On May 19, Los Angeles native Meghan Markle will marry Britain's Prince Harry. She's abandoning her career as an actress/blogger to join her husband in his family’s business, known colloquially as “the Firm,” at their headquarters in the United Kingdom, where they are part of an international multibillion-dollar industry, the British royal family.
Love her, hate her or be indifferent toward her — it can’t be denied that the spokesperson for women’s rights and soon-to-be princess is a consummate Los Angeles citizen. She made her mark(le) in L.A. before becoming the first divorced, biracial commoner to marry into the British royal family, and her story is one of aspiration, bankruptcies, private school, private clubs, New Age practices and a life lived publicly on social media.
Her early childhood began in Woodland Hills (yes, she’s technically a Valley girl), and her education took place at the (Little Red) Hollywood School House and Immaculate Heart High School in Los Feliz. She appeared in numerous bit parts on television series, before her starring role in the long-running USA Network series Suits. She also developed herself as a brand with her (now-defunct) monetizing blog TheTIG.com, name-dropping vacation locations and posting recipes for hemp nut soup and Caesar salads, along with essays and blurbs that featured clients at mega-agency Kruger Cowne, which repped her for highly paid speaking gigs.
This exclusive “Meghan Markle tour of L.A.” is based in part, on the book I worked on, Meghan Markle: An American Princess by Andrew Morton. Addresses are provided where appropriate so that readers can take a real tour of the sites, but if dealing with L.A. traffic (and other fans with royal fever) ain't your cup of tea, I suggest kicking back at Boxwood on the Roof at the London West Hollywood and enjoying a Markle Sparkle (a rosewater, gin and prosecco cocktail) instead.
Fairfax High School, 7850 Melrose Ave., Fairfax
Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, class of 1974, ended up at Fairfax High after traveling to Los Angeles as a child with her family. In their cross-country journey from Tennessee to California during the postwar years, as part of the Great Migration, the Raglands were confronted by shotgun-wielding lawmen who told the African-American family to head on out of the small town where they had stopped for the night.
Self Realization Fellowship Hollywood Temple, 4860 Sunset Blvd., East Hollywood
The original temple of the Self Realization Fellowship, dedicated in 1942 by SRF founder Paramahansa Yogananda, was chosen by Doria, a yoga devotee, for her wedding to Thomas Markle on Dec. 27, 1979. She wore flowers in her hair and he put a wreath of orange blossoms around his neck.
21836 Providencia St., Woodland Hills
Born in 1981, Meghan lived in this house for the first two years of her life with her mother, father Thomas Markle Sr. and teen half-siblings Tom Jr. and Yvonne (now using the name Samantha Markle, and known for her bitter tweets about Meghan not inviting family members to the wedding).
1072 S. Cloverdale Ave., Mid-Wilshire
After her separation from Thomas Markle, Doria moved herself and her young daughter to the back apartment of this Mid-Wilshire triplex. Meghan lived here though elementary school, and has written about seeing ashes from the 1992 L.A. Riots falling on the yard there.
Hollywood School House, 1233 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood
Opened in 1945, the Hollywood School House (formerly known as Little Red School House) is a private nursery and elementary school priding itself on ethnic diversity and its roster of celebrity offspring. Meghan attended from age 2 to 11. A classmate revealed Meghan was notorious for writing companies to complain about their products, often receiving placatory cases of chips and candy that she’d share with friends. So it came as no surprise when she famously tackled a sexist Ivory Soap ad, penning letters to manufacturer Procter & Gamble, women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, journalis Linda Ellerbee and First Lady Hillary Clinton to get the soap giant to change the verbiage of the commercial, which the company did.
ABC Television Center/Prospect Studio, 4151 Prospect Ave., Los Feliz; and Sunset Gower Studios, 1438 N. Gower St., Hollywood
These studios served as Meghan’s after-school day care. Meghan’s father, a Daytime Emmy–winning lighting director, worked on Married … With Children during the sitcom’s nine-season run, and the future princess would sit quietly in a corner doing her homework. She credits the craft service department with inspiring her love of food, because nothing screams fine dining like cheese sticks and Red Vines. She claims as well that she convinced producers to donate extra food to homeless shelters.
302 N. La Brea Blvd., Hancock Park
Meghan’s mom Doria owned a gift shop called Distant Treasures and a clothing store called A Change of A Dress at this address for 14 years, from 1995 until she declared bankruptcy in 2009.
