Peering into the lens with a beaming smile, she is uncommonly at ease in front of the camera for a 13-year-old girl, and exudes the radiant personality which will one day catch the eye of a prince.
These exclusive pictures of Meghan Markle as a child in California provide a revealing glimpse of how she grew up in circumstances far removed from her glamorous life today as the Hollywood actress who has captured the heart of Prince Harry.
But for her family, she is still the same Meghan – and whatever the future of her Royal romance, they pledge that ‘she will always be our princess’.
The actress, now 35, who stars in legal TV drama Suits, has been to the UK four times in the last three months to see Harry, 32, who is said to be ‘besotted’ with her.
Last week, the pair were photographed together for the first time after seeing a West End play.
But back in 1994, wearing an oversized brown jumper and a wide grin, Meghan’s thoughts were on practising calligraphy, a skill she would later use to supplement her income as an up-and-coming actress.
Her former sister-in-law Tracy Dooley, who took the photo, recalled urging, ‘Smile, Meghan!’
As some of the other pictures show, the young Meghan was not always so pleased to be snapped.
Glancing at the photo of Meghan holding a bag of popcorn during a trip to feed ducks in Lake Balboa Park in Los Angeles, Ms Dooley, speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday, recalled: ‘That was a “paparazzi” shot.
‘She was in the middle of feeding the ducks and she turned around. That’s why she has that face. It’s an, “Oh, yeah, another picture” face.’
Meghan looked even more glum in two other photos with her young nephew Thomas as a toddler and a baby, but according to Tracy – who now lives in Medford, Oregon – she was ‘always in good spirits and wasn’t a moody teenager’.
Accounts manager Ms Dooley, 51, recalled how Meghan ‘loved playing with the kids’ and would delight Thomas and his brother Tyler by tickling their faces with her ‘big soft hair, making them laugh and laugh’.
‘She will always have a special place in our hearts,’ she added. ‘She will always be our princess.’
In one photograph, also taken in 1994, Meghan is shown with her father, Thomas Markle Snr, now aged 72 and living in Mexico. His son, Meghan’s half-brother Thomas Jnr, 50, was formerly married to Tracy.
The baby between Meghan and her father is Meghan’s nephew (also called Thomas). He is now aged 25 and a pizza restaurant boss.
By the time these photos were taken, Meghan’s father had already divorced her mother, Doria Ragland, 60, a yoga teacher.
Recalling his aunt, Thomas told The Mail on Sunday: ‘She was always really caring about other people and affectionate. She grew up with really strong roots.’
He added that Meghan, who is a global ambassador for charity World Vision Canada, ‘really advocates for people who don’t have much in life. She’s a very giving person.’
He said her maternal instincts were strong, adding: ‘She will be the best mother in the world. When she has a kid, she’s going to love that kid more than anything.’
Harry and Meghan met in May in Canada when he was promoting the Invictus Games, the Paralympics-style competition he founded for wounded veterans.
Thomas added: ‘They must really having something if they want to pursue it in the public eye – it makes them stronger for it.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail