Why did Meghan Markle leave Suits and who did she play in the hit legal drama?

Why did Meghan Markle leave Suits and who did she play in the hit legal drama?

Why did Meghan Markle leave Suits and who did she play in the hit legal drama?
(Image credit: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, may have left her acting past behind her, but there are many Suits fans out there who still can’t help thinking of her as Rachel Zane.

From the moment Suits star Meghan Markle was first linked to Prince Harry back in 2016, fans of the legal drama series began to question—will this be the end of the show's beloved character, Rachel Zane? 

Royal Family members are typically expected to give up their day jobs to commit to their monarchy responsibilities, and this was no different for the up-and-coming Hollywood actor. In 2017, Meghan officially retired from the entertainment industry after wrapping up filming on the seventh series of Suits. 

She went on to marry the Duke of Sussex on May 19, 2018, at St George’s Chapel, Windsor. Meghan Markle's wedding dress delighted royal fans and their big day was watched by fans around the world. 

The couple later "stepped back" as senior members of the Royal Family last year, before moving to the US to raise their son, Archie, away from the glare of the British tabloids. After spending their first few months in California at a celebrity friend's house, Harry and Meghan purchased their Santa Barbara Mansion and gave their former UK home of Frogmore Cottage to Princess Eugenie and her husband, Jack Brooksbank. 

2021 has been especially eventful for the couple with the arrival of their second child. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced the birth of their daughter, Lilibet 'Lili' Diana Mountbatten-Windsor in June after first confirming they were expecting baby number two back in February.

Now many fans are turning their minds back to Meghan’s acting roles before she was introduced to high-pressure royal life. Three years after she left the popular legal drama series, we reveal all you need to know about her most famous role—and why Meghan Markle left Suits in the first place. 

Meghan Markle in 'The Arrangement' (Season 3, Episode 1, aired July 16, 2013), 2011

(Image credit: ph: Ian Watson/©USA Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo)

Who was Meghan Markle in Suits?

The world might now know her as the Duchess of Sussex, but in Suits, Meghan Markle was paralegal, Rachel Zane. Introduced in the show’s first season, Rachel eventually worked her way up the legal corporate ladder to become an attorney.

Throughout her time on the show, Meghan’s character Rachel grew ever closer to attorney Mike Ross, played by Patrick J Adams. The on-screen couple went on to marry and departed the show together to set up their own legal firm in Seattle.

Why did Meghan Markle leave Suits?

Whilst the exact reasoning for Meghan Markle leaving Suits has not been confirmed, her final season did coincide with her blossoming relationship with Prince Harry. By the time Meghan’s final Suits episode aired in April 2018, she and Harry were engaged. Just a few weeks later on 19 May 2018, the couple were married and so began Meghan’s life as the Duchess of Sussex. 

As reported by Express.co.uk, showrunner Aaron Korsh revealed to Radio 4 in 2017 he had actually begun writing her character out after she began a relationship with Prince Harry. He stated, “I sort of had a decision to make because I didn’t want to intrude and ask her, ‘Hey, what’s going on? What are you going to do?’"

“So, collectively the writers, we decided to take a gamble that these two people are in love and it’s going to work out."

“What we decided to do was as the season progresses say, ‘Look, I would rather have good things happen to Meghan in her life’—which would likely mean her leaving the show," Aaron shared.

Her role as Rachel in Suits was not only Meghan Markle’s breakthrough role but also her last one before she became part of the Royal Family. Now she and Prince Harry are devoting themselves to new ventures and causes as they forge their new life together in California. 

Since emigrating to the states, the couple has engaged in a number of major business projects. Prince Harry teamed up with Oprah Winfrey to produce The Me You Can't See, an Apple TV+ docuseries on mental health, while Meghan released her first children's book just last week. Unfortunately, the simply titled 'The Bench' received a disappointing blow as critics dismissed it as a 'self-help' manual and lacking in rhythm and plot. 

Both the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are taking several months off work to focus on their new baby, who is reportedly also being cared for by Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland. The couple hasn't completely gone off the radar though. Prince Harry took a break from paternity leave for a special Invictus Games announcement last week, posting a video to confirm that the international sporting event for veterans would be going ahead in Germany in 2023.

When did Meghan Markle leave Suits?

Perhaps her most famous role, Meghan appeared as Rachel in Suits from the very first episode shown in 2011 to the seventh season finale, which aired in 2018. Overall the now Duchess of Sussex was in Suits for seven years before leaving the hit show.

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!