First responders don’t exactly have the easiest of jobs. Every day they’re called out to tackle blazes, fight crime, and sometimes even witness the loss of life. It’s no surprise, then, that those who work in the emergency services are some of the most stressed out people on the planet. Luckily, one woman is on a mission to change that.
Yoga For First Responders
Meet Olivia Kvitne Mead, a 36-year-old yoga instructor with an interesting background. This yogi had been working on programs with military veterans after their tours of duty when an idea struck her. What about the first responders? These men and women who work in the emergency services would work decades in the same job, before retiring, and no one was helping them. In 2013, Mead set up her nonprofit – Yoga For First Responders.
Mead had worked with veterans in the past, teaching them yoga to help combat the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She had witnessed first-hand how this 5,000-year-old practice could help reduce stress, improve mental health, and teach others how to tackle trauma. Her idea was to bring these same benefits to the first responders, who also put their lives on the line every day.
An Impressive Response
The yoga teacher, who hails from Denver in Colorado, admits that not everyone was keen to get involved to begin with. However, even the burliest of men soon got on board with the Downward Dog. Nowadays, Yoga For First Responders works with a total of 35 fire and police departments across America, and has even become part of the Chicago Police Academy Syllabus!
Yoga is known for its healing powers and it seems as though it’s working a treat with these first responders. If we can help reduce the stress and trauma of the emergency services, hopefully they can live healthier and happier lives as they continue to protect us.
A Closer Look Into Meghan Markle’s Life as She Transitioned In and Out of the Royal Family
Meghan Markle’s life has been under intensive surveillance since she began dating Prince Harry back in 2016. While the two now reside in the US and are happily married today with their son and another baby on the way, their road to happiness has been bumpy. Stay tuned for this timeline of what Meghan has been up to since joining the royal family, up until today.
When Meghan Met Harry
One of the world’s most talked-about celebrity couples first met on a blind date back in July of 2016. Meghan and Prince Harry were introduced through a mutual friend who had an inkling the two would hit it off.
There are many speculations as to who this matchmaker is – E! News claim it was Harry’s friend Violet von Westenholz, while others say it was fashion designer Mischa Nonoo. One thing is for certain, we know this person is female because when asked about it, Meghan responded that they wanted to keep “her” identity private.
Fireworks From the Start
Meghan admits that with her American background, she didn’t have much prior knowledge about the royal family and was more concerned with who Harry was as a person.
She allegedly asked their mutual friend, “well is he nice? Cause if he wasn’t kind, it just didn’t seem like it would make sense.” We can gather what the response was because the two met for drinks soon after and were planning the following date in no time.
An African Adventure
Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle are no ordinary duo so it makes sense that their whirlwind romance would reflect that. Harry reportedly invited Meghan on a trip to Africa during their second date.
He later gushed about their Botswana getaway saying, “then we were really by ourselves, which was crucial to me to make sure that we had a chance to get to know each other.” Their African adventure seemed to cement their romance. Harry admitted he already knew Meghan was the one “the very first time we met.”
The Public Finds Out
After four months of dating privately, the news of their high-profile relationship was leaked on October 31st, 2016. A source revealed to the Sunday Express that Harry is “besotted” with the American actress and that he is “happier than he’s been for many years.”
That same day, Markle took to Instagram to post a photo of two bananas spooning in love – a cryptic display of affection, perhaps? Meghan later revealed that those months prior to the public finding out were “amazing,” which hints at the struggles that came after.
Separating the Two Worlds
In November of 2016, Meghan was interviewed for the Vancouver Sun to promote her collection for the women’s fashion retailer, Reitmans. She touched on her fashion collaboration with the brand, her philanthropic projects with World Vision, as well as her plans for the holiday season.
She avoided mentioning her relationship status but was quoted saying, “So, my cup runneth over and I’m the luckiest girl in the world!” It was already reported by then that her relationship with Harry was serious and that she had met his father Charles, The Prince of Wales.
Harry Defends Meghan Publically
It wasn’t long before things soured in the press about the couple’s relationship and Meghan was subjected to the storm. On November 8th of 2016, Harry released a public statement that both confirmed their relationship and defended Meghan against what he referred to as the “wave of abuse and harassment.”
This war of words went on through social media trolling and the news media. He later revealed that the couple was “totally surprised” by the media scrutiny that came their way.
Before meeting the prince, Meghan was a bonafide actress starring in the hit American legal drama series Suits as the beautiful paralegal, Rachel Zane. Markle played Zane’s role for seven seasons and the show propelled her rise to fame.
Due to her familiarity with the entertainment industry, many assumed Meghan would be able to handle the media attention that came with her high-profile relationship but nobody really knew what was installed for the American actress.
Tuning Out the Noise
When asked about dealing with the British press during a BBC interview, Markle replied, “I’ve never been part of tabloid culture. I’ve never been in pop culture to that degree and lived a relatively quiet life.”
Meghan admitted to coping with the scrutiny by simply tuning out the noise of what was being told or better yet, mistold. She added that the couple tried to focus their attention on “nurturing” their still relatively new relationship.
Strengthening the Bond
With all the media ruckus the two endured so early on into going public with their relationship, Harry and Meghan quickly grew closer.
Facing the incessant bombarding of the media only strengthened their bond and in early December of 2016, Meghan was snapped by paparazzi in Toronto wearing a gold necklace with the couple’s initials on it. Later that month, the duo was spotted holding hands and Christmas tree shopping in London’s West End.
Royal Family Support
After Harry’s public statement, Prince William released a statement that shut down rumors which claimed he was unhappy with Harry’s request for privacy. The statement mentioned that he “absolutely understands the situation concerning privacy and supports the need for Prince Harry to support those closest to him.”
Later the matriarch herself, the Queen, weighed in about Meghan and Harry’s relationship and reportedly said that she is “delighted to see Harry in a loving relationship.”
When Meghan Met Kate
US Weekly magazine reported in early 2017 that Meghan was introduced to Harry’s sister-in-law Kate Middleton at apartment 1A in Kensington Palace. Princess Charlotte was also in attendance and according to reports, all the ladies “got on fabulously.”
Harry and Meghan later gushed about how Kate and William had shown the two “fantastic support.” It seemed as if the royal family had welcomed Meghan with open arms.
A Long Distance Commitment
During the first course of the couple’s relationship, Markle was filming for Suits in Toronto, while Harry lived in London. However, the two made it work by traveling back and forth to visit each other or meeting in exotic destinations.
In March of 2017, the couple vacationed in Montego Bay, Jamaica to attend Harry’s childhood friend’s wedding. Sources revealed that the two seemed very much in love and a close friend of the couple reportedly told The Sun that a spring engagement was fast approaching.
The Sacrifices Begin
In 2014, Meghan founded her lifestyle blog, The Tig, which became her passion project where she featured a column on influential and inspiring women. However, after a three-year running, Markle shut down the website in 2017.
Many speculated that the reason was due to her royal relationship but a source confirmed to People that her busy schedule with shooting Suits and balancing charity work was the real catalyst behind her decision.
Her First Public Announcement
Meghan finally spoke openly about her relationship with Prince Harry in Vanity Fair magazine’s October 2017 issue. She was quoted saying “We’re a couple. We’re in love. 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.”
During that month, Markle accompanied Harry for the first Invictus Games opening ceremony with her mother, Doria Ragland.
The Royal Engagement
After much speculation, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle finally announced their engagement on November 27th, 2017. The happy couple celebrated the news with a photoshoot and formal interview.
The gorgeous three-stone engagement ring shown was designed by Harry with sentimental diamonds from Botswana and jewels that belonged to his late mother. In the months leading up to their wedding, Meghan was introduced to life as a working royal. She attended many official events while planning the wedding.
The BBC Interview
During the press interview about their engagement, the happy couple detailed the proposal that took place within their London home on what Meghan referred to as “a cozy night.” Harry added that the two were “trying to roast a chicken” when he got down on one knee.
Meghan described it as “So sweet and natural and very romantic.” She even admitted that she didn’t let him finish his proposal before interjecting and responding yes. The fairytale love story was off to a great start!
After news broke that the couple was set to wed, Meghan told Sky News that she planned to step away from acting to focus on her new duties as a royal member with emphasis on her passion for charity work and making public change.
She added, “I don’t see it as giving anything up. I just see it as a change.” She reportedly became an official resident of the United Kingdom sometime around 2017 and moved into Nottingham Cottage with Prince Harry.
Suits successfully ran for nine seasons, of which Markle featured in seven. She appeared in a total of 108 episodes and left the show after season seven aired in 2018. Her royal commitments seemed to have been the main reason for her exit.
She involved herself in numerous philanthropic projects that aided animal welfare and support for women in need. Meghan was quoted saying that, “Now it’s time to work with Harry as a team.”
Samantha Grant is the half-sister of Meghan through their father Thomas Markle, and despite the fact that the two haven’t seen each other in decades, Samantha has been very outspoken about Meghan and Harry’s kinship.
She has given multiple interviews to the press, sold stories, published a tell-all book, and is rumored to appear on reality TV. She has also publicly criticized Meghan since 2017, calling the Duchess of Sussex “belittling and controlling” and a “social climber.”
Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle Sr. is a retired lighting director who now resides in Rosarito, Mexico. When news broke of Meghan’s engagement, media outlets tracked him down and followed his every move following up to the wedding day.
