As kids, we all waited for the knock at our doors, accompanied by trumpet blasts and a powdered wigged fellow announcing that yes, we are, in fact, long lost royalty. Next, we’d be whisked away to enjoy our lives of grandeur, basking in the loving glow of our subjects, forever adored. Too bad, really, that fantasy never ever gets fulfilled. Or does it?

Meghan Markle went from La La Land to Buckingham Palace. Though she may not carry the title “princess,” the Duchess of Sussex dazzled the world when she went from lesser-known actress to Her Royal Highness. Her story sounds like a fairy tale come true, but it wasn’t always that way…

1. Hollywood Childhood: Growing up in Los Angeles, Meghan was surrounded by showbiz from a young age. After school, she’d hang out with her dad, Thomas Markle Sr., on the set of Married… With Children where he was the lighting director and director of photography.

Daily Mail

2. Star Pupil: Most evenings she spent on a bustling film set, but by day, her nose was to the grind at a textbook Catholic school: all girls, uniforms, the whole nine. But there, a somewhat nerdy Meghan found a true passion she’d develop for years…

Vanity Fair

3. Hidden Talent: Meghan’s school made the students tackle the dreaded skill of fourth graders everywhere: cursive writing. Though it’s fallen by the wayside in today’s education system, Meghan showed a knack for cursive and calligraphy in general.

Daily Mail

4. Side Hustle: Over the years, Meghan perfected her loopy penmanship. In fact, her writing was so skillful, she used it as an income source. In her spare time between acting jobs, she worked freelance, designing handwritten invitations for celebrities.

Inquisitr

5. Speaking Up: From a young age, Meghan was encouraged to speak her mind. After seeing a commercial by Procter & Gamble with the sexist tagline “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans,” she took action with her best weapon: a pen.

With letters in hand addressed to Procter & Gamble, Hillary Clinton, lawyer Gloria Allred, and journalist Linda Ellerbee, Meghan marched to the mailbox. She didn’t have to wait long, because 1 month later, the company swapped “women” out for “people.” Her effective stand against sexist language led to her being featured on Nick News.

6. Well Rounded: That tenacious spirit never left, either. When it came time to declare a major at Northwestern University, Meghan split her time between her two biggest interests: theater and international relations. It’s almost as if she was planning on being a royal from the start!

Glassdoor

7. Big Reveal: One of her first credits as an actress was on the popular game show Deal Or No Deal. Meghan was a “suitcase girl” and her job required unveiling which amount of money the contestant had lost out on by opening her case.

Today

8. Making It Count: Meghan’s record shows her commitment to service, so her charitable nature isn’t just a show. After graduation, she spent time as an intern in the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires. Despite how tempting a career in politics was, her heart belonged to acting.

US Embassy

9. The Big Gig: Meghan scored her biggest role to date as Rachel Zane on the USA Network drama Suits. Not only was she a lead, but she truly connected with the character, a smart, unapologetic, go-getter.

Cheat Sheet

10. Two of a Kind: Show writers took inspiration from Meghan’s personality and incorporated it into the show. A self-proclaimed “foodie,” of both the cooking and tasting variety, Meghan’s keen palate and love for all exotic cuisine are shared by her character Rachel Zane.

Yahoo News CA

11. Legal Name: Overnight, Meghan was launched into superstardom after accepting Prince Harry’s marriage proposal. Granted, she was in the public eye thanks to her starring role on the show Suits, but few knew her by her legal name — Rachel. Her full name is Rachel Meghan Markle.

NWLC

12. Spice of Life: Simmering tasty concoctions and doctoring up bland recipes was always one of Meghan’s favorite pastimes. Farm-to-table lifestyles and traditional recipes from around the globe stirred an idea to the surface. In 2018, she published her first cookbook, Together: Our Community Cookbook.

Now To Love

But this cookbook wasn’t just your grandma’s special ziti. The Duchess spent time gathering recipes and cooking with the Hubb Community Kitchen, a vastly diverse group of local women who cooked for their community members affected by the Grenfell Tower fires in London.

