Before Meghan Markle became the Duchess of Sussex, before she gave birth to baby Archie with her prince and before her dramatic exit from the royal family, she was just like any other struggling actress living in Los Angeles. But the palace has gone to every effort to ensure that her previous life should be hidden from the public. It’s not becoming of a royal to post numerous selfies…
But in this digital age, there’s one hard-and-fast rule; once something has been posted online, it can never really be deleted. To Meghan and the palace’s aggravation, her deleted Instagram photos still exist. They show a very different side to the Duchess of Sussex that they don’t want anyone to see.
One thing that becomes clear about Meghan’s former online presence is her love for posting selfies. Selfies in bed, selfies in a public toilet, or even just a passing window reflection – the Suits actress just loved to document herself and show her Instagram followers. In this pre-bedtime pic, she added the Instagram caption: “Sleep tight, sweet friends.”
In fact, she loved to document her life on her lifestyle blog called The Tig. Named after her favorite wine, she created her blog to be a “hub for the discerning palate – those with a hunger for food, travel, fashion & beauty.” Even before Harry, Meghan had a taste for the fancier things in life and wasn’t shy to share it.
Her Biggest Acting Role
Before Meghan was the Duchess of Sussex, she had achieved a small amount of fame for appearing in the USA Network legal drama Suits. She was part of the cast for seven seasons from 2011 to 2018, playing the part of Rachel Zane, a senior paralegal assistant and later an associate at Pearson Specter Litt.
Meghan was thrilled to get a spot on a television series like this, and it was her biggest role yet. As we can see from the image above, she loved to post photos of her life as a working actress. As far as she was concerned, she was living the dream and well on her way to finding fortune and fame.
A New Life In Toronto
Before Meghan met Prince Harry, she had been in a serious relationship with someone else. She was married to film producer Trevor Engelson – who bears an uncanny resemblance to her future red-headed husband. He’s five years older than Meghan, and they were married for only two years after a lavish wedding in Jamaica, circa 2011.
But it has been widely reported that Meghan left the relationship to take up her role on Suits. She was required to live in Toronto for shooting and ultimately chose that over her marriage to Trevor. Judging from her since-deleted Instagram, she was pretty happy with her decision. Here she is having dinner with her Canadian friend Markus Anderson, definitely not thinking about her Trevor…
The Partner In Crime
There was one person who was a big part of her life before Harry. Here Meghan is pictured on holiday with her best friend, Jessica Mulroney, who made frequent appearances on the ‘gram. Jessica was also living in Canada and working as a fashion stylist and marketing consultant.
Both ladies had a taste for the finer things in life. A girls’ holiday wasn’t just a trip to the beach for them – it usually involved a private yacht, fine dining, and rubbing shoulders with wealthy men in upmarket nightclubs. The girls definitely knew how to work the social scene both in Toronto and abroad.
Flaunting Her Figure
Meghan was definitely pretty body-confident before her life in the public eye. Today, she wouldn’t be seen dead in something that was too revealing. But back when she was just a nobody, she happily flaunted her figure in a tiny bikini. Her Instagram followers were used to photos like these.
Meghan was keenly into fitness, as she still is today, and joined in on the trend of posting various yoga poses or cute gym selfies. When you’re as good-looking as Meghan, there aren’t many occasions when you don’t look your best! We love how she used to be a sun-worshipper before Harry, like so many people on Instagram.
Meghan’s Naughty Side
Meghan was definitely more naughty on her old Instagram. She once posted the photo on the left of her jeans which read: “TOUCH MY BUTT AND BUY ME PIZZA.” Yep, she was posting belfie’s on Instagram way before Kim Kardashian was. It’s something she would never do today as the Duchess of Sussex.
Can you imagine how people would react if Kate Middleton posted the same? She also wore far more revealing outfits before Harry – or at least, she doesn’t turn up in outfits like the one on the right for public engagements. A deep-V neck and backless jumpsuit like this would have the palace in a panic. No wonder she was made to quickly delete all of her socials.