Agape International Spiritual Center, 5700 Buckingham Pkwy., Culver City
Meghan attended services with her mother at this trans-denominational New Age mega-center. While at Agape’s summer camp when she was 14, Meghan, who later described her branding as “aspirational girl next door,” had her first kiss, with the son of Agape’s director of community action, Joshua Silverstein, now an actor and writer who appears as the Human Beatbox on The Late Late Show With James Corden and Drop the Mic.
Immaculate Heart High School, 5515 Franklin Ave., Hollywood Hills
Meghan attended this Catholic girls’ school from 1991 to 1999 and appeared in numerous plays, including presciently playing the seductress Lola Banana in a production of Damn Yankees. Decades later, after a date with Prince Harry, she would Instagram a photo of bananas because bananas are the royal’s favorite fruit. Despite Meghan’s claims that she knew very little about her future family, Princess Diana’s death was the subject of discussion in her theology class at Immaculate Heart.
1767 Vista del Mar, Hollywood
Meghan moved in with her father at this address when she began attending Immaculate Heart High School, which is within walking distance, though during the 1990s it wasn’t really the nicest walk. He would later move to a small apartment, walking distance from Prospect Studios, before declaring bankruptcy for the second time and moving to Rosarito Beach, just south of Tijuana.
Humphrey Yogart, 4520 Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks
Meghan worked part-time after school and on weekends at this fro-yo shop when she was 13. There she developed her retail persona, learning to be outgoing and make eye contact with customers, skills that would serve her well in later years.
The Hippie Kitchen, 821 E. Sixth St., downtown
As part of her school curriculum, Meghan had to do volunteer service, and she chose to work bussing tables and serving food at this storied Catholic worker outpost in the center of Skid Row, which serves meals to approximately 1,000 people a week.
St. Francis High School, 200 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge
Meghan was elected St. Francis’ 1999 homecoming queen.She starred as Jocasta, the queen mother/lover, in the musical version of Oedipus Rex staged at this all-boys Catholic school.
Downtown Los Angeles
Before she left for Chicago's Northwestern University, Meghan auditioned for music videos and scored a featured extra spot in Tori Amos’ “1000 Oceans” video. Yup, that’s her on the left, in a low-cut tank top at the 0:40 mark, doing a signature Meghan move, brushing her hair back behind her ear.
The Paper Store, 9460 Brighton Way, Beverly Hills
When Meghan returned from Northwestern University, she went on numerous auditions but didn’t really score any roles to speak of for the first few years. Instead of waiting tables, she put her handwriting skills to use, addressing invitations and later working part-time at this stationery store, teaching calligraphy and gift wrapping.
Sunset Gower Studios, 1438 N. Gower St., Hollywood
Who says you can’t go home again? Meghan returned to the scene of her childhood day care, Sunset Gower Studios, but this time on camera, wearing mini dresses and high heels during a five-month stint from late 2005 to spring of 2006, as a briefcase girl on Deal or No Deal. She never held the big cash payout and used the $800-a-day gig as a stepping stone to roles like “girl performing oral sex in car at school” on 90210.
Light Watkins, 2633 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica
Meghan used meditation coach Light Watkins for private meditation instruction. Watkins told the media she had four private sessions with him and then began meditating regularly twice a day. Oh, and he released a new book, which coincided with his revelation to the press.
Hilldale Avenue and Shoreham Drive, West Hollywood
Meghan found true love for a while in Los Angeles, living with and then marrying producer Trevor Engelson (he’s behind the TV drama Snowfall and has a comedy in development with Fox about a divorced commoner who marries into the British royal family). The couple lived in a bungalow just above the Whiskey A Go Go on Hilldale before she scored her role in Suits. Meghan took her Vitamix blender with her when she moved on location to Canada for the series in 2011. If that wasn’t enough of a hint, she mailed back her wedding and engagement rings when the series was picked up for a second season. She filed for divorce in 2013. Engelson still lives here and has been cornered by paparazzi on his morning walks.
Soho House, 9200 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
The actress has been a longtime member of this private club catering to celebrities, joining when she lived within walking distance. She’s made good use of her $3,200 annual membership, staying at locations around the world and using the Toronto facilities to make friends during her time on Suits. Meghan met her future husband, Prince Harry, for their first (blind) date at Soho House London. Their third date was a safari to Botswana, where Harry had previously taken other girls to see if they were game for the role as a member of the royal family.