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Who is Meghan Markle? Everything you need to know about our new Duchess

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Megan Murray
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Meghan Markle will go down in history as an iconic addition to the royal family, but are you clued up on who the former actor is and how she will use her new role?

Everyone is talking about Meghan Markle. Her wedding to Prince Harry was watched by 24 million people in the UK alone, and her wedding dresses have been held up as beautiful examples of nuptial dressing that are set to inspire our wardrobes all summer

Of course, we’ve known of Markle for years now. Her role in Suits made her one of our favourite faces on the small screen, and even more importantly, her work with UN Woman and the small matter of fighting for feminism against corporate giants at the age of 11, won us over long ago. 

But as of 19 May we have officially been able to say that Markle is one of our own, a name that will be forever woven into the tapestry of British history. So, seeing as she’s now a staple member of the royal family, we’ve done a recap on the most asked questions about Markle, including what her royal duties will involve and what her impact will be on her new in-laws. 

What is Meghan Markle’s new title?

She may always be “Meg” to her family and friends, but to pretty much everybody else, Markle is now known as the Duchess of Sussex, after the Queen bestowed a dukedom on Prince Harry as a wedding present. 

Announcing the news in a statement, a spokesperson from Kensington Palace wrote: “The Queen has today been pleased to confer a Dukedom on Prince Henry of Wales. His titles will be Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel.

“Prince Harry thus becomes His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex, and Ms. Meghan Markle on marriage will become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex.”

As reported by multiple outlets, the only previous Duke of Sussex was married twice, but neither marriages were considered lawful by his father George III. This means that Markle is the first woman to lawfully use the title, HRH The Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry will be known as the HRH The Duke of Sussex. 

Who designed her wedding outfits?

Ceremony wedding dress

Designed by Clare Waight Keller for French fashion house Givenchy, Markle’s first wedding dress was minimalist and chic. Kensington Palace has said that, after meeting with Waight Keller in early 2018, Markle chose to work with her for her “timeless and elegant aesthetic, impeccable tailoring, and relaxed demeanour”. 

“The focus of the dress is the graphic open bateau neckline that gracefully frames the shoulders and emphasises the slender sculpted waist. The lines of the dress extend towards the back where the train flows in soft round folds cushioned by an underskirt in triple silk organza. The slim three-quarter sleeves add a note of refined modernity,” said a Kensington Palace spokesperson. 

Markle ensured that all 53 countries of the Commonwealth were with her on her journey through the ceremony, with Keller designing a veil representing the distinctive flora of each Commonwealth country united in one spectacular floral composition. Her wedding shoes were based on a Givenchy refined pointed couture design made of a silk duchess satin. And, as well as that gorgeous tiara, Markle wore earrings and a bracelet made by Cartier as her wedding jewellery.

Reception wedding dress 

Markle donned a second bridal ensemble for her wedding reception at Frogmore House, opting for a halterneck style, Stella McCartney creation that oozed old Hollywood glamour.  

Kensington Palace shared a statement about the dress, which read: “The bride’s evening dress is designed by Stella McCartney and is a bespoke lily white high neck gown made of silk crepe. The bride is wearing shoes from Aquazzura made in silky satin, with nude mesh, with soles painted in baby blue.”

Another blue, and beautifully sentimental addition to her outfit was the aquamarine ring that once belonged to Princess Diana, which dazzled on Markle’s finger as she waved goodbye to the crowds, before speeding off with Prince Harry in a silver blue Jaguar E-Type Concept Zero.

Does Meghan Markle have an official biography?

Markle shared her official biography on the Royal Family website shortly after her wedding to Prince Harry. This lists the experiences that helped shape her “lifelong commitment” to “social justice and women’s empowerment”. 

It reminds us that she, at the tender age of 11, successfully campaigned for a company to alter their television advert that had used sexist language to sell washing up liquid. That she volunteered at a soup kitchen in Skid Row, Los Angeles between the ages of 13-17. That she also established a program at her place of work to ensure that leftover meals from the Suits set were donated to local homeless shelters.

The bio also states that Markle was the UN Women’s Advocate for Women’s Political Participation and Leadership. This position allowed her to meet with female parliamentarian leaders in Kigali and visit a Gihembe refugee camp, where women were working on leadership and empowerment at a grassroots level.

It details Markle’s work with One Young World and World Vision, which saw her visit the slum communities of Mumbai to learn more about the issues faced by the young women and girls who live there – and witness the work of the Myna Mahila Foundation, who empower women through access to menstrual hygiene products and employment opportunities.

Markle’s biography also features a quote from a speech which she delivered on International Women’s Day in 2015, reading: “I am proud to be a woman and a feminist.” This gives perfect clarity to Markle’s intentions to continue the feminist fight and use her new status to further women’s rights. 

Who are Meghan Markle’s mum and dad?

Markle’s mum, Doria Ragland, has become the nation’s sweetheart, after wowing the British public with her dignified demeanor and chic style. She met Markle’s dad, Thomas Markle, in the late Seventies. 

Markle wrote in a 2015 essay for Elle: “My dad was a lighting director for a soap opera and my mom was a temp at the studio,” adding, “I like to think he was drawn to her sweet eyes and her Afro, plus their shared love of antiques.” After Markle was born in August 1981, the family moved to The Valley in Los Angeles, but her parents divorced when Markle was six years old. 

Now, Ragland works as a social worker and yoga instructor in Windsor Hills, California, while her father is retired and living in Rosarito, Mexico. Markle has two older half-siblings, Thomas Markle Jr. and Samatha Grant.