Home Life Before Harry
Aside from a busy social life and life as an actress on set, she could be quite a homebody at times. She posted this photo a few years ago that read: “After a long day of shooting its date night with my boys.” In this photo, she’s lounging on the couch with her dogs Bogart and Guy, and a glass of red wine.
Bogart and Guy were frequent guests on her Instagram as she lived with them at home. They were both rescue dogs, adopted at different times, who had a difficult life before Meghan took them in. “If you’re thinking of getting a dog, please rescue,” she encouraged her followers on Instagram.
Nurturing Her Fan Base
Megan posted a nice close-up selfie of her face in bright light for a special occasion. When it was the Suits actress’s birthday, she received a flood of well wishes and birthday messages. And of course, she had to give her fans a little shout out.
She captioned her birthday selfie: “Thank you for the birthday love! Cheers to all of you for sticking with me on all things serious and silly.” Meghan added: “Let’s have another amazing year, PS #adoptdontshop.” In her life before Harry, she had taken on a social media influencer-type of identity.
Influencer In Training
In fact, in many ways, Meghan was really trying to become a proper social media influencer. Pictured below, Meghan gave her followers a sneak peek into what she’s like in real life. In this photo, she stands uncomfortably to take the best photo of her lunch. Just like an influencer.
We love this private glimpse into Meghan’s day-to-day life. We can she has her laptop open, she eats lunch at her desk, and isn’t afraid of pouring herself an early glass of wine. We can also see her style when it comes to interior decoration. She clearly favored clean and contemporary styles of furniture.
Her Girly Side
Here we have a glimpse into Meghan’s bedroom which, naturally, she was private about even then. We can see she loved to look good and took an artful photo of herself applying makeup. She’s putting on her nude Christian Dior lipstick and looking in her Christian Dior eyeshadow compact.
We can also see her collection of fancy shoes lined up on the windowsill. Clearly, space was a bit of an issue in this apartment so she stored her wardrobe where she could. We’re not surprised she was a makeup and shoe enthusiast, considering how stylish she looks most of the time.
In fact, Meghan prided herself on being somewhat of a fashionista. In the photo below, we can see her carefully styled day-time outfit that looks straight out of a catalog. Even when she was just meeting up with a friend for brunch, she would dress up for the occasion.
Meghan was clearly drawn to the good life, even back then. She loved to post about getting her hair done by fancy hairdressers, and shouting them out on Instagram. In many ways, she was a perfect choice for Harry and a life in the public eye. She already knew how to maintain a glamorous lifestyle.
A First-Class Lifestyle
It’s clear from Meghan’s old Instagram that she went on vacation a lot. Aside from starring as Rachel on Suits, she didn’t have another source of income, but by the looks of it, she didn’t need one either. In this photo she posted on Instagram, she’s about to head into a first-class passenger lounge.
And while most of us would slip into a pair of sweatpants to stay comfortable on the flight, Meghan traveled in style. She’s wheeling around a suede carry-on bag and wearing a beige fedora hat. Then again, if you’re enjoying the luxury of a first-class flight you’ll probably be comfortable in whatever you wear.
Her Playful Side
Lounging by the pool was one of Meghan’s favorite things to do. We’d never see her dressed like this anymore, but before her life with Harry, she’d pose in a barely-there bikini and think nothing of it. Once she joined the British Royal Family, the palace tried to delete photos like this from the internet entirely.
But obviously, by then it was too late and these photos would forever remain on the web. Meghan had a pretty playful sense of style before she had to dress like a princess. In this pool photo, she’s wearing a watermelon chunky-knit bikini top and soaking up the sun.
Cooking Up a Storm
Now that Meghan has left the royal life behind her, she can pursue other passions more publicly again. One that we might see more from her in the future is her love of cooking and fine cuisine. Before she was the Duchess of Sussex, she loved to post photos of herself cooking up a storm.
