Meghan Markle has helped modernize the British monarchy since her marriage to Prince Harry in 2018. But the Duchess of Sussex hasn’t changed all of the palace traditions. And her apparent reservations about a controversial royal Christmas activity didn’t stop Harry from participating in it over the festive period.
Meghan was born in Los Angeles, California, in August 1981. She started acting after graduating from Northwestern University, and got her big break in 2011 after landing the role of Rachel Zane on Suits.
During Meghan’s time starring on the legal drama, she met Prince Harry on a blind date reportedly set up by mutual friend and Ralph Lauren publicist Violet von Westenholz. The couple went on their first date in July 2016 and later quietly started a relationship.
Meghan talked about the date in her engagement interview with the BBC in November 2017. “It was definitely a set-up. It was a blind date,” she said. “I didn’t know much about him and so the only thing I had asked her when she said she wanted to set us up was, I had one question, I said, ‘[is] he nice?’”
In November of that year, Harry and Meghan had confirmed their relationship when the palace released a statement about the treatment of the actress in the media and online. This came two months after they made their first official public appearance together. The pair attended the Invictus Games in Toronto, which Harry created as a competition for wounded veterans and other members of the Armed Forces.
Harry and Meghan initially kept their relationship out of the spotlight. But that all changed in November 2017, when the couple announced their engagement and Meghan’s retirement from acting. They also moved into Nottingham Cottage in Kensington Palace together.
Following their engagement, Meghan broke protocol and spent Christmas with the royal family ahead of their wedding. The former actress, who was raised a protestant but went to Catholic school, was also reportedly baptized into the Church of England. Then on May 19, 2018, the couple wed at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
The Queen announced the couple’s new titles as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their wedding day. And they won praise for combining their cultures at the ceremony, which an estimated 1.9 billion people tuned in to watch.
Meanwhile, a few months following their wedding, Harry and Meghan went on their first overseas tour. The couple visited Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga. And after arriving in the former, they announced that they are expecting their first child, due to give birth in the spring of 2019.
During their time in Australia, Harry and Meghan attended the 2018 Invictus Games. They also learned about projects focusing on conservation. Indeed, the Duchess has additionally become involved in her own charity ventures since becoming a member of the royal family.
Before she married Harry, Meghan began visiting the Hubb Community Kitchen in London. The space was created by women, some of whom had lost their homes in the Grenfell Tower fire and had initially wanted somewhere to cook for their families. They began using the facilities at the Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural and Heritage Centre and gathering together to make and eat food.
The kitchen could only remain open two days a week due to a lack of funds. So Meghan suggested that the women create a book of recipes to raise money. The Duchess wrote the foreword and upon its release in September 2018, Together: Our Community Cookbook became a bestseller.
Meghan is a well-known foodie. She used to regularly share recipes on her lifestyle blog The Tig before she shut it down, so it’s no surprise that she decided to combine her passion for philanthropy with her love of cooking.
And Meghan is continuing to champion causes that are close to her heart. Kensington Palace announced in January 2019 that she is lending her support to four different charities. “The Duchess of Sussex will become Patron of four organizations that reflect the causes and issues with which she has long been associated including the arts, access to education, support for women and animal welfare,” the palace said in a statement.
It continued, “Her Majesty the Queen has passed on two patronages to The Duchess of Sussex – The National Theatre and The Association of Commonwealth Universities. The Queen has held the roles for 45 and 33 years respectively. Her Royal Highness will also take on patronage of two additional charities as part of her official working portfolio – Smart Works and Mayhew.”
Smart Works helps give women the support, confidence and means to succeed at job interviews. Meghan visited the charity after the announcement that she will be their Patron and listened to stories from people the organization has helped.
Mayhew is an animal welfare charity that helps to rehome cats and dogs in need. It also gives support to the community and offers preventative veterinary care. “We’re honored to reveal that Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex has become a Patron of Mayhew,” the charity stated on Twitter. “We’re thrilled that [the Queen] shares our commitment to improving the lives of animals and people, and are excited to make a difference together.”
Meghan is well-known for her love of animals. Indeed, she revealed in 2016 that a couple of years earlier, she had been at a Los Angeles dog rescue shelter when she saw a Labrador-Shepherd mix. The Duchess told Best Health that Ellen DeGeneres walked in and saw her with the dog and demanded that she take him home. So Meghan adopted the pup and named him Bogart.
Meghan then decided to get a friend for Bogart, and she adopted a Beagle named Guy. The two dogs lived with her in Toronto, Canada, while she resided there during filming of Suits. Meghan revealed after she got engaged to Harry that Guy had moved with her to England while Bogart stayed behind.
“I have two dogs that I’ve had for quite a long time, both my rescue pups,” Meghan told the BBC. “And one is now staying with very close friends and my other little guy is, yes he’s in the U.K., he’s been here for a while. I think he’s doing just fine.”
