Some time in the past year, you’ve probably wondered: Who is Meghan Markle? (In fact, you might be pondering on that question now.) Though you probably know the basics at this point (she’s engaged to Prince Harry, she was an actress on “Suits”), there are still a ton of tidbits about the 36-year-old to prep yourself on before the big Royal Wedding in May 2018.
To make your learning experience a little easier, we rounded up eight need-to-know facts about Markle pre-royal engagement. Some of them (like her time as a gameshow model) might surprise you, others (like her stint as a wedding invitation writer) will feel totally on-brand. Peek at these fun Markle facts, ahead.
1. She was a ‘Deal or No Deal’ Model
Long before she was courting Prince Harry, Markle was working as a briefcase model on “Deal or No Deal” as a way to break into the business. Markle appeared on the game show’s 2006 to 2007 season, where she was one of many models who unveiled cash prizes to contestants in silver briefcases.
In a 2013 interview with Esquire, years after her time on “Deal or No Deal,” Markle opened up about how her stint as a briefcase model fueled her fire to make it as an actor.
“I would put [‘Deal or No Deal’ in the category of things I was doing while I was auditioning to try to make ends meet,” she said. “I went from working in the U.S. Embassy in Argentina to ending up on ‘Deal.’ It’s run the gamut. Definitely working on ‘Deal or No Deal’ was a learning experience, and it helped me to understand what I would rather be doing.”
2. She Wrote Celebrity Wedding Invitations as a Job
She may be hosting one of the biggest weddings in 2018, but for a time, Markle was helping others celebrate their big day. In a 2013 interview with Esquire, Markle revealed that she worked as freelancer calligraphy writer in Los Angeles while trying to make ends meet as a struggling actress.
The job eventually led her to writing wedding invitations for couples, including big stars like Robin Thicke and Paula Patton. (Will she write her own wedding invitations? We’ll see.)
“I went to an all-girls Catholic school for six years during the time when kids actually had handwriting class,” she said. “I’ve always had a propensity for getting the cursive down pretty well. What it evolved into was my pseudo-waitressing job when I was auditioning. I didn’t wait tables. I did calligraphy for the invitations, for, like, Robin Thicke and Paula Patton’s wedding.”
3. She Took a Selfie at Buckingham Palace as a Teenager
Markle may live close to Buckingham Palace now, but when she was a teenager, she was merely a tourist. In a picture obtained by The Daily Mail, Markle and a friend visited London when she was 15, where they did touristy things like see the London Eye and take a selfie outside Buckingham Palace.
In the photo, a curly-haired teenage Markle can be seen sitting on a railing outside Buckingham Palace as a warm of tourists try to peek inside. Keep in mind, her future fiancé, Prince Harry, would’ve only been 12 at the time of the selfie.
4. Meghan Isn’t Her First Name
Like many actors, Markle doesn’t go by her real name: Rachel Markle. Instead, she dropped her first name and adopted her middle name, Meghan, as her stage name. Though the fact might surprise many, several fans pointed out that Prince Harry also doesn’t go by his birth name, which is Henry, so Markle will likely still go by Meghan even after joining the royal family.
5. She Can Thank Ellen DeGeneres for Her Dogs
There has been a lot of talk about Markle’s dogs, and whether she will be able to keep them when they live in Buckingham Palace. But there’s actually more to the story than royal rules. In an interview with Best Health, Markle revealed that Ellen DeGeneres convinced her to adopt one of her dogs.
Markle said she was at a dog rescue center sitting with a dog who had been rescued from an alley at five weeks old. Shortly after, DeGeneres and her wife, Portia de Rossi, walk in and ask Markle if the dog is hers. After telling them no, DeGeneres urged Markle to adopt the pup, which she eventually did.
“Ellen goes ‘Is that your dog?’ And I said, ‘No,’ and she’s like, ‘You have to take that dog.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m deciding.’ And she’s like, ‘Rescue the dog!’” Markle said. “It’s sort of like if Oprah tells you to do something. I’m sitting there holding him and she’s like ‘Have you thought of a name for him yet?’ And I said, ‘Well, I think I’d name him Bogart,’ and she’s like ‘You’re taking the dog home.’ And she walks outside to get into her car but instead of getting in she turns around and comes and taps on the window glass and she yells ‘Take the dog!’ And so I brought him home. Because Ellen told me to.”
6. She’s Related to Shakespeare
Markle might’ve had English ties all along. According to a report by MyHeritage, which looked into Markle’s ancestry, the actress comes from the same lineage as William Shakespeare. “We are not sure if Ms. Markle is aware of her connection to such eminent Britons, however, it seems that she was always destined to be a Brit,” a spokesperson for the site told Newsweek.
7. She’s a Hallmark Channel Movie Veteran
Like many actors, Markle is no stranger to Hallmark Channel movies. In fact, she’s acted in two of them and is a big fan of the holiday-favorite channel in general. The two Hallmark films Markle starred in were “Dater’s Handbook,” in which she plays a smart business women who keeps choosing the wrong men, and “When Sparks Fly,” about a journalist who returns home and finds the love she’s been missing. Of course, both movies sound quintessentially Hallmark Channel, but if you’re looking for some holiday watching, search no further than Markle’s filmography.
8. She’s Been Married Before
It’s a little-known fact that this isn’t Markle’s first wedding. In 2011, she married film producer, Trevor Engelson, in Jamaica. The couple quietly split two years later.
Also, this won’t be Markle’s first time at a royal wedding,either. (Kind of.) In May, Markle made a surprise appearance, alongside Prince Harry, at Kate Middleton’s sister Pippa’s wedding, according to E! News. Though she wasn’t invited to the ceremony, Harry wasn’t going to leave Markle out of the festivities, so he reportedly drove 100 miles to pick up Markle for Pippa’s reception. What a guy.