As you might expect from a fitness enthusiast like Meghan, her meals were pretty healthy. For example in this photo, she’s not making burgers on an outdoor grill. She’s smoking a whole fish and some vegetables for an afternoon with friends. It’s all protein and lean greens.
A Total Fitness Junkie
A big part of Meghan’s life when she was an actress for Suits was maintaining her slim physique. She worked out three to four days a week with a personal trainer called McNamee, and that was just for her intense 45-minute training sessions.
Circuit-based training was a favorite of Meghan’s, as it maintained her cardiovascular health and gave her muscle definition. Her personal trainer told Women’s Health Magazine in 2018: “For Meghan, we tried to schedule these workouts early in the day, to make it a priority.” Clearly, her hard work pays off.
Getting Wedding Ideas
Meghan’s wedding to Prince Harry was one of the biggest ceremonies of the decade. And maybe she took inspiration from one of her best friends’ wedding back in 2016. She was one of Lindsay Jill Ross’s blushing bridesmaids for the ceremony in Greece.
Meghan posted this pic at the time of her gorgeous peach halterneck dress, which complimented her figure perfectly. Lindsay has always been a close friend of Meghan’s, even talking to the press about how down-to-earth the former actress is. “I think people assume that when someone gains notoriety that they change. But she’s still the same girl I met years ago, with the same values and priorities.”
A Strained Relationship
Meghan’s relationship with her dad Thomas is confusing, to say the least. They’re estranged these days, with Thomas making public appeals towards Meghan through various media outlets. His efforts to share private aspects of Meghan’s life with the public is the main reason why the two don’t speak anymore, and he didn’t attend her royal wedding. But Meg’s now-deleted Instagram proved that they used to be close.
She once posted a throwback photo of them with the caption: “Happy Father’s Day, daddy. I’m still your buckaroo, and to this day your hugs are still the very best in the whole wide world… Thanks for giving me that signature Markle nose. I love you xo.” Meghan doesn’t talk about him publicly anymore, but her old Instagram showed a different side to their relationship.
Meghan’s Aristic Side
Truthfully, Megan had her fingers in many different pies before she met Prince Harry. As well as acting on Suits, running her blog, and working out most days of the week, she also worked on her artistic passion project – freelance calligraphy. That’s right, she had an artist’s thumb.
For some reason, the Duchess of Sussex chooses to keep quiet about her secret hobby. Even back then, she preferred to advertise herself a certain way online. For this image, the then-actress wrote: “Have a berry good weekend – be safe, be loving, be present, be grateful xx.”
Working as a Calligrapher
Meghan’s secret talent for calligraphy is one of the most surprising things about her. She’s was so good at it that she even earned some rent money using her creative skill. She told Esquire magazine: “I used to do it for Dolce & Gabbana’s celebrity correspondence over the holidays. I would sit there with a little white tube sock on my hand so no hand oils got on the card, trying to pay my bills while auditioning.”
Meghan continued: “I’m glad that in the land of no one seeming to appreciate a handwritten note anymore that I can try to keep that alive.” She picked up the hobby in Catholic school, where she “always had a propensity for getting the cursive down pretty well.” And luckily for her, the likes of Robin Thicke and Paula Patton paid her well for wedding invitations.
Enjoying Single Life
Meghan’s schedule certainly looked pretty busy, but the reality was she enjoyed a fairly laid-back lifestyle. She would post countless images of her relaxing at the beach in between the times when she was shooting for Suits. Life for Meghan was all about having fun times.
As we can see from this photo, her dogs would often come along for the ride. Working as a reoccurring character on the USA Network legal drama afforded her a cushioned lifestyle and not a lot of work hours. And that suited a newly-single Meghan just fine.
Fairy Godmother Duties
In one Instagram photo, Meghan showed her followers what a night in was like while on godmother duty. She’s snuggled in bed with her “fairy goddaughter” Rylan, eating dinner off of a portable tray. Fashion enthusiast and lawyer Benita Litt is a close friend and mother to Rylan.