Harry also revealed in the interview that Meghan had befriended the Queen’s pet Corgis. “And the [dog] took to you straight away. I’ve spent the last 33 years being barked at; this one walks in, absolutely nothing,” he said. Meghan added that the dogs were “just laying on my feet during tea, it was very sweet.”
Meanwhile, according to her former commercial agent Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne, Meghan also refuses to wear fur. And rumors even spread that she tried to ban Prince Harry from taking part in a particular hunt.
The Duchess once again spent Christmas in 2018 with members of the monarchy at the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. And the royals have several traditions over the festive period, one of which is a pheasant hunt on Boxing Day.
Harry and William have long both participated in the hunt with their father. But in 2017 Harry skipped the tradition – prompting speculation that it was because of Meghan. Other sources have claimed that he was unable to attend due to work commitments.
Reports surfaced ahead of Christmas in 2018 that Meghan did not want Harry to join his family members in the hunt. Indeed, the Duchess apparently disapproved of the prince harming “defenseless animals,” according to the Sunday Mirror. The speculation came amid whispers of a feud between Meghan and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.
The Sunday Mirror claimed that Meghan’s stance against the shoot was driving a wedge between Harry and his brother. “In his mind, William sees this as another concerning example of his younger brother being pulled away from his family by his new wife,” a source told the publication. “Harry’s always loved hunting and it has provided them with a great chance to bond as brothers.”
Furthermore, the situation did little to improve tensions between the two brothers, the source added. “Now it looks like Harry’s shooting days are over. It’s the latest point of contention between the princes after a testing time in their relationship.”
But the Daily Mail claimed that Meghan wouldn’t prevent Harry from taking part in the pheasant shoot that he first started attending at the age of 12. “Like Harry, Meghan is very keen to promote wildlife charities and animal conservation,” a royal insider said. “However, [the prince] believes shooting is a sustainable field sport and she won’t stop him.”
Furthermore, the royal source dismissed rumors suggesting Meghan had banned Harry as “completely untrue,” the newspaper added. And despite her supposed reservations, not only did the prince attend the activity with his father and brother, the Duchess even got involved.
While Meghan and Kate did not participate in the shooting themselves, they joined the men after the morning activity for lunch. According to the Daily Mail, the group dined together at Wood Farm, after Meghan traveled there with the Queen and Prince Philip.
“The men went out as usual for the shoot after a hearty breakfast,” the source told the newspaper. “A buffet is laid out of kedgeree, bacon and eggs, cereals and toast to set them up for the day. It’s cold trudging across the muddy fields so you need plenty of sustenance.”
The men continued hunting after their meal and Meghan and Kate returned to Sandringham for tea with the Queen and Prince Philip, according to reports. Meghan and Harry then reportedly traveled to their rental home in the Cotswolds to continue the festive celebrations with the Duchess’ mother, Doria Ragland. Meanwhile, William and Kate allegedly met the Middleton family in Berkshire.
As they spent time together over Christmas, the younger royals brushed off allegations of a family rift. Indeed, reports had claimed that Kate had scolded Meghan for telling off a member of her staff. Others said that the Duchess of Sussex had reduced her sister-in-law to tears at a bridesmaid fitting for Princess Charlotte ahead of the royal wedding.
But in an unprecedented move, the palace denied that the duchesses were feuding. “This never happened,” they told The Mirror. However, Meghan has faced claims of diva behavior after her personal assistant and bodyguard both quit following just six months of service.
Meanwhile, Harry and Meghan are now moving out of Kensington Palace, where William and Kate also reside. The couple will live instead at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor – a place that holds special significance for them. Indeed, the newlyweds had their private wedding party at the much larger Frogmore House, which lies within the same grounds as the cottage.
Frogmore Cottage, previously made up of five separate units, is being converted into one home for the Duke and Duchess. In the meantime, Harry and Meghan are staying in a leased house in the Cotswolds.
Harry and Meghan are now preparing for the arrival of their first child. And in January 2019 the Duchess finally revealed her due date during an outing in Birkenhead, England. She told well-wishers that she is six months pregnant and due to welcome her baby in late April, according to People.
Meanwhile, rumors speculate over where Meghan plans to give birth. William and Harry were both born at the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s hospital in London. And it’s there that Kate and William have had each of their three children.
However, The Sun has suggested that Meghan hopes to give birth at Frimley Park in Surrey in order to differentiate herself from Kate. But no matter where the couple welcome their baby, it’s clear that they can’t wait to become parents. Indeed, the Duchess told one royal fan in Birkenhead that Harry is “going to be a fantastic dad.”
Harry told an audience at the Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand of their delight at the news of the pregnancy. “From myself, my wife and our little bump, we are so grateful to be here,” he said. “We bring blessings from my grandmother the Queen and our family. We are so grateful for your hospitality and the work to look after this beautiful place.”