From performer to princess! Before she crossed the pond for love, Meghan Markle was a successful actress in the states — landing her biggest role on the legal drama Suits.
The USA Network series, which ran for nine seasons from 2011 to 2020, was set at a fictitious New York City law firm and followed Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) as he used his photographic memory to talk his way into a job working for attorney Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), despite being a college dropout.
While the show primarily focused on Harvey and Mike winning lawsuits and closing cases, Markle portrayed Rachel Zane — an ambitious paralegal and daughter of one of the best lawyers in the city (played by Wendell Pierce) — who eventually became a love interest for Adams’ Mike.
“Before Suits, I did a pilot every single year. I even did a pilot for ABC with Patrick J. Adams, who plays Mike Ross on the show, like six years ago. He’s the rough-around-the-edges guy, I’m the polished girl, and there’s that, ‘Will they ever be together?’ tension,” the California native told Marie Claire in 2013, noting that she considers her character Rachel “such a good friend.”
While a source exclusively told Us Weekly in November 2017 that the Fringe alum was said to be “much more reserved” with her Suits costars after her romance with Prince Harry broke in October 2016, the insider added that the Archewell founder enjoyed her final days on set before leaving the series earlier that year.
“Meghan was extra pleasant on set and more personable, really engaged with the cast and crew,” the insider revealed at the time, adding that she spent a great deal of time with her on-screen family. “The whole cast and crew were getting along better than ever. Having the end near made everyone nostalgic.”
While Markle officially exited the show after season 7, series creator Aaron Korsh decided to write her off as a precaution well before she made the final decision to move across the pond to be with now-husband Prince Harry.
“I knew from a year ago that this relationship was burgeoning,” the showrunner told the BBC in an interview published in November 2017. “And I had a decision to make because I didn’t want to intrude and ask her, ‘Hey, what’s going on and what are you going to do?’”
After careful consideration, Korsh ultimately “decided to take a gamble that these two people were in love and it was going to work out,” he said. “What we decided to do [was to] say, ‘Look, I would rather have good things happen to Meghan in her life,’ which would likely mean her leaving the show. So let’s plan on that and it’s much easier to undo that, if it came to it, than to just plan on her staying forever and then finding out she’s going to go. And the only way to write a character out like that would be if they got hit by a bus or something.”
In the end, Markle ended up not only departing from the show — but retiring from acting altogether. In her first post-engagement interview with Prince Harry, the future Duchess of Sussex confirmed she’d step back from the small screen to focus on her philanthropic efforts.
“I think what’s been so exciting [transitioning] out of my career and into, as you said, the causes I can focus even more energy on, very early out of the gate, [is that you] have a voice that people listen to, a lot of responsibility,” she said at the time.
In May 2018, she and the Invictus Games founder tied the knot. Her final episode of Suits aired just a month earlier with her character Rachel marrying Mike and moving to Seattle.
Off-screen, the pair welcomed son Archie in May 2019 and daughter Lilibet in June 2021. The couple decided to step down from their senior royal duties in March 2020, choosing to move to California and raise their children in the U.S.