From getting passionate with a chef to power-tripping with Matt Cardle: What do Meghan Markle’s men say about her?

MEGHAN Markle has been happily married to Prince Harry for a year – but before she met the royal she had a string of wildly different exes ranging from pop stars to sportsmen.

From a passionate chef to a basketball player and a doting movie star, what can these very different characters tell us about our "Princess of the UK"?

Relationship expert Annabelle Knight decodes their appeal and reveals  exactly what they say about woman who captured Prince Harry's heart.

Long before she met the Duke of Sussex, we revealed Meghan sent online messages to X Factor star Matt Cardle and asked to meet up. 

And she was also pursued by footballer Ashley Cole, but Meghan "snubbed his attempts to date" after she heard about his cheating past.

So, who made her furious with fiery passion and who made her feel as powerful as The Queen?

Matt Cardle: 'Made Meghan feel powerful'

Meghan swapped secret messages with X Factor winner Matt Cardle in 2015 and asked to meet him — just months before she met Prince Harry.

The actress complimented the handsome singer, 36, just before his award-winning role in the West End musical Memphis as they struck up a previously unknown online relationship.

The then recently divorced Suits star was spending time in the UK looking to meet a British man.

Relationship expert Annabelle said her attraction to Matt shows her "gentler side" but also gave her a sense of "power."

Speaking to Fabulous Digital, she said: "Meghan had a brief online dalliance with the X factor star in 2015 after citing that she wanted to date a British man.

"It was reported that he was bowled over by her attention, which she could have found flattering.

"He would have elevated her sense of pride and bolstered the opinion she held of herself, bringing out a sense of power for Meghan."

Shaun Zaken: 'Shows her feisty side and fiery nature'

Actor and screenwriter Shaun Zaken had a six-month romance with Meghan in 2003 and according to Annabelle was her "mirror image" as they were in the same line of work.

The pair had both attended Chicago’s Northwestern University and both had ambitions to make it in Hollywood, Meghan’s home town.

Shaun, who later played a waiter in an episode of Sex And The City, would practise his audition lines with her.

But when he did not want the commitment she craved, they split up.

Annabelle said: "Because of their parallels they tended to clash, sometimes resulting in very public rows.

"He bought out her feisty side and fiery nature.

"His lack of enthusiasm when it came to becoming official was a big turn off for Meghan, and helped her to realise that commitment was something very important to her.

"Dating Shaun showed Meghan’s wish to be with someone with similar goals and aspirations, but who also wanted a committed relationship."

Shaun is now a comedy writer and wrote a show last year about a fairy tale Prince Charming landing in modern-day Los Angeles.

Steve Lepore: 'Used as social currency'

During Meghan’s first year at university in Chicago, she fell for strapping college basketball star Steve Lepore.

She would gush to pals about her “tall, dark, handsome all-American” boyfriend, and Annabelle said Meghan was keen to "secure a place in the upper echelons of popularity" with Steve.

A source told The Sun: “She was moving into a new world from LA and being able to land a guy who was already settled and popular was important for her.

“She was very proud of having landed this handsome guy and happy to share photos of him. She spoke of how broad and beautiful his chest was.

“Meghan was used to being ‘the star’ of the pairing but Steve was the star of the basketball team. She hadn’t ever dated someone like that.”

Annabelle added: "It feels as though Steve was used as a currency for Meghan’s progression, she aimed her sights high and didn’t fail to meet her target."

After five months in 1999, Steve transferred from Northwestern University to a college in North Carolina.

Steve now lives with wife Carrie, and their baby daughter in Virginia, and is a basketball coach at a military academy.

Brett Ryland: 'Made her feel validated'

After splitting up from Shaun Zaken in 2003, Meghan dated another actor and writer, Brett Ryland, for five months.

One pal said: “Brett adored Meghan. He was constantly trying to shower her with love and she enjoyed the attention, but she seemed to be in it more for the affirmation.

“He didn’t have the kind of bravado or high profile she was looking for in a partner. He tried hard but there wasn’t much glamour or huge chemistry."

Annabelle commented: "Interestingly, Brett was a stark contrast and utterly adored Meghan, wanting nothing more than to make her happy.

"He doted on her and she will have welcomed the attention. Meghan may have sought validation with Brett.

"The emotional trauma she would have felt from her relationship with Shaun could have had her doubting her worth, which is why she went for someone so enthusiastic about her.

"He would have helped to build her back up again and brought out her confident side."

It wasn't meant to be, however, as Meghan called off the romance.

Brett, who lives in Los Angeles, later became a writer for hit show Two Broke Girls before becoming a content media manager for a social media firm.

Cory Vitiello: 'Brought out her passion'

Canadian chef Cory Vitiello is said to have dated Meghan Markle between 2014 and 2016.

And Annabelle said the attraction for foodie Meghan was obvious, as often "food and sex often go hand in hand as two things that set our senses on fire."

Cory is based in Toronto, which was where legal comedy-drama Suits is filmed.

The pair split in May 2016 – with the Telegraph reporting that Meghan was still with Cory when she first met Harry as the Prince visited Canada to promote the Invictus Games in May 2016.

It reported the chef refused to comment on the rumours while a friend stated to the paper: “I can’t comment on that” when asked if the Prince was part of the reason their relationship ended.

Annabelle added: "Chefs are often passionate people and this passion could have been extremely attractive to Meghan.

"Despite Cory’s famous ex, and host of celebrity fans, he refused to be labelled as famous in his own right and shied away from the limelight.

"This shows that he is laid back and values privacy, something that Meghan could have found appealing.

"He would have bought out her down to earth side, and helped to nurture the calmer aspects of her character."

Simon Rex: 'Made her fearless'

Meghan had a single date in 2004 with Scary Movie actor Simon Rex – who long before meeting her had made several porn films, although there is no suggestion she knew about this.

Former model Simon, now 44, even claims to have won an award for Best Gay Solo Video in 1997.

He is now also a comedian and rapper, using the rap name Dirt Nasty, and proudly reclines naked on a bearskin rug with his dog Duane in the banner photo on his Twitter home page.

And Annabelle thinks Simon's "devil may care" attitude to life could have shown Meghan's "fearlessness of the unknown."

Friends say Meghan and Simon had their one-off date in Los Angeles after meeting on the set of short-lived US sitcom Cuts when they both guest-starred in the same episode.

The relationship expert added: "Simon’s alternative career choices, avant-garde sense of humour, and unconventional personality would have been attractive to Meghan and would definitely have appealed to her and bought out her free spirited nature."

Trevor Engelson: 'Taught her valuable lessons about love'

Meghan and her first husband Trevor began dating in 2004, became engaged in 2010 and married in September 2011.

Annabelle said: "His career choice would have been a bonus for Meghan as an aspiring actress.

"Their relationship could have led Meghan to hone her desire for success and most certainly would have provided her with new types of opportunities and contacts."

The wedding was a four-day affair and pictures have since shown drinking games on the beach in the run-up to the big day.

The ceremony took place in front of 102 guests.

They split two years later citing “irreconcilable differences”.

A source claimed to Woman’s Day magazine that Meghan's role as Rachel Zane on hit TV show Suits was to blame.

Annabelle added: "They enjoyed a successful relationship lasting almost a decade, and, Meghan will have learnt valuable skills that she most certainly will have taken into the relationships that succeeded the marriage."

Ashley Cole: 'Showed she trusts her friends judgement of men'

Meghan was warned off going on a date with Ashley Cole after he reportedly bombarded her with messages begging to take her out.

Meghan had asked a British journalist pal Katie Hind whether it was worth meeting him.

The journalist, Katie Hind, later alerted Meghan to Ashley's turbulent relationship with Cheryl Tweedy and his back-catalogue of cheating scandals.

Katie wrote in the Mail on Sunday: “So, as the evening progressed, I set her straight.

“Meghan seemed taken aback and quietly replied: ‘Thanks, I appreciate it. Some of my friends told me to stay away from him too. 'I think I’ll leave it.’”

And steering clear of Ashley show Meghan's "ability to listen to, and take advice", according to Annabelle.

The guru said: "This showcases her considered nature and shows that she values the opinions of others."

Meanwhile, here's who Prince Harry dated before Meghan Markle, from Chelsy Davy to Cressida Bonas and Ellie Goulding. 

We shared how Prince Harry planned to propose to Meghan Markle in Botswana and NOT Kensington Palace, royal expert claims.

In more Royal Family news, baby Archie will "heal William and Harry's feud" because the princes "want their kids to know their cousins", a royal insider has claimed.



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