Who is Meghan Markle?
SHE'LL soon be walking the halls of Buckingham Palace as an official member of the British royal family but there is much more to the stunning Meghan Markle than meets the eye.
Hollywood actor, humanitarian, model, website founder, the 36-year-old wore many hats in her life before meeting Prince Harry in 2016.
Meghan's parents, Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, met on the set of a soap opera in the late 1970s and married soon after.
Their daughter, born Rachel Meghan Markle, followed on August 4, 1981 and the young family lived in Los Angeles which, according to Meghan, was at the time a racially intolerant area to grow up in.
"There was my mom, caramel in complexion with her light-skinned baby in tow, being asked where my mother was since they assumed she was the nanny," she wrote in an essay for Elle UK in 2015.
Growing up with curly, dark hair and pale, freckled skin, Meghan has often described feeling out of place and confused about her identity, but has attributed the strength and guidance of her parents to her success in life.
"My parents came from little so they made a choice to give a lot: buying turkeys for homeless
shelters at Thanksgiving, delivering meals to people in hospices, giving spare change to those asking for it," she wrote in her now defunct lifestyle website TheTig.com.
"It's what I grew up seeing, so it's what I grew up being".
In school, she would often be asked, by students and teachers alike, "what are you?" in reference to her bi-racial appearance.
Meghan said she has spent most of her life dancing a "proverbial two-step" when asked about her heritage, but it has become something she is extremely proud of.
"My dad is caucasian and my mom is African-American. I'm half black and half white," she said.
"While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that.
"To say who I am, to share where I'm from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman".
Meghan also revealed in her 2015 essay that one side of her complex family tree came from slavery in the Deep South of the US.
Her maternal ancestors had been slaves, who reportedly worked on cotton plantations until the
abolishment of slavery in 1865.
According to Meghan, after her great-great-great grandfather was emancipated, he chose the new surname 'Wisdom'.
After school Meghan studied theatre and international relations at the Northwestern University's School of Communication.
Graduating in 2003, she briefly worked for the US Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
But back in LA, Meghan supported herself by working as a calligrapher for weddings and events while auditioning for acting gigs.
She spent several years in small roles on television shows including CSI: New York, General Hospital and 90210 and even worked as a 'briefcase girl' on the long running game show, Deal or No Deal.
She appears to have dropped her first name, Rachel, sometime in her childhood but has never
explained why she chose to go by her middle name.
During her early years in the television industry, Meghan met her first husband Trevor Engelson in 2004, and after seven years the pair tied the knot in a four-day wedding on the beaches of Jamaica in 2011.
The 40-year- old film producer is best known for his work on the 2010 romantic drama, Remember Me, starring Robert Pattinson.
The marriage ended in a no-fault divorce two years later.
Meghan finally got her big break in 2011 after landing a lead role as the savvy paralegal Rachel Zane in the legal drama series, Suits.
She relocated to Canada that year, where she styled her new luxurious Toronto home in neutral tones with fresh peonies, New York artwork, shelves filled with colour-coded books and cashmere throws.
For the last four years she has driven a luxurious Audi Q5 sport utility vehicle, perfect for the harsh Canadian winters and spacious enough to fit her two rescue dogs, Guy and Bogart.
She is reported to have cancelled her VIP contract with Audi North America, with a view to spending more time abroad.
Meghan is a yoga fanatic, learning the craft from her yoga instructor mother, Doria Ragland, and regularly posts photographs of her enjoying time with her closest friends.
Her inner circle includes international tennis star Serena Williams, Bahrain-born fashion designer Misha Nonoo and Indian actor and model Priyanka Chopra.
The man who is understood to have introduced Meghan to Prince Harry is one of her closest friends of all, Soho House Group consultant, Markus Anderson. The pair are often spotted out together or enjoying time with Guy and Bogart in her Toronto home.
As well as her Hollywood success, Meghan has spent years working in the philanthropic sector, advocating for women's rights.
Her charity work took her to India in January this year with World Vision, where she met with women and girls disadvantaged by the stigma of menstrual health.
In the same year she served as an advocate for United Nations Women, spending time visiting a refugee camp in Rwanda and meeting with female parliamentarians in Kigali.
Since news of Meghan's relationship with Prince Harry broke, her fame surpassed even socialite Kim Kardashian, earning her the title of the most Googled woman of 2016.
Her effortlessly chic outfits are featured in most fashion magazines and style guides across the globe and has even placed relatively unknown designers on the map such as Canadian brands Aritzia and Mackage.
A keen traveller, Meghan told one reporter she is constantly seeking "off-the-beaten-path, Anthony Bourdain-inspired travel".
She couldn't have chosen a better partner than Prince Harry, who is known for travelling the world on charity missions and recently whisked Meghan to a three-week safari getaway in Africa to celebrate her 36th birthday.