Although the speculation as to whether Thomas Markle will or won’t attend his daughter Meghan’s wedding on Saturday and walk her down the aisle has been confusing — one thing seems certain: He loves her. And despite the “difficult situation,” he helped to instill in her a drive to pursue what she believes in.
When Meghan was just 11, she displayed an early interest in tackling social issues head-on after she was “shocked,” “angry,” and “hurt” by a sexist Procter & Gamble dishwashing soap commercial that insinuated that women belong in the kitchen.
“It was my father who said, ‘Well, if that upsets you, you should do something about it,’ and I wrote letters to Gloria Allred and Hillary Clinton and Linda Ellerbee and Procter & Gamble and they changed the commercial to people all over America,” Meghan said in a 2015 speech on International Women’s Day for U.N. Women.
While Thomas and Doria Ragland, Meghan’s mother, divorced when Meghan was 6, they both seemingly supported her while she attended Northwestern University, where she double-majored in theater studies and international relations, and then pursued acting as a career.
According to Katie Nicholl, author of Harry: Life, Loss, and Love, Meghan “unearthed herself really to be incredibly tenacious and ambitious but also actually very normal.”
After spending years taking small jobs — like being a suitcase model on Deal or No Deal or playing “Hot Girl” in A Lot Like Love — she got her big break with the USA hit Suits, playing paralegal Rachel Zane.
It was after her “big breakthrough” and relocation to Toronto that her first marriage, to producer Trevor Engelson, fell apart. “Their lives were moving in different directions, and within two years of being married they were filing for divorce,” Nicholl says.
Meghan’s new direction included using her newfound fame to bring attention to causes she cares about, such as women’s health, gender equality, and female empowerment.
This dedication to activism is something that she and Prince Harry “bonded immediately over,” Nicholl says. And it has served her well as she’s become a royal figure, partaking in charity work alongside Prince Harry before she becomes a full-fledged member of the Royal Foundation, where she hopes to continue to be involved with issues she cares deeply about.
“Over the course of her career, Meghan Markle has played many, many roles. But this isn’t Hollywood. This isn’t a film; this is real life,” Nicholl says. “She is a real-life duchess, a new member of the royal family, and she embarks on probably the most exciting role of her career to date.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are set to say “I do” on Saturday, May 19, at Windsor Castle. Yahoo will cover the historic event live from London from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. BST (5 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET). Bookmark this link to follow along LIVE.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: