Meghan Markle’s real name is not Meghan!
Rachel Meghan Markle was born on 4 August 1981 and she goes by her middle name instead.
In her determination to fight injustice – and in her ability to mingle in both the humblest and highest circles, beguiling all she meets – Meghan Markle is remarkably similar to Princess Diana.
Amid the euphoria surrounding the announcement of her engagement to Prince Harry, however, we should sound a note of caution, for Markle’s storybook ascent from seedy Los Angeles tenement block to gilded palace has not been entirely plain sailing.
Certain chapters of her life remain uncharted waters – her two previous long-term relationships, as well as her time as an intern in Argentina – and there are any number of sharks among her relatives and former friends keen to capitalise on her good fortune.
So who is the woman who has so captivated Prince Harry?
On her father’s side, she descends from English, Irish and Dutch settlers who sailed across the Atlantic in the 18th century to live in an America then fighting for independence from Britain.
An interesting character is her uncle Fred, 75, an Eastern Orthodox Catholic priest who baptised Markle babies in the river, and later founded his own church in Florida.
Her father’s other brother, Mick, 77, a former senior public servant, is comfortably retired on the Oregon coast.
Her maternal ancestry is no less fascinating. Her mother, Doria Ragland’s 19th-century ancestor toiled on the Georgia cotton plantations before being emancipated after slavery was abolished in 1865.
They worked as household servants and in factories before, in the 1930s, her great-grandmother broke into the professional ranks to become a teacher.
She has described herself as a freewheeling “Californian hippy”, and embraces alternative culture, like her mother, a yoga teacher.
However, Markle’s penchant for acting certainly comes from Thomas, who developed a passion for theatre production at school, becoming an award-winning cinematographer.
He was in his mid-thirties, and divorced with two teenage children – Markle’s half-brother, Tom Junior, and half-sister, Samantha – when he met Ragland. She was 12 years younger and temping in the Hollywood studio where he worked.
They married in 1979, and two years later – on August 4, 1981 – Markle was born.
She has portrayed her childhood as idyllic – and doubtless, through the prism of time, that is how it appears. Certainly, she was doted upon by her parents.
When Markle was 5, her parents divorced.
After school she attended university in Illinois, studying theatre and international relations, and doing an internship at the American embassy in Buenos Aires in her gap year.
Intent on a screen career, she returned to LA, but the only work on offer was demeaning, so she played upon her looks and figure. In one forgettable film, her character didn’t have a name. In the credits, she was simply “Hot Girl”.
She had all but abandoned her dreams of stardom when, in 2010, she successfully auditioned for the role of a sassy legal assistant in Suits. The part required her to movete to Toronto, where the show is filmed.
In 2011 she married Trevor Engelson, a go-getting New Yorker fast making his mark in Jamaica.
In Toronto, Markle was feted by a chic new set of friends, among them the daughter of a former Canadian prime minister and celebrity chef Cory Vitiello, who became her boyfriend.
She divorced Engelson in 2013.
The timing and reason for Markle’s split, two years later, from Vitiello are mysterious. Did she leave him because she fell for Harry?
Such details are for another day, however. Today the toast should be to a thrillingly unconventional future princess.
AUTHOR: DAILY MAIL