Meghan Markle won’t be the first biracial person to join European royalty when she weds Prince Harry next month – but she will be the only divorced, biracial American actor to marry into the British royal family.
Meghan ‘was a princess waiting to happen, a figure straight out of central casting who has made the house of Windsor seem relevant and inclusive in multiracial Britain’, Andrew Morton writes in his newest book, Meghan: A Hollywood Princess, to published by Grand Central.
Meghan, Morton writes, offers a fresh face as well as ‘warmth to the chilly corridors of Buckingham Palace’.
A symbolic moment after the Californian actress’ wedding to Harry will be if and when the Queen, the longest-serving monarch in British history’, stands next to Meghan’s mother, Doria Radland, an African-American and a descendant of a slave, suggests Morton.
Meghan Markle will be the only divorced, biracial American actor to marry into the British royal family when she weds Prince Harry next month
Meghan Markle’s relatives settled in California before she was born, when her father, Thomas Wayne Markle (pictured with Meghan as a child), a white Pennsylvanian, moved his family and his first wife out to Los Angeles
Doria (picturd above with Meghan as a baby) was a follower of the Hindu yogi guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, also followed by Hollywood stars Linda Evans, Mariel Hemingway, Steve Jobs, and Beatle George Harrison
Meghan’s ancestors had been slaves on a Georgia cotton plantation.
Her relatives settled in California before she was born, when her father, Thomas Wayne Markle, from Pennsylvania, moved his family and his first wife out to Los Angeles.
Growing up in a biracial family in Los Angeles, Meghan experienced racial hatred when a stranger called her mother the N-word in a parking lot.
Meghan was lighter skinned than her cousins on her mother’s side, and while in high school, she felt somewhere in between the black and white girls, the Filipino and Latina.
In fact, when the faculty met Doria Radland, they were shocked.
‘Everyone thought [Meghan] was Italian because she was so light skinned,’ a former teacher at the school told Morton. ‘Then we met her mother and realized she was biracial.’
Doria met Tom Markle when both were working on the set of ABC’s drama, General Hospital in the 1970s.
She was training to be a makeup artist and he was the show’s lighting director.
He had been married before and had two children who were ‘the sibling rivals from hell’ – Yvonne and Tom Jr.
Despite his fractious family, Doria and Tom were in love and tied the knot in 1979 at the Self-Realization Fellowship temple in Los Angeles, California.
Doria was a follower of the Hindu yogi guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, also followed by Hollywood stars Linda Evans, Mariel Hemingway, Steve Jobs, and Beatle George Harrison.
She introduced her husband to the eastern religion as well as to southern dishes including sweet potato pie, gumbo, ham hocks and beans.
Tom Jr described Doria’s family as ‘warm and inclusive, the kind of family I had always wanted. They were happy a**ed people with a real sense of family’.
What transformed Tom Markle was not the Hindu yogi but the birth of Rachel Meghan Markle on August 4, 1981.
Meghan’s father, Tom Radland, met Meghan’s mother, Doria, when both were working on the set of ABC’s drama, General Hospital in the 1970s
Meghan (pictured as a teenage with her father) was lighter skinned than her cousins on her mother’s side, and while in high school, she felt somewhere in between the black and white girls, the Filipino and Latina
‘My dad was more in love with her than anyone else in the world, and that included Doria,’ Tom Jr told Morton. ‘She became his whole life, his little princess’.
Tom Markle nicked named his baby girl ‘Flower’ or ‘Bud’ and spent every free minute with his daughter when he wasn’t working 80 or 90 hours a week on a studio set.
At home, life spun out of control as friends of Doria and Tom’s children would party, smoke weed, and play music while practicing yoga and barbecuing.
But Tom wanted the marijuana smoking to stop after the birth of his little ‘Flower’.
To enforce a drug ban, Tom Sr pretended to eat the contents of a dirty diaper in hopes of getting Tom Jr and his weed-smoking friends to leave the house, Morton writes.
While he later confessed that he was just eating chocolate pudding, the act caused Tom Jr and his pals to flee the house.
While the move stopped weed smoking in the house, Tom Sr and Doria continued to bicker.
When Doria started her relationship with Tom, she didn’t sign up to taking care of his two kids from his first marriage as well her own children with him, and found she had little time to kick start her own career and run the house.
She was also unhappy living in a predominantly white neighborhood where people thought she was the nanny, Morton writes, adding that Doria was stopped by neighbors who asked where Meghan’s mother lived.
The incident was the tipping point for Doria, and she split up with Tom and moved in with her mother. Their divorce was finalized five years later.
Tom Markle took care of Meghan on the weekends, while Doria had her on weekdays, and the former couple enrolled her in Little Red School House, favored by the Hollywood elite.
Doria eventually left Tom Markle, and they shared custody of Meghan as she grew up. Meghan is pictured above with Doria at Doria’s graduation
Doria Radland has spent time with Prince Harry and Meghan, and even attended the Invictus Games with the couple last year
By the time she turned 11, Meghan had learned to ‘stand up for equality’, as Doria raised her to be a ‘global citizen’ and took her traveling to see how others lived. She taught her daughter: ‘be aware, don’t be afraid’.
Meghan soon became interested in current affairs and started letter-writing campaigns on gender awareness.
She often would go to work with her father, who was the lighting director for the comedy Married… With Children.
While he was making good money to pay for Meghan’s private school fees, he remained quiet on the fact that he had won $750,000 in the California State Lottery playing Meghan’s birthday numbers in 1990, when she was 11.
Tom Markle kept the win secret from his ex-wife and sent a pal to pick up his winnings to avoid registering his name with the lottery authorities and tipping off Doria.
