EXCLUSIVE: Meghan Markle's family share intimate and utterly enchanting private photo album proving Prince Harry's fiancée always was a little princess
Pretty as a picture, this is Meghan Markle in first starring role, aged five, at her aunt's wedding.?
These gorgeous exclusive photographs from Meghan's never-before-seen family album show Prince Harry's future bride on her first walk down the aisle as her aunt Saundra Johnson's bridesmaid in 1986.
'She was always a special child, so happy,' recalled Meghan's proud uncle Joseph Johnson last night. 'Right from the start it was clear she was special and had a magical quality about her. She always had a happy demeanour.'
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Meghan is pictured aged around five years old. These captivating pictures were taken around the time her parents divorced
Wearing her mother's pearls, Meghan shows off the radiant smile that would capture the heart of a Prince
Meghan with her mum Doria at Aunt Saundra's wedding. 'She was a magical child – her smile lit up the room,' says proud uncle Joseph Johnson
With grandmother Jeanette and Doria at another family wedding
AGED TWO: A scene-stealer from the start! Meghan balances a plate on her head – as her uncle Joseph says: 'She was always a natural joker'
AGED THREE: Cuddling her favourite teddy bear at home in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles. Meghan's parents, Tom and Doria, divorced three years after this picture was taken but remained close
AGED FOUR: In the garden of the family home in LA: 'She had a really happy childhood – even when her parents divorced, she was surrounded with love,' says uncle Joseph.
AGED FIVE:?'She was a natural in front of the camera,' says Joseph. 'Her beautiful hair was always thick and curly. Meghan would always grimace when it was brushed'
AGED FIVE:?Meghan plays in a Los Angeles park
AGED SIX:?Meghan tries to suppress a giggle at a family celebration: 'Meghan was raised a little lady. She always had a lot of grace, poise and self-respect,' says Joseph
AGED EIGHT:?Wearing thick glasses, Meghan cradles her cousin Donovan, her aunt Saundra's son: 'She's a natural with children,' says Joseph
AGED NINE:?With aunt Saundra and Donovan in front of the family's Christmas tree
AGED 11: In high-waisted jeans and a red T-shirt, Meghan celebrates her 11th birthday on August 4, 1992
Joseph, 68, his sister Saundra, 65, and Meghan's mother Doria, 61, were raised by their single mother, Jeanette.?
She divorced both her first husband Joseph Johnson (father to Joseph and Saundra) and Doria's dad Alvin Ragland.
'Meghan was raised in a household of strong women because there were no men on the scene,' her uncle said.
These captivating pictures were taken around the time Doria divorced her husband Tom Markle, an award-winning lighting director. While part of Meghan's life, Tom was working 'crazy hours' to support his family.
'Culturally the women were the backbone of the family,' Joseph said. 'Doria and my grandmother were both whip-smart and funny. Meghan gets her sense of humour from them.
'When you are raised by strong women, you are not intimidated by anyone. Meghan's nickname in the family was Flower. She was always sunny and had a lovely disposition. The camera loved her from the start.'?
Doria cuddles five-year-old Meghan on holiday: 'Doria was smitten with Meghan from the day she was born,' says uncle Joseph. 'That love has never wavered'
Doria grins as she tries to keep her hair dry
Doria and Meghan clap along to music at a party. Aged nine, Meghan has had her ears pierced, and the glasses have gone
At Disneyland in California, Doria counts money while six-year-old Meghan checks her Minnie Mouse wallet
A year before her parents divorced, five-year-old Meghan – dressed in her Sunday best – sits on father Tom's lap
Meet all the Markles
Meghan was born into 'a big, beautiful mixed-race family', according to her uncle Joseph. 'Meghan knows who she is, she is self-aware and very in tune with being biracial,' he says. 'She's very comfortable in her own skin. She knows herself and who she is.'
Joseph says that when his sister Doria married lighting director Tom Markle, 'we were cool with it'.
'All we ever wanted, with any of the women in the family, was for them to make good choices, to be happy and in love.
'Meghan was raised surrounded by love,' says uncle Joseph. 'She always knew she was loved, which gave her the confidence to go out into the world and fly'
Meghan with her aunt Saundra, her mother Doria's half-sister
Jeanette Ragland, who worked as a secretary for an insurance company, cradles her grandson Donovan, who is Meghan's cousin
Raised in poverty in Cleveland, Ohio, Netty worked as a lift operator in a five-star 'whites' only' hotel
'It doesn't matter if the man is black, white, red or yellow as long as he's a good man. The only thing that matters is he loves her and treats her right.
'The same goes for Meghan and Prince Harry. The most important thing isn't that he's a member of the Royal Family, it's that he looks after her and loves her and is a good man.'
Joseph says the family heard less from Meghan as she climbed the ladder of Hollywood success – she landed her starring role in Suits eight years ago.
'She started doing her own thing and got so successful,' he adds. 'We've always been so proud of her. The idea our little Meghan is going to be a princess is something none of the family ever even dreamed of.
'The Royal Family just isn't part of our world. But we couldn't be more proud of Meghan and everything she has achieved. Her mother taught her to be brave and travel and embrace adventure. And now she's setting off on her biggest adventure yet. We'll always love her and be proud to call her family.'
Joseph Johnson, Doria's half-brother, with his wife of 37 years, Pamela, a social worker
Joseph says the family heard less from Meghan as she climbed the ladder of Hollywood success – she landed her starring role in Suits eight years ago
AGED 18:?Meghan on the day she graduated from Immaculate High, a private Catholic all-girls' school in LA. At school she was so popular she was known as Markle Sparkle
'The Royal Family just isn't part of our world. But we couldn't be more proud of Meghan and everything she has achieved,' said Joseph
Prince Harry and Meghan on the day their engagement was announced
Step out in style in Aquazzura heels like Meghan
Congratulations to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry!
The couple officially announced their engagement today, with Meghan looking incredibly stylish in a white coat by Line The Label, a bottle green dress by P.A.R.O.S.H and nude strappy heels by Aquazzura.
We've spotted her in these classic 'Matilde' pumps before, so they're clearly a favourite of Meghan's. With their versatile and timeless aesthetic, we're not surprised she turned to them again on this high profile occasion.
Lace up shoes have been a major trend for a few years now and it all began with Aquazzura. We like this particular style for their pointed toe, slinky straps and the touch of gold at the end of each lace.
Lucky for us they're back in stock so click to the right to buy it or get the look for less with even more picks below.
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