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Photos of Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton before they were royals show how drastically their lives have changed

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meghan markle deal or no deal
Meghan Markle on "Deal or No Deal" before marrying into royalty.NBCUniversal
  • Meghan Markle, who turns 41 on August 4, was an actress before she married into royalty.

  • She held a number of odd jobs before getting her big break on the TV show "Suits."

  • Kate Middleton earned a degree in art history from St. Andrews, where she met Prince William.

Kate Middleton graduated from the University of St. Andrews in 2005 with a degree in art history.

Kate Middleton at her college graduation in 2005.
Kate Middleton at her college graduation in 2005.Michael Dunlea/Daily Mail/NPA pool/AP

Prince William studied geography and graduated at the same ceremony. The pair met during their first year at the university and started dating in 2002.

She's part of that history now with her own portrait at the National Portrait Gallery.

Kate Middleton looks at her portrait at the National Portrait Gallery.
Kate Middleton's portrait.Alastair Grant-WPA Pool/Getty Images

The director of the National Portrait Gallery showed Middleton her portrait at the National Portrait Gallery.

She drove herself to her 25th birthday party.

Kate Middleton in the driver's seat of a car.
In the driver's seat.AP

Middleton was photographed pulling out of her driveway in 2007.

Now she's chauffeured everywhere she goes.

Kate Middleton exiting a car.
Exiting a car in style.KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx/AP

Middleton gets driven to royal engagements.

As a commoner, she carried her own bags.

Kate Middleton before she was a royal carrying tote bags.
Bags in tow.Sang Tan/AP

Middleton was photographed walking home in London in 2007.

Her assistant and stylist handle that now.

Kate Middleton's private secretary and stylist.
Her squad.Dominic Lipinsk/Pool/Getty Images

In 2016, her then assistant, private secretary Sophie Agnew, and stylist, Natasha Archer, were pictured carrying luggage for her.

She used to attend red carpet parties as a guest.

Kate Middleton at a WTA Tour Players Party in 2006 before she was a royal.
Kate Middleton at a WTA Tour Players Party.AI Project/Reuters

She attended the WTA Tour Players Party in 2006.

Now, she's the guest of honor at charity galas.

Kate Middleton speaking at a charity event.
Speaking at a royal engagement.John Phillips/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Middleton spoke at the annual Place2Be School Leaders Forum in 2017.

Middleton used to wear cowboy hats.

Kate Middleton wearing a cowboy hat before she was a duchess.
It was a look.Matt Cardy/Getty Images

She chose a brown cowboy hat with braid detail to wear to the Gatcombe Park Festival of British Eventing in 2005.

They've since been replaced with fascinators.

Kate Middleton wearing a white fascinator with a white dress.
Wearing a fascinator.Chris Jackson/Getty Images

She's undergone a hat style evolution.

She wore button-down shirts and blazers before joining the royal family.

Kate Middleton wearing sunglasses, a button-down shirt, and a blazer before royal life.
Kate Middleton before royal life.Getty Images

Middleton wore a blue striped button-down with an olive green coat the Annual National Hunt Festival held at Cheltenham Racecourse in 2007.

She still wears a slightly more regal version of the same look.

Kate Middleton visiting New Zealand in a navy blazer.
Visiting New Zealand.Arthur Edwards/Pool/Getty Images

At a wine tasting during a visit to New Zealand in 2014, she wore a blue checkered shirt with a crisp navy blazer.

She was a fan of wearing bold animal prints when going out and about.

Kate Middleton at the circus wearing an animal print dress before royal life.
At the circus.Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Back when she could attend events like a circus show at the O2 Arena in 2008, she could wear funkier clothes.

She can get away with more muted versions.

Kate Middleton wearing an animal print maternity dress
Kate Middleton is seen during her visit to Resort Studios in Cliftonville on March 11, 2015 in Margate, England.Arthur Edwards/WPA Pool/Getty Images

She wore a less shiny animal print dress to visit Resort Studios in Cliftonville in 2015.

Meghan Markle held a number of odd jobs before getting her big break on the TV show "Suits."

Meghan Markle as a model on "Deal or No Deal."
Markle on "Deal or No Deal."NBCUniversal

She was a briefcase model on "Deal or No Deal," a freelance calligrapher, a restaurant hostess, and more.

After becoming a royal, butlers and staff did jobs for her, and the fact that she closed her own car door made headlines.