Eater

Since she’s royalty, her cookbook faced high expectations. Meghan delivered a unique, heartfelt collection. Each recipe in the book came from all over the globe: North Africa, the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean regions, and all across Europe. Even sweeter, all the proceeds went to charity.

CBS News / YouTube

13. Helping Hand: Public service had been a bone-deep motivator for Meghan for years before entering the royal atmosphere. Back in 2014, as a counselor for the international charity One Young World, she spoke at a summit about gender equality and modern day slavery.

One Young World / Flickr

Her charitable career picked up steam, and Meghan flourished in service. In 2016, she was named as an ambassador for World Vision Canada, traveled to Rwanda for a clean water initiative, and advocated for women’s rights.

World Vision Canada

14. Getting Groovy: The Duchess’ enjoys eclectic fare when it comes to music. She admitted her tastes lean more towards indie groups. A few of her favorites last year were Janelle Monáe, the Crystal Fighters, and Maggie Rogers.

Meghan Markle / Instagram

15. Dressed to Impress: In the peak of Suits popularity, Meghan was offered an opportunity to dabble as a fashion designer. The show filmed in Toronto, and a Canadian retailer, Reitmans, reached out to Meghan to bring a facelift to their brand. She collaborated on two collections in 2015 and 2016.

Curtis Redel / Flickr

16. Open Book: Fans before her royalty days followed Meghan’s popular lifestyle blog The Tig. Though she’s since moved on to other endeavors, the site covered everything from beauty, food, and travel, to feminism and general positivity.

Kate Waterhouse

17. Game Night: During downtime between takes, Meghan and her fellow Suits cast mates had a surprisingly normal ritual. They all got deeply invested in playing board games, mostly Apples to Apples. A glass of scotch or three later, the gang frequently found themselves giggling and shuffling cards into the wee hours.

The Cut

18. Work It Out: No matter how packed her schedule, Meghan has always prioritized fitness. Her workout of choice would be a combo of yoga and running. Still, she’s not picky. Any activity enjoyed in the fresh outdoor air suits her just fine.

Best Health Mag

19. Puppy Love: A few years before she married Prince Harry, Meghan had a starstruck moment with everyone’s favorite human. At an LA dog shelter, leaning down to pet a pair of irresistible doggies, Meghan got a jolt when none other than Ellen Degeneres suggested she adopt both pets. So, of course, she had to!

Meghan Markle / Instagram

20. Rubbing Shoulders: With royalty comes massive perks like befriending the rich and famous. Meghan and tennis legend Serena Williams became fast friends after recognizing the drive to surpass people’s expectations in each other. Both women share a deep love of traveling and joke about their addiction to hot sauce.

Popsugar

21. Whoopsie: After getting hitched, Prince Harry and the newfound Duchess of Sussex made a somewhat amusing, yet embarrassing realization. It appears that they are cousins. Well, their family trees intersect way back in the 15th century. Still, the royal intermarrying jokes are bound to haunt them forever.

Wochit Entertainment / Youtube

22. Slaying the Game: Copycatting her royal look is pretty easy. When asked about her makeup routine, Meghan said she keeps things simple. Her go-to products are the classics: Nars blush, and Dior mascara.

Big W News

23. Travel Bug: Somewhere in the middle of her seemingly endless schedule, Meghan squeezed in some incredible trips around the globe. Behind the wheel of a camper van, she took in the sites of New Zealand, pedaled her bike through Vietnam, and sailed the coast of Croatia.

The Tig

24. Who is She: Fascination with the royal love stories goes back centuries, but Meghan marked a new era. Not only is she the first American tie to the throne, but the first biracial woman, too.

The Cut

25. People want to know: The world was crushin’ hard on Miss Markle — the Google search results don’t lie. Meghan was the most googled woman in both 2016 and 2018.

26. She can’t wear whatever she likes: In her engagement photos, Meghan Markle wore a stunning gown that was almost totally sheer. Unfortunately, the royal family must adhere to a strict and conservative style of dress, so while see-through might work on the runway, it doesn’t make the cut for the Queen.

