Admit it. You’ve Googled “Who’s Meghan Markle” — or, at least, you thought about it.
The 36-year-old American actress is now engaged to Prince Harry, the redheaded younger brother of Prince William, with a wedding planned for spring 2018.
Here in America, our only princesses are of the Disney variety. But the wedding of Kate and William in 2011 proved that there’s tremendous interest — in some cases, obsession — with the marital machinations of the royal family across the pond.
So even if you aren’t on the edge of your seat wondering who snagged the former “playboy prince,” someone you know probably is. Let’s pretend you’re reading this on their behalf.
She’s not royalty — and not British
Like Princess Kate, Markle is a commoner. More unusually, she’s American; she was born in Los Angeles. That makes her the first American to marry into the British royal family since 1937.
Back then, Edward VIII had to abdicate his throne to marry American socialite Wallis Simpson — not because she was American, but because she was divorced.
Markle is also divorced (she was married from 2011-2013), but 80 years after the Wallas Simpson drama, that’s less likely to cause an uproar.
She’s got two rescue dogs
Here they are.
She’s a humanitarian activist, promoting gender equality
This March, Markle wrote for Time magazine about the stigma and shame around menstruation in some parts of the world and how it forms a barrier to girls’ success.
“We need to rise above our puritanical bashfulness when it comes to talking about menstruation,” she wrote. “To break the cycle of poverty, and to achieve economic growth and sustainability in developing countries, young women need access to education.”
Markle was honored by Vanity Fair U.K. for her role in the One Young World summit, along with Emma Watson, Cher and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
You might recognize her from the long-running legal drama Suits
Markle plays Rachel Zane on the USA Network show, now in its seventh season.
Her character began as a well-respected, ambitious paralegal at the show’s central law firm, whose father is a name partner at a rival law firm. Over the course of the show, Zane struggles to get into law school, becomes a lawyer and gets caught up in a love triangle. Her relationship with Mike Ross is one of the central elements of the show.
“Rachel and I [are] very similar: ambitious, driven, and always trying to take the bull by its horns,” Markle told Marie Claire in 2013. “I love the intelligence that’s written into Rachel. Look, my very first audition was for ‘Hot Girl #1’ in some movie. It’s the ultimate for me that the writers are … able to go, ‘Sure, you can be a pretty girl, but there’s so much more to her.’ ”
Markle also describes herself as a foodie, another trait she shares with Zane, Vanity Fair reports.
US Weekly reported earlier this month that Markle and costar Patrick Adams (who plays Ross) are both quitting the show at the end of Season 7.
She has stayed out of the media hoopla about her romance with Harry …
“I can tell you that at the end of the day I think it’s really simple,” Markle told Vanity Fair in September. “We’re two people who are really happy and in love. We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news, and I was working during that whole time, and the only thing that changed was people’s perception. Nothing about me changed. I’m still the same person that I am, and I’ve never defined myself by my relationship.”
She described her relationship to the media with a Britishism, “ostriching” — as in, sticking her head in the sand.
“I don’t read any press. I haven’t even read press for Suits,” she said. “The people who are close to me anchor me in knowing who I am. The rest is noise.”
… but Harry has spoken out publicly to defend her against tabloids
In late 2016, when their relationship hit the press, Markle — who is biracial — was subjected to intrusive, offensive media coverage and frequently racist reaction. (The CBC collected several examples.)
Prince Harry’s communications secretary responded with a rare public comment, written in the third person, acknowledging their relationship. It noted that Harry “has tried to develop a thick skin about the level of media interest that comes with it,” but then continued:
“But the past week has seen a line crossed. His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public — the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments. Some of it has been hidden from the public — the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend; the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker, and loved one in her life.
“Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her. It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm. He knows commentators will say this is ‘the price she has to pay’ and that ‘this is all part of the game’. He strongly disagrees. This is not a game — it is her life and his.”
The statement was widely regarded as unprecedented.