If anyone on this planet has had a decade, which is emphatically different from any old measly 10 years, it would have to be Meghan Markle, who has quite literally become royalty before our very eyes.
So invested has the world become in the Duchess of Sussex’s multi-layered history that, last week, an artifact from her Hollywood days returned to us in the form of a “for sale” item on an auction page: the “Deal or No Deal” briefcase she presided over from 2006 to 2007 during her short stint on the show. (If you have between $4,000 and $6,000, consider buying.)
Yes, Markle has had many lives. Over the last ten years, she’s done extensive philanthropy, starred in a television series, acted in a number of films, gotten married, gotten divorced, founded a successful lifestyle blog, closed said successful lifestyle blog, and, obviously, become the Duchess of Sussex. Among other things.
In light of the official capping of the decade, we’ve highlighted some of Meghan Markle’s most memorable moments:
First, her impeccable style
How long does it take to become a fashion icon? It’s unclear when Meghan Markle putting on clothing became newsworthy enough to earn a title, but we know that, eventually, it did. Hint: she was recently crowned 2019′s most powerful dresser.
Her style success can be partly attributed her good friend, Jessica Mulroney, a Canadian stylist, who has styled her royal bestie for public engagements, including Markle’s wedding looks. Mulroney has helped the duchess champion Canadian designers, including House of Nonie, Sentaler, Aritzia, and Mackage.
Her marriage to American producer/actor Trevor Engelson (2011)
If Markle’s first wedding feels like ages ago, it’s because it was. Long before she met Prince Harry, the duchess was married to the American actor and producer Trevor Engelson, whom she met in 2004 when she had just begun her acting career. Engelson is most known for his work on films like “License to Wed,” “All About Steve,” and 2010’s “Remember Me,” in which Markle makes a cameo.
Markle was just 30 at the time of their marriage, which took place at the Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, a beachfront ceremony observed by 107 of the pair’s closest friends and family members. The couple divorced in 2013, citing “irreconcilable differences.”
Her breakout role on “Suits” (2011)
A large portion of Markle’s current swath of fans may have been acquainted with her first in the form of Rachel Zane, the brilliant, enchanting paralegal protagonist from the popular television show “Suits.”
Zane marked Markle’s first series-regular role and is, in retrospect, fascinating in the similarities the character bears to the woman herself. On the show, Zane is a moral, intelligent, hardworking biracial woman with a penchant for pro-bono cases. Markle may not be a paralegal in real life, but she’s always demonstrated an interest in philanthropy.
Her founding of The Tig, a lifestyle blog (2014)
In 2014, Markle launched a lifestyle blog called The Tig, a “hub for the discerning palate — those with a hunger for food, travel, fashion [and] beauty.”
The blog was resplendent with posts about women Markle found to be inspirational, including profiles of stars like Priyanka Chopra, Serena Williams, and Yara Shahidi.
However, in 2017, Markle announced that she was shutting down her passion project. In a post on Instagram (that’s now deleted but can be found on other Instagram accounts), Markle wrote: “You’ve made my days brighter and filled this experience with so much joy. Keep finding those Tig moments of discovery, keep laughing and taking risks, and keep being “the change you wish to see in the world.”
Cory Vitiello, a Canadian chef, was her boyfriend for a bit (2014)
Yes, it’s true: for two years, between 2014 and 2016, Markle was dating a handsome Canadian man named Cory Vitiello — a restaurateur and celebrity chef who was a contestant on the show “Chef in Your Ear.”
She made an inspiring speech on gender equality at the UN Women’s conference (2015)
We got a little taste of Markle’s incredible oratory skills when she made a powerful speech at the UN Women’s conference in 2015. The former actress opened up about how she was a feminist from a young age, telling the audience that when she was 11 years old, she wrote letters to then First Lady Hillary Clinton and other women in power to complain about a sexist commercial that was shown in her classroom.
The result? Proctor & Gamble, the maker of the product in the commercial, changed their tagline from, “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans” to “People all over America.”
“It was at that moment that I realized the magnitude of my actions,” Markle said. “At the age of 11, I had created my small level of impact by standing up for equality.”
She wrote a moving essay for Elle magazine about her biracial identity (2015)
In the summer of 2015, Meghan Markle published an essay in Elle magazine. It ran under the headline “I’m More Than An ‘Other,’” and astutely wrestled with some of the ways in which Markle’s biracial heritage had impacted her life.
It made it hard for her to land acting jobs, for example: “I wasn’t Black enough for the Black roles and I wasn’t white enough for the white ones, leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn’t book a job.”
