Long before she met Prince Harry - and five years prior to her big break on Suits - Meghan Markle supported her budding Hollywood career by working at Paper Source, a small shop for decorative papers and custom stationery, in Beverly Hills. The aspiring actress, praised by Paper Source CEO Winnie Park for her "creativity," advised customers on projects like invitations for special occasions and taught a two-hour long class on calligraphy. Markle even did calligraphy for celebrity correspondence and wedding invites for major stars, like Paula Patton and Robin Thicke, who wed in 2005.
"I just thought Meghan did a beautiful job," Patton tells Town & Country of her custom invitations and save-the-dates done by Markle. "It really is a lost art, and it was so nice to create something without a device that doesn't use a battery or need to be plugged in."
The soon-to-be royal is now known for her groundbreaking fashion, charitable work and advocacy, and successful acting career. But many will be surprised to find out that the 36-year-old-who will marry Prince Harry on May 19 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, where he was christened-has a hidden talent for handwriting.
Markle previously told Esquire that she learned the tricky skill as a young girl: "I went to an all-girls Catholic school for like six years during the time when kids actually had handwriting class. I've always had a propensity for getting the cursive down pretty well. What it evolved into was my pseudo-waitressing job when I was auditioning. I didn't wait tables. I did calligraphy."
Only two months ahead of her June 2005 wedding to Thicke, the singer of 2013 hit "Blurred Lines," Patton went to the Paper Source where Markle worked, looking to hire someone who could do calligraphy for her handwritten invites.
"Meghan was sweet and said I can do [your wedding invitations]!" recalls Patton. "I said I can pay you, and so she did it."
She was instantly struck by Markle's demeanor: "I don’t know if I went so far as to say 'You can be royal,' but I did think she’d make a really great wife," she says with a laugh. "She was beautiful and she held herself so well so it was a very like, to say classy is not enough. She had grace."
Patton, who says she has "terrible handwriting," invited Markle over to her house to do the calligraphy. "Meghan wrote up all the addresses and such," she says. "There was not a single mistake, it was truly perfect, impeccable, and I remember being in awe of her." A copy of the invitation, according to Patton's publicist, is somewhere in storage. The star was unable to track it down for this story.
The pair got to talking about acting and even formed a friendship. "She’s very kind, too, and that’s the truth," says Patton. "Very humble and kind and has an easy smile. And she's just, like, classy and refined in a way that I am not! I swear like a sailor and I’m not very graceful."
Patton, who admits she had "a lot of anxiety" leading up to her wedding, employed Markle to do both envelopes for the invitations and the save-the-dates, for around 200 guests.
"I was like, 'Help me!'" says Patton, with a laugh. "She was like this is what you should do and this is how it is. She’s very calming. She has a very sweet voice."
The two exchanged numbers and stayed in touch periodically. "It was, like, a work-friendship," explains Patton, who filed for divorce from Thicke in 2014, citing irreconcilable differences. "I would see her places and then I saw that she was doing so well for herself [as an actress] and I remember seeing her at a film festival a few years ago and she just popped into an interview room and saying, 'Hi! It's Meghan!' and that was the last time I saw her."
Of course, Markle is now preparing for own wedding, although Kensington Palace confirmed that the bride-to-be didn't craft her own invitations.
Rather, Barnard & Westwood produced them, a longstanding royal tradition. The company, reports Daily Mail reporter Rebecca English on Twitter, "has held a Royal Warrant for Printing & Bookbinding by Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen since 1985. In 2012, it was awarded a second Royal Warrant for Printing by The Prince of Wales."
Markle and Prince Harry will tie the knot on May 19, just one month after Will and Kate's third child is due. The highly anticipated event will start at 12 p.m. GMT (7 a.m. ET) and the ceremony will be followed by a carriage procession through Windsor at 1 p.m. GMT (8 a.m. ET).
Patton, who is not attending the royal wedding, predicts her old friend won't soon give up her love for the art of calligraphy.
"I couldn’t think of a more perfect person to join [the royal family]," she says. "I’m sure Meghan will be writing a love note to her man with that beautiful handwriting!"
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