In May of 2018, just a few days before the big day, news broke that Markle Sr. had staged photos for paparazzi in exchange for money. He had also reportedly suffered a heart attack around that time due to the stress of media scrutiny.
The Demise of a Father-Daughter Relationship
Thomas allegedly agreed to stage photos showing him preparing for the wedding, as a way of inciting positive press. He claimed that he had been harassed by photographers who had even moved next door to him in an attempt to do 24-hour surveillance on the soon-to-be princess’s father.
On May 17th, just two days before the wedding, Meghan confirmed through an official statement that Thomas would no longer be attending her special day. She concluded by saying, “I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health.”
The Wedding of the Century
On May 19th of 2018, tens of millions of viewers tuned in to watch Meghan and Harry wed at Windsor Castle. Markle stunned in a modest yet sophisticated Givenchy gown for the ceremony and hit it out the park again for her stylish halter-neck dress designed by Stella McCartney for the reception at Frogmore House.
High-profile celebrities like Oprah, The Beckhams, and of course, the whole royal family were in attendance. Meghan and Harry officially became the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Along Came Archie
On October 15th of the same year, Kensington Palace announced that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were expecting their first child. The news came as the couple landed in Australia to start their first royal tour as a married couple.
Then, on May 6th of 2019, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born at Portland Hospital in London. The royal baby boy is a spitting image of his father and is now seventh in line for the British throne.
The Unfair Pregnancy Coverage
While Meghan was pregnant, the media scrutiny only worsened. The articles that British media outlets published about her in comparison to her sister-in-law, The Duchess of Cambridge, differed drastically.
For example, the Daily Mail in March of 2018 published an article that praised a then-pregnant Kate for protectively holding her belly, while the same publication in January of 2019, smeared Meghan for not being able to keep her hands off her bump.
The Ultimate Portrayal
Meghan and her father’s toxic relationship also deteriorated after the royal wedding took place. He continued to do interviews with media outlets and deepened his smear campaign on the royal family.
Then in February of 2019, he sent an edited version of a private letter Meghan had written him after her wedding to the Daily Mail. Excerpts of the letter revealed Meghan’s pain, such as the quote, “Your actions have broken my heart into a million pieces.”
The Cambridges vs. The Sussexes
In March of 2019, the Sussexes reportedly moved out of Kensington palace amidst the rumors of a royal rift between Harry and his brother, Prince William. Meghan and Harry moved into Frogmore Cottage in Windsor and more than $3 million was spent in public money to refurbish the official residence.
In June of that same year, the couple announced that they planned to leave their joint charity with the Cambridges and start their own charity, entitled Sussex Royal.
No Title for the Royal Baby
During a press conference in May of 2019, rumors of the couple’s split from the royal family became evident when it was announced that baby Archie will not have a title like the other grandchildren of the Windsor family.
Instead, he will be referred to as “Master.” The recent Oprah Winfrey tell-all interview exposed that Archie allegedly wasn’t given the same royal treatment as his first cousins because of his race.
The South African Tour
In September of 2019, Meghan and Harry toured South Africa and took part in a revealing documentary that zeroed in on the pressure of living in the public eye as royals.
Meghan even admitted that her British friends warned her against their marriage because of the cruelty of the British tabloids. Harry delved deep into his grief over his mother’s death by saying, “I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum.”
Too Much to Handle
From dealing with her family drama play out in the press, to the torment of the British media’s narration and difficulties from within the royal family, Meghan’s mental health had taken a serious toll.
This became clear when she revealed in the documentary, “I never thought this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair.” It has since been reported that Harry turned to his family for help but was dismissed.
Firing Back at the Media
In October of 2019, the Duchess of Sussex officially sued the publication responsible for publishing the handwritten letter that she had sent to her father, Thomas Markle.
During this time, Harry also fired back at the British press for their ill-treatment of his wife, saying, “There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behavior because it destroys people and destroys lives.”
The Final Warning Sign
The final sign that proved there was great trouble in the royal family came in November of 2019 when Meghan and Harry announced that they intended on spending Christmas alone in Canada.
By the Duke and Duchess of Sussex not partaking in the royal family’s annual Christmas nuptials, this showed the public that a rift was not coming but that it was already there.
The Sussexes Step Back
In January of 2020, Meghan and Harry announced that they both intended to step back from their roles as working royals and plan to become financially independent. It was also revealed that the two planned to split their time between the UK and North America.
The couple said the decision was made “after many months of reflection and internal discussions.” The statement ended off by noting that the Sussexes will continue to “fully support Her Majesty, The Queen.”
The Royal Rift Is Made Official
It was reported after Meghan and Harry’s announcement that Buckingham Palace was “disappointed” with the statement released and that no royal was consulted prior to it.