She did a clothing line with Reitmans (2016)
By 2016, Markle’s star, as they say, was already on the rise. So it came as no surprise when the Canadian retailer Reitmans welcomed her as their newest brand ambassador, in an attempt to reinvigorate the brand’s energy.
Markle appeared in ads for the brand and lent her name to a handful of capsule collections. The clothes were simple and stylish: the sort of nondescript items that you look at a second time and think, “Oh, that does work.”
In 2017, Reitmans released a statement confirming Markle’s contract with them had ended. “We are very pleased with the collaboration we shared and we wish Meghan Markle much happiness in the future,” the statement read.
She met Prince Harry (2016)
Strange to revisit the birth of a thing that seems to have been around forever but 2016 happened to be the year that Meghan met Harry, on a blind date, arranged by a mutual friend, which turned into a second date the following day, and then, three or four weeks later, a trip to Bostwana.
“I managed to persuade her to come and join me in Botswana and we camped out with each other under the stars,” Prince Harry told BBC News the day the couple announced their engagement. He knew she was the one, apparently, from “the very first time we met.”
The same year, Markle became the most Googled actress in the world.
She became a global ambassador for World Vision Canada (2016)
How well you know Meghan Markle can be measured against the depth of your familiarity with her philanthropic efforts, which extend far beyond the moment she became a duchess.
In 2016, Markle became a global ambassador for World Vision Canada, and travelled to Rwanda for the non-government organization’s clean water campaign. As an ardent advocate for gender equality, Markle turned out to be passionate about making the connection between access to clean drinking water and girls’ lack of access to education.
“I think there’s a misconception that access to clean water is just about clean drinking water; which, of course, it is. But it’s so much more than that,” she said. “Access to clean water in a community keeps young girls in school, because they aren’t walking hours each day to source water for their families.”
She wrote an op-ed for Time magazine about menstruation and access to proper sanitation (2016)
Markle galloped into her Time essay on the back of a horse, jousting tool in hand: “Imagine a world where the female leaders we revere never achieved their full potential because they dropped out of school at the age of 13. In the Western world this is challenging to fathom, but for millions of young women globally, this remains their harsh reality for a staggering reason,” she wrote.
The staggering reason, we learned, is the stigma around menstruation and the lack of access to proper sanitation around the world, from sub-Saharan Africa to India, Iran, and many other countries.
Markle’s op-ed in Time magazine, “How Periods Affect Potential,” arrived like a thunderclap timed to International Women’s Day, and was perhaps the culmination of her travels to India as a World Vision Global Ambassador.
She made her first public appearance with Prince Harry (2017)
2017: the year when things, at least of the romantic variety, began to happen.
The world was officially introduced to Meghan and Harry as a couple when the pair casually attended a wheelchair tennis event at the Invictus Games in downtown Toronto.
The world watched as they held hands, whispered (sweet nothings?) to each other, and laughed at each other’s comments. SWOON.
Just days prior, Markle was spotted at the Invictus Games’ opening ceremonies, where she cheered on her royal boyfriend who made a speech in front of a captivated audience.
She was on the cover of Vanity Fair (2017)
“We’re a couple. We’re in love,” Markle told writer Sam Kashner for the October cover story of Vanity Fair. “I’m sure there will be a time when we have to come forward and present ourselves, and have stories to tell, but I hope what people will understand is that this is our time ... Personally, I love a great love story,” she said.
A great love story, indeed. Until this moment, Markle and Prince Harry had kept their relationship relatively quiet. Save for the occasional trips to and from Toronto, where Markle was living at the time, there had been little intel about what was going on between the pair.
And though Markle was clear that she refused to be defined by her relationship, the magazine didn’t hesitate to name her — right on its cover — “Prince Harry’s Girl.”
She got engaged (2017)
And then it was announced. What more can be said about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement? The news came after months of tabloid speculation, and satiated the public’s appetite with the couple’s first photo as fiancée and fiancé.
Markle’s engagement ring was designed by Prince Harry — three diamonds (including one from Princess Diana’s personal jewelry collection) on a yellow-gold band. The proposal was casual: Harry down on one knee at the couple’s Kensington Palace home as they were in the middle of roasting chicken.
“It was just an amazing surprise,” Markle told BBC News about the engagement. “Just so sweet and natural and very romantic.”
She was on Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list (2018)
One month before her wedding to Prince Harry, Meghan Markle landed on Time’s 100 Most Influential list.
