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Meghan Markle has come a long way from her California roots.

The daughter of retired lighting director Thomas Markle and former makeup artist Doria Ragland, who got her start in showbiz with a single-episode appearance on soap opera General Hospital, is now a member of the British royal family, with the title of Duchess of Sussex, following her May 2018 marriage to Prince Harry.

The road to worldwide fame was a long one, with studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, a previous marriage to director Trevor Engelson and a career-defining role as Rachel Zane on the USA Network hit Suits.

Along the way, the L.A. native also became an outspoken advocate for issues she is passionate about, speaking on gender inequality at a summit in Dublin in 2014 and holding workshops on body image and self-esteem one year later.

And then, there was Harry: The couple started dating in London in the summer of 2016. In November 2017, they announced their engagement to the world with a photo call at Kensington Palace’s Sunken Garden in London. The former actress tied the knot with her now-husband with a gorgeous ceremony at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle in England in front of about 600 guests.

In October 2018, the palace announced that the Sussexes were expecting their first child in spring 2019. “Their Royal Highnesses have appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public,” the palace’s statement read at the time.

Meghan and Harry welcomed their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, in May 2019.

The twosome revealed their plans to “step back” from their roles as senior members of the royal family in January 2020.

Scroll down to see photos of Meghan’s transformation through the years!

1998

Meghan was crowned homecoming queen at the age of 17. She wore a strapless blue gown and sparkling tiara to prom with her date, a young man from the nearby St. Francis High School. 

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2007

Meghan kicked off her acting career with a single-episode appearance on the soap opera General Hospital in 2002, one year before she graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. In the following years, she had small roles in Century City, The War at Home and CSI: NY, in addition to appearing as a “briefcase girl” on Deal or No Deal

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2011

The humanitarian tied the knot with actor Trevor Engelson in September 2011 after about seven years of dating. 

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2011

Meghan began playing paralegal Rachel Zane on Suits in June 2011. The role has since become her most memorable to-date.

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2012

Suits paved the way for Meghan’s career onscreen. However, her future on the USA drama became uncertain after she began dating Harry. “Everyone already thinks she’s not coming back,” a source exclusively told Us Weekly in September 2017.

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2013

The actress and Engelson divorced in August 2013 after less than two years of marriage. 

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2014

Meghan used her star power to address gender equality at an annual summit in Dublin for the One Young World nonprofit organization in October 2014. 

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2014

Meghan, Shay Mitchell and Nina Agdal attended a DirecTV event together at Pier 40 in New York City in February 2014. 

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2015

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women advocate held a body image and self-esteem workshop at Earl Bales Community Centre in Toronto in October 2015. 

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2016

Soon before going public with Harry, Meghan attended a party in L.A. in May 2016.

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2017

The prince and his new love were photographed together for the first time during a date night in London in February 2017. 

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2017

The couple held hands for their first official joint appearance at the Invictus Games in Toronto in September 2017.

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2017

Harry and Meghan spent some quality time with her mother, Doria Ragland, at the Invictus Games in September 2017. 

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2017

Harry and Meghan announced their engagement in November 2017. They stepped out for a photo call later that day at Kensington Palace’s Sunken Garden, which serves as a memorial to Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana. The newly engaged duo also opened up to the BBC about their relationship in their first joint interview.

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2017

The future royal family member looked gorgeous as she stepped out with fiancé Harry, his brother Prince William and Duchess Kate for the annual royal Christmas church service at Sandringham in December 2017.

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2018

Harry and Meghan spent time in Scotland ahead of Valentine’s Day. Although the couple never publicly revealed their plans for February 14, the actress wrote about the importance behind the special day in a 2015 post on her former lifestyle blog, The Tig. “I think you need to be your own Valentine,” she wrote. “I think you need to cook that beautiful dinner even when it’s just you, wear your favorite outfit, buy yourself some flowers and celebrate the self love that often gets muddled when we focus no what we don’t have.”

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2018

Meghan and Duchess Kate made their first royal appearance together in February at the inaugural Royal Foundation Forum in London. The duo were all smiles as they took the stage with Harry and Prince William to discuss the charitable foundation.

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2018

The Los Angeles native had her first public engagement with Queen Elizabeth in March while celebrating Commonwealth Day in London.

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2018

Meghan and Prince Harry attended the 2018 Invictus Games trials for the U.K. team in April.

