Excitedly opening her birthday present at an alfresco family party, the pretty little girl is a study of anticipation. It is so hot that she is barefoot and wears only a pair of shorts.
And here she is on another golden day in the park, giggling impishly as she totters around in her striped summer frock; then squatting down on the grass to feed the pigeons under the protective gaze of her mother.
These delightful new photographs capture the infant Meghan Markle taking her first steps on the extraordinary journey that has led her from the obscurity of a Los Angeles suburb to the heart of the British establishment.
They are among dozens of evocative snapshots contained in a treasured and previously unseen family album shown exclusively to the Daily Mail by Meghan’s uncle, Joseph Johnson.
I wonder what it is? Meghan investigates her large birthday present at an alfresco family party, with the pretty little girl a study of anticipation on what is thought to have been her second birthday
Meet the folks: Meghan, with beads in her hair, looks straight at the camera while sitting around the dining table with an adoring father Thomas, half-sister Samantha and half-brother Thomas Jnr, before their relationship turned toxic
On Saturday, readers cooed over pictures of her as a baby, including her first-ever photo, taken just hours after her birth on August 4, 1981.
Today, from that same enchanting collection, we bring you more intimate images, showing Meghan as a bright, beautiful and mischievous toddler.
One rare photo, taken at a celebratory family meal, is particularly revealing. Cradled in her father Thomas’s bear-like arms — he is looking at her adoringly — her half-siblings Tom Junior and Samantha, then wholesome-looking teenagers, are seen seated further down the table.
As the adults laugh and joke at a table laden with her mother Doria’s home-cooked dishes, and drink wine from glass goblets, infant Meghan, a string of beads draped over her tousled hair, radiates contentment and security.
Congratulations! Mother Doria sits her toddler on her lap while opening a birthday card at what is believed to be Meghan’s second birthday party in a park in LA
Feeding time: Meghan concentrates hard as her mother gets the pigeons’ food ready as they enjoy a day out at a park in LA when she was around one
Until now, the perception has been that Meghan’s childhood was scarred by the acrimony between her parents, who divorced when she was six, and her older sister’s jealousy.
The truth, as these photos show, appears very different.
They depict a family seemingly at ease and united in their adoration for their newest addition. There is no hint of the unedifying rancour and feuding that frequently embarrasses her today.
According to Meghan’s uncle, the camera doesn’t lie.
‘She was always a special child, and so happy. She had a lovely and sunny disposition,’ said Mr Johnson, 69, who is Doria’s half-brother.
My little cousin: Meghan pokes her tongue out while posing with Uncle Joe’s son Jason. Her uncle has shared the enchanting photos
Shape of things to come: The future fashion icon wears a stylish striped dress as she chases the pigeons in the park in LA
He remembers how, when Meghan was young, he and his sons, Jason, Shawn and Jarred, would get together with Thomas Sr, Tom and Samantha, and have fun.
And, as the photos also show, Meghan was close to her cousins and remained so. In her teens, she would go for nights out with them in their hometown of Fresno, three hours north of Los Angeles.
Any day now, of course, Meghan will become a mum herself, and Mr Johnson is sure she will be every bit as capable and doting as Doria.
Though Uncle Joe is yet to meet Harry, having studied him from afar — admiring his ‘sensitivity’ and palpable devotion to Meghan — he feels sure the Prince will make a brilliant father, too.
For the imminent royal baby, this hitherto unseen snapshot of Meghan’s upbringing augurs wonderfully well.
And perhaps, in a year or so, we will see the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s free-spirited toddler scampering, bare-footed, across the manicured Windsor lawns chasing the pigeons, too.