Four years ago, back when Meghan Markle was a mere mortal, not a person transformed through true love into a gleaming member of the semi-divine, she wrote a letter to herself on the occasion of her 33rd birthday. The post was housed on her now-defunct blog The Tig, another casualty in her transition over to society’s upper echelons. And the 337-word post, titled “Birthday Suit,” encapsulates exactly why Meghan Markle deserved to be a duchess (or hey, even a queen) – and always did, long before she met Prince Harry.
To learn about Meghan Markle, you can read the relentlessly gossipy biography Meghan: A Hollywood Princess by Andrew Morton, or you can turn to “Birthday Suit,” Markle’s life’s journey in her own words, written before she was considered a biography-worthy figure. In the post, Markle writes about her teenage years as a biracial girl in Los Angeles “grappling with how to fit in, and whatever that meant.” She conjures up her “brutal” 20s, “a constant battle with myself, judging my weight, my style, my desire to be as cool/as hip/as smart/as ‘whatever’ as everyone else.”
Markle lists those hurdles to prove her happiness was forged through years of struggle — that her happiness was generated intrinsically, not bestowed upon her. “I am 33 years old today,” Markle writes. “And I am happy. And I say that so plainly because, well…it takes time. To be happy. To figure out how to be kind to yourself. To not just choose that happiness, but to feel it.”
Many of us, myself included, view Meghan Markle as a somewhat aspirational figure. Logically, I know that being a royal is accompanied by severe lifestyle restrictions (she can't eat shellfish!), curtailing of personal freedoms (she gave up her career!). Still, watching Meghan Markle’s eyes sparkle at Prince Harry during their televised wedding ceremony, I thought she achieved a sublime level of happiness only reserved for fairy tale characters and perhaps, for one lucky civilian a generation. Blame years and years’ worth of fairy tales subliminally transmuting the message that marrying a prince is the only shortcut to the Good Life.
Essentially, I assumed 2018 Meghan, standing at the altar, had achieved peak happiness. So to read that Markle, back in 2014, was perfectly content, too, is an important reminder that happiness isn't only achieved through royal romantic progressions. Her letter ends with the words, “I want you to find your happiness. I did. And it never felt so good.” Here’s 2014 Markle, firmly reminding us that happiness is not reserved for the royals or for the extraordinary.
In this post from four years ago, Markle shrugs off all the romantic associations she’s now saddled with, like televised wedding ceremonies and heavy rings. She openly declares that she’s content without a partner – let alone a prince. In fact, the heart of the letter is concerned with finding contentment in being single. “You are complete with or without a partner. You are enough just as you are,” she writes. Happiness, not marriage, is the goal.
Ironically, four years after writing the single woman’s manifesto, Markle’s identity is now inextricably linked to her marital status. As Prince Harry’s wife, Markle is restricted from baring her thoughts so openly. Now, her communication with the public consists of press releases and wry smiles given over the duchess pose. Markle certainly can’t be photographed looking over her naked torso, like in the “Birthday Suit” post. Her life has changed. But she’s still in there, that old Meghan Markle, who wrote an earnest and confessional Tig post about being happy with herself, one year after her divorce. We just have to go on the WayBack Machine to find her.
Maybe we should all write birthday letters to ourselves, make our own personal WayBack Machines. Because time will pass. Unexpected things will happen to us, like meeting and marrying a prince, or moving across the country, or moving home, or getting that bob that we swore we never would. We’ll read those letters, and look back on all the selves we contain.
This Saturday 4th August Markle will spend her 37th birthday socialising with her new elite cohort at the wedding of Prince Harry’s friend, Charlie van Straubenzee (yes, that's his real name). She's crossed worlds since 2014. And I hope, with all the earnestness of a Tig blog post, that she is as happy — if not far, far happier — than she was when she turned 33.