Meghan Markle claims she was ‘ugly duckling’ growing up: ‘I was smart, not pretty’

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Ann Widdecombe pulls apart Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle was joined by writer and director Mindy Kaling for the third and latest episode of ‘Archetypes’ — the Duchess of Sussex’s successful Spotify podcast. During the episode, entitled ‘The Stigma of Singleton with Mindy Kaling’, the two women spoke candidly about being single, with Mindy drawing on her own experiences as an unmarried mother-of-two, and Meghan opening up about her ideas of relationships and family as a child. The Duchess revealed she wanted a “cookie-cutter looking perfect life” after seeing her parents split up when she was two or three years old. 

She recalled reading a lot of Archie comic books and romanticising the idea of “a boy in a letterman jacket” and what she wanted her life to be like in the future. 

Meghan also revealed she felt as if she was “the smart one, not the pretty one” and questioned whether she would ever “get the guy”. 

She said: “I always thought, well I’m way more Betty than Veronica, and am I going to get the guy one day? 

“And I was the smart one, not the pretty one.

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Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle has opened up on her school years during her latest podcast episode. (Image: Getty Images)

Meghan Markle Archetypes

‘Archetypes’ is released weekly on Spotify. (Image: Spotify)

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“So all this stuff was wrapped up in reading Archie comic books and just, I think it was aspirational in some ways.”

Later in the episode, the pair returned to their conversation about their childhoods.

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

To which the Duchess responded: “No. Oh god, no…No. Nuh-uh.” 

The writer added: “That is news to me.”

Meghan continued: “Ugly duckling…Look, maybe not conventional beauty as it… now, maybe that would be seen as beautiful but massive frizzy curly hair and a huge gap in my teeth. 

Mindy Kaling

The Duchess of Sussex sat down with writer Mindy Kaling for the third episode of ‘Archetypes’. (Image: Getty Images)

“I was the smart one. Forever and ever and ever and ever. And, and then I just sort of grew up.”

She recalled how “hard” her school years were, describing sitting at lunch alone and not knowing where she fitted in. 

Decades before her romance with Prince Harry, Meghan lived a life far away from royalty in downtown Los Angeles. 

She was a student at Immaculate Heart High School — a Catholic private girls’ school. 

Meghan revealed: “I was always a little bit of a loner and really shy and didn’t know where I fit in.”

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

Meghan and Harry started dating in June 2016. (Image: Getty Images)

In 2013, the Duchess told Esquire magazine that she would often spend her afternoons after the school day with her dad, on the set of ‘Married…with Children.’

Thomas Markle was a successful lighting director in Hollywood and would let his young daughter, who was already a budding performer, join him at work. 

Meghan said: “Every day after school for 10 years, I was on the set of Married… with Children, which is a really funny and perverse place for a little girl in a Catholic school uniform to grow up.

“There were a lot of times my dad would say, ‘Meg, why don’t you go and help with the craft services room over there? This is just a little off-colour for your 11-year-old eyes.’”

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Speaking on her podcast, the Duchess explained how she would keep herself busy, so she didn’t have “to worry about who I would sit with or what I would do”. 

She told Mindy: “I was like, okay, well then I’ll become the president of the Multicultural Club and the president of sophomore class and the president of this and French club…I was always so busy.” 

Meghan also spoke about her struggle to fit in on a previous episode of ‘Archetypes’, telling Mariah Carey she couldn’t find her place as a mixed-race girl. 

She said: “And I think for us, it’s very different because we’re light-skinned. You’re not treated as a Black woman. You’re not treated as a white woman. You sort of fit in between.”

Meghan Markle's life in pictures

Meghan Markle’s life in pictures. (Image:

Writing for Elle magazine in 2015, the Duchess described the “grey area” that her mixed heritage creates. 

She wrote: “To describe something as being black and white means it is clearly defined. 

“Yet when your ethnicity is black and white, the dichotomy is not that clear.

“In fact, it creates a grey area. Being biracial paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating.”

She recounted a day at school on which she and her classmates had to fill out a mandatory census. 

Meghan recalled leaving the box to indicate her ethnicity blank, not knowing which one to tick. 

Meghan Markle

Meghan will be joined by different guests each week as she tackles the ‘labels that hold women back’ (Image: Spotify)

She explained: “You could only choose one, but that would be to choose one parent over the other — and one half of myself over the other. 

“My teacher told me to check the box for Caucasian. ‘Because that’s how you look, Meghan,’ she said. 

“I put down my pen. Not as an act of defiance, but rather a symptom of my confusion. 

“I couldn’t bring myself to do that, to picture the pit-in-her-belly sadness my mother would feel if she were to find out. 

“So, I didn’t tick a box. I left my identity blank — a question mark, an absolute incomplete — much like how I felt.”

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