The plan backfired when his friend swindled him out of most of the money on a failed jewelry business.
Three years later, Tom declared bankruptcy, but had saved enough money to send Meghan to Immaculate Heart, a private all-girls Catholic school near his home, so she could live full time with him.
By age 14, Meghan was volunteering at Hippie Kitchen, serving food to the homeless and clearing dishes, as well as working at Humphrey Yogurt, where she served customers and took out the trash for $4 an hour.
In 1997, when she was 16, Meghan watched Princess Diana’s funeral with her girlfriends, all crying when they saw the royal coffin and Prince Harry’s final note, an envelope perched on top with the word ‘Mummy’.
In 1997, when she was 16, Meghan watched Princess Diana’s funeral with her girlfriends. Pictured above, Prince Harry (center), William (left) and Charles in front of the Westminster Abbey in London after Diana’s funeral
She watched old videos of the 1981 wedding of Lady Diana Spencer to Prince Charles and was drawn into Di’s humanitarian mission.
And suddenly, Meghan was on a path similar to Di and began collecting toys and clothes for underprivileged children.
‘She was always fascinated by the Royal family. She wants to be Princess Diana 2.0,’ her childhood friend, Ninaki Priddy, told Morton.
As a teenager, Meghan had to confront her own demons, those that emanated from her family discord and her sense of isolation that caused her a great deal of heartache’, Morton writes.
Orthodontics fixed her buck teeth and gap-tooth grin, so she could smile confidently.
She pursued a career in acting, and even had hopes of one day winning an Academy Award – she got involved in school plays and was named homecoming queen in high school.
She graduated and won multiple prizes including the Bank of America Fine Arts award, the Notre Dame Club’s Achievement Award, a commendation in the National Achievement Scholarship program for black students and a service award for mentoring younger students.
She went on to study theater and international studies at Northwestern University, just outside Chicago, where just five per cent of the student body was black at the time.
Being multiracial, she had already suffered ‘a lifetime of misunderstandings, quizzical glances and snide comments’, and she hoped to put it behind her once in college in Evanston, Illinois.
Markle took on the role of paralegal Rachel Zane (pictured) on the hit TV show Suits in 2011. She announced she was leaving the show after getting engaged to Prince Harry
She bought a fake ID, joined a sorority, drank a lot and ate burgers, leading to a 15lb weight gain, Morton writes.
Unsure of where she was headed, in her junior year, she got an internship abroad with the State Department as a junior press officer at the American embassy in Buenos Aires.
Back at Northwestern, she took the Foreign Service Officer test for a possible future but failed.
So she turned back to Hollywood, where she was considered ethnically ‘ambiguous’ when it came to casting roles.
‘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,’ Morton quotes her.
Her gig as a briefcase girl on the show, Deal or No Deal eventually brought her to the attention of the producers of the show that would put her on the map, Suits – as well as Donald Trump, who was trolling around the television set before making a guest appearance.
He was organizing the Miss Universe pageant at the time as well as cross-promoting The Apprentice.
Prince Harry decided it was time to settle down after spending time with his brother, Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, and their children. Pictured above, Kate, Will, Meghan and Harry at Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene in King’s Lynn, England
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend the first annual Royal Foundation Forum in February
‘The frequently bankrupt real estate mogul toured the set, giving girls his card and inviting them to play golf at one of his courses’, writes Morton.
‘He was a creep, super creepy, but some girls were attracted to money and power and took his number,’ Tameka Jacobs recalled.
But not Meghan, who was ‘now known as a thirsty socialite’, although she rarely joined in with the other girls in their ‘raucous nights of karaoke and chasers’.
When Trump was the frontrunner in the presidential election, Meghan had an opinion about him. She called him a ‘misogynist’.
Suits, being filmed in Toronto, provided the exit from all the acting roles in Hollywood, and she took on the role of paralegal Rachel Zane on the hit TV show.
While in Toronto in 2011, she married her then-boyfriend, actor and producer Trevor Engelson, who still lived in Los Angeles. The marriage lasted just two years before she mailed back his rings.
Meghan felt there was something better in her future and that didn’t include Engelson.
When Meghan met Prince Harry in 2016, she was ready to give up her life in Toronto, the TV show, her wildly successful Instagram, all her promotional and charity work – to share a life with him.
Andrew Morton’s Meghan: A Hollywood Princess, will be released on April 17. Morton previously wrote a book on Princess Diana
She introduced him to her love of cooking, he introduced her to the exquisite palace meals on formal occasions and the tradition that when the Queen had finished and put down her cutlery, all plates were cleared away.
Afternoon tea with the queen meant dining on thinly sliced sandwiches of cucumber and egg mayonnaise, scones and cakes, and tea.
Had she been in Harry’s life earlier, she would have witnessed a totally different man from the one she’s marrying.
‘Harry was deeply troubled, unhappy, and immature, imbued with the slanted, quietly racist views of those from his class and background,’ a former royal official told Morton.
In 2012, he was pictured cavorting in the buff with strangers in a hotel room in Las Vegas playing strip billiards.
But he was tired of that lifestyle and wanted something more after being around his brother, Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, and their children.
Harry had finally come into a sense of who he was and what he hoped he could achieve.
On his first meeting with Meghan, ‘they had each other at ‘hello’.
Shortly after their first date, Harry invited her on a safari holiday to Botswana, his seventh holiday and the fourth female companion to join him for ‘romantic nights under the stars in a southern African hideaway’.
The rest is history – next month Meghan will be called Her Royal Highness and become a duchess.