Markle was born on August 4, 1981. She was raised in Los Angeles, California. Of her parents she has said, “my dad is Caucasian and my mom is African-American … . I have come to embrace [this and] say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident, mixed-race woman.”
Her mother, Doria Ragland, has a master’s degree from the University of Southern California and works as a psychotherapy therapist and yoga instructor. Her father, of Dutch and Irish descent, is Emmy Award winner Thomas W. Markle, whose profession as a lighting director resulted in his young daughter often visiting the set of Married … with Children.
From age five, Markle was educated at private schools, first at Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse and later at Immaculate Heart High School, an all-girls Catholic school in Los Angeles. She graduated in 2003 from Northwestern University, near Chicago, where she took theater studies before completing her double major Bachelor of Arts degree in theater and international studies; coursework included an internship at the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires.
To support herself between early acting jobs, Markle worked as a freelance calligrapher and took on several contract acting and modelling jobs including a stint as a 'briefcase girl' on Deal or No Deal. In 2002, Markle appeared in an episode of the daytime soap opera, General Hospital.
She appeared in Fox's series Fringe as Junior Agent Amy Jessup in the first two episodes of its second season. Since July 2011 she has played the paralegal Rachel Zane, on the USA Network show Suits.
Markle appeared in two 2010 films, Get Him to the Greek and Remember Me, and one 2011 film, Horrible Bosses. She appeared in the short film The Candidate (seen on the KQED public television show ImageMakers: the Company of Men) as a secretary in 2012.
She has also appeared in episodes of Century City, Cuts, Love, Inc., The War at Home, 90210, Knight Rider, Without a Trace, The Apostles, CSI: NY, The League and Castle.
Markle is the founder and editor-in-chief of lifestyle site The Tig. Markle announced she was ending the website in April 2017. In November 2016 Markle and Canadian clothing company Reitmans released a line of reasonably priced women's fashion workwear.
In 2016 Markle became a Global Ambassador for World Vision Canada, traveling to Rwanda for the Clean Water Campaign. She has also worked with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women as an Advocate.
Markle was a Counsellor for international charity One Young World, speaking at the 2014 annual summit in Dublin on the topics of gender equality and modern-day slavery. She also attended the 2016 summit in Ottawa.
Markle began dating actor Trevor Engelson in 2004; the couple were later married on September 10, 2011. The couple divorced in August 2013.
Markle has been in a relationship with Prince Harry since July 2016. In September 2017, during an interview with Vanity Fair magazine, Markle spoke about her love for Prince Harry in public for the first time, saying:
We’re two people who are really happy and in love. We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news, and I was working during that whole time, and the only thing that changed was people’s perception.
Markle is a self-proclaimed foodie, which was incorporated into her Suits character Rachel Zane. Markle is close friends with Serena Williams, Jessica Mulroney, and Ben Mulroney of E! News.