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2018

She’s a pro! Meghan gave a masterclass in daytime formalwear in April at the Commonwealth Youth Forum.

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2018

Meghan officially became Duchess of Sussex on May 19 when she wed Harry in a gorgeous ceremony at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle where they exchanged vows in front of 600 guests. She looked stunning in a boatneck gown by Claire Waight Keller for Givenchy.

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2018

Meghan embraced her new role as a royal at Prince Charles’ 70th birthday patronage celebration on May 22 for her first official event since her wedding. She wore a blush-colored Goat dress with sheer detailing and a matching hat.

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2018

The queen showed Meghan the ropes in Cheshire, England, on June 14 during the humanitarian’s first engagement without Harry. The pair were spotted laughing and having a good time in the area.

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2018

Meghan looked regal in pink at the 2018 Trooping the Colour parade in London on June 10.

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2018

The couple touched down in Ireland on July 10 for their first royal tour as a married couple. They spent two days learning about the history of Dublin and immersing themselves in the local culture.

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2018

Meghan joined her sister-in-law Duchess Kate to watch pal Serena Williams play at Wimbledon in London on July 14.

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2018

Meghan and Harry stepped out together to remember the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela at they marked the 100th anniversary of the late South African leader’s birth while visiting a new exhibit at Southbank Centre in London on July 17.

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2018

The royal duo shared a sweet kiss while stopping by the Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup at the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club in England on July 26.

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2018

The palace announced in October 2018 that Meghan and Harry were expecting their first child. Hours after the pregnancy news broke, the pair started their first royal tour Down Under. Over the course of 16 days, the duo visited cities in Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.

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2018

Meghan showed off her baby bump in a black Givenchy dress at the Fashion Awards in London in December 2018.

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2018

The fab four were all smiles while attending Christmas mass at St Mary Magdalene Church at Sandringham House in Norfolk, England, together. Duchess Meghan, who chose a navy dress and jacket combo with a matching fascinator for the occasion, proved that her maternal instincts were already kicking in at the gathering as she placed a hand on her sister-in-law’s back. 

“It’s a gesture that signals comfort, provides reassurance and brings them closer,” body language expert Bianca Cobb told Us Weekly exclusively. “By standing slightly behind Kate, Meghan is silently saying that she’s got her back. Exactly what you’d expect from sisters-in-law.”

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2019

Us reported in January that the Duchess of Sussex’s Christmas outing with Duchess Kate and Prince William had helped to heal a months-long feud between the pair. “Being under the same roof meant that they couldn’t avoid each other,” a source told Us.

“Kate opened up about feeling like Meghan had used her to climb the royal ladder,” the insider revealed, adding that Meghan, in turn, expressed that she had felt snubbed by the Duchess of Cambridge.

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2019

The former actress reportedly revealed during her first royal engagement of 2019 in January that she would give birth to her first child with Prince Harry “around April” while speaking to a fan at Birkenhead, Merseyside.

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2019

2019 had a rather bumpy start for the Suits alum as she was inundated by negative press and public criticism. “Meghan made a huge sacrifice by moving across the pond, away from her mom and friends,” a source told Us. “Marrying into the royal family isn’t anywhere near as glamorous as it seems, so in a lot of ways Harry feels responsible for Meghan being so miserable.”

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2019

Despite Harry’s feelings that he was behind Meghan’s public struggles, an insider told Us in January that the pregnant royal actually has a lot of the control in their relationship. “Not in a negative way. But she can definitely call many of the shots — and not just when she’s pregnant.”

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2019

A letter Meghan wrote to her father, Thomas Markle, regarding their strained relationship in August was leaked to the Mail on Sunday in February 2019.

“Daddy, It is with a heavy heart that I write this, not understanding why you have chosen to take this path, turning a blind eye to the pain you’re causing,” she wrote of her father’s fabricated press photos and absence at her wedding, which she said she learned about through a tabloid. “Your actions have broken my heart into a million pieces — not simply because you have manufactured such unnecessary and unwarranted pain, but by making the choice to not tell the truth as you are puppeteered in this. Something I will never understand.”

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2019

Later in the month, Meghan celebrated her babe’s impending arrival with a star-studded baby shower in New York City that was attended by Amal Clooney, Gayle King and BFFs Abigail Spencer and Jessica Mulroney.