Meghan enlisted Rylan and Rylan’s sister Remi to be flower girls at her wedding in 2018. She’s especially close to Benita and her family, having also celebrated Christmas with them in 2016 at their Los Angeles home. We’re thankful for it because what other occasions would we see the Duchess in her pajamas!
It probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that Meghan used to be a keen shopper. Before she was very well known she would traipse around from shop to shop and could easily spend a whole day trying clothes on. Here are some photos she posted online of her rummaging through clothes racks.
As we can see from her outfits, she loved an accessory. Sometimes Meghan would don a heavy leather jacket and shades, and sometimes she’d opt for a girly swing coat and cloche hat. And of course, she had money from Suits to sustain her expensive designer tastes.
She Didn’t Want To Be a Cliché
In this photo Meghan’s pictured sitting on the steps of her Suits trailer, soaking up the sun. “As an actor, you spend so much time just trying to get a job,” she told Esquire in 2018, which made her appreciate her ongoing role so much more. Meghan was also aware of how cliché her career choice had been, but that only made her more determined.
Meghan told Marie Claire in 2018: “I had always been the theater nerd at Northwestern University. I knew I wanted to do acting, but I hated the idea of being this cliché – a girl from L.A. who decides to be an actress.” She continues: “I wanted more than that… so I ended up changing my major completely, and double-majoring in theater and international relations.”
Audition Life Is Hard
Audition life was tough for Meghan, and she had to pay her dues to get to where she was. She recalled her early lessons in showbusiness: “I was really spoiled because I booked my first audition right away, so it’s the biggest tease because you think, ‘Oh, this is easy.'” Time would show her how it’s actually one of the toughest professions to succeed in.
Meghan told an interviewer in 2018: “I have a show now that’s doing well, but it’s not easy. It was definitely a struggle.” She’s was thankful that her character on Suits wasn’t just a pretty face. “Look, my very first audition was for ‘Hot Girl #1’ in some movie. It’s the ultimate for me that the writers are able to go ‘Sure, you can be a pretty girl, but there’s so much more to her.'”
Meghan’s Early Inspiration
Meghan actually grew up visiting filming sets as a little girl. Her dad was the lighting director and director of photography for Fox’s Married… with Children, and it had a big impact on her. “Every day after school for 10 years, I was on the set of Married… with Children, which is a really funny and perverse place for a little girl in a Catholic school uniform to grow up,” she told Esquire in 2018.
The show was too provocative for young Meghan to watch, but she soaked up what she could on set with her dad. The mystery and glamor attracted her so much that in her adult years, she chose to study theatre over politics. Meghan had initially wanted a career in international relations, before sacrificing it for a career in entertainment.
The Fashion Designer Friend
Meghan’s love of fashion drew her to like-minded people. Pictured with friends on a holiday in Spain, Meghan poses with two besties Markus Anderson and Misha Nonoo. Misha is a successful fashion designer who was named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 in 2015. It pays to have fashion-forward friends in showbusiness.
According to an interview Misha gave in 2017, the women bonded over more than just fashion when they met. Their views on gender equality and female empowerment drove their relationship initially: “We were seated next to one another at a lunch, and we got along like a house on fire. I love her to death. She is the coolest girl in the world.”
Heart of Gold
Meghan’s own successful dog adoptions have motivated her to raise awareness for it. “As a proud rescue dog owner, I know from personal experience the joy that adopting an animal into your home can bring,” she once wrote online. In this Instagram photo, she cuddles up to her rescue Beagle, Guy.
When Meghan moved to London to live with Prince Harry, she only brought Guy along with her, leaving Bogart with a friend. She never explicitly stated why, but she probably had good reason. And it wasn’t long before Harry and Meghan adopted another rescue from a shelter. The way she sees it, “The role that we, as people, play in rehoming and rescuing these animals is vital.”
