Prince Harry's new girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has a few conflicting elements in her life.

On the one hand, she is playing the fame game: the 35-year-old American plays Rachel Zane on US TV show Suits and spends much of her time attending red carpet events and being dressed in high-end clothing.

But she'll tell you the thing that makes her "really happy" is the philanthropic work she undertakes.

Markle is an active humanitarian campaigner - particularly on the topic of gender equality - and was this year named global ambassador for World Vision Canada.

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She is acutely aware that these two elements of her life don't necessarily go hand-in-hand, so she recently wrote an essay for Elle about how she reconciled Hollywood fame with her philanthropic pursuits.

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The essay - which she penned from her trailer when she was shooting the sixth season of Suits - reflects on a pivotal moment that she experienced last year.

"I was in a van heading back from Gihembe refugee camp in Rwanda. I was there as an advocate for UN Women; I had a week of meetings with female parliamentarians in the city's capital, Kigali, celebrating the fact that 64% of the Rwandan government are women - the first in the world where women hold a majority," she writes.

"Driving back on the dusty roads that day, I received an email from my managers asking whether I'd attend the BAFTAS. I had never been and had always romanticised it. A high-end jewellery company was going to fly me in, dress me in the fanciest of gowns, and I would travel straight from Kigali to Heathrow, London, to the make-up chair and on to the red carpet.

"My brain, heart and spirit couldn't shift gears that quickly, from the purpose-driven work I had been doing all week in Rwanda to the polished glamour of an awards show. 'No,' my heart said. And it wasn't a soft whisper; it was a lion's roar.

"... in that moment, my gut said no because while my two worlds can coexist, I've learned that being able to keep a foot in both is a delicate balance. No, they are not mutually exclusive but guiding my heart through the swinging pendulum from Hollywood fantasy to third-world reality is challenging in its own way".

Later in the article she acknowledges that "with fame comes opportunity, but it also includes responsibility - to advocate and share, to focus less on glass slippers and more on pushing through glass ceilings.

"And, if I'm lucky enough, to inspire".

Markle's activism started at a young age. At 11, she forced a soap manufacturer to alter an advert after she wrote a letter to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton and other high-profile figures complaining that it implied women belonged in the kitchen.

Her socio-political activism has become increasingly important to her in recent years, and she is particularly passionate about her work in Africa.

Markle studied international relations at university and then ended up working at the US embassy in Buenos Aires.

It was during a party that her career path was altered dramatically.

"I'd been working at the US embassy then in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I went home for a party, and this manager named Drew had seen me," Markle explained to Matches Fashion.

"He approached a friend of mine from college and asked her if I was an actor. I'd done a student film for her when we were in university together, so she gave him the film the next day. He called me and said, 'You're going to make money, and I want to take 10 per cent'.

"Then you fast forward all these years of not working and trying to figure it out, and I'm just so grateful that all the stars came into alignment for Suits, because it's changed my life."

Earlier this month Prince Harry released an unprecedented statement, lambasting the press and "social-media trolls" for hassling Markle and her family.

The letter released by Kensington Palace on his behalf claims that there had been "racial undertones" in some of the coverage about the LA native - who has one white parent and one African-American parent and describes herself as bi-racial.

"Prince Harry is worried about Ms Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her," read the message. "It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm."

Markle and Prince Harry reportedly met at a May event for his Invictus Games in Toronto and have been a couple since June.