Meghan says she was ‘ugly duckling’ growing up in latest Archetypes podcast episode with Mindy Kaling

·5-min read
Harry and Meghan on their wedding day (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Archive)
Harry and Meghan on their wedding day (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Archive)

The Duchess of Sussex has described herself as being an “ugly duckling” growing up, revealing she “never had anyone to sit with at lunch”.

Meghan - who went on to marry Prince Harry in 2018 - made the revelation on the latest episode of her podcast Archetypes, where she also described the Bel-Air wedding she had yearned for at 14.

The duchess told her guest, actress Mindy Kaling, she had been “the smart one not the pretty one” as a child.

Kaling asked Meghan: “Were you not the pretty one growing up?”

Meghan replied: “No. Oh, God, no.”

Kaling remarked: “What? That is news to me.”

Meghan said: “Ugly Duckling. Ya no, Maybe not conventional beauty, now maybe that would be seen as beautiful, but massive frizzy curly hair and a huge gap in my teeth. I was the smart one forever and ever and ever and ever, and then just sort of grew up.”

She added: “It was really hard ... I never had anyone to sit with at lunch. I was always a little bit of a loner and really shy, and didn’t know where I fit in.

“I was like I’ll become the president of the multicultural club. and the president of sophomore class and the president of this and French club and, and by doing that, I had meetings at lunchtime.”

Kaling told the duchess she now seems “intimidating”, adding: “Your life is together, you’re so beautiful. It’s nice to know that you were a lonely kid who didn’t like necessarily being that way.”

Speaking on the latest episode of Archetypes, released on Spotify on Tuesday, Meghan also told how at 14 she dreamed of a wedding at a Bel-Air hotel featuring a “Swan Lake” and “strapless and pouffy” dress.

The duchess said she had planned it as part of a religious studies assignment at her Catholic school.

“I took this project seriously, I wanted to get an A. And I did. Maybe I got an A minus,” Meghan said.

But she questioned why the assignment had even existed, saying: “At no point can you say ‘Nope. My dream for the future is to be single’.

Royal Wedding 2018: Best Pictures

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle kiss on the steps of St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle (PA)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle kiss on the steps of St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle (PA)
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, places the wedding ring on the finger of Meghan Markle (Jonathan Brady/AFP/Getty Images)
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, places the wedding ring on the finger of Meghan Markle (Jonathan Brady/AFP/Getty Images)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ride a horse-drawn carriage after their wedding ceremony (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ride a horse-drawn carriage after their wedding ceremony (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)
Meghan Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland (Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)
Meghan Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland (Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)
Princess Charlotte and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge leave St George's Chapel after the wedding (Jane Barlow/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Princess Charlotte and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge leave St George's Chapel after the wedding (Jane Barlow/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Meghan Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland are driven along the Long Walk (Yui Mok/WPA Pool/AFP/Getty Images)
Meghan Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland are driven along the Long Walk (Yui Mok/WPA Pool/AFP/Getty Images)
Meghan Markle arriving at her royal wedding ceremony (Owen Cooban/MoD/EPA)
Meghan Markle arriving at her royal wedding ceremony (Owen Cooban/MoD/EPA)
Prince Harry with his brother and best man, the Duke of Cambridge (Jane Barlow/PA)
Prince Harry with his brother and best man, the Duke of Cambridge (Jane Barlow/PA)
David and Victoria Beckham attend the wedding (Hugo Philpott/WPA Pool/EPA)
David and Victoria Beckham attend the wedding (Hugo Philpott/WPA Pool/EPA)
George and Amal Clooney arrive at St George's Chapel (Chris Radburn/PA)
George and Amal Clooney arrive at St George's Chapel (Chris Radburn/PA)
Abigail Spencer and Priyanka Chopra (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Abigail Spencer and Priyanka Chopra (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

“The message even at my feminist all-girls school was as traditional as it gets. First comes love. Then comes marriage.”

On the podcast episode, The Stigma of the Singleton with Mindy Kaling, Meghan talks to the actress about the joys, challenges and stigmas of being a single, unmarried woman.

She said: “What was and what is so threatening about women who live outside of marriage?

“The associations our society makes around unmarried women feels so outdated and I wanted to give them a refresh.”

The duchess, introducing Kaling, said: “Mindy and I are talking about how her decision to have children as a single, unmarried woman showed her the importance of forging your own path.”

The pair discussed their favourite books as children, with Meghan saying she loved the Archie comics but insisted they were not the inspiration for her son Archie’s name.

The duchess described how she was “alone so much as a child” and was a “latchkey kid”, saying she romanticised the Archie stories because she wanted the “cookie cutter-looking perfect life”.

Meghan said she had wondered “Am I gonna get the guy one day?”, adding that she was “the smart one, not the pretty one”.

The duchess said: “I was alone so much as a child, right, and also a latchkey kid, and I think I read a lot of Archie comic books ironically.”

She added: “I think for me, especially, my parents split up when I was around two, three years old, and I always wanted this sort of cookie cutter-looking perfect life and you looked at that and there’s like a boy in a letterman jacket.

“I romanticised that. It’s all part of the things that make you have this idea of what you want your life to be like when you grew up.”

Discussing her engagement to Prince Harry, she recalled: “ Everyone was just like, ‘Oh my god, you’re so lucky, he chose you’.

“At a certain point, after you hear it a million times over, you’re like, ‘well, I chose him too’.

“But, thankfully, I have a partner who was countering that narrative for me and going ‘They’ve got it all wrong. I’m the lucky one because you chose me’.

“But it is gendered and it’s archetyped and stereotyped that you’re so lucky, and it just feeds into this idea that you’re waiting for someone to tell you that you’re good enough, as opposed to knowing that you’re good enough on your own.”

Her comment was interspersed with archive audio from the royal wedding day of crowds cheering and an American broadcaster saying: “The happy couple has enchanted the world with their real-life fairy tale.”

Kaling tweeted that she “loved sitting down with Meghan on her new podcast”.

She shared photos of the pair sitting opposite one another, with microphones poised, and a table on which was placed a vase of white flowers and a lit candle.

Tuesday’s episode was the third in Archetypes, which sees the Duchess of Sussex speak candidly with guests about labels that “try to hold women back”.

Previous episodes have featured tennis ace Serena Williams, and pop superstar Mariah Carey.