While Meghan has previously described a close relationship with Ragland, her relationship with her father is believed to be more complicated. Having been lined up to walk his daughter down the aisle, circumstances prevented him from doing so. 

He pulled out of the wedding with the excuse that he was recovering from heart surgery, and Kensington Palace issued a public statement.

What has she acted in?

Markle is most famous for her role as ambitious lawyer Rachel Zane in Suits. Her character was written out of the show this year with a wedding story line (which handily paralleled her real-life wedding to Prince Harry). She joined the show back in 2011 and became a staple member of the cast, working through seven seasons and completing over 100 episodes. 

She previously appeared in CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, Without a Trace and had cameos in movies including A Lot Like Love and Get Him To The Greek.

But 2016’s most Googled actor wasn’t handed her success on a plate, and tried her hand at an interesting part-time job to make ends meet while she was auditioning for the roles that would help her break into the industry. Speaking to Good Housekeeping, Markle previously said: “I used to be a calligrapher for weddings and events – that was my side job while I was auditioning.

“I think handwritten notes are a lost art form. When I booked my first [TV] pilot, my dad wrote me a letter that I still have. The idea of someone taking the time to put pen to paper is really special.”

Markle also previously ran her own lifestyle site dedicated to a “love of travel, food, fashion & beauty” called The Tig. She said: “I see my website The Tig as a conversation between girlfriends. I love connecting with the fan base and sharing my experiences.

“There’s so much snarky stuff on the Internet these days, so I’ve tried to create a space that’s really positive and hopefully inspires you to do something that’s uplifting and empowering.”

What are Meghan Markle’s beauty secrets?

Meghan Markle

Markle’s beauty routine has been a source of fascination to many. She manages to look pulled together without appearing too ‘done’. Her former make-up artist told Hello! that far from anything fancy, Markle’s go-to mascara is a high street favourite: “Meghan actually introduced me to a drugstore mascara, Maybelline Lash Sensational Luscious Mascara. I keep it stocked in my kit now at all times thanks to her!”

In an old interview for Beauty Banter she revealed that NARS Blush in Orgasm is a staple thanks to its ‘perfect rosy flush tone that brightens the face’. 

In the same interview she references Laura Mercier Illuminating Primer: “I don’t wear foundation unless I’m filming so this is what I put on everyday after moisturizer to give my skin a dewy glow. It’s not sparkly, it’s true to its name…”

Meghan’s hair always looks thick, healthy and bouncy. She said in an interview with Birchbox: “When my hair is feeling a little weighted, Suanne, my hair artist on set, has me bend forward and she sprays a little Oribe Dry Texurizing Spray, and then has me ‘flip back hard’ to give my hair a little extra bounce”.

How does Meghan Markle champion feminism? 

Meghan Markle has long been an outspoken feminist. She was recently named as one of the Vogue 25 (most influential women of 2018), and earned a place on Time magazine’s annual 100 Most Influential People list – accompanied by an essay penned by actor, singer, film producer and philanthropist Priyanka Chopra which described her compassion as being “evident in the causes she supports, and her drive to break down stereotypes”.

She is also a great supporter of the #MeToo movement. She made some stirring comments at the first annual forum for the Royal Foundation (the philanthropic organisation currently run by Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry), saying that women “don’t need to find a voice. They have a voice. They need to feel empowered to use it, and people need to be encouraged to listen”. 

She went on to say, “We’re seeing so many campaigns - #MeToo, and Time’s Up. There is no better time than to really continue to shine a light on women feeling empowered and people really helping to support them, men included in that. It makes such a tremendous difference.”

What has Meghan Markle said about Prince Harry?

In an interview with the BBC’s Mishal Husain, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle admitted they didn’t know much about each other until they met.

Harry said: “I was beautifully surprised when I walked into that room and saw her… I thought, I am really going to have to up my game here and make sure I’ve got a good chat”.

Within weeks of meeting the couple were camping together in Botswana. 

While the royal said it was “hugely refreshing” to get to know someone not in his usual circle, Markle said: “Everything that I have learned about him, I learned through him as opposed to having grown up around different news stories or tabloids, whatever else. Anything I learned about him and his family was what he would share with me, and vice versa. So for both of us it was a very authentic and organic way to get to know each other”.

Of course, Markle is a vocal supporter of women’s rights but since becoming Prince Harry’s fiance (and now wife) the actor has also been keen to shout about her beloved’s feminist credentials. At one of their public engagements together Markle happily told a young woman in the crowd that her future husband was a “feminist too.”

How has she dealt with racism?

meghan-markle-about

Meghan Markle has spoken in the past about the importance of embracing mixed race beauty. 

With an African-American mother and Caucasian father, she has never shied away from discussing her experiences of life as a mixed-race woman. In an interview with Allure, she called on other mixed-race women to embrace the way they look.

Having studied theatre and international relations at Northwestern University in Illinois, she has said that it was while at university that she began to think deeply about race: “I took an African-American studies class at Northwestern where we explored colourism. It was the first time I could put a name to feeling too light in the black community, too mixed in the white community”.

Markle previously spoke about the difficulties of being mixed race in an essay, highlighting how despite having upsides (she “could audition for virtually any role”), her “ethnically ambiguous” look meant she rarely actually got the job.

“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 get a job,” she wrote.

Markle wrote that she has long since embraced her identity as a “strong, confident mixed-race woman” and revealed that her “pet peeve” is when her “skin tone is changed” and her freckles airbrushed out of photoshoots.

“For all my freckle-faced friends out there, I will share with you something she told me when I was younger,” she concludes. “A face without freckles is a night without stars.”

Images: USA Network / Getty