Image Source: Getty / Chris Jackson
News broke last Autumn that Prince Harry was dating Suits actress Meghan Markle, and just over a year later, the couple announced their engagement! Much has been made of their relationship (and now engagement). We've learnt when and where they met and how often they spent time together, and we also got word when Meghan was introduced to Harry's dad, Prince Charles; his brother, Prince William, and his sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge; and even Harry's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. We've rounded up everything we know about Harry and Meghan's romance so far — if you're as excited as we are about an American princess, you'll eat up these details.
How They Met
Meghan first met Prince Harry in Toronto (where Suits is filmed) while he was launching the 2017 Invictus Games back in May 2016. According to Us Weekly, "They had gotten on when they first met, but it was just as friends" but then "developed romantic interests in each other and, before you knew it, they were texting every day." By the end of the month, Meghan began following Harry's private Instagram account.
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Their Low-Key London Dates
Meghan and Harry went on a few dates at the Soho House in London with a group of friends. They were also spotted out and about together in the city; in early December 2016, they were seen picking out a Christmas tree at the Pines and Needles outdoor market, and the following week we finally got a glimpse of them together as they were photographed leaving a production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Gielgud Theatre.
Meghan became "a regular visitor" at Harry's home in Kensington Palace during the Summer, and the then-32-year-old royal was also "hanging out" at Meghan's Toronto apartment. During breaks in her Suits filming schedule, Meghan made the journey to London for stays at Harry's Nottingham Cottage home (where they will now live as an engaged couple).
In early December 2016, Harry wrapped up his 14-day tour of the Caribbean, but instead of heading home to Britain with his staff, he made a secret detour to Canada to visit Meghan. Harry reportedly "just couldn't wait to see her," so he ditched his entourage for the rendezvous.
Meghan and Harry bonded over their philanthropic efforts, as both the actress and the prince have done extensive charity work around the globe and especially in and around Africa. Harry has carried on his late mother's legacy by working to raise funds and awareness for HIV/AIDS in the tiny South African kingdom of Lesotho, while Meghan has made a handful of trips to Rwanda as an ambassador for organisations like UN Women and World Vision. They also share a love of animals. "Harry loves that she is so into philanthropy," a source said. "One of the first things they spoke about was all the work she does with shelter animals. He loves that she's so caring."
Making a Statement With Jewellery
Days after news of their romance broke, eagle-eyed social media users noticed that Meghan was wearing a bright beaded bracelet identical to Harry's in one of her recent