The long-awaited royal wedding of Prince Harry, 33, and Meghan Markle, 36, is just days away and millions of viewers are expected to tune in. And though Prince Harry has spent a lifetime in the spotlight, Markle has also made a name for herself as an American actress, activist and entrepreneur.
Here are six things to know about the bride ahead of this weekend's royal wedding.
As a lauded activist, Markle holds such titles as global ambassador for World Vision, advocate for UN Women, and counselor for One Young World, a U.K.-based charity. And she got started early: She "unknowingly and somehow accidentally became a female advocate" when she was a tween, Markle said at the UN Women's "20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference of Women in Beijing" event in 2015.
After seeing a sexist commercial from Procter & Gamble, Markle wrote letters to companies, attorneys and politicians to express her frustration with gender inequality — and some leaders wrote back to her.
"My 11-year-old self worked out that if I really wanted someone to hear, well, then I should write a letter to the first lady. So off I went scribbling away to our first lady at the time, Hillary Clinton," Markle said at the UN.
To her surprise, Markle said she received a letter of encouragement from Clinton just a few weeks later: "It was at that moment that I realized the magnitude of my actions. At the age of 11 I had created my small level of impact by standing up for equality."
Markle was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and acting came naturally, but though she loved it, she had other passions as well.
"I had always been the theater nerd at Northwestern University. I knew I wanted to do acting, but I hated the idea of being this cliché — a girl from L.A. who decides to be an actress," she told Marie Claire magazine in 2013. "I wanted more than that, and I had always loved politics, so I ended up changing my major completely, and double-majoring in theater and international relations."
Markle joined the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and, in her junior year, she traveled to Buenos Aires to intern with the U.S. Embassy.
When Markle was starting out in the acting world, she took a job as a briefcase girl on the NBC show "Deal or No Deal" to "make ends meet."
"Definitely working on 'Deal or No Deal' was a learning experience, and it helped me to understand what I would rather be doing," she told Esquire this year.
Markle's breakthrough and highest profile role was her most recent one as paralegal Rachel Zane on the USA show "Suits," which has been airing since 2011. Going forward, though, Markle says she doesn't plan to continue acting.
"I don't see it as giving anything up. I just see it as a change. It's a new chapter," said during a BBC News interview alongside Prince Harry last year. "Now it's time to work as a team with you."
She made her last appearance in "Suits" during last month's season finale.
Working as a calligrapher for weddings and events helped Markle pay the bills while she pursued her acting career, according to an interview she gave with Good Housekeeping in 2017.
"I used to do it for Dolce & Gabbana's celebrity correspondence over the holidays," she said. "I would sit there with a little white tube sock on my hand so no hand oils got on the card, trying to pay my bills while auditioning. I'm glad that in the land of no one seeming to appreciate a handwritten note anymore that I can try to keep that alive."
Earlier this year, Markle took the ultimate social media cleanse by deleting all of her accounts. Prior to deactivating, she had three million Instagram followers, 800,000 Facebook likes and 350,000 Twitter followers, the BBC reports.
In April of 2017, Markle shut down her lifestyle blog and passion project The Tig amid rumors she and Prince Harry might get engaged. Markle wrote most of her own blog posts on The Tig, where she shared tips on beauty, fashion, travel, food and health.
The Tig's shutdown came just months after she collaborated with Canadian retailer Reitmans to create an affordable clothing collection.
Prince Harry designed Markle's engagement ring using several smaller diamonds that belonged to his late mother Princess Diana.
"The little diamonds on either side are from my mother's jewelry collection, to make sure that she's with us on this crazy journey together," Prince Harry told BBC News.
The large central diamond on Markle's ring comes from Botswana, where she flew out to spend a few days with Prince Harry just weeks after the two first met.
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