What You Never Knew About Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle is a household name due to her prolific acting career and her marriage to Prince Harry –- and also due to the highly publicized ups and downs that she has experienced throughout her time in the public eye.

When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry married in 2018, the couple received an outpouring of media attention and, unfortunately, a large amount of that attention was negative. In a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan admitted that being part of the royal family was not all rainbows and butterflies — in fact, her mental health suffered severely as she tried to navigate her new life (via The New York Times). As Meghan detailed, she was negatively portrayed by the media and dealt with endless disparaging tabloid rumors – not to mention an overwhelming amount of bullying fueled by institutionalized racism and sexism.

But once she and Harry formally stepped down as senior members of the royal family in early 2020, things began to improve. Despite the hardships that came from extricating themselves from their royal duties, the couple has been able to create a life for themselves that is right for them — and create some distance between themselves and the criticism they have faced for years. And when it comes down to who the Duchess of Sussex really is, there is much more to her than what the tabloids have to say.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

She 'never had anyone to sit with at lunch'

In an episode of Meghan Markle's hit podcast, "Archetypes," she chatted with actress Mindy Kaling about their experiences as teens. Looking at Meghan Markle's successful career now, you wouldn't expect her to have struggled with self-esteem growing up. But, according to Meghan, she did experience low confidence in high school and had trouble making friends.

"I never had anyone to sit with at lunch," she told Mindy Kaling (via People). To try to solve that problem and find her place, Meghan joined several clubs. "I was like, okay, well then I'll become the president of the Multicultural Club and the president of sophomore class and the president of this and French club." By joining all these clubs, she could avoid the cafeteria. "So I didn't have to worry about who I would sit with or what I would do because I was always so busy," she explained.

The duchess further revealed that she didn't fit the beauty standard of the time. Her "massive frizzy curly hair" and "huge gap in [her] teeth" relegated her to the position of "the smart one, not the pretty one," she said.

She probably has better handwriting than you

Most people know about Meghan Markle's extensive acting career, but before her acting took off, she worked as a calligrapher. Per People, she worked in the Beverly Hills stationery store, Paper Source. The company's CEO, Winnie Park, told People, "It was her part-time job as she was going through auditions. She taught calligraphy and hosted a group of customers and instructed them during a two-hour class on how to do calligraphy." Meghan continued to offer freelance calligraphy services after moving on from her job at the stationery store. Some of her freelance clients? Robin Thicke and Paula Patton.

Actress Paula Patton told Entertainment Tonight that she hired Meghan to write her wedding invitations before she married Robin Thicke in 2005. "She had this beautiful writing," Patton said. "That moment I feel like I said something to her. Like, 'You are meant to be royal '... She was just so graceful and lovely, and actually really kind."

In addition to teaching calligraphy, Meghan offered instructional classes on bookbinding and gift-wrapping, according to People. It seems safe to assume her Christmas presents are works of art. 

She ran a successful lifestyle blog

The Tig was where Meghan Markle wrote about everything from politics to fashion to self-love, and the name of her blog was inspired by a wine called Tignanello (via Elle). While much of the content of her blog revolved around food, fashion, travel, and interviews with inspiring women, Meghan did not shy away from difficult topics.

In one archived post titled "Champions of Change," she wrote about her mother's experience with racism. She detailed how her mother and grandparents were forced to eat outside of a restaurant because they were Black. "It reminds me of how young our country is. How far we've come and how far we still have to come," she wrote in the post. "It makes me think of the countless black jokes people have shared in front of me, not realizing I am mixed. Unaware that I am the ethnically ambiguous fly on the wall."

In April 2017, seven months before Meghan became engaged to Prince Harry, she shut The Tig down, leaving readers with a sweet and heartfelt final message which concluded with: "Above all, don't ever forget your worth — as I've told you time and time again, you, my sweet friend, you are enough." But don't be too sad if you're one of the many people mourning the end of The Tig. Some have speculated that she will be reactivating the blog in the future (via Daily Mail).

Meghan shares some similarities with her Suits character, Rachel

Meghan Markle played the role of Rachel, the powerhouse paralegal-turned-lawyer, on "Suits" —and Rachel is actually Meghan's real first name, with Meghan being her middle name. The two share more than just a name though; Meghan told Marie Claire that she relates to the character's personal qualities, too. "So automatically, Rachel and I, very similar: ambitious, driven, and always trying to take the bull by its horns," she said, adding that she and Rachel Zane also share a tendency to be hard on themselves.

Meghan also shared that much of her character's wardrobe was comprised of pieces she'd wear in her real life. "Rachel is like the ultimate best friend — who has a closet that I always borrow things from in my personal life," she told the publication. She and her on-screen character also shared the same jewelry, including family heirlooms like one of her grandmother's bracelets (via Marie Claire).

