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

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent

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.

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.

Read more: 'You may not see us here': Harry and Meghan share final Instagram post from royal account

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.

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.

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.

Read more: 'LA paparazzi don't play by the rules': Harry and Meghan will be 'fair game' in California

Prince Harrymand Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit Irish President Michael Higgins and his wife Sabina Coyne. (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.

Read more: Why the US would never have been asked to pay for Harry and Meghan's security

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.

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”.

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


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.

Read more: The Royal Family's most feminist moments

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

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.

Harry and Meghan's movie star moment at the Endeavour Fund awards. (Getty Images)

Read more: Meghan leaving the Royal Family was the British people's fault, documentary claims

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.