Meghan Markle's six most significant royal moments in 600 days

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·7-min read

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sign off from the world of senior royal duties on Tuesday, starting a new chapter in their lives.

It has been 682 days since the actor Meghan left behind the world she knew and married a prince.

While she may have expected the fairy tale to play out differently, she has left her mark on the Royal Family.

The wedding

Harry and Meghan’s wedding was a star-studded affair, with a guest list that included names like Oprah, George and Amal Clooney, and Priyanka Chopra - before naming the other Royal Family members.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 19:  George Clooney and Amal Clooney attend the wedding of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales marries Ms. Meghan Markle in a service at St George's Chapel inside the grounds of Windsor Castle. Among the guests were 2200 members of the public, the royal family and Ms. Markle's Mother Doria Ragland.  (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
George and Amal Clooney were some of the stars at their wedding. (Getty Images)

Meghan walked herself down part of the aisle after her father was unable to make it to their wedding, because of health issues.

She was met inside the church by her father-in-law to be Prince Charles, who walked her the rest of the way to Prince Harry.

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The ceremony was a mixture of traditional elements with a Meghan touch - the Kingdom gospel choir sang, and the Reverend Michael Curry spoke in a way never heard before at a royal wedding.

As newlyweds, Harry and Meghan waved to the crowds from a horse drawn carriage on a tour around Windsor.

WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 19:  Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and the Duchess of Sussex depart after their wedding ceremonyat St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Harry and Meghan depart the chapel after being married. (Getty Images)

They had a private reception in Frogmore Cottage, which Harry drove them to, and Meghan changed into a new gown to dance the night away.

First engagement with the Queen - and first royal tour

Meghan was taken on her first solo engagement with her grandmother-in-law just a month after marrying into the Royal Family.

It was a speedy turnaround compared to her sister-in-law - Kate had to wait nearly a year for the same privilege.

WIDNES, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 14: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Queen Elizabeth II attend a ceremony to open the new Mersey Gateway Bridge on June 14, 2018 in Widnes, England. Meghan Markle married Prince Harry last month to become The Duchess of Sussex and this is her first engagement with the Queen. During the visit the pair will open a road bridge in Widnes and visit The Storyhouse and Town Hall in Chester. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Meghan's first solo engagement with the Queen came just a month after she married Harry. (Getty Images)

And it looked like the pair got on incredibly well, chatting and giggling at the event in Cheshire.

A rite of passage, the couple took their first international royal tour as Mr and Mrs in Ireland, where they ticked lots of the right boxes - a walkabout, a visit with the prime minister and the president, and for Meghan, the ultimate test of wearing heels at a sports park.

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DUBLIN, DUBLIN - JULY 11:  Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit Irish President Michael Higgins and his wife Sabina Coyne at Aras an Uachtarain during their visit to Ireland on July 11, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Prince Harrymand Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit Irish President Michael Higgins and his wife Sabina Coyne. (Getty Images)
Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (R) speaks with well-wishers as she arrives to visit the Royal Pavilion in Brighton in East Sussex, southern England, on October 3, 2018. - The Duke and Duchess of Sussex made their first joint official visit to Sussex on October 3. Their Royal Highnesses paused to greet members of the public gathered at Pavilion Buildings on their way to the Royal Pavilion. (Photo by Tim IRELAND / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read TIM IRELAND/AFP via Getty Images)
Meghan on a walkabout in Ireland, her first international tour as a duchess. (Getty Images)

The tour led on to several more across the world, including Morocco, Fiji and New Zealand.

As the tours went on, Meghan was able to use more of her time and focus to highlight issues which she is passionate about, like women’s empowerment and girls’ education.

Royal baby

The announcement of a baby on the way came in October 2018, just a few months after they had been married. Archie arrived on 6 May 2019.

Harry and Meghan chose to be more private about Archie’s arrival than Prince William and Kate are when it comes to their children.

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Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (R), and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pose for a photo with their newborn baby son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London on May 8, 2019. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read DOMINIC LIPINSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Harry and Meghan arranged a photo call for their son. (Getty Images)

There was no press pack waiting at a hospital door. Instead, there was a carefully managed photo call at Windsor Castle, when the reporters were kept waiting for the baby’s name.

Archie was introduced to his great-grandmother, the Queen, and then the couple revealed his full name - Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

The young royal’s christening was also private, happening two months later, with the names of his godparents kept under wraps.