This is preciously when the rift between Harry and his brother, Prince William, and the rest of the British monarchy had reached a boiling point. Another report revealed that the senior royals were left “hurt” by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to withdraw from their royal duties.
The Queen’s Speech
The Queen subsequently released a personal statement that said “I recognize the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.”
In addition, she granted their request to live “a more independent life” provided they no longer use the word “royal” in their professional work and pay the hefty cost for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, the royal family home the two resided in.
Life in California
The two soon transitioned to their new lives in California with their son Archie by the end of March, amongst the 2020 pandemic. Since moving to the US, Meghan and Harry have launched a number of projects, including their deals with Netflix and Spotify.
When asked about their multi-year Netflix deal (reportedly valued at $100 million), the couple revealed to the New York Times that “our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope.”
The LA Mansion
When Meghan and Harry first moved across the pond to Beverly Hills, they lived in Tyler Perry’s $18 million mansion. The 24,545 square foot Mediterranean-style home provided more than enough space for the couple, baby Archie, and their two dogs.
The mansion is also located in a gated community with a 24/7 guard on duty. The area is known as Beverly Hills Post Office. While the colossal mansion was not their permanent home, it served its purpose well in helping the couple get their footing.
The Archewell Foundation
In addition to their lucrative ventures, Meghan and Harry also started their own non-profit charity based in Beverly Hills. The duo named the charity Archewell, after their firstborn. The organization’s activities are based around non-profit and creative media efforts.
A palace source revealed that “their operating style is very different to the Cambridges and so having their own space to think as big as they like, working on a global scale, is perfect for them.”
In November of 2020, Harry volunteered for the Walker Family Events Foundation, which is a veteran’s charity in Compton, California. The Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support in Dallas also received a donation from Meghan and Harry through their foundation.
And, while it was announced in December of 2020 that Archewell would be collaborating with the World Central Kitchen to build Relief Centers in the Caribbean, the first one was completed in February of 2021. These centers have been created to help civilians that were hit by the Hurricanes in 2017.
A Royal Update
When ‘Megxit’ was first made public, it was agreed by Buckingham Palace that the situation would be reviewed after one year. In early 2021, the palace released a statement that “the couple, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have verified they will not be returning as working members of the Royal Family.”
It was added that Queen Elizabeth confirmed that since the couple will no longer continue with their duties, both Harry and Meghan were stripped of their titles.
Another Baby on the Way
On Valentine’s Day of 2021, Harry and Meghan announced that they were expecting again and that the two were “overjoyed” for baby Archie to become a big brother. Along with the exciting news, a lovely portrait of the couple was released.
The news comes after the duchess revealed in an article in November of 2020 that she had suffered a miscarriage earlier that year and felt “an almost unbearable grief.”
The Podcast Special
On February 22nd, the Sussexes appeared in a virtual Spotify event to promote their upcoming podcast, Archwell. The couple mentioned that they are “using podcasts to drive powerful conversations that inspire, challenge and educate.”
While other celebrities like Justin Bieber were featured in the online event, Meghan’s pregnancy glow and Oscar de la Renta peplum hem dress stole the show. Their appearance came just weeks before the release of their Oprah Winfrey interview.
The Oprah Interview
On March 7th in the US, over 17.1 million people watched Oprah Winfrey’s highly-anticipated interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on CBS. The interview highlighted the reasons why the couple left England and stepped down as royal members.
It is reported that CBS paid Oprah’s Harpo Productions between $7 million and $9 million for the licensing rights. Meghan and Harry were not paid to partake in the interview.
Good News Revealed
During the tell-all special that revealed a lot of controversy about life as royals, the couple also revealed some good news – the sex of their baby. Harry told Oprah they’re expecting a baby girl and Meghan added that she was due in the “summertime.”
Harry went on to say that he felt “Just grateful. To have any child, any one or any two, would have been amazing. But to have a boy and then a girl, I mean what more can you ask for?”
Their New Home
After residing in Tyler Perry’s LA mansion, the couple has since moved to Montecito in Santa Barbara. The area is known to be more quiet, peaceful, and less of a paparazzi den. Oprah Winfrey and Ellen Degeneres are just a few of the couple’s high-profile friends that also reside there.
A spokesperson for them told Vogue that “they have settled into the quiet privacy of their community since their arrival and hope that this will be respected for their neighbors, as well as them for a family.”
Back to Basics
While the 18,671 square-foot mansion is nothing short of beautiful, Meghan emphasized in the Oprah interview that the best part of it is “being able to live authentically.” She continued by saying “It’s so basic, but it’s really fulfilling. Just getting back down to basics.”
The couple also invited Winfrey to see their chicken coup which they sweetly named “Archie’s Chick Inn.” The two seemed to beam with happiness and excitement about their new chapter in life and the birth of their baby girl.