In a perfect world, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would be living an undisturbed “happily ever after.” But ongoing friction between Meghan and the British press, and even the Royal Family, threatened to disrupt her and Harry’s relationship. That’s when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex did the unthinkable: they stepped down from royal responsibilities and left the country altogether!
Now in the U.S., Harry and Meghan are trying to start a brand new life. This includes building their own multimedia empire and making big moves through Archewell, their charity foundation, all while raising their two children Archie and Lili.
As one of the biggest celebrities in the world, it’s easy to forget Meghan Markle once had an average life. From her humble childhood to her struggling days in Hollywood, here are X rare photos of Meghan Markle before Prince Harry that show her amazing evolution.
Meghan as a baby
As an adult, Meghan has an estranged relationship with her half-sister Samantha Markle. But here we can see a rare photo of the two together when Meghan was a todddler and Samantha is a teen.
Meghan as a child
Did childhood Meghan know something we didn’t? Here, in one of her earliest school photos, she wears a gold-edged headband somewhat reminiscent of a tiara!
Bonding with mom
Over the years, Markle ended up having a strained relationship with her father. And that strain even led to a legal fight with the British press. But Markle always maintained a good relationship with her mother, Doria Ragland. Here, we can see a cute photo of the two in Markle’s early years.
In 1993, when Meghan was 12 years old, she appeared on a “Nick News” segment on Nickelodeon. There, Meghan told a story of how she wrote a letter to a company and got them to change the sexist phrasing in their commercial. Clearly, Meghan’s passion for social justice started early!
Meghan with her parents
Here, a rare photo of Meghan with both of her parents, father Thomas Markle and mother Doria Ragland, who divorced when she was six years old.
High school days
As a teen, Markle went to Immaculate Heart High School, a private Catholic school in Los Angeles.
Meghan as a teen
Part of what makes Markle easy to relate to is her various passions and indulgences. For example, her decadent delight in this chocolate milkshake is palpable, and she’s making the face we all make in the midst of a sugar high.
Hanging with a gal pal
It’s probably not shocking that future royal Meghan Markle was popular in high school. Here, we see her taking a lovely picture with one of her high school buddies.
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In 1999, Markle was crowned Homecoming Queen, a powerful hint of things to come! Look at how effortlessly she wears the tiara.
Fast-forward a few years and Markle has now graduated from Northwestern University. Now a college grad, she celebrated with her beau and a night out on the town.
Chilling with Mandy Moore
It took Markle some time to earn her big break as an actor, but she mastered the art of networking early on. We can see that in this 2006 photo in which she is hanging out with Mandy Moore!
Deal or no deal?
Remember when we said it took Markle a while to get her groove as an actor? Perhaps the best evidence of that is that this future member of the Royal Family spent 34 episodes as a briefcase girl on Deal or No Deal, as seen in this 2006 photo.
Attending the Golden Globes
Where else would a wannabe actor rub shoulders with the major stars but the Golden Globes? In this 2007 photo, we see a stylish Markle preparing to strut her stuff.
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Party at the chateau
These days, Meghan Markle isn’t exactly struggling for money or cool things. But in this 2010 photo, we can see that she is shamelessly grabbing all the swag she can hold from a party at Chateau Marmont.
Sure, this may look like a screengrab from the Blair Witch Project. But what this 2010 photo really shows is Meghan goofing off with a buddy in a photo booth.
As a member of the Royal Family (even one currently living in America), Markle isn’t really supposed to comment on much in the way of activism or politics. But in 2011, she didn’t just attend the Anti-Defamation League’s gala: she served as the Master of Ceremonies!
Meghan’s first husband
When someone says “Meghan Markle’s husband,” it’s only natural that you think of Prince Harry. But she was married once before. Here Meghan is with her first husband, TV and film producer Trevor Engelson. They were married from 2011–2013.
Meghan and the art of product placement
By 2012, Markle was starring in Suits and attending more major events than ever before. Like in this photo, where she was at HBO’s Luxury Lounge and showing off a big bottle of Purity Vodka.
RELATED: How Meghan Markle Really Feels About Each of Her Royal In-Laws
Meghan ‘suits’ up
Markle’s fellow Suits castmates eventually became more like family than work colleagues. And in this 2012 photo, we can see how they bonded almost right from the start.
Awkward DirectTV appearance
Just because Markle had a regular acting gig didn’t mean she could afford to pass on other gigs. For example, in this 2014 photo, Markle played bartender for a DirectTV broadcast.
Pics with fans
Markle’s time on Suits helped her develop a legion of fans. And whenever those fans recognized her, she was happy to stop and pose for pictures!
Midnight snack attack
These days, Markle can have pretty much any food she wants to be catered directly to her. But back in the day, when she had a case of the midnight munchies, she had to go make her own runs to the nearest fast food drive-through.
Bending the PM’s ear
Filming Suits meant that Markle spent plenty of time in Canada. And she got pretty cozy in the country, as we can see from this rare photo of her chatting up Prime Minister Justin Trudeau!
RELATED: The Real Reason Meghan Markle Abandoned Social Media
Before she and Prince Harry were an item, Markle had a major social media presence and even ran her own lifestyle website. This hilarious photo comes from a video she posted to Instagram that showed her eating the raspberries from her fingers and cackling with laughter.