27/11/2017 10:07 GMT | Updated 27/11/2017 13:03 GMT

Meghan Markle – The LA Star With A Social Conscience

Meghan Markle – best known for her role in the hit US TV series Suits – is an American actress, humanitarian campaigner and former lifestyle blogger.

She rose to fame playing law student Rachel Zane in the popular legal drama, after parts in CSI: Miami, sci-fi show Fringe and movies such as Remember Me and Horrible Bosses.

Described in the press as “sassy, smart and vivacious”, the 36-year-old Californian is a star with a social conscience.

As well as being a global ambassador for World Vision Canada, she is committed to gender equality and empowering women through her work as a women’s advocate for the UN.

Meghan shut down her website in April (PA screengrab)

The yoga-loving, self-confessed foodie has her own clothing line, was active on Instagram and Twitter before her relationship with Harry grew serious, and had a fashion and lifestyle website, where she posted candidly about her own outlook and experiences.

Markle opened up about everything from her charity work in Rwanda and the importance of focusing “less on glass slippers and more on pushing through glass ceilings” to her celebrity hairdresser and favourite body lotions.

In her own words, she’s “an actress, a writer, the Editor-in-Chief of my lifestyle brand The Tig, a pretty good cook, and a firm believer in handwritten notes”.

In what was seen as a sign of Markle getting ready to marry into the royals, she brought an abrupt end to her blog in April 2017.

She removed all posts and closed the site, posting a message that began: “After close to three beautiful years on this adventure with you, it’s time to say goodbye to The Tig” but gave no explanation as to why she had made her decision.

Sharing her typical message of positivity, she urged her followers: “Keep finding those Tig moments of discovery, keep laughing and taking risks, and keep being ‘the change you wish to see in the world’.”

In September 2017, her engagement to Harry looked set when she graced the cover of US magazine Vanity Fair and opened up publicly about their relationship.

“We’re two people who are really happy and in love,” she revealed.

Disclosing that they quietly dated for around six months before it became news, she added: “Nothing about me changed. I’m still the same person that I am, and I’ve never defined myself by my relationship.”

Rachel Meghan Markle was born on August 4 1981, to clinical therapist mother Doria who she describes as “free spirited” and TV lighting director Thomas – who she calls “the most hardworking father you can imagine”.

She grew up in Los Angeles, and studied at a girls’ Roman Catholic college. Her parents divorced when she was six.

Each day after school, she used to visit the set of the TV show Married…with Children where her father worked.

Markle has written about her mixed heritage – Thomas Markle is Caucasian and of Dutch and Irish descent and her mother is African-American – and how it created “a grey area surrounding my self-identification”.

But she added: “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.”

She also wrote about how her parents “who came from little” taught her to care about others, and led by example during her childhood buying turkeys for homeless shelters at Thanksgiving and delivering meals to patients in hospice care.

As a child, she travelled to remote places with her mother and visited slums in Jamaica.

When she was 11, she persuaded a soap manufacturer to alter an advert after she wrote a letter to then first lady Hillary Clinton complaining that it implied women belonged in the kitchen.

Markle graduated from Northwestern University in theatre and international relations.

While trying to pay bills while auditioning for acting roles, she became a freelance calligrapher, doing correspondence for Dolce & Gabbana and wedding invitations for clients such as singer Robin Thicke.

She also worked at the US Embassy in Argentina and was a “briefcase girl” – one of the models who hold the suitcases full of cash – on the US version of Deal or No Deal.

Markle first hit the screens in America when she featured in an episode of the medical drama General Hospital in 2002, before moving on to roles in CSI, 90210, Without A Trace, Castle, and as an FBI agent in the series Fringe.

She has already been married once before. In September 2011 she wed film producer Trevor Engelson after dating him for six years, but the pair divorced amicably less than two years later.

She starred in three major Hollywood films: Get Him To The Greek, Remember Me and Horrible Bosses, before landing a major role in the legal series Suits in 2011, relocating her home to Toronto, Canada, where the show is filmed.

In 2014, the beauty, fashion and travel enthusiast founded her blog to “reframe the beauty content to include think pieces about self-empowerment”.

It is named after what Markle calls her “ah-ha moment” when she had a sip of the expensive wine Tignanello “which opened up my palate and perspective to wine knowledge”.

Posts included her take on how she balances fame and humanitarian work, with Markle saying: “I’ve never wanted to be a lady who lunches – I’ve always wanted to be a woman who works.”

Her socio-political activism has become increasingly important to her in recent years, and she shares Harry’s passion for Africa.

She carried out charity work in Rwanda for the Clean Water Campaign in March 2016.

She also went to Afghanistan on a morale boosting trip to show support for US troops ahead of the Christmas holidays in 2014.

In 2015, the then UN Secretary General Bahn-Ki Moon joined a standing ovation for Markle after she made a speech on International Women’s Day as UN Women’s Advocate for Women’s Leadership & Political Participation.

Commenting on how she combines her glamorous lifestyle with her charity work, she has 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.”