bullying complaint was made during Meghan's tenure as a working royal by her press secretary, Jason Knauf, which claimed that her conduct had caused two personal assistants to quit their positions in the royal household and had undermined the morale of a third employee. The concerns were allegedly further communicated to Simon Case, Prince William's private secretary, to encourage Buckingham Palace to protect staff.The Telegraph also reported that Meghan argued with staff over suggestions that it would be a breach of royal protocol for her to keep free clothes that had been sent to her by leading designers. The following day, Buckingham Palace announced an investigation into the claims of workplace bullying, which reportedly would be talking to at least five people allegedly affected by Meghan's conduct.
Separately, it was alleged that Meghan had twice worn earrings that were gifted from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2018, after he was accused of complicity in the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi. Representatives for the Duchess stated that she was "not aware of the news" of Salman's alleged involvement in the murder of Khashoggi at the time.People later reported that the earrings were given as a wedding gift in March 2018 from the Saudi royal family and were the property of the Crown. A spokesman for the couple told The Times their report was "misleading and harmful misinformation" and denounced bullying.
Meghan and her husband were interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in a television special Oprah with Meghan and Harry for CBS, broadcast on March 7, 2021. Meghan spoke about "stepping into life as a royal, marriage, motherhood" and "how she is handling life under intense public pressure". She discussed contemplating suicide during her time as a working royal and talked about a perceived lack of protection for her and her son while being part of the royal institution. Prince Harry joined her later, and the couple talked about the initial difficulties associated with their move to the United States in 2020 and their plans for the future.
Quarterly 1st and 4th Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or armed and langed Azure (England), 2nd Or a lion rampant Gules armed and langued Azure within a double tressure flory counterflory (Scotland), 3rd Azure a harp Or stringed Argent (Ireland), the whole differenced by a label of five points Argent, the first, third and fifth points charged with an escallop Gules (Prince Harry); Impaled with a shield Azure a feather bendwise Argent quilled Or between two bendlets Or all between two like feathers Argent quilled Or (Markle).
On the dexter side the lion used as a supporter by the Duke of Sussex and to the sinister a songbird Argent wings spread, unguled Or and gorged with the coronet of the Duke of Sussex.
The blue background of the shield represents the Pacific Ocean off the California coast, while the two golden rays across the shield are symbolic of the sunshine of the Duchess's home state. The three quills represent communication and the power of words. Beneath the shield on the grass sits a collection of golden poppies, California's state flower, and wintersweet, which grows at Kensington Palace. The songbird with wings elevated as if flying and an open beak represents the power of communication.
^"About Archewell". Archewell. Retrieved December 31, 2020. We do this through our non-profit work within Archewell Foundation 501(c)(3), in addition to creative activations through the business verticals of audio and production.
^Swerling, Gabriella; Ward, Victoria; Tominey, Camilla (March 8, 2021). "Prince Harry and Meghan's 'secret wedding' an exchange of vows and not legal ceremony". The Daily Telegraph. sources within both the Church of England and those working for the Sussexes moved to clarify that the vows presided over by the Most Rev Justin Welby in the garden did not constitute a legal marriage. Instead, the "marriage" was merely a personal and private exchange of vows between the couple.