September 05, 2017 02:04 PM

For the first time since she started dating Prince Harry — arguably the world’s most eligible bachelor — Meghan Markle is opening up.

In a new interview with Vanity Fair, Markle talks about her “boyfriend,” her past and how her life has changed since their relationship became public knowledge last fall. And though the interview contains some big confessions about her relationship (including a declaration of love!), it’s also full of fun facts and tidbits about Markle.

1. She’s friends with Serena Williams.
She’s dating Prince Harry, but that isn’t the only famous face in Markle’s inner circle. She’s been pals with tennis superstar (and new mom!) Williams since they first met “about seven years ago” at the Super Bowl. Williams gushed about her friend to Vanity Fair for the story, saying Markle’s “personality just shines.” She also gave her some advice for living in the spotlight: “I told her, ‘You’ve got to be who you are, Meghan. You can’t hide.'”

2. She loves Erdem — just like Princess Kate.
When the interviewer arrived at Markle’s Toronto home, she was wearing a red floral dress — from Erdem, a designer Markle says she’s “been wearing for years.” Kate also is a big fan of Erdem, and frequently wears their designs to official engagements.

3. She and Harry met “through friends” in July 2016.
This is the first time that the beginning of their relationship timeline has been confirmed by either party. In the interview, she says that they met in July 2016, in London, through mutual friends.

4. Her high-profile relationship hasn’t changed her, and it doesn’t define her.
Markle and Harry dated for a few months before their relationship hit the press, and she says the shift was immediate — but not when it comes to who she is at a person. “We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news, and I was working during that whole time, and the only thing that changed was people’s perception,” she says. “Nothing about me changed. I’m still the same person that I am, and I’ve never defined myself by my relationship.”

5. She auditioned for Suits in a dress from H&M.
Markle says was planning to audition for Suits in jeans and a purple tank top. But on the way there, she worried her outfit wasn’t formal enough for the paralegal character she was hoping to play. So she popped into a nearby H&M and snagged a $35 dress. She had good foresight, as she was asked to change into the dress for the audition. Though she didn’t have enough time to try it on, it still fit — and, more importantly, she got the part.

Peter Lindbergh/Vanity Fair

6. She worked as a restaurant hostess and calligrapher to make ends meet during her early days of acting.
Though she grew up on television sets — Married With Children and General Hospital — as her father was a lighting director, she admits she did struggle to “make it” in Hollywood in the years after she graduated from Northwestern. To supplement her income, she worked as a restaurant hostess and did calligraphy.

And through it all, she had her parents’ support, and their joy when she got her big break on Suits. “My father knew how hard it is for an actor to get work, so he above all people was so proud that I was able to beat the odds,” she says.

7. She worked at the U.S. Embassy in Argentina during college.
A dual major in theater and international relations (a pretty savvy combo for a potential royal!), Markle spent her senior year of college working at the U.S. Embassy in Argentina. Making the decision to pursuing an acting career after graduation was a definite switch. “I had been in a completely different world and then suddenly jumped into this one,” she says.

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8. She loves her freckles.
Markle confesses that one of her photoshoot pet peeves is when the freckles that dot her nose are retouched and airbrushed away. Notably, in the photos that accompany the interview, her freckles are completely visible.

9. Her parents are divorced, but her family is a tight unit. 
Markle’s parents split before her third birthday — but she remembers growing up in a “close-knit” family.

“My parents split up when I was two, [but] I never saw them fight,” she says. “We would still take vacations together. My dad would come on Sundays to drop me off, and we’d watch Jeopardy! eating dinner on TV trays, the three of us.”

10. She and Prince Harry are “in love.”
Straight from Markle’s mouth, she confirms for the first time that she is indeed in a relationship with Harry, and that they are in love with one another. “We’re a couple. We’re in love,” she says. And in a nod to a potential future in the spotlight, she says they’re cherishing the time where their relationship can be private — and theirs alone: “I’m sure there will be a time when we will have to come forward and present ourselves and have stories to tell, but I hope what people will understand is that this is our time. This is for us. It’s part of what makes it so special, that it’s just ours,” she says.

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