Meghan Markle exits her car in 2018.
Markle exits her car in 2018.Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Markle was spotted several times closing her own car door instead of having a member of her staff do it for her. It's not a breach of royal protocol — Middleton has also shut her own car door on occasion — but the move was widely scrutinized nonetheless.

She used to go shopping for knick knacks.

Meghan Markle shopping in LA before royal life.
Actress Meghan Markle attends the Some Kind-a Gorgeous Style and Beauty Lounge at the Chateau Marmont on August 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.Charley Gallay/Getty Images For Benefit Cosmetics

Markle attended the Some Kind-a Gorgeous Style and Beauty Lounge at the Chateau Marmont in 2010.

Now her face is on them.

Royal wedding souvenir mugs featuring photos of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Royal wedding souvenirs.Leon Neal/Getty Images

Merchandise and souvenirs featuring images of the happy couple were sold before the royal wedding.

As a commoner, Markle wore casual baseball caps.

Meghan Markle wears a baseball cap in 2005
Meghan Markle in Los Angeles, California, in 2005.Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage for Kari Feinstein PR

She sported a ZegnaSi baseball cap while out and about in Los Angeles in 2005.

For royal events, fascinators are a must.

Meghan Markle wearing a green dress and hat looking down
Meghan MarkleMax Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

She wore a green fascinator to a Commonwealth Day Service in London in 2020.

Before royal life, she could sip a cocktail without thinking twice.

Meghan Markle sipping a cocktail before royal life.
Markle sipping a cocktail.Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for DirecTV

Markle attended the DirecTV Beach Bowl 2014 at the Gansevoort Hotel in New York City in 2014, and sampled a pink cocktail.

But her royal life involved lots of formal toasts with dignitaries.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry make a toast.
A toast.Geoff Pugh/WPA Pool/Getty Images

No pink cocktails to be found at a reception at the residence of the British Ambassador to Ireland during her visit to Ireland.

Markle gave enthusiastic hugs as a commoner.

Meghan Markle hugging a teammate at an event before royal life.
Meghan Markle hugging a teammate.Mike Coppola/Getty Images for DirecTV

Meghan Markle participated in the DirecTV Beach Bowl at Pier 40 in New York City in 2014 and hugged her teammates.

Hugging a royal wasn't considered appropriate according to royal protocol, so she opted for handshakes.

Meghan Markle shakes hands with members of the public
Markle greets her admirers.Jeremy Selwyn/WPA Pool/Getty Images

She shook hands on a walkabout at Cardiff Castle in Wales.

Markle used to be able to cross her legs like anyone else.

Meghan Markle and her Suits costars attend a fashion show.
Meghan Markle and her Suits costars attend a fashion show in 2012.Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for NBCUniversal/USA Network

Markle attended a fashion show with her "Suits" costars in 2012.

As the Duchess of Sussex, she was expected to sit with a "duchess slant."

Meghan Markle sitting in a "duchess slant" with Queen Elizabeth
Markle with Queen Elizabeth.Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Coined by Beaumont Etiquette, the term "duchess slant" refers to the way Kate Middleton sits, keeping her ankles and knees together while slanting her legs to either side. It's a move Markle has adopted, as well.

She once gave out autographs as an actress.

Meghan Markle signing an autograph before royal life
Signing her name.Mike McGregor/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald

She signed her name on a board at a charity event in 2013.

As a duchess, autographs are against royal protocol — but she was known to bend the rules on royal engagements.

Meghan Markle signs an autograph
She's paving her own way.Getty Images

Royals aren't allowed to sign autographs for security reasons to prevent their signatures from being forged. That didn't stop Markle from signing 10-year-old Caitlin Clarke's autograph book with a heart and smiley face.

Markle used to be able to wear whatever shade of nail polish happened to match her outfit.

Meghan Markle wearing dark nail polish before royal life.
Markle's nail polish before royal life.Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for WGC

At an InStyle party in Toronto, she wore grey nail polish to match her dress.

The Queen reportedly only allows neutral nail colors.

Meghan Markle wearing light nail polish
Markle's nails post-wedding.Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Royals are expected to adhere to an unspoken rule of wearing only neutral nail colors.

Markle was an actress starring on "Suits."

Meghan Markle and Patrick J. Adams in a scene from "Suits."
Meghan Markle and Patrick J. Adams on "Suits."USA Network

She played the character Rachel Zane.

But being the Duchess of Sussex became a full-time job until she and Prince Harry gave up their royal roles.

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Prince William, and Kate Middleton on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
On the balcony of Buckingham Palace.Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The couple now lives in Montecito, California, and are working on a slew of projects through their non-profit, Archewell.

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