Foodie For Life
Meghan’s Suits character Rachel was written to be a fellow food lover, just like Meghan in real life. “I’m a foodie in real life, so the creator made Rachel a foodie,” she told Esquire magazine. “I pride myself in figuring out how to elevate a dish with a little preserved lemon, or then a sprinkle of Maldon salt.”
Meghan thinks her love of good food comes from her down-to-earth upbringing. She explained to the interviewer: “I’m a California girl, right? I grew up with that farm-to-table dining before it was sweeping the nation. I do think there’s some value to really throwing yourself into food and embracing where it comes from.”
It’s New York Fashion Week
Meghan didn’t need Harry to get her VIP access. She had already cultivated a trendy group of friends with great access. In early 2015, she posted this photo on Instagram along with the caption: “Another day of #NYFW celebrating the amazing Misha Nonoo.”
One of her best friends, fashion designer Misha Nonoo, was showing her design at New York Fashion Week and asked Meghan to sit in the front row in one of her designs. She opted for this stylish two-piece and sought out a professional stylist for the finishing touches.
The Partner In Crime
Meghan really valued her friendship with Jessica Mulroney. They were around the same age, had a shared passion for fashion, and had similar ambitions. Jessica worked as a fashion stylist and marketing consultant at various times, but she also had aspirations of breaking into showbiz.
Jessica has previously made small appearances on television, notably Good Morning America and CityLine. Most recently, she hosted the reality TV show I Do, Redo, where she was introduced as a celebrity influencer. It’s no wonder the two women got along so well. As Meghan put it on Instagram, Jessica is the “best partner in crime.”
Rubbing Shoulders With Famous Faces
Meghan did actually still have her personal Instagram up when she started dating the royal prince. Things were getting more serious, but no one had approached her yet about deleting it from the internet. In photos like the one below, we can see how her lifestyle started to change once Harry came into the picture.
In this image, Meghan poses for a photo with tennis sensation Serena Williams. Dating Prince Harry had its perks – she got to rub shoulders with the top celebrities and Hollywood A-listers. For an aspiring actress who was still trying to work her way up the showbiz ladder, it was an amazing opportunity to strike up some coveted friendships.
On and off Set Besties
From her time working on Suits, she struck up several close friendships. One of her best off-screen relationships was with actor Rick Hoffman, who played Louis Litt in the legal drama. He may have been quite a few years older, but Meghan was plenty mature for her age.
Meghan posted this photo in the summer of 2015 and wrote: “Nothing better than time with Rick Hoffman.” They used to attend the same parties and events, or go out for drinks as a pair. He even attended Meghan and Harry’s royal wedding in 2018, although he was pictured looking unimpressed on the day.
Her Travel Hacks
Meghan’s isn’t the type of girl to go backpacking on vacation. She travels exclusively in style, and photos like this one from her deleted Instagram prove she’s always been that way. And there are a few items that she never travels without. In a post for her blog in 2016, she wrote: “The foremost issue is self-care. It’s easy to run yourself ragged, hopping from one locale to another…”
She also told her readers: “When I get on a plane I always use some quick hand wipes or a travel sanitizer spray to wipe it all down,” and added that she puts “a little Neosporin on a cotton swab” and coats the inside of her nose. Allegedly, it “creates a barrier for germs and also lubricates the skin in the nose.” Allegedly.
The Support of Her Pups
It was revealed in 2021 just how important dogs are to Meghan’s life. When times are tough, she always loved going home to her beloved pooches – and that’s still the same for today. In an interview with Hello! Magazine, the CEO of an animal welfare charity, Caroline Yates, spoke about Meghan’s relationship with dogs.
Caroline explained how “Whenever we talk to the Duchess about the charity, she always references how important her dogs are and what a support they are, particularly during everything that’s happened this year, with COVID, and with the personal trials and tribulations she went through this year.” It’s no surprise that Meghan gives a lot of time to dog charities these days.
Working Into the Wee Hours of the Night
Meghan posted this photoshoot image of her as Rachel Zane, lying on the floor behind actress Sarah Rafferty. They were costars and friends, but it’s thought that they aren’t in contact anymore. While Meghan loved working on a hit TV show, she often spoke about how early or late she was working
In one interview with all the main Suits actors, Meghan talked about having to shoot “until, like, three or four in the morning.” And in an Instagram post, she mentioned how sometimes she would wake up very early for filming. Sometimes at four in the morning. Luckily for her, she loved her job.
Waking up at the Crack of Dawn
Waking up at the crack of dawn to film Suits obviously worked well for Meghan. She continued the practice of waking up early even when she didn’t need to shoot. She told her readers on The Tig about what her morning and daily routine looked like, and it involved waking up at 4:30 in the morning.
After Meghan woke up, she immediately did some light yoga. At 5 am, she admitted to opening her computer and answering emails or doing other work. Oatmeal and acai bowls were on the menu for breakfast, and occasionally omelets too for when she wanted to “indulge.” Interestingly, she didn’t mention anything about coffee.
A Revealing Shot
Buckingham Palace was probably in shock when they saw photos of Meghan in bed on her former Instagram. It’s far too personal for a member of the royal family to post and strictly goes against royal protocol.
In Meghan’s defense, this isn’t her relaxing at home. She was shooting for Suits – which explains why her hair is perfectly styled and why she’s wearing makeup in bed. Nonetheless, she definitely broke all sorts of rules before she became a royal.
Taking Time off From Work
Meghan definitely had an amazing life even before marrying Prince Harry. On her blog The Tig, she mentioned that she spent a month in Italy once after simply reading Eat, Pray, Love. She wanted to experience “Being present. Being vulnerable. The act of celebrating and really truly enjoying your life.”
She explained: “I decided to spend the month of August to ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’ Or, in my humble interpretation: eat everything, pray (and meditate) often, and simply love my life, every ounce of it.” Meghan continued: “What I discovered was that with the incredible luxury of time, I was able to celebrate my life.”
$40 in Her Bank Account
Continuing on in her blog post, Meghan explained how money wasn’t what enabled her to celebrate her life. She wrote: “I don’t think you need money to do this. It wasn’t long ago (cough – about ten years ago – cough) that I only had $40 in my bank account.” It’s hard to imagine that Meghan might have had very humble beginnings.
According to Meghan, she was having a hard time booking any auditions, and she didn’t have many friends around. “But even then, without all the pomp and circumstance, I made time to celebrate my life,” she reminisced. “Maybe it was a pizza and bottle of two buck chuck from Trader Joe’s… Or maybe it was a dance party in my tiny apartment or a sobbing session to purge all of those feels with my nearest and dearest.”
Just Like Everybody Else
Looking through Meghan’s deleted Instagram photos, it’s clear that she used to be just like everyone else. In one of her blog posts, she talked very frankly about some major disappointments. I.e. she’s no stranger to breaking New Year’s resolutions. “Run a marathon. Stop biting my nails. Stop swearing. Re-learn French. These make my New Year’s resolution list nearly (AKA actually every) single year,” Meghan revealed to her readers.
She continued: “The marathon hasn’t happened. The swearing comes in lulls triggered by being overworked or feeling mighty cheeky after a couple of drinks. Then there’s the French – a language I studied through high school and then lost.” Finally, she admitted that “when it comes to the biting of the nails – well, it still happens with a turbulent flight or a stressful day. It’s unladylike. But then again, so is the swearing. Dammit.”
Meghan also showed her Instagram followers how she loved to dress down. Her casual clothes or loungewear usually came in neutral colors, with a focus on soft and warm fabrics and loose silhouettes. But no matter what she wore she looked stylish in it.
As the Duchess of Sussex, she wasn’t allowed to dress too casually in public. So these photos of her in cozy clothes are a rare sighting for us. Despite leaving behind her senior royal duties in 2020, she’s unlikely to ever give people so much access to her private life again.