The famously single Prince Harry and Suits actress Meghan Markle have finally made things official. The happy couple announced their engagement in late November along with plans for a May 2018 wedding. In the meantime, here’s a definitive timeline of the couple’s royal relationship.
HOW THEY MET
Harry and Markle first made each other’s acquaintance on a blind date in early July, 2016. “We were introduced actually by a mutual friend,” Harry revealed during the couple’s first sit-down interview with the BBC following their engagement announcement. (E! News recently claimed Harry’s friend Violet von Westenholz is the one who introduced them, but others have speculated it was fashion designer Mischa Nonoo.)
The only thing that I asked was is he nice? Cause if he wasn’t kind, it just didn’t seem like it would make sense.
Despite Prince Harry’s global fame, Markle says she didn’t have a lot of preconceived notions about who he was before they met. “Because I’m from the States, you don’t grow up with the same understanding of the royal family,” she explained during the BBC interview. “I didn’t know much about him, so the only thing that I had asked [our mutual friend] when she said that she wanted to set us up, was, ‘Well is he nice?’ Cause if he wasn’t kind, it just didn’t seem like it would make sense.”
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The two hit it off immediately. “We met for a drink,” said Markle, “and then I think very quickly into that we said, ‘Well what are we doing tomorrow? We should meet again.'”
At the photo call in the Kensington Palace gardens following their engagement announcement, Harry was asked when he knew Markle was the one. He quickly replied, “the very first time we met.”
Things moved quickly from there. The couple went on a second date and Prince Harry then invited Markle to accompany him on a trip to Africa just three or four weeks later. “I managed to persuade her to come and join me in Botswana and we camped out with each other under the stars,” he said, describing the whirlwind romance. “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.”
THE NEWS GETS OUT
After four months of quiet dating, the news finally leaked on October 31, 2016 that Prince Harry was dating an American actress. A source told the Sunday Express that Harry is “happier than he’s been for many years” and is “besotted”with the Markle. On the same day, Markle posted a sweet photo on her Instagram of two bananas spooning, possibly hinting at the new love in her life.
Of this period, Markle later said: “We had a good five, six months almost with just privacy, which was amazing.”
MEGHAN MEETS THE FAMILY
In November 2016, the Vancouver Sunpublished an interview with Markle promoting her collection for retailer Reitmans. In the interview, she discussed her collaboration with Reitmans, her charity work with World Vision, and her plans for the holidays. Though she avoided any mention of Harry, she happily said, “So, my cup runneth over and I’m the luckiest girl in the world!”
Around the same time, People reported that Harry had already introduced the actress to his father, Prince Charles.
HARRY MAKES A PUBLIC STATEMENT IN DEFENSE OF HIS GIRLFRIEND
Harry confirmed his relationship with Markle in a formal statement November 8, 2016. In the statement, Harry also pleads the press and trolls on social media to stop the “wave of abuse and harassment” that had been directed at his girlfriend.
According to Harry, he has been involved with “nightly legal battles” to stop the media from publishing defamatory stories about Markle and their relationship.
Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her. It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm. He knows commentators will say this is ‘the price she has to pay’ and that ‘this is all part of the game’. He strongly disagrees. This is not a game – it is her life and his.
During the BBC interview, Harry revealed that both he and Markle were taken aback by the media scrutiny. “I think both of us were totally surprised by the reaction.”
Many assumed that Markle would be prepared for the onslaught of attention because she had been in the public eye as an actress, but little could have prepared her for what was to come. “There was a misconception that because I have worked in the entertainment industry that this would be something I would be familiar with,” she said. “But I’ve never been part of tabloid culture. I’ve never been in pop culture to that degree and and lived a relatively quiet life.”
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Her answer, she told the BBC, was to tune out the noise. “I think we were just hit so hard at the beginning with a lot of mistruths that I made the choice to not read anything, positive or negative. It just didn’t make sense and instead we focused all of our energies just on nurturing our relationship.”
On November 18, she shared a Mahatma Gandhi quote on her Instagram, which many people interpreted as a response to Harry’s statement on their relationship.
EVEN PRINCE WILLIAM IS FORCED TO WEIGH IN
On November 27, 2016, Prince William released a statement to clear up rumors that he was unhappy with his brother’s decision to open up about his relationship. A portion of the statement reads, “The Duke of Cambridge absolutely understands the situation concerning privacy and supports the need for Prince Harry to support those closest to him.”
HARRY AND MEGHAN CONTINUE TO GROW CLOSER
In early December 2016, Markle is photographed in Toronto wearing a gold necklace featuring the letters “M” and “H.” Later that month, she and Harry are spotted together picking out a 6-foot Christmas tree, and in London’s West End holding hands on their way to see the Tony award-winning show The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. According to The Sun, the couple walk through the Soho area while admiring the Christmas lights throughout Piccadilly Circus.
THE QUEEN APPROVES
According to Us Weekly, the Queen is “fully supportive” and another source revealed that the Queen is “delighted to see Harry in a loving relationship.”
Markle spoke of meeting the Queen during their BBC interview. “It’s incredible to be able to meet her through his lens, not just with his honor and respect for her as the monarch, but the love that he has for her as his grandmother. She’s an incredible woman.”
After spending Christmas with their own families, the couple spends New Year’s together in London.
MEGHAN’S FAMILY IS HEARD FROM
Meghan’s half-brother Thomas Markle Jr. discloses to the Daily Mail that their father has been aware of Meghan’s relationship since it began. In the interview, Thomas says his father is, “pretty happy about Harry and he’s extremely proud of her.”
Meghan is very close to her family and attended her mother’s graduation from the University of Southern California, after she received her Masters in Social Work in 2016.
At their engagement announcement, Markle revealed that her father has spoken with Harry several times, but he “hasn’t been able to meet him just yet.”
A ROMANTIC TRIP TO NORWAY
After spending New Year’s in London, the couple embarks on a romantic trip to Norway. This is the first time that the often incognito couple vacation together and according to Us Weekly, Harry planned the romantic getaway so that the two could to catch the Northern Lights. The couple stay with Harry’s close friend, Inge Solheim, at his luxury property in Tromsø, Norway. A source tells the sun The Sun that Harry “put a lot of thought into it and wanted to make it as romantic and special as possible.”
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