From Hollywood to the palace: Meghan Markle before fame, meeting Prince Harry

Before she starred on the show "Suits" and later met her fiance Prince Harry, Meghan Markle grew up in southern California.
5:58 | 12/02/17

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Transcript for From Hollywood to the palace: Meghan Markle before fame, meeting Prince Harry
Reporter: Today a brand-new chapter in the royal fairy tale begins. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle embarked on their first official engagements as a couple. The american-born actress might be used to the spotlight, but her roots are far from royalty. Her story starts here, an apartment above a garage in los Angeles. Like so many children, including the one who would become her fiance, early in life Megan had to endure the divorce of her rents. They may have separated when she was around 2, divorced when she was around 6. Reporter: With an African-American mother and white father, there is something else Megan grapples with. Dealing with profound issues of racism and inequality have not factored into any current princess' life. Reporter: She's been outspoken about the topic. Here she is at a usa network event. So some of the slurs that I've heard, the really offensive jokes or the names,t's just hit me in a really strong way. Reporter: At an early age, Meghan was itching to make a difference. Featured in this Nick news segment confronting gender inequality. I'm Meghan Markle, I'm 12 years old -- Reporter: This came about after a young Meghan saw this commercial during a class. Women are fighting greasy pots and pans with ivory clear. I was furious. And I said, I think I'll write a letter. Reporter: Three months after Meghan wrote to the president of the company, Procter & gamble change the commercial. People are fighting greasy pots and pans with ivory clear. She had a lot of inner strength. She was spunky, feisty. She took our social justice teaching very seriously. Reporter: Christine Knutzen and MARIA palia taught Meghan at all-girls school immaculate heart. This Fote to have of Meghan on the wall has become the student body's star of fame. It was on the stage in the school auditorium where her talent began to bloom. She wanted to be the best that she could be on stage or wherever that career led her. It was not at all frivolous. It was a very serious pursuit of the craft of acting. Reporter: That pursuit brings Meghan to prestigious northwestern university in Chicago. And then to Hollywood. Where she scores a bit role on "General hospital." I have his chart right here, Dr. Lambert, I don't see the notation -- What's the first role you auditioned for? "Hot girl number 1" in "A lot like love." Reporter: Her big break comes. I'll be giving you orientation. Reporter: Thanks to a TV show called "Suits." I'm not going to repeat myself. Reporter: But whileh her star had never been brighter, her first marriage to her long-term boyfriend was falling apart. Meghan married film producer Trevor Engleson. It was a marriage that ultimately really wasn't destined to last. Reporter: Then in the summer of 2016, she jets to London. A mutual friend sets her up on a blind date with a very visible bachelor. It was a blind date. A blind date. It's so interesting because I'm from the states. You don't grow up with the same understanding of the royal family. I didn't know much about him. Reporter: She's received a little skepticism for that sound bite. After all, Meghan must have been the only woman on the planet who didn't know much about this red-headed royal. Met for a drink, then I think very quickly into that we said, what are we doing tomorrow? We should meet again. Reporter: After just two dates prince Harry convinces a smitten Meghan to join him on an adventure a little further from home. I managed to persuade her to join me in Botswana. And we camped out with each other under the stars. Reporter: The couple is able to keep their budding romance from prying eyes for nearly six months. But eventually the secret gets out. The royal rumor mill is going crazy with this news. The engagement speculation began almost immediately. Like all royal engagements, everyone is so excited and longing for it to happen. Reporter: When the big moment@ finally arrives, it is far from the glare of blinding flash bulbs. A standard, typical night for us. A cozy night. What were we doing, roasting chicken? Trying to roast a chicken. Trying to roast a chicken. Just an amazing surprise. It was so sweet and natural and very romantic. He got on one knee. Of course. It was an instant yes from you? Yes. As a matter of fact, I could barely let you finish proposing. Can I say yes now? Reporter: Their courtship longer and more conventional than his famous parents, who met just 13 types before prince Charles popped the question. Make no mistake, this marriage signals a shift for England's church and for its sovereign. Harry is marrying an American divorced actress who is three years older than he is. Is there still a rebellious streak to Harry? I don't know, you tell me. Reporter: This week there was nothing but well wishes for the happy couple. We're absolutely thrilled at such exciting news. For me personally, I hope it means he stays out of my fridge. Reporter: There is, of course, one note of congratulations that will always be missing. What do you think your mother would have thought of Meghan? She'd really be over the moon, jumping up and down, so excited for me. But then as I said, we've probably been best friends. So no, it is days like today when I really miss having her around, being able to share the happy news. But I'm sure -- She's with us. I'm sure she's with us. Reporter: For "Nightline" I'm next, grab your top boy

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