This official christening photograph released by the Duke and Duchess shows Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex with their son, Archie and the Duchess of Cornwall, Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Ms Doria Ragland, Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, near London, Britain July 6, 2019. Chris Allerton/Pool via REUTERS   NEWS EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO COMMERCIAL USE. NO MERCHANDISING, ADVERTISING, SOUVENIRS, MEMORABILIA or COLOURABLY SIMILAR. NOT FOR USE AFTER AFTER 31 DECEMBER, 2019 WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION FROM ROYAL COMMUNICATIONS. NO CROPPING. Copyright in this photograph is vested in The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. No charge should be made for the supply, release or publication of the photograph. The photograph must not be digitally enhanced, manipulated or modified in any manner or form and must include all of the individuals in the photograph when published.
Archie's official christening photo was released after the private service. (Kensington Palace)

South Africa tour

Their Royal Tour in South Africa was their first - and to be last - tour as a family.

Baby Archie charmed Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Meghan made a memorable speech here, telling people she was here with them as a “mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a woman of colour, and as your sister”.

Britain's Duchess of Sussex Meghan, hold herbaby son Archie as they meet with Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Tutu Legacy Foundation  in Cape Town on September 25, 2019. (Photo by HENK KRUGER / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read HENK KRUGER/AFP via Getty Images)
Meghan holds Archie as he meets Archbishop Desmond Tutu. (Getty Images)

But it was also a moment where cracks began to show.

The couple was filmed by ITV for a documentary hosted by Harry’s friend Tom Bradby. He asked Meghan how she was, and she replied “thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m ok, but it’s a… very real thing to be going through behind the scenes”.

When she was asked if it had been a struggle, she simply said “yes”.

It was a significant moment - a senior royal being honest and emotional about the impact of life in the spotlight.

Read more: Why living in California could appeal to Prince Harry and Meghan

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex makes a speech as she visits a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Meghan's speech was a landmark moment in her royal life. (Getty Images)

It also may have been a clue of what was to come.

Legal action

At the end of the South Africa tour, Harry and Meghan dropped a bombshell statement which completely overshadowed the rest of the work on the tour.

The couple released details of legal action against the Mail on Sunday, after the newspaper published letters between Meghan and her father Thomas Markle.

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Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex(R) and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex(L) arrive at the British High Commissioner residency in Johannesburg where they  will meet with Graca Machel, widow of former South African president Nelson Mandela, in Johannesburg, on October 2, 2019. - Prince Harry recalled the hounding of his late mother Diana to denounce media treatment of his wife Meghan Markle, as the couple launched legal action against a British tabloid for invasion of privacy. (Photo by Michele Spatari / AFP) (Photo by MICHELE SPATARI/AFP via Getty Images)
Harry and Meghan launched legal action at the end of their tour. (Getty Images)

In the statement, Harry said: “Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences - a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son.

"There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face - as so many of you can relate to - I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been.”

They also said they were unable to put things right, and that Meghan had been “vilified” by what amounted to “bullying”.

The timing of their statement was roundly criticised, because of the success of their tour.

Stepping back and a farewell tour for the history books

After choosing to spend Christmas taking an extended break in Canada, the royals briefly returned to the UK to thank Canadian officials in London for their stay.

Then they issued a shock announcement on Instagram - that they wanted to step back from senior royal duties and forge their own path which meant they could serve the Queen and earn their own money.

Read more: Meghan Markle's best fashion moments during her 682 days as a senior royal

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex depart Canada House on January 07, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Harry and Meghan thanked officials at Canada House for their stay in Canada - and then announced they wanted to step back. (Getty Images)

The statement appeared to blindside Buckingham Palace, who said there was much to be discussed, but eventually an agreement was reached - though not one the Sussexes quite imagined.

A date was set for the transition period to end and on 31 March, Harry and Meghan stop being senior royals. The setup will be reviewed in 12 months time.

The duke and duchess carried out a string of public engagements at the beginning of March, their final duties, before bidding a tearful farewell to the UK.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend The Endeavour Fund Awards at Mansion House on March 05, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Harry and Meghan's movie star moment at the Endeavour Fund awards. (Getty Images)

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They included causes close to their heart, like the Mountbatten Festival of Music at the Royal Albert Hall, and the Endeavour Fund Awards, which provided them a movie star moment as they smiled at each other under an umbrella.

While the coronavirus pandemic may have pushed back some of their plans for the future, they also confirmed a non-profit in the US is to come, and that Harry’s Travalyst project will be set up in the UK.