She's been a feminist since she was young

Meghan's involvement in the advancement of women's rights is a key part of who she is. From speaking out against her character's overt sexualization on "Suits," to advocating for women and girls' education, she has made it a point to invest in gender equality (via People).

Her feminism and sense of justice were clear from a young age. After seeing a commercial on TV that implied that it was a woman's job to wash the dishes, 11-year-old Meghan Markle wrote to Procter & Gamble about their sexist advertising, according to People. Her letter apparently made an impact, because days later the commercial was re-aired — minus the sexist verbiage.

Since then, she has continued to advocate for women's rights, working with organizations like UN Women and World Vision. And though her name is inextricably linked to her husband's, Meghan has made it clear that she stands firm in her own personal identity. In a 2019 speech in South Africa, for example, she stated, "On one personal note, may I just say that while I am here with my husband as a member of the royal family, I want you to know that for me, I am here as a mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a woman of color and as your sister. I am here with you, and I am here for you" (via People).

She was a briefcase beauty on Deal or No Deal

In addition to her calligraphy career, Meghan Markle tried out some other gigs before she landed her role on "Suits." From 2006 to 2007, she worked on "Deal or No Deal" as a briefcase model.

Working on the game show wasn't exactly a dream job for her — it was an in-between job she took to pay the bills. She told Esquire about that time in her life: "I would put that in the category of things I was doing while I was auditioning to try to make ends meet." A fellow briefcase beauty who worked with Meghan on "Deal or No Deal", Lisa Gleave, said to the Gold Coast Bulletin (via Cosmopolitan) that she remembers Meghan's dedication to acting. "I remember her being very focused on her acting career, and her role as a Briefcase Beauty, as we were called, was just a stepping stone in her career."

Even though "Deal or No Deal" wasn't Meghan's ideal job, it did help her better understand what she wanted from her career. "Definitely working on Deal or No Deal was a learning experience, and it helped me to understand what I would rather be doing," the duchess told Esquire.

She was close with the Suits cast, on and off camera

Meghan often spent time with the "Suits" cast off-screen, "playing Apples to Apples and drinking Scotch into the wee hours of the night," she told Esquire. The cast filmed the show in Canada, so Meghan spent several months living in Canada rather than California. This time away from home wasn't necessarily ideal, but it did allow for deep friendships to form between cast members. She told Esquire that the cast even got together to celebrate Canada Day at a cast member's house. "I guess it's really a testament to how well we all get along as a cast that when we have a three-day holiday weekend, we all drive up there with our coolers and our beer, and everyone brings their kids and husbands and wives and everything," she said.

Her on-screen love interest and off-screen friend, Patrick Adams, had only kind things to say about his friend on Twitter (via Elle): "Meghan Markle and I spent the better part of a decade working together on Suits. From day one she was an enthusiastic, kind, cooperative, giving, joyful and supportive member of our television family. She remained that person and colleague as fame, prestige, and power accrued." Adams went on to praise Meghan, calling her a "powerful woman with a deep sense of morality."

Meghan told Esquire that the close-knit relationships between cast members helped the show succeed. "You can feel that we all get along on- and off-camera. And that chemistry is really prevalent in each of the episodes," she explained.

She was surprisingly shy

Meghan shared in her podcast "Archetypes" that she was a "loner" in high school and joined many clubs to avoid sitting by herself at lunch (via People). This shyness is far from what many would expect from the famous actor and Duchess of Sussex. However, that's not the only time she has addressed her reserved nature. In fact, she showed a sort of maternal empathy when she comforted a shy young girl at a community care event for disadvantaged children in Cardiff back in 2018. The girl was feeling too nervous to perform in a dance number with other children, and Meghan reportedly comforted the girl, telling her, "I used to be shy too," according to the Daily Mail.

Lisa Gleave, Meghan's fellow "Deal or No Deal" briefcase model, also recalled Meghan being more reserved, describing her to the Gold Coast Bulletin as "quiet but very sweet" (via Cosmopolitan).

Meghan Markle's dad was a cameraman in Hollywood

Meghan's dad, Thomas Markle, worked as a cinematographer and lighting director on multiple TV shows, including "Married... with Children," "General Hospital," and "The Facts of Life." Because of this, Meghan grew up in the entertainment industry — and she even got to hang out on set with her dad, telling Esquire, "Every day after school for 10 years, I was on the set of Married... with Children." She continued to explain that the set of the TV show was "a really funny and perverse place for a little girl in a Catholic school uniform to grow up."

She's right about that. The subject matter in "Married... with Children" ran the gamut from slightly inappropriate to risqué. Meghan's dad shielded her from a lot of the inappropriate goings-on, though. She told Esquire, "There were a lot of times my dad would say, 'Meg, why don't you go and help with the craft services room over there? This is just a little off-color for your 11-year-old eyes.'"

She's a Leo

Born on August 4, 1981, in Los Angeles, Meghan Markle displays many of the traits associated with this fiery sign, including creativity, determination, and success. Meghan's Leo qualities are also evident in her work ethic. As she admitted to Best Health (via Vogue), "I love to work, to be honest."

