Who is Meghan Markle? The actress, humanitarian and gender equality campaigner engaged to Prince Harry

The actress is best known for playing Rachel Zane in Suits

Jack Shepherd,Olivia Blair
Monday 27 November 2017 11:06
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have announced their engagement

Clarence House has announced Prince Harry will marry the American actress Meghan Markle.

While many people will know Markle for portraying Rachel Zane on the show Suits, the future Royal has done so much more, being an entrepreneur along with humanitarian and gender equality campaigner.

So, what do you need to know? Here are some of the more important things to know about the 36-year-old.

Engagement announcement

"His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms. Meghan Markle," a statement reads.

"The wedding will take place in Spring 2018. Further details about the wedding day will be announced in due course.

"His Royal Highness and Ms. Markle became engaged in London earlier this month. Prince Harry has informed Her Majesty The Queen and other close members of his family. Prince Harry has also sought and received the blessing of Ms. Markle's parents.

"The couple will live in Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace."

Acting career

After minor roles in the sci-fi drama Fringe, the soap opera General Hospital and cameos in films like A Lot Like Love and Horrible Bosses, Markle found her big break on the legal drama Suits which is now in its sixth season.

She plays the ambitious, determined paralegal Rachel Zane who is also the girlfriend of the fraudulent lawyer and central character Mike Ross, played by Patrick J. Adams.

Gender equality campaigner

Like Emma Watson, Markle is a UN women’s advocate (for Political Participation and Leadership) and has publicly supported Watson’s He For She campaign.

In 2015, she narrated a public service announcement for the organisation and has given a speech before the UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon. As she says in a blog post: “I’ve never wanted to be a lady who lunches – I’ve always wanted to be a woman who works.”

Her feminism dates back to childhood, according to Markle, and she has spoken of writing to women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred and the then First Lady Hillary Clinton to protest against the tagline for a dish washing liquid company that said: “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans”. Allred and Clinton apparently pledged support and months later the advert was changed to: “People all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.”

Humanitarian

Markle is an an ambassador for Canada’s World Vision Clean Water campaign and as part of that role, she has travelled to Rwanda. Last month, she was seen talking to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the One Young World Summit in Ottawa – a celebration of young leaders from across the world.

She has also visited the Gihembe refugee camp in Rwanda to meet with women leaders in the camp as part of her gender equality campaign work.

In a recent column for Elle, the actress explained how her two worlds of red-carpets and TV shows can be successfully combined with her humanitarian work.

Racial equality campaigner

Two years ago, Markle wrote a column for Elle about establishing her identity as a mixed-race woman. As the daughter of an African-American mother and caucasian father, she wrote about her confusion at not knowing which box to tick on a form asking her ethnicity at school as the options were limited to white, black, hispanic or Asian. In her early acting days, she says she often missed out on roles as she “wasn’t black enough for the black roles and wasn’t white enough for the white ones, leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn’t book a job”.

Commenting on the continued strained race relations in the US in the essay, Markle said she witnessed the 2014 Ferguson and Baltimore protests “in horror as both sides of a culture I define as my own became victims of spin in the media, perpetuating stereotypes and reminding us that the States has perhaps only placed bandages over the problems that have never healed at the root”.

Entrepeneur

Markle founded the lifestyle blog The Tig which she describes as a digital “conversation between girlfriends”. The blog contains fashion, beauty and wellness content, however, she says she also started it as a place to publish inspiring pieces for young women.

“I knew that girls were checking the site to see fashion tips or how to get a stellar blow dry, but in reframing the beauty content to include think pieces about self-empowerment, or feature dynamic women such as Fatima Bhutto, I was hoping to integrate social consciousness and subjects of higher value than, let’s say…selfies. A subtle means to pepper in what really matters,” she writes on the website.

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