Many little girls grow up dreaming of becoming princesses (looking at you, Disney), but few ever see those dreams become reality. If you’re a little girl in America, the Cinderella fantasy is even more of a long-shot, as America has no monarchy, and the Kardashians are full.
However, young women still clung to the hope of someday experiencing a chance-meeting with one of Britain’s two most eligible royal bachelors, William and Harry. So when Prince William married Kate Middleton in 2011, every woman in America took solace in the fact that Harry was still on the market.
Of course, those princess dreams were dashed for good on November 27, 2017, when Prince Charles announced the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. All eyes are on the American actress and humanitarian as she rewrites the classic fairytale with her own undeniable flair — majorly upping her likability factor due to charmingly breaking quite a few royal rules and traditions along the way.
American, divorced, biracial… oh, my!
Not only is Markle an American woman, but she’s also a divorcée. She married her longtime partner Trevor Engelson on September 10, 2011, divorcing him only two years later.
The last divorcée to marry into royalty was Wallis Simpson, the twice-married American woman who stole King Edward’s heart in 1936, inspiring him to abdicate his throne so that they could wed. Luckily for Markle and Harry, times have changed.
However, Markle continues to make headlines for a completely different reason: her ethnicity. Born in 1981 to a white father and African-American mother, Markle will be marrying into Britain’s royal family as a proud biracial woman. Though her race is quite a hot topic of discussion now that she’s set to become a royal, Markle has always faced questions about her ethnicity.
As she wrote in Elle in 2015, not a week goes by where she’s not asked to explain her ambiguous appearance. Markle responds with a "mouthful" as she says, writing, "’Well,’ I say, as I begin the verbal dance I know all too well. ‘I’m an actress, a writer, the Editor-in-Chief of my lifestyle brand The Tig, a pretty good cook, and a firm believer in handwritten notes.’"
Markle doesn’t believe her looks define who she is. Instead, she’s always felt a close connection to her great-great-great grandfather because, as she writes in her Elle essay, "He drew his own box."
She’s no shrinking violet
A girl’s gotta take a stand, and Meghan Markle has already taken quite a few — even some that may clash with the royal family’s tradition of staying out of party politics and refraining from publicly expressing their personal beliefs and opinions.
As Express reported, Markle posted a picture in 2016 to her personal Instagram page in which she is believed to have been expressing her personal thoughts on Brexit. In the photo, a woman’s hand holds a cardboard sign displaying a clever play on the lyrics of Chicago’s hit song, "If You Leave Me Now." Markle captioned the photo on her now-deleted Instagram, "If EU leave me now…" leading many to believe the bride-to-be possesses anti-Brexit views.
She’s also an outspoken champion for women’s rights, delivering a speech on International Women’s Day in 2015 at the UN Women conference in New York City. In her inspiring speech, Markle details her own experiences with inequality, citing a particular instance from her childhood in which she inspired Proctor & Gamble to change the wording in a commercial from "Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans," to "People all over America."
When The Sunday Times reported that Markle would be delivering a speech at her wedding reception — a move virtually unheard of where royal weddings are concerned — the news didn’t come as a shock. Unlike Princess Ariel, Markle has no plans on giving up her voice to be part of Prince Harry’s world.
She doesn’t have royal jeans
While the future royal has certainly proven herself to be much more than just a pretty face, Meghan Markle’s unique sense of style continues to be the cause of both praise and criticism. Harper’s Bazaar reported that the gorgeous white coat from Canadian brand Line the Label that Markle wore while she and Prince Harry publicly announced their engagement in November has been renamed "the Meghan" by John Muscat, the brand’s CEO.
Muscat spoke with WWD shorty after the royal announcement, revealing that the coat sold out "within minutes," disappointing the millions of women who suddenly found themselves vying for Markle’s style with no such luck.
However, the future duchess is known to find herself at the center of debate surrounding her edgier sense of style. Kate Middleton is rarely seen wearing jeans — and for good reason. Senior etiquette tutor Diana Mather tells BBC, "Many places will not allow jeans as they are still seen as very casual wear, so it is better to play safe for both sexes."
This obviously hasn’t deterred Markle, as she donned light-blue ripped jeans during an outing with Harry in September 2017 to the Invictus Games. Some people took to social media (via Yahoo! Entertainment) to declare their disapproval of her fashion choice, one person even writing that Markle is "obviously not bred to be a royal." Ouch. Judging from the pictures of the happy couple, neither Markle or Prince Harry are letting a little ripped denim tear apart their romance.
She’s A-OK with PDA
Who doesn’t love the butterflies you get when your special someone holds your hand for the very first time, the warm and fuzzy feeling of snuggling up together to keep warm on a chilly day, or stealing kisses while running errands? Every person has their own opinion on PDA, but the general consensus seems to be that hand holding is a G-rated version of public displays of affection — safe for kids and families alike.
However, royal etiquette expert Myka Meier told People, there’s an unspoken rule for royal couples to refrain from holding hands. "Technically, the couple are working representatives of the British Monarchy," Meier said. "The couple are likely to show very little PDA, if any, to remain professional during their designated roles abroad."
This explains why photos are rarely seen of Prince William and Kate Middleton holding hands or touching each other at all — they’re basically coworkers!
Someone better let Prince Harry and Meghan Markle know the deal before they get called into the boss’ office for not being able to keep their hands off each other. Their first official "work outing" saw the happy couple holding hands, wrapped in each other’s arms, and making sure the other was never too far away. I mean, can you blame them?
She was a not-so-Catholic schoolgirl
Meghan Markle’s journey to royalty is truly the stuff that fairytales are made of, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time in history. Just a few short years before Prince Harry and Markle’s engagement, it’s entirely possible that the couple would not have been allowed to marry. However, this isn’t due to Markle’s previous divorce, as one might think.
Far more important than marital history to the royal family is religious affiliation. As the BBC reported, The Succession to the Crown Act that was passed in 2013 overturned a rule which prevented members of the Royal Family from marrying a Roman Catholic.
Though Meghan reportedly identifies as Protestant, she attended the Immaculate Heart girls’ school, a Catholic school in Los Angeles, from ages 11 to 18. In an interview with The Telegraph, Markle’s drama teacher Gigi Perreau spilled the beans on her former student: "She was a wonderful student, a lovely girl even then, and very hard working. She was very dedicated. I knew she would be something special." When you know, you know!
She’s still an actress at heart
Indeed, royalty does come with many responsibilities and rules. One such rule is that the royal family cannot give adoring fans autographs, as doing so would put them at risk for having their signature forged. This rule may prove to be a difficult adjustment for Markle, who has made quite the name for herself in the States as an actress. Best known as Rachel Zane on Suits, Markle’s credits include roles in Horrible Bosses, CSI: Miami, Castle, The League, and more.
Though she has received much praise for her acting chops, Markle decided to throw in the towel for good to accommodate her royal duties — a decision she doesn’t regret. During her first joint interview with Prince Harry on BBC, Markle expressed her excitement about the career transition because it allows her to focus more energy on the causes that are important to her. She said, "You realize that as you have access — or a voice that people are willing to listen to — it comes with a lot of responsibility, which I take seriously."
Though Markle may take her newfound responsibilities seriously, the no autographs rule didn’t stop our royal rebel from signing a piece of paper for a 10-year-old girl outside of Cardiff Castle in January 2018. However, Markle cleverly worked around the autograph ban by simply writing, "Hi Kaitlin!" There’s no doubt the pint-sized fan will treasure that memento forever, despite the fact that her name is actually spelled with a "C."
She spent a surprise fairytale holiday with the royal family
Nobody puts Meghan in the corner! Markle and Prince Harry spent their holiday in December 2017 with the royal family at their winter estate in Sandringham. According to the Prince himself, the couple "had an amazing time."
While it’s not uncommon for us commoners to spend holidays with our significant other and their family, the royal family has a bit of a stricter idea on what’s appropriate before marriage. Markle’s invitation to spend the holidays with her beau and his family came as a shock, as royals are often only allowed to be accompanied by significant others if the two are wed.
Not one to be held back by silly tradition, Markle was all smiles during Christmas Day celebrations, speaking with members of the public and watching the Queen’s annual Christmas Day speech with Harry and the rest of the royal fam. Holiday magic is real!
She’s down with dishing the royal deets
Though her life is described by many, including us, as a fairytale come-to-life, Meghan Markle doesn’t wait for anyone to tell her story for her. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons behind her tell-all interview with Vanity Fair in October 2017, in which she dished the private (and adorable) details of her relationship with her then-boyfriend Prince Harry.
Markle gushed, "We’re two people who are really happy and in love. We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news." She continued by saying that life as she knew it didn’t change much by entering into the royal relationship, nor did her personality.
According to royal historian Carolyn Harris, it’s surprising that a potential member of the royal family would speak so honestly of their relationship. According to Harris, "In the past, when royal girlfriends did speak to the press, generally that didn’t bode well for the relationship." Of course, Markle considers herself to be much more than a "royal girlfriend." As she told Vanity Fair, "I’ve never defined myself by my relationship." You go, girl.
A recipe for danger
Perhaps the strangest of all the royal rules is food-related. According to BBC, the Queen has banned any type of food that could cause "disruptions of gastronomic indisposition," including rare meats, foreign waters, any food Her Royal Majesty deems too spicy or exotic, and shellfish.
There’s a method to the Queen’s madness, however; she doesn’t want the royal family be pulled from their busy schedules due to tummy troubles caused by questionable foods. This didn’t stop Meghan Markle from appearing on Today to whip up one of her favorite recipes: a Caesar salad with shrimp!
As delicious as a shrimp salad sounds, it seems Markle’s most favorite dish is roasted chicken. As she told Good Housekeeping in 2017, "There is nothing as delicious or as impressive as a perfectly roasted chicken." Sounds like a dish fit for a Queen, though it’s safe to predict that Markle will be sneaking delicious shrimp at any opportunity.
She worked hard for her money
Meghan Markle may be our real-life Cinderella, but you’d better think twice before you call her a "rags-to-riches" story. As royal correspondent Roya Nikkhah told CBS News, Markle is a "game changer" for the royal family for many reasons, the least of which not being that she was famous and successful in her own right before becoming engaged to Prince Harry.
As fairytales often go, Prince Charming rescues his beloved from a boring life of obscurity (and singing mice, of course). However, Markle isn’t a woman who needs anyone to rescue her. She quickly made a name for herself as the razor sharp Rachel Zane on the successful American television series, Suits. In addition, she founded a popular lifestyle blog called The Tig, which she ran for three years before calling it quits in early 2017.
Her net worth is estimated to be around $5 million dollars, proving that Markle was far from a damsel in distress when she met Prince Harry. She’s always been an independent working gal, which is just another reason to have major girl-crush vibes.