The honour highlighted the future duchess as a crucial figures in 2018, as Priyanka Chopra, a close friend of Markle’s, noted:
“Somewhere among biryani, poutine and endless conversations, I realized just how deeply Meghan Markle cares for this world. With her, what you see is real, and what you get is a relatable young woman with her heart and mind in the right place. Her compassion, evident in the causes she supports, and her drive to break down stereotypes — obvious in her actions — will connect her to a generation in much need of kindness.”
She threw the wedding of the year (2018)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now called the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, wed on May 19, 2018, in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Celebrity guests included Oprah, Idris Elba, George and Amal Clooney, David and Victoria Beckham, Priyanka Chopra, former “Suits” colleagues, Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian, and Markle’s close friends, Jessica and Ben Mulroney.
The Mulroneys’ twin sons, John and Brian, were page boys and responsible for holding up Markle’s wedding veil as she walked down the aisle, while daughter Ivy was a bridesmaid alongside Prince William and Kate Middleton’s daughter, Princess Charlotte.
She delivered her first official speech as a royal (2018)
The cookbook, which became a best-seller on Amazon, was Markle’s first ever solo project as a royal, and featured recipes from the women who created and cooked for the Hubb Community Kitchen at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in London.
The kitchen was formed following the Grenfell Tower fire (which killed 72 people on June 14, 2017), as an effort to help the community heal in the midst of tragedy.
“Working on this project for the past nine months has been a tremendous labour of love,” the duchess said in her speech. “I had just recently moved to London, and I felt so immediately embraced by the women in the kitchen, their warmth, and their kindness, and also to be able to see, in this one small room, how multicultural it was.”
She gave birth to her first child (2019)
Never has a birth, with the exception of Beyoncé’s twins, caused so much conversation.
Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born on May 6, 2019, at The Portland Hospital in London. Two days after his birth, Archie was presented to the world by his parents, and we got a glimpse of the newest member of the Royal Family.
“It’s magic, it’s pretty amazing,” Meghan said about being a new parent. “I have the two best guys in the world so I’m really happy. He has the sweetest temperament, he’s really calm.”
The Sussex Royal Instagram account launched (2019)
On April 2, 2019, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex launched their Instagram account, which they said was intended to be used for “important announcements” and to share the work that “drives” them.
A day after it launched — @sussexroyal, in case you didn’t know — the account already had over a million followers. Currently, they have nearly 10 million followers.
She guest edited the most important annual issue of British Vogue (2019)
“Guest edited by Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Sussex,” reads the cover line for British Vogue’s “Forces for Change” September 2019 issue.
Vogue’s September issue is widely known to be its most important one, and for this one, Markle tasked herself with highlighting “trailblazing female changemakers — from activists to artists, prime ministers to climate change campaigners — who are breaking barriers and setting the agenda across the globe.”
Notably absent from the cover was Markle herself. “She wanted, instead, to focus on the women she admires,” Edward Enninful, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, wrote in Vogue. “As you will see from her selections throughout this magazine, she is willing to wade into more complex and nuanced areas, whether they concern female empowerment, mental health, race or privilege.”
She launched a capsule collection for charity (2019)
In the September 2019 issue of British Vogue, the duchess announced her partnership with the British charity Smart Works, which helps underprivileged and unemployed women dress and prepare for job interviews.
Markle helped design a capsule collection of women’s workwear and for every piece sold, one was donated to the charity.
“Not only does this allow us to be part of each other’s story, it reminds us we are in it together,” Meghan wrote in the issue.
She went on a royal tour of southern Africa with Prince Harry and baby Archie (2019)
In September, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and baby Archie embarked on a 10-day royal tour (Harry and Meghan’s second together, Archie’s first!) of southern Africa.
While Harry flitted between different locations, Markle stayed put in South Africa and used her time to stand up for women’s rights, announce new gender grants for the University of Johannesburg, discuss her identity as a woman of colour, and introduce baby Archie to Archbishop Desmond Tutu. (And don’t forget, it was on the second-to-last day of the tour when it was announced the duchess was filing a lawsuit against a British tabloid over their coverage of her.)
But it was the ITV documentary about the royal tour, specifically, Markle’s comments about her struggle in the public eye, that captivated our attention. In the doc, Markle, who looked on the verge of tears, described how hard her life has been as a member of the Royal Family.
“Not many people have asked if I’m OK, but it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes,” the duchess told journalist Tom Bradby in “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey.”
So, what will 2020 bring for the duchess? We hope plenty of new projects and travels, but also lots of rest, baby snuggles, and me-time.
With files from Chloe Tejada
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