Meghan Markle's Best Friend Shares the Star's Personal Motto — and You'll Love It!

"I don't know many people who are as generous and supportive as Meg is," Lindsay Roth says of Meghan Markle

Over the past few years Meghan Markle has captured the hearts of Suits fans — and now Prince Harry — but the star’s charm is nothing new to those who know her best.

“I don’t know many people who are as generous and supportive as Meg is,” Markle’s best friend Lindsay Roth tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “I think people assume that when someone gains notoriety that they change. But she’s still the same girl I met years ago, with the same values and priorities. She’s selfless, and that’s just a part of who she is and who she was raised to be.”

Roth and Markle met in a Toni Morrison literature class during their freshman year at Northwestern University. The two became fast friends and have stayed that way for over 15 years.

“We’re the kind of friends who can be 3,000 miles away and still be talking about or thinking the same thing, and even texting each other the same thing at the same time miles away,” Roth says of Markle, who was the maid of honor at her wedding.

  • For more on Markle from those who know her, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Roth fondly recalls spring break trips and crafty DIY projects with Markle and gushes about her pal’s hospitality the last time she stayed with her in Toronto, where Markle lives and shoots Suits.

“She picked out a specific candle to light in ‘my room,’ which I call it — a scent that was so me, that she knew I’d love,” says the author of What Pretty Girls Are Made of., who based a character in the book on Markle.

Roth is not surprised by how well Markle has handled the spotlight in the months since it was revealed she was dating Prince Harry in the fall (“We should all strive to handle the ups and downs of our lives as gracefully, smartly, elegantly, positively, realistically and graciously as Meg has,” she says), but she’s even more proud of her friend’s ongoing dedication to humanitarian work.

“Meg has especially developed into an extraordinary businesswoman, actress, writer and advocate for women and children,” Roth says of Markle, who is also the founder of the lifestyle blog The Tig.

“While the public sees Meg as a strong advocate for women and girls, she is one behind the scenes too — she’s that friend who staunchly supports her friends’ dreams, is present even when she’s physically not present because she’s in Toronto filming, gives you her honest opinion even if it differs from yours and has the most kind heart,” she continues. “I have years worth of hand-written notes and cards that Meg has sent to me in the best of times, while I was going through hard times and also fun, saying hello, missing-you, motivational go-for-your-dreams cards.”

“There’s a motto that Meg and I have consistently come back to throughout the years: ‘I choose happiness,’ ” says Roth. “It’s a constant reminder to be self-aware, be uniquely you, be happy and to treat people with respect; to be kind, empathetic and to really learn from those around you in any circumstance,” says Roth. “Meg does that.”

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