Her hardworking nature is shown through her job history, which includes everything from working at a frozen yogurt shop to interning at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires. Some may think her acting career was a breeze due to her role in "Suits," but it turns out that she hit many dead ends in acting before her career took off. "Before Suits, I did a pilot every single year," she told Marie Claire. Hey, maybe her Leo nature is part of what propelled her forward in acting, despite the difficulties of making it in the industry.

Overall, it really isn't a huge shock that Meghan is a Leo, as they are known for being in the spotlight. Other famous Leos include Jennifer Lopez, Maya Rudolph, and Viola Davis, each of them being fiery, passionate, and successful women. Looks like the duchess is in good company!

She 'cannot live without' tea tree oil

Many celebrities have shared their must-have beauty or personal items, and sometimes these go-to items can be predictable — a bold red lipstick or an expensive moisturizer. But not Meghan Markle's pick. Her must-have item is tea tree oil, an essential oil made from the leaves of the Australian tea tree. This essential oil is often found in lotions, soaps, and shampoos.

Meghan Markle's essential product is not only an interesting pick, but it's multifunctional. She told Allure in 2017 that she brings tea tree oil with her everywhere she goes, explaining, "The one thing that I cannot live without when I'm traveling is a small container of tea tree oil." Why? "It's not the most glamorous thing, but if you get a cut, a mosquito bite, a small breakout, no matter what it is, it's my little cure-all," she explained. "It's inexpensive, it's small enough to carry on, and I bring it with me all the time."

She loves to cook

It's one thing to love food, and it's another thing to love cooking — but Meghan is a fan of both.She told Ellen DeGeneres (via People) in 2021, "I love to cook. We'll be home and just sort of relax and settle in." Her favorite thing to cook? Roasted chicken. "There is nothing as delicious (or as impressive) as a perfectly roasted chicken," she told Good Housekeeping. "It's a game changer. I bring that to dinner parties and make a lot of friends."

While she has shared in the past that she tends to eat healthily, adopting a vegan diet throughout the week, she doesn't believe in a restrictive diet. She told Better Health, "I could eat French fries all day. And I love pasta. I love carbs — who doesn't love a carbohydrate? ... Because I work out the way I do, I don't ever want to feel deprived. I feel that the second you do that is when you start to binge on things."

Meghan Markle's mom fostered the duchess' love of travel

It's no secret that Meghan loves to travel. She often wrote about her travel adventures on her now-defunct blog and still travels frequently these days. But few people know that her mom is part of what inspired her love of travel. In 2017, she explained to Allure, "My mom was a travel agent, so off-the-beaten-path travel has always been a big part of my life."

Meghan's mom, Doria Ragland, influenced her life in other ways, too. In an article she wrote for Glamour about 10 women who have changed her life, Meghan reserved a special spot for her mother. She spoke highly of her mom's empathy and free spirit, writing, "My mom's a yoga instructor, but she does social work, as well, and she works specifically with the geriatric community. For me to watch this level of life-long sensitivity to nurturing and caregiving, but at the same time my mom has always been a free spirit."

She was in a sorority in college

People generally tend to love or hate sororities, that is, college social clubs for women. There is a stereotype that sorority girls can be vapid, snooty, and big on partying — but on the flip side, sorority girls are also known for their friendliness and involvement in philanthropy and volunteering. We're guessing Meghan Markle fell into the latter camp.

Meghan Markle attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois where she eventually graduated with a bachelor's degree in theater and international relations in 2003. While she was in school, she joined the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, according to the Chicago Tribune, where she was the recruitment chairwoman, in charge of recruiting and welcoming new members into the sorority. One of her sorority sisters, Liz Kores Graham, described Meghan as an "ethereal, sophisticated, beautiful creature who lived with us and was always willing to lend you a top," per the Chicago Tribune. 

She's a dog person – big time

Meghan has adopted several dogs over the years, including her first dog named Bogart and, later, a beagle named Guy (per People). She and Harry adopted a black lab named Pula sometime after their wedding in 2018, and in 2022, the couple adopted a seven-year-old beagle adorably named Mamma Mia. But Meghan's love of dogs goes beyond rescuing and adopting them. In 2020, she actually sponsored a dog kennel in her son Archie's name, according to People, and this kennel acts as an "interim home for [pets] in need." Naming the kennel after Archie seems to be a good move, since a source told People in 2020 that the little one is already "best friends" with the family dogs.

Whether she's spoiling her own pups or sponsoring other dogs in need, Meghan is dedicated to helping animals as much as she can, and she encourages others to do the same. As she was once a patron of the U.K. animal welfare organization, Mayhew, Meghan wrote on behalf of the organization, "I encourage you to get involved in whatever way you can – either through pet adoption, volunteering, donation, or spreading the word" (via Hola).