Despite how much fun it seems to marry a prince, it definitely hasn’t been easy being Meghan Markle — especially over the past few years. Though she definitely had her ups and downs before she met Prince Harry and got a taste of royal life, it seems things have become even more challenging for her as she began to live her life under much more of a microscope than she did when she was simply known as one of the stars of Suits.
Between the family drama that practically overshadowed her massive royal wedding to Harry in 2018, the relationship issues Markle faced before she and Harry were even a thing, and the criticism she’s been constantly receiving since joining The Firm, there’s no doubt that Markle has struggled. Sure, she has a gorgeous husband, a killer royal wardrobe, and major deals with Netflix and Spotify that could really elevate her career in the near future, but those wonderful parts of her life didn’t come without plenty of challenges, as well.
These are some of the most difficult times that Markle has faced in her life so far — at least, the ones that have been public enough for us to find out about. Now that she and Prince Harry are happily settled in Los Angeles with their son, Archie (and a lot more privacy), it finally seems like things might be looking up for the Duchess of Sussex.
Meghan Markle's first marriage ended in divorce
One of the reasons Meghan Markle was such a surprising pick for Prince Harry to settle down with: The fact that her marriage to him wouldn’t be her first. In August 2013, Markle’s two-year marriage to film producer Trevor Engelson came to an end when they “quietly separated,” as Us Weekly put it, later finalizing their no-fault divorce in a similarly low-key way.
Markle has kept mum on the split, and there wasn’t much fanfare about it at the time, despite the fact that Markle and Engelson had been together for nearly a decade by the time they called it quits. But when Markel and Prince Harry’s romance heated up and became public, Markle’s former best friend, Ninaki Priddy, who was also maid of honor at her wedding to Engelson, turned traitor in a scandalous December 2017 piece for The Sun. In the shocking takedown, Priddy alleged that Markle unceremoniously and unfairly dumped Engelson as soon as she reached stardom with Suits.
If that wasn’t enough, just months before Priddy’s betrayal, there was buzz that Engelson was developing a “divorce comedy” based on his breakup from Markle about a man who now has to share custody of his children with the royal family now that his ex has married into it. As of this writing, that show has yet to be developed, however, if it does, we imagine that will be yet another difficult day for Markle in connection with her ex.
Family drama plagued Meghan Markle's royal wedding prep
The days leading up to the royal wedding in 2018 were pretty dramatic, to say the least, thanks to Meghan Markle’s family across the pond. For starters, her half-sister, Samantha Grant, called her out on Twitter (in since-deleted tweets) for not inviting her and the rest of her family on dad Thomas Markle’s side to the wedding. That was just one month before Markle and Prince Harry were due to walk down the aisle, and things only devolved from there.
Though Markle’s dad, Thomas, was invited, he ultimately ended up not making the trip to the UK. In early May, he suddenly began surfacing in many paparazzi photos, which he later admitted ad been staged. After speaking with Thomas, TMZ reported that a “paparazzi agency approached him,” willing to pay money for photos, and he agreed, hoping he could cast himself in a more positive light ahead of his daughter’s wedding.
But in the end, that didn’t actually matter. Thomas had a heart attack and needed surgery, rendering him unable to travel and to walk his daughter down the aisle. Meghan then released a statement about her father via Kensington Palace, stating, “This is a deeply personal moment for Ms. Markle in the days before her wedding. She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr. Markle in this difficult situation.”
Meghan Markle's sister's tell-all books
Samantha Grant (pictured above) wasn’t done attempting to make her half-sister look bad with her tweets about not being invited to the royal wedding. By early 2019, Grant told the UK’s Daily Star that she was planning on releasing two books about her life growing up with Meghan Markle, called In The Shadows of The Duchess. Though she never shared exactly what the books would be about, Grant did call them a memoir and hinted that it would go “behind the scenes” of their childhood.
“You’ve got to read my book to see what things were really like,” she said. “I have a very big mouth and speak my mind – as the world can see – at any cost, even if it makes me unpopular, but I tell the truth even if it makes me unpopular. [I’ve] never been afraid of the truth because if the truth makes me lose friends then they weren’t friends that I wanted to have anyway.”
At the time, it seemed that Grant’s books would be published in 2019. As of this writing, they still haven’t been released, and it’s not clear whether or not they’re still happening.
Meghan Markle's letter to her dad went public
In February 2019, the Daily Mail published a letter that Meghan Markle had written to dad Thomas Markle after he had spoken to the press about their estranged relationship, making their private struggles very public. In the handwritten letter, Markle told her father that “”[his] actions have broken [her] heart into a million pieces,” and that he had caused her “unwarranted pain.” She also accused him of lying when he said he’d called her to let her know he wouldn’t be able to make her wedding.
“If you love me, as you tell the press you do, please stop,” Markle wrote, adding, “Please allow us to live our lives in peace. Please stop lying, please stop creating so much pain, please stop exploiting my relationship with my husband.”
Since then, Markle has filed a lawsuit against the Daily Mail for publishing the letter. In October 2019. Prince Harry defended her decision to sue in a statement on their official website, which read, in part: “The contents of a private letter were published unlawfully in an intentionally destructive manner to manipulate you, the reader, and further the divisive agenda of the media group in question,” he wrote. “In addition to their unlawful publication of this private document, they purposely misled you by strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words to mask the lies they had perpetuated for over a year.”
The new mom struggle was very real for Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle made headlines in October 2019 when she and Prince Harry (along with their son, Archie, who was five months old at the time) were being interviewed for their ITV documentary, Harry & Meghan: An African Journey. Talking to journalist Tom Bradby, Markle broke her notorious silence with the press, and got candid about the very real struggles of attempting to balance her real-life struggles under such intense public scrutiny.
“Any woman, especially when they’re pregnant, you’re really vulnerable. So that was made really challenging and then when you have a newborn … especially as a woman, it’s really, it’s a lot,” Markle said. “So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mum or trying to be a newlywed.”
At the same time, Markle also admitted that Bradby had been the first to ask her how she was doing as a new mom, and agreeing that she was “not really okay.”
The Megxit announcement
In January 2020 — following a long sabbatical in Canada over the holidays — Meghan Markle and Prince Harry made an announcement that would shock most royal fans. Releasing a statement on Instagram, they shared that they would be stepping down from their positions as senior members of the royal family in favor of a bit more independence and privacy.
“We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages,” their statement said. They went on to explain that they wanted to raise their firstborn son Archie “with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born,” while having more of an ability to take the direction they chose in the next steps of their careers.
Following their announcement, there was much debate about how the royal family might feel on the subject. Queen Elizabeth’s statement on the matter, released 10 days after the so-called “Megxit” announcement, claimed that all parties “found a constructive and supportive way forward.” This included Harry Meghan “no longer [receiving] public funds for Royal duties,” as well as relinquishing “their HRH titles.” Although the queen did express her pride over “how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family,” both Harry and Meghan continued to get backlash for months, even after they’d finished up their royal engagements and moved to the United States for good.
Were Meghan and Harry publicly snubbed by William and Kate?
In March 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle finished up their final official royal engagement when returning to the United Kingdom for Commonwealth Day (pictured above), at which point they reunited with Prince William and Kate Middleton (and the rest of the royals) for the first time. Unfortunately, this didn’t exactly result in the warm send off they might have been hoping for, and instead ended up drumming up even more feud rumors than what was already going around, particularly where Harry and William’s fractured relationship was concerned.
In photos and videos that emerged from Commonwealth Day, it seemed like William and Kate totally snubbed Meghan and Harry at the service they all attended, and the whole scene seemed pretty awkward altogether. The Sussexes never publicly spoke out about the situation, but royal historian Robert Lacey wrote in his book, Battle of Brothers (via Newsweek) that it was actually an emotional time for the couple, with Harry “fighting back tears” during the event.
Meghan Markle's miscarriage was devastating
In November 2020, Meghan Markle published an emotional essay for The New York Times where she revealed for the first time that she had suffered a miscarriage earlier in the year while she was secretly pregnant with her second child. She wrote that she “felt a sharp cramp” while tending to Archie in his nursery and knew exactly what was happening in that moment.
“Hours later, I lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband’s hand. I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears,” she continued. “Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we’d heal.”
Markle went on to write that the experience had led her to discover just how common miscarriages were, and encouraged her readers to ask others in their lives if they’re okay, as everyone collectively coped with the difficult year that many had faced in 2020.
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