A Look Back at Meghan Markle's Pre-Royal Life

Her engagement to Prince Harry has sparked interest in her fashion choices, her parents, her past love life and her humanitarian work

By Corinne Heller Dec 01, 2017 11:16 PMTags
Watch: Prince Harry & Meghan Markle Shake Hands With Fans

Meghan Markle may not be royalty yet, but she's already being treated like a princess by her growing, adoring fan base.

The 36-year-old former actress, who recently left the show Suits and quit show business altogether, stepped out on Friday with fiancé Prince Harry for their first official outing since Monday, when they announced their engagement. The two visited the English city of Nottingham and greeted a cheering crowd.

Meghan has been gaining fans since she began dating Harry in 2016 and is now more popular than ever. Her engagement to Harry has sparked widespread interest in her fashion choices, her parents, her past love life and her humanitarian work. And it seems the public has welcomed Meghan as the prince's bride-to-be—and an expected future duchess—with open arms. 

La La Land

Home sweet home! Before her plan to move across the pond, Meghan was born Rachel Meghan Markle and raised in Los Angeles, California.

Claim to Fame

Miss Markle made a name for herself long before her romance with royalty began. She rose to fame in her role as Rachel Zane in the legal drama series Suits.

Daddy's Girl!

Aw! In 2013, the former actress posted a #tbt tribute to her dad, Thomas Markle, who also happens to be in the world of television as an Emmy-winning lighting director.

Proud Daughter

The star celebrated her mama's achievements in 2016.  "Always proud of this beautiful woman," she wrote. "This was when she graduated from USC with a masters in social work."

Making a Change

The actress is a Global Ambassador for humanitarian organization, World Vision. In February 2016, she visited Rwanda to help provide clean water access to African communities.  


Strike a pose! The Suits star dabbled in the world of fashion when she teamed up with Reitman's to design a fall collection in 2016.


Meghan is a big yogi and all thanks to her mama! "Thanks to my mom - yoga instructor and friend. It all started with you. Love you," she wrote on Instagram accompanying her feature in Best Health Magazine.

Famous Friends

Yup, that's right. The actress is friends with tennis champ Serena Williams and loves to cheer her on. "Love and hugs for days with @serenawilliams ! Killing it!! So happy!! On to the finals... ��#usopen," she wrote on Instragram.

Puppy Love

The star is also an advocate for animals! In this adorable photo of her and her pups, Meghan encourages people to adopt dogs rather than buying them by using the hashtag, #adoptdontshop.


The star and producer Trevor Engelson wed in 2011 and finalized a divorce in 2014. They have no children.

Natural-Born Leader

Leading lady! Meghan, a known supporter of gender equality and the empowerment of women, served as an advocate for United Nations Women in 2015. "We need more female leaders," wrote the star in an Instagram post. "#leadlikeawoman."

She's Patriotic!

In 2014, Meghan joined US troops in Afghanistan for a USO tour. "In gratitude to our troops, and the opportunity to thank them personally for their sacrifice and service," she wrote in an Instagram post. "Such an honor and feeling very very blessed. #USOtour"

Inspiring Speech

The star speaks at the UN Women's 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference of Women in Beijing in 2015 about how at age 11, she "unknowingly and somehow accidentally became a female advocate" after watching a sexist Procter & Gamble dish-washing liquid commercial.

Getting Political

Well that's casual. Markle talked politics with Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, at the 2016 One Young World summit—a global forum where young leaders discuss world issues-- in Ottawa, Canada.

Vintage Glam

Foreshadowing? In 2013, the actress posted a photo of her trying on a vintage fascinator and we can't help but get some serious Kate Middleton vibes.


Throughout Friday, Meghan, was a popular subject on social media feeds, spurring admiring posts about the poise she has shown alongside Harry and her recent outfit—a long, tailored navy double-breasted Mackage coat, a khaki, pleated below-the-knee Joseph skirt and black mid-calf KG Kurt Geiger boots—from people who have never or rarely posted about Britain's royal family...or even fashion.

Since the engagement was announced, more and more social media commentators have also cited and praised Meghan's humanitarian work. She is an advocate for UN Women, a global ambassador for World Vision and a counselor for the U.K.-based charity One Young World. The admiring posts about Meghan's looks and charity work bring to mind the kind of attention usually given for Harry's sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge—and expected future Princess of Wales, and in past years, his late mother, Princess Diana.

Amid the renewed social media interest, Google searches for Meghan have surged since her engagement to Harry was announced.

Her previous marriage to producer Trevor Engelson and her race remain trending topics—the former actress was born and raised in Los Angeles by her parents Doria Ragland, who is African-American, and Thomas Markle, who is Caucasian. Like Meghan, he too has worked in Hollywood; he is a former director of photography and lighting who worked on shows such as Married... With Children and General Hospital.

Meghan has occasionally spoken about her parents in interviews and has paid tribute to them, with childhood photos, on Instagram. At age 11, her dad encouraged her to write letters after she watched a sexist Procter & Gamble dish-washing liquid commercial.

"It was at that moment that I realized the magnitude of my actions," Meghan said in a speech at the UN Women's 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference of Women in Beijing in 2015, whose video recently went viral. "At the age of 11, I had created my small level of impact by standing up for equality."