Unless you’re a fan of the series Suits or happened to notice the Fed-Ex delivery cameo in Horrible Bosses, chances are you didn’t know who Meghan Markle was until her name came up as Prince Harry’s rumoured new girlfriend.
The news has impeccable timing, for the actress and for royal watchers. Just as North Americans buckle down for what’s been a polarizing and, at times, stressful U.S. election campaign, there’s a glimmer of levity.
“It has been greeted with great delight,” says Jessica Morgan, who co-wrote the fortuitous 2015 novel The Royal We, about an American girl who falls in love with a British prince. “The news certainly came at a time when we all needed some juicy, exciting, royal, romantic gossip.”
It’s also raised Markle’s profile considerably.
New clothing line
The same week that Markle’s apparent romance was revealed, she also launched a clothing line with the Canadian clothing retailer Reitmans. Reitmans isn’t exactly a go-to destination for fashionistas, so the publicity is undoubtedly helping the brand introduce their collaboration.
Or should I say re-introduce. People might not know that Markle’s first line with the company actually came out in the previous season, with much less fanfare. Some of those earlier pieces were drastically reduced on the website’s clearance section. Quite a contrast to the promotion behind her latest line.
“I think the fact that this news leaked the same week that her clothing line went for sale has caused a lot of side-eyeing, to be honest,” says Morgan, who’s also one half of the duo behind the L.A.-based celebrity fashion blog Go Fug Yourself. “It could well be a total coincidence but it seems extremely convenient.”
Taking a cue from Suits
Part of Markle’s sartorial expertise comes from the on-set wardrobe of perfectly tailored pencil skirts and dress shirts she sports on USA Network’s Suits. The 35-year-old has been playing paralegal-turned-law-student Rachel Zane since the series began in 2011. Now that Markle’s been thrust into the spotlight, her character on the show is getting more attention as well.
The upside: the legal drama could enjoy higher viewership, at least initially, as people curious about her tune in for the rest of season six, premiering in 2017. The downside: reports suggest a few of her steamy love scenes from previous seasons on the show are already getting a major audience boost, on, ahem, an X-rated site.
Toying with the idea
If you’re going to be a prince’s centre of attention — true or not —why not have fun with it!
That’s exactly what Markle has been doing on social media since the story broke in British tabloids last week. Neither confirming nor denying the rumour, she instead posted a series of pictures on Instagram to her 1.1 million followers, a number sure to increase. Yup, that’s two bananas … spooning.
She’s also posted numerous photos from her recent back-and-forth travels to London. No one thought anything of them at the time, but it seems her Instagram feed holds more mysteries than we thought.
The actress’s well-designed and prolific Instagram feed also highlights her humanitarian work, another side of her that’s getting noticed. Markle is an ambassador for Canada’s World Vision clean water campaign and attended the One Young World Summit in Ottawa this September to help promote youth leadership alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
She’s spoken about her work on her lifestyle website The Tig and also penned an essay for Elle magazine last year about her experiences as a mixed-race woman.
“I wasn’t black enough for the black roles and I wasn’t white enough for the white ones, leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn’t book a job,” the actress wrote in her guest column.
Some royal watchers suggest Markle might have connected with Prince Harry through their volunteer work and possibly when he was in Toronto to launch the Invictus Games in May.
Whether or not the rumour and/or relationship lasts isn’t the point, says Morgan. It’s the accessibility behind it. Markle is diverse, social media savvy and so close to home.
“It’s so much easier to relate to someone like that than it is to relate to, you know, some posh daughter of an earl,” says Morgan. “It sort of lets you feel like, ‘oh, that could have been me!'”