Ever since Harry and Meghan announced their engagement in November 2017, royal fans have been attempting to put the pieces together of how the Duke and Duchess met. Originally, fans were convinced they were introduced through designer Misha Nonoo—a longtime friend of Meghan’s whose husband went to school with Prince Harry and Prince William—but we now know who really set up the royal couple on their blind date: Violet von Westenholz.
As royal reporter Katie Nicholl reveals in her upcoming book, Harry and Meghan: Life, Loss, and Love, Von Westenholz—a publicist for Ralph Lauren—apparently gave Harry Meghan’s number. It’s been known for quite some time that they had a blind date at London’s Soho House, but through Nicholl’s reporting, she discovered exactly what went on during Harry and Meg’s first date. Spoiler alert: Chilled rosé was involved.
Read an exclusive excerpt from Nicholl’s book, below, detailing exactly how Harry and Meghan met.
Toronto was to pop up in Harry’s life sooner than he thought. It was a warm evening in early July when Harry was introduced to the glamorous actress Meghan Markle. They had been set up by a mutual girlfriend believed to be Violet von Westenholz, the daughter of Prince Charles’s friend the Olympic skier Baron Piers von Westenholz. Violet, who works for the fashion house Ralph Lauren, had been spending time with Meghan that summer, dressing her for a promotional shoot for Suits and treating the actress to a day out at Wimbledon to watch her friend Serena Williams play in the competition. According to one source, Violet, who knows both Harry and Meghan well, thought they could be well matched and I was told by a source close to Violet that she gave Harry Meghan’s number.
He got in touch and when they met days later Harry was immediately bowled over by the lively, passionate, and beautiful Californian actress. Meghan was quite different from the girls he had been dating at home.
Harry had quietly been seeing Sarah-Ann Macklin, a British model, earlier that summer. They had also been set up by a mutual friend and coincidentally Sarah-Ann bore more than a passing resemblance to Meghan, but that was where the similarity ended. At twenty-seven she was much younger than Harry and while they got on well, they never really hit it off. “Sarah-Ann is very clean living and barely drinks. They were on a different wavelength,” says one of her friends. “She got a bit frustrated by Harry wanting to go out all the time and the truth was he seemed a bit non-committal so the romance never really got off the ground.” It couldn’t have been more different when Harry met Meghan.
Three years older than him, a divorcée, and a famous name in her own right she exuded a confidence and charisma that he was immediately drawn to. “They just clicked and got on from the very meet up. It was all very easy and natural from the start,” a friend says. They quickly arranged to see each other again, this time at Soho House in London where another of their mutual friends Markus Anderson works. Anderson arranged for them to have a discreet table at the private member’s club, and because there is a no cameras policy, the couple enjoyed a relaxed date without the worry of being photographed. Over a bottle of chilled rosé they chatted for hours confirming to Harry that he had indeed met someone special. So special in fact that he invited her to join him in Botswana several weeks later. Harry has since said of the romance that “all the stars have aligned and everything was just perfect,” and it was.
Harry and Meghan: Life, Loss, and Love is available now on Amazon.
This article originally appeared on Marie Claire.