Author Andrew Morton — who wrote the Diana biography Diana: Her True Story — has turned to a new subject for his newest book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess.
The new book begins with a history of Markle’s family before delving into the story of her upbringing and her Northwestern University college years. It also takes a look at her move back to Los Angeles, where she spent almost eight years attempting to find a breakout role in Hollywood as an actress.
The biography contains few details that haven’t already been revealed in the press and Morton did not interview Markle for the book. He did speak with former childhood friends, old coworkers and estranged family members to offer details of her California upbringing.
Morton paints Markle as “empathetic, certainly but also self-possessed, sophisticated, poised, equally at home on a podium making a speech or on a photo shoot. She is a flag bearer for a new generation of confident, assertive women, determined to kick through the glass ceiling.”
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He also writes that her resume includes “a successful actress, a popular blogger and an acknowledged humanitarian.” Markle, 36, arrives at the “gates of the palace fully formed,” he writes.
Here are nine things we learned about the almost-princess from Morton’s book.
1. The author writes that Markle always wanted to be “Diana 2.0”
Markle was reportedly infatuated with Diana, Princess of Wales and her fiancé’s late mother. Morton writes that Markle and her friends watched the funeral of Diana in September 1997.
He adds that Markle was so affected by Diana’s life and death that her friend Suzy Ardakani’s mother, Sonia, gave her a copy of the biography Diana: Her True Story, which was written by Morton.
He writes: “As her childhood friend Ninaki Priddy observed: ‘She was always fascinated by the royal family. She wants to be Princess Diana 2.0.'”
2. It took her almost 8 years to “make it” in Hollywood
After Markle graduated from Northwestern University in 2003 with a double degree in theatre and international studies, she returned to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. She was dating Trevor Engelson, a producer who later became her ex-husband.
During this time, she worked as a hostess in a Beverly Hills restaurant, a gift wrapping teacher at a local store, as a calligrapher — where she reportedly wrote the envelopes for Robin Thicke and Paula Patton’s wedding — and as a “briefcase model” on Deal or No Deal (alongside Chrissy Teigen).
Markle became briefcase girl number 24 in Season two of the game show hosted by Howie Mandel. According to another briefcase girl at the time, Tameka Jacobs, the job paid $800 per episode.
“She was a super sweet, adorable, a little sheltered, wholesome with a good head on her shoulders,” Jacobs tells Morton. “Looking back, it was clear that she had a brand and wanted to protect that brand for a future career as a serious actor.”
She landed a few roles in movies and TV shows, but the roles were too small for her to make an impression or the pilots didn’t get picked up. It wasn’t until 2010 that she landed her role as Rachel Zane in Suits.
3. She reportedly had a secret blog called “Working Actress”
As a struggling actress searching for her breakout role, Markle needed an outlet to express herself. She reportedly started an anonymous blog called “Working Actress” in January 2010.
According to Morton, in one post she wrote: “I’m not gonna lie. I’ve spent many days curled up in bed with a loaf of bread and some wine. A one woman pity party. It’s awful and ridiculous.”
Markle never confirmed that she was the one behind it, but Morton’s sources identified the actress as the writer of the blog until 2012, when it mysteriously went silent. One year later, Markle began her lifestyle blog “The Tig” as a more formal outlet for her writing.
4. Markle’s mother was reportedly mistaken as the nanny
Morton writes that Markle’s mother, a black woman, faced countless acts of racism while raising her daughter.
5. Her first date with Prince Harry was reportedly at Soho House in London, U.K.
It’s been previously reported that Prince Harry and Markle met at Soho House after being set up on a blind date in 2016.
Morton says that after vacationing in Greece shortly after her breakup from celebrity chef Cory Vitiello, Markle travelled to London in July 2016 to promote Suits and attend Wimbledon as a guest of designer Ralph Lauren.
During her time in London, Ralph Lauren PR executive Violet von Westenholz reportedly decided to set her up with her family friend, Prince Harry. Markle’s friend Markus Anderson, the brand ambassador for Soho House, “was on hand to rustle up a private room at the members’ only club for an intimate evening away from prying eyes.”
The connection between the two was reportedly immediate. They set up back-to-back dates before she flew back to Toronto on July 5. Prince Harry then asked if she would accompany him on a safari in August and she said yes. “She had to pinch herself,” Morton writes. “Here she was about to travel halfway around the world to spend five days in a tented camp in the middle of nowhere with a man she had met twice.”
6. Markle was not the first woman Prince Harry took to Botswana
He adds: “Before Meghan, he had taken TV sports present Natalie Pinkham, Zimbabwean-born Chelsy Davy, and actor Cressida Bonas on safari. Botswana was the preferred destination.”
According to Morton, the trip with Markle went very well. He writes: “It was here, in this natural idyll, where the couple cemented their relationship, both of them realizing they had found something special. As Harry later described: ‘It was absolutely amazing to get to know her as quickly as I did.'”
7. Becoming part of the royal family means Markle can no longer speak publicly about politics
Markle had publicly backed Hillary Clinton in the most recent U.S. presidential run, and she had criticized Brexit. In May 2016, Markle was asked on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore how she thought the momentum surrounding Donald Trump could be stopped.
She replied: “It’s really the moment that I go. We film Suits in Toronto and I might just stay in Canada.” She also attacked Trump as “divisive.”
As a member of the royal family, she can no longer speak publicly about her political opinions and she’s also stepped back from her involvement in World Vision Canada, United Nations Women and One Young World. She’s also shut down her website and all social media channels.
Morton notes that this new chapter of Markle’s life allows her to have a chance to make a real difference in the causes of her choice because she has more celebrity and more of a voice than she did as just an actress.
8. Prince Harry showed the Queen Suits
According to Morton, “Prince Harry made an edited YouTube version of her show Suits to set before the Queen and Prince Philip so that they could understand more clearly what their grandson saw in her.”
9. Markle won over the Queen during their one-hour tea meeting
Queen Elizabeth had to approve of Harry’s engagement before he could even ask Markle the question. According to the new book, Markle practiced afternoon tea when she visited the Rose Tree Cottage in Pasadena, Calif., a few months before meeting the Queen.
Harry and Markle joined his grandmother for a one-hour afternoon tea, meeting in her private sitting room in Buckingham Palace. They arrived so discreetly that the senior palace staffers didn’t even know about the meeting until a couple days later, according to Morton. It took another week until the news even made it out to the press.
The Queen gave her grandson her approval but Morton writes that a former senior royal official told him that were it a few years ago, this would have “been a grim, unhappy confrontation,” but Harry has since built up a trust with his grandmother.
Meghan: A Hollywood Princess was released on April 17.