And it starts with “Once upon a time,” of course.

By Blake Bakkila
Updated November 30, 2017
Meghan Markle at engagement announcement
Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Before Meghan Markle was leading a hit TV series, championing gender equality for UN Women and announcing her engagement to Prince Harry, she was a student at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. And on Thursday, the university shared a sweet message, throwing it back with a photo from her college days.

“Once upon a time, there was a Wildcat,” the university posted on its Instagram. “In her hunt for purpose, she took a #NorthwesternDirection that inspired pursuits in theatre and international relations. We celebrate the sparkle that is @nuschoolofcommunication alumna @MeghanMarkle ‘03 and send our best wishes to her story’s #happilyeverafter #TBT.”

The photo shows a beaming college-age Markle, who was remembered by one professor in a news story featured on the university website. The article, titled “From Wildcat to royalty,” was published shortly after she announced her engagement.

“Meghan was passionate about theater and had a self-confidence you could see helping her weather the storms of the professional world,” said Harvey Young, who led Markle’s theatre history and criticism seminar in 2003.

In another statement, the executive director of Northwestern’s alumni association said, “On behalf of Northwestern University, we extend our congratulations to the couple. His mother, Princess Diana, visited Northwestern in 1996, so we are particularly pleased to welcome Prince Harry to the extended Northwestern family.”

Twenty-eight years after Princess Diana, Markle returned to the Evanston campus in 2014, and spoke to one student-run publication about her time at Northwestern.

“It’s surreal being back because I haven’t been back since I graduated, and as I am walking around I remember things like the schlep of getting to South Campus from up north,” she told North by Northwestern magazine.

The now-bride-to-be even admitted that she may have consumed a few too many Whoppers as an undergrad.

“The 24-hour Burger King also definitely helped me put on the Freshman Fifteen,” she said in the interview.