It’s an unconventional, thoroughly modern fairy tale shaking up the stuffy world of blue bloods.
So how did Meghan, 36, go from B-list actress and humanitarian to the Duchess of Sussex (a title the queen is most likely to bestow after her wedding)?
Andrew Morton’s new book, “Meghan: A Hollywood Princess,” details Markle’s stunning trajectory from LA’s Valley to Kensington Palace.
Born to a black mother, Doria Ragland, and Thomas Markle, a white father with two children from a previous marriage, Rachel Meghan Markle has always inhabited multiple worlds. Before marrying in 1979, her parents first met when Thomas was a soap-opera lighting director and Doria temped at the studio.
The family settled in a neighborhood that lacked diversity, and neighbors mistook Doria for Meghan’s nanny, according to a 2015 Elle UK article by Markle. It would be the first of her numerous encounters with racism.
After her parents divorced when she was 6, Markle divided her time between parents. Her father supported her private education, in part, by winning $750,000 in the California State Lottery in 1990, though he would declare bankruptcy a few years later.
Until she was 11, Markle attended the posh Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse before enrolling in the private, all-girls Catholic school Immaculate Heart, where alums include Tyra Banks and Mary Tyler Moore.
Markle has always been comfortable navigating conflicting identities. In fact, her circumstances have required it. She once described growing up biracial as “a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating.”
Her parents encouraged her to be proud of her heritage: Thomas blended two sets of Barbie families as a Christmas present for his daughter. After she was stymied by a school census whose choices didn’t reflect her mixed-race makeup, Thomas told the then-seventh-grader to “draw your own box,” despite her teacher’s urging to check “Caucasian” “because that’s how you look, Meghan,” the actress recounted in Elle.
Markle was exposed at a young age to equal parts social justice and celebrity. Doria, a yoga teacher and social worker, would take her daughter on goodwill missions to the slums of Mexico and Jamaica, visiting the needy and exposing her daughter to others’ hardships. After school, she would visit Thomas on the set of shows such as “Married With Children,” where he was a longtime lighting director.
Perhaps it was that early exposure to Hollywood that put stars in her eyes: She would go on to act in high-school productions that drew sold-out crowds.
“A lot of pupils went to the show just to see Meghan,” Immaculate Heart drama director Manny Eulalia told Morton. “She certainly had a fan club. Quite a few of the boys had crushes on her.”
But high school wasn’t easy. In 2014, Markle wrote on her erstwhile lifestyle blog, The Tig: “My high school had cliques: the black girls and white girls . . . Being biracial, I fell somewhere in between. So every day during lunch, I busied myself with meetings . . . not so that I was more involved, but so that I wouldn’t have to eat alone.”
Still, she couldn’t deny the acting bug, later writing in Elle UK that it was “either ironic or apropos” that she was drawn to a “label-driven industry.” “Perhaps it is through this…
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