27. She can’t play Monopoly: That’s right, the Duchess of Sussex won’t be allowed to play everyone’s favorite rainy-day board game! Why? Because the Queen forbids it, claiming that the game is just “too vicious.”

28.  She can’t be seen with bare legs: The Queen happens to think it’s unladylike to expose bare legs. But take heart: Meghan can still wear dresses and skirts that show her legs; she just has to wear nude stockings with them.

29. She can’t sign autographs: As a prominent TV actress, Meghan was no doubt used to signing autographs for fans, but that stops now. Members of the royal family are not allowed to sign autographs in case someone tries to forge their signatures elsewhere…

However, there is a loophole. If a fan asks for her signature, what Meghan can do is write a brief message or write just her first name. It’s nice to see that even the royals make accommodations where they can.

30. She can’t take selfies: Recently, a couple spotted Meghan and asked her to pose with them for a selfie. She had to decline, saying, “The Crown does not allow me to do so.” It’s clear that the House of Windsor knows that no matter the angle, selfies just aren’t that flattering.

In fact, if you’re seeking out official photos of Meghan and Harry, you’ll have to look to the Palace. It alone is allowed to release photographs of her now that she is a member of the family.

31. She can’t use social media: The royal family takes its image very seriously. That’s why all of its members are denied social media accounts. They work very hard to manage their public perception and they can’t have the Queen inviting people to play Farmville!

32. She can’t cross her legs: Unsurprisingly, etiquette is a huge part of being a royal. Now that she’s hitched, Meghan isn’t allowed to cross one leg over the other. Women in the family must keep their legs pressed together, or, if they’re feeling sassy, they’ve been known to cross their ankles from time to time.

33. She can’t vote: Although technically not illegal, according to Parliament, it is unconstitutional for a member of the royal family to vote in elections. Furthermore, Meghan cannot speak publicly about politics—even in the United States.

34. She can’t kiss in public: Newlyweds are usually all about the PDA, and while it isn’t technically forbidden, the Queen herself has a serious stance against too much physical affection in public. It’s hands-off for Harry and Meghan when they are out and about now!

35. She can’t retire to bed before the Queen: When attending parties or other events where the Queen is present, it is considered bad form to leave before the Queen, no matter how tired (or bored) you might be. Here’s hoping the Queen is a big fan of a reasonable bedtime.

36. She can’t act: Being a member of the royal family is a full-time job. As a result, Meghan had to give up her burgeoning career in Hollywood and dedicate herself to her greatest role yet: being a Duchess.

37. She can’t wear bright nail polish: Believe it or not, wearing nail polish that is not nude or light pink is considered extremely tacky by the royal family. There’s no rule against having crazy pedicures, though! That’s got to count for something.

38. She can’t dress her future son in pants: That’s right—the royal family wants its young boys in shorts 100 percent of the time. This isn’t just because it’s more adorable (though it is); rather, it’s because wearing pants is considered too “suburban.”

39. She can’t drink coffee or tea any old way: There is a decidedly “royal” way to drink hot beverages and it involves careful finger placement on the drinking vessel. Also, if Meghan happens to be wearing lipstick, she must put her lips on the same spot on the cup every time!

40. She can’t travel or go out alone: Being a royal now means Meghan is at the center of a lot of attention. To protect her, she must travel at all times with a security detail, even if she’s just walking the dog or taking a jog.

The rule applies even when she’s doing something like going shopping! On these trips, Meghan will have to be accompanied solely by an all-female security detail. Surely they won’t mind going on a shopping spree with a royal, will they?

41. She can’t blog: This should come as no surprise, but the former Ms. Markle had to shut down her blog, “The Tig,” once Harry put a ring on it. The Royals take their privacy and their image seriously, and a blog by a royal is out of the question.

42. She can’t wear short skirts: Given that she isn’t allowed to show her bare legs, it should come as no surprise to learn that modest hemlines are now all that is acceptable. If it cuts above the knee, it’s too racy for royal life, be it skirts or shorts.