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Profile: Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Kensington Palace has confirmed that US actress and campaigner Meghan Markle is in a relationship with Prince Harry

Prince Harry has confirmed actress Meghan Markle is his girlfriend in a statement from Kensington Palace. It also attacks the media for subjecting her to a "wave of abuse and harassment".

The actress may not be a familiar name to British audiences, but she is better known in the US for her role as Rachel Zane in TV drama Suits.

Markle was born on 4 August 1981 and grew up in Los Angeles but now lives in Toronto.

She studied at a girls' Roman Catholic college before graduating from Northwestern University School of Communication in 2003, just as her acting career was beginning.

Between auditions, she has told of making money by doing calligraphy for wedding invitations, using skills developed in handwriting classes at school.

Equality campaigner

Her father was a TV lighting director and her first television appearance in the US was in an episode of the medical drama General Hospital in 2002, before moving on to roles in CSI, Without A Trace and Castle.

Markle then began appearing in major Hollywood films, including Get Him To The Greek, Remember Me and Horrible Bosses.

She has also appeared in the sci-fi series Fringe, playing FBI special agent Amy Jessup, and is perhaps most famous for her role in Suits, which is shown on the Dave channel and Netflix in the UK.

In September 2011, she married film producer Trevor Engelson after dating for seven years, but the pair divorced two years later.

Image copyright Tasos Katopodis
Image caption Markle is also well known as a campaigner for gender equality

Markle is also the editor-in-chief of her lifestyle website and brand The Tig, which covers food, beauty, fashion and travel.

She said setting up the website was an attempt to "reframe the beauty content to include think pieces about self-empowerment" and feature dynamic, inspirational women.

In a post on The Tig, she explained: "I've never wanted to be a lady who lunches - I've always wanted to be a woman who works."

She has also grown a large social network following, with 1.1 million people following her posts on Instagram and over 330,000 Twitter followers.

Earlier this year, Markle became the Global Ambassador for World Vision Canada, which campaigns for better education, food and healthcare for children around the world.

As part of her role, the actress travelled to Rwanda for the charity's Clean Water Campaign.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Markle is the editor-in-chief of lifestyle website The Tig

As well as her humanitarian work, she is known for campaigning for gender equality.

Aged 11, she forced a soap manufacturer to alter an advert after she wrote a letter to then First Lady Hillary Clinton and other high-profile figures complaining that it implied women belonged in the kitchen.

Markle's commitment to gender equality has seen her work with the United Nations, and she received a standing ovation from an audience including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for a speech she made on International Women's Day 2015.

Commenting on how she combines acting with her humanitarian commitments, she said: "While my life shifts from refugee camps to red carpets, I choose them both because these worlds can, in fact, co-exist. And for me, they must."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Markle has written about her pride in her mixed racial heritage

Markle, whose father is white and mother is African American, wrote an article for Elle magazine last year about her racial heritage.

She wrote: "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."


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