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2019

With just months to go before giving birth, Meghan traveled to Morocco with Harry for a three-day visit, though not without taking precautions: “Medical provisions have been made,” royal correspondent Omid Scobie tweeted at the time.

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2019

Despite previously telling fans they wanted their baby’s sex to be a surprise, a source told Us in February that the couple know their child’s gender, with Meghan reportedly telling pals at her baby shower that she is having a boy.

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2019

In March, Harry and Meghan officially split their household from Prince William and Duchess Kate’s. “[Queen Elizabeth II] has agreed to the creation of a new household for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, following their marriage in May last year,” Kensington Palace told Us in a statement. “The household, which will be created with the support of the queen and The Prince of Wales, will be established in the spring.”

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2019

With their own household to promote, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex created an official Instagram account, @sussexroyal.

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2019

The twosome officially moved to Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, England, in April ahead of their child’s birth. An insider revealed to Us that same month that they don’t plan to give their child a title and “are very keen to live their lives quietly.”

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2019

The new mom gave birth to her and Harry’s first child — a 7 pound, 3 ounce baby boy named Archie — in the early hours of May 6. The palace said in a statement: “The duchess and baby are both healthy and well, and the couple thank members of the public for their shared excitement and support during this very special time in their lives.”

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2019

Meghan and Harry introduced their son, Archie, to the world during a photo call at Windsor Castle in May 2019.

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2019

Meghan celebrated her first Mother’s Day with “a very quiet day full of spending time with family” in May 2019, according to a source.

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2019

Harry and Meghan rang in their first wedding anniversary in May 2019. The couple shared never-before-seen photos from their big day via Instagram at the time, writing: “Thank you for all of the love and support from so many of you around the world. Each of you made this day even more meaningful.”

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2019

The former actress returned to royal duties in June 2019 following her maternity leave. She attended the annual Trooping the Colour parade as her first public appearance since giving birth.

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2019

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex officially split from their joint charity with Prince William and Duchess Kate in June 2019.

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2019

The proud parents held a private christening for Archie at Windsor Castle in July 2019. They posted family photos via Instagram after the gathering.

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2019

Meghan and Kate took in Wimbledon together for the second consecutive year in July 2019. The California native proudly watched her friend Serena Williams compete, while Pippa Middleton accompanied the sisters-in-law.

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2019

The royal launched her Smart Set capsule collection with Smart Works — one of her patronages —­­ in September 2019.

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2019

Family trip! Meghan, Harry and Archie embarked on a royal tour of South Africa in September 2019.

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2019

The prince defended the duchess against “bullying” in a lengthy statement released in October 2019. She later admitted in Harry & Meghan: An African Journey that she was not “OK” amid ongoing public scrutiny.

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2019

Harry and Meghan made two rare public appearances with the royal family at Festival of Remembrance services in November 2019.

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2019

Buckingham Palace announced in November 2019 that the Sussexes would not spend Christmas with the royals. Instead, the trio spent “private family time” in Canada in December 2019.

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2020

Meghan and Harry shared their plans to “step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent” in January 2020. The pair intended to split their time between the U.K. and North America. Queen Elizabeth later revealed that they would lose their HRH titles and not receive public funding for their royal duties.

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2020

Meghan and Harry wrapped up their royal duties in March 2020. During one of their final engagements at the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey, the duke and duchess were barely acknowledged by William and Kate.

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2020

Several months after making the move to Los Angeles with Harry and Archie, Meghan turned 39 on August 4, 2020. “They’re very content and happy to finally be all settled in,” a source previously told Us of the pair. “And of course, Meghan feels more at home too and she’s really starting to feel like herself again.”

 

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2020

Us confirmed in August 2020 that Harry and Meghan quietly bought a $14.65 million home in Montecito, California, two months prior. A source revealed at the time that the couple were “converting one of the guesthouses into a home for Doria, who plans to split her time between L.A. and Montecito.”

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2020

The duke and duchess founded a production company and signed a multiyear deal with Netflix in September 2020 to produce family-friendly programming including films and documentaries.

 

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2020

Meghan revealed in a New York Times op-ed in November 2020 that she suffered a miscarriage that July. “I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second,” she wrote, recalling that she “tried to imagine how we’d heal” as she held Harry’s hand at the hospital.

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