About The Duchess of Sussex
The Duchess of Sussex, born Rachel Meghan Markle, married Prince Harry at St George's Chapel, Windsor in May 2018. The Duke and Duchess have two children, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor and Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor.
As announced in January 2020, The Duke and Duchess have stepped back as senior members of The Royal Family. They are balancing their time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour their duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and their patronages. Frogmore Cottage in the UK remains their family home.
The Duchess will continue to support a number of charitable causes and organisations which reflect the issues with which she has long been associated including the arts, access to education, support for women and animal welfare.
The Duchess’ official titles are The Duchess of Sussex, Countess of Dumbarton and Baroness Kilkeel.
The Duchess attended the Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse from the ages of 2-11 and began her secondary education at Immaculate Heart High School in 1992. She went on to double major in Theatre and International Relations at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois graduating in 2003 with a dual degree.
During her time at university, The Duchess completed an internship at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she learned to speak Spanish. She also studied French for six years.
After university she worked as an actress, appearing in film and television. She most notably played the role of Rachel Zane on the series Suits for seven seasons, completing over 100 episodes.
Alongside her successful career as an actress, The Duchess also wrote and edited a lifestyle website called The Tig.
While living in the UK, The Duchess spent time visiting local communities and organisations both publicly and privately. She also undertook a number of visits to communities across the UK – including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In January 2019, it was announced that The Duchess had become Patron of four organisations that reflect the causes and issues with which she had long been associated including the arts, access to education, support for women and animal welfare. Two of the patronages - the National Theatre and Association of Commonwealth Universities – were handed down from Her Majesty The Queen. The others were Smart Works and the Mayhew animal welfare charity.
From a young age, The Duchess had a keen awareness of social issues and actively participated in charitable work. Aged 11 she successfully campaigned for a company to alter their television advert, which had used sexist language to sell washing-up liquid. She also volunteered at a soup kitchen in Skid Row, Los Angeles from the age of 13-17. She continued to volunteer at the soup kitchen when she would return home to Los Angeles until the age of 22.
These early experiences helped to shape her lifelong commitment to causes such as social justice and women's empowerment.
While filming in Toronto, The Duchess actively volunteered at a Canadian soup kitchen from 2011-2013. She also established the program at her place of work to ensure that leftover meals from the set were donated to local homeless shelters.
One Young World
The Duchess became involved with the organisation One Young World in 2014 when she was asked to become a Counsellor for the charity. One Young World is a global forum that gathers together young leaders in order to develop solutions to some of the world's most pressing issues. She attended panels for One Young World in Dublin and Ottawa.
In 2015, The Duchess became the UN Women's Advocate for Women’s Political Participation and Leadership. In this role, she gave a speech on the importance of gender equality on International Women’s Day for UN Women in New York City. Ahead of her appointment to this role, she spent time at the UN's New York office to understand the organisation's day-to-day work before embarking on a learning mission to Rwanda. On this trip The Duchess met female parliamentarian leaders in Kigali and visited Gihembe refugee camp, where women were working on leadership and empowerment at a grassroots level.
I am proud to be a woman and a feminist
The Duchess of Sussex, speaking at the UN on International Women's Day 2015
In addition to her role with UN Women and One Young World, The Duchess became a Global Ambassador for World Vision in 2016. As part of her work with the charity she visited Rwanda on a clean water campaign that would work to allow young children to continue their education.
The Duchess undertook a second learning mission with the organisation when she visited India with World Vision to bring a greater awareness to girls' lack of access to education. In the slum communities of Mumbai, The Duchess witnessed the work of the Myna Mahila Foundation who empower women through access to menstrual hygiene products and employment opportunities. Struck by her experience, she wrote an op-ed for Time Magazine about the stigmatisation of menstrual health management and its long term hindrance to girls’ education.
The Myna Mahila Foundation was one of the charities chosen by the couple to benefit from charitable donations made for the Royal Wedding.
The Duchess is a strong believer in using the arts to bring people from different backgrounds and communities together. Whilst she spent ten years working in television, her training is in theatre. The Duchess was announced as Patron of the National Theatre in January 2019. Her Majesty The Queen previously held the role for 45 years.
Access to Education
As a university graduate, The Duchess is a strong advocate of accessible education for all. She wants to ensure that educational opportunities are available for all people, regardless of gender or socioeconomic background. Since becoming Patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, The Duchess has met students, academics, and staff from ACU member universities across the Commonwealth to learn more about the vital work they do to address global challenges. This includes announcing new Gender Grants for ACU member universities in the Pacific and South Africa to fund new learning initiatives aimed at empowering female university staff and promoting gender equality. Most recently, The Duchess met with a group of Commonwealth and Chevening scholars from 11 different countries to hear about their commitment to tackling the global challenges we face, before they all attended the Commonwealth Observance Service.
Support for Women
The Duchess has a longstanding track record of working in the space of women’s empowerment both in her local community as well as abroad. She has been involved with several other projects in this sector, including a project whilst at university which provided prom dresses for young women in underprivileged areas. In recent years, The Duchess has travelled to India and Rwanda working on projects to mobilise women in challenging or marginalised situations to see their full potential.
The Duchess was proud to become Patron of Smart Works, which helps long term unemployed and vulnerable women regain the confidence they need to succeed at job interviews, return to employment and transform their lives. The Duchess has regularly conducted private visits to Smart Works and has worked with many women who have benefited from the charity’s support, helping them through coaching and interview preparation.
The Duchess has long understood the connection between animals and community welfare and has supported various animal rescue centres in Los Angeles. The Duchess was proud to be announced as Patron of Mayhew in January 2019.
Mayhew is an animal welfare charity working to improve the lives of dogs, cats and people in communities both in London and internationally and looks for innovative ways to reduce the number of animals in need through pro-active community and educational initiatives and preventative veterinary care.
Charities and Patronages
Animal welfare charity working to improve life for dogs, cats and people in the community.Region: UK (England)Members of the Royal Family:The Duchess of Sussex, Patron
Smart WorksWebsite: www.smartworks.org.uk
Supporting women with the clothes and confidence they may lack for interviews and the first day of a new job.Region: UK (England)Members of the Royal Family:The Duchess of Sussex, Patron
The Association of Commonwealth UniversitiesWebsite: www.acu.ac.uk
Inter-university network comprising around 500 academic institutions around the Commonwealth.Region: InternationalMembers of the Royal Family:The Duchess of Sussex, Patron
The Queen's Commonwealth TrustWebsite: www.queenscommonwealthtrust.org.uk
The purpose of The Queen's Commonwealth Trust is to support and enable young people across the Commonwealth to make sustainable difference in their local communities - through social entrepreneurship, philanthropy and volunteering in areas such as health, sports and education. Through active participate with its partners as well as its selected charities, The Queen's Commonwealth Trust will carry out its purposes through funding sustainable programmes that develop and empower young people in the Commonwealth and benefit the communities in which they live.Region: CommonwealthMembers of the Royal Family:The Duke of Sussex, President, The Queen's Commonwealth Trust
The Duchess of Sussex, Vice-President, The Queen's Commonwealth Trust
Her Majesty The Queen, Patron
The Royal National TheatreWebsite: www.nationaltheatre.org.uk
London theatre company performing a wide range of contemporary and earlier drama.Region: UK-wideMembers of the Royal Family:The Duchess of Sussex, Patron