Meghan Markle attends an exclusive preview of the Marchesa Voyage for ShopStyle collection on September 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for ShopStyle)

Celebrity Weddings

'I’ve never wanted to be a lady who lunches' - Meghan Markle may follow in Princess Diana's philanthropic footsteps

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are officially engaged, and with news of the announcement, royal watchers have already begun speculating about what type of royal the actress will become.

The 36-year-old has already won over her soon to be family, with congratulations flooding in from family members since Clarence House made the official announcement this morning. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and wife Kate have said they are "excited" for the couple.

"It has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and to see how happy she and Harry are together," they said in an official statement.

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The pair, who have been together for 16 months, are due to marry in spring 2018.

Royal watchers are looking to the Suits star's past for an insight into what way her new position will impact the life of the royals, with recent interviews into her life revealing that the soon-to-be royal may follow in Harry's late mother's footsteps, as a philanthropist.

Philanthropist 

Meghan and Harry met through friends in July 2016, with news breaking that they were an item in October that year.

Prince Harry was reportedly impressed by Meghan's desire to do good in the world - a trait also attributed to his charitable late mother Diana - after he learned that the actress had travelled to Rwanda earlier that year to work on a clean-water project.

 “They clicked from the outset on that first date, and one of the many things Harry really liked about Meghan was her innate kindness and her desire to make a difference and give something back,” said a friend of Harry's, according to Vanity Fair. “The fact that she had been to Rwanda working on a clean-water project really impressed him.”

Meghan is a global ambassador for World Vision and is a women’s advocate for the U.N.

Last year, in an essay written for women's magazine Elle, the actress revealed her plans for the future.

“I’ve never wanted to be a lady who lunches," she wrote, "I’ve always wanted to be a woman who works. And this type of work is what feeds my soul and fuels my purpose.”

In the piece Meghan referenced her upbringing, praising her mother for raising her as a 'global citizen' with 'eyes open to the sometimes harsh realities.'

"We spent time travelling to remote places, taking trips to Oaxaca in southern Mexico where I saw children peddling Chiclets candy for a few extra 
pesos to bring home," she wrote.

When she started her website TheTig.com, Meghan saw it as a way to 'pepper in' important matters to women, by featuring 'dynamic women' to empower her readers.

"I knew that girls were checking it for fashion tips," she said, "but by including thoughtful pieces about self-empowerment, or featuring dynamic women such as the Pakistani poet and writer Fatima Bhutto, I was hoping to integrate social consciousness and subjects of higher value than selfies. A subtle means to pepper in what matters."

Crediting her show Suits and website, the actress says that without which she never would have the chance to become an ambassador, however with her new role in the royal family, she is sure to be able to manoeuvre herself into a position that will  garner her even more of a dedicated following, where she can work to effect change.

"Were it not for my show and website, I would never have been asked to be a global ambassador for World Vision or an advocate for UN Women, both of which are honours I relish.

"While most become star struck by A-list actors, you'll only see me in awe of leaders effecting change. Politician and diplomat Madeleine Albright, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. These are my heroes. These are my celebrities."

Charities

Meghan's charity work is just one similarity between her and her fiancé's late mother.

In her lifetime, Princess Diana was a long-standing and active supporter of Centrepoint, a charity which provides accommodation and support to homeless people and spent most of her time visiting sick children in hospital and raising awareness for those in need.

Through her work with various organisations, she helped to start conversations about HIV and AIDS, and showed how the royal family could be in touch with the public, and to use their positions to effect change all over the world.

She made it a kind of personal goal to become more of a monarchy for the nation, saying, "I would like a monarchy that has more contact with its people" and used the media's intrusion in to her life for good, by visiting hospitals and fundraising galas to bring attention to those in need.

As well as being an anti-landmine activist, and was avid supporter of the arts, the English National Ballet being the only non-humanitarian charity she chose to dedicate her time to after her divorce.

Protective

While the couple might have continued happily with their relationship away from the public's eye, Prince Harry was forced to confirm their relationship in November 2016 when, in an effort to protect his girlfriend from increasing acts of harassment, he released an official statement condemning the media over its "abuse and harassment" of his girlfriend.

In the statement, Kensington Palace confirmed that the couple was dating and said Ms Markle, who is mixed race, was experiencing racism, sexism and a front page smear, and was enduring attempts by members of the press to get into her home.

Independent.ie read: When Harry met Meghan: A timeline of their royal romance  

It was not dissimilar to the treatment by the press of his late mother Princess Diana, who was repeatedly hounded by a media before her death twenty years ago.

'You haven't seen anyone like this since Diana'

While sister-in-law Kate Middleton is often criticised by the media being "boring" and quiet - she's widely beloved, however Meghan is largely seen to be more in-keeping with Harry's somewhat 'roguish' ways.

"She's clearly very self-assured, fearless even. in that respect, she is really a breath of fresh air," royal author Katie Nicholl said in a recent interview with Grazia. "She's not a blank canvas on to which royals can project an image, but already has a clear idea of who she is and what she wants to achieve. You haven't seen anyone like this since Diana."

Independent.ie read: 'You haven't seen anyone like this since Diana' - how Meghan Markle is ruffling all the right royal feathers

"Meghan doesn't seem to be intimidated by the royal family," she continued, "she has taken everything in her stride and handled her foray into the royal family with impressive confidence.

"Having observed Harry for the past decade, it's very apparent to me that she's had a really positive influence on him. He's dropped his guard and really seems to be enjoying life. We've heard from him more than ever before and he's been honest about his mother, to his great credit. It feels like he's met the right woman at the right time in his life."

Like Princess Diana, who famously said "I don't go by the rule book... I lead from the heart, not the head", Meghan seems to be prepared to lead by her own example and to follow her heart. Which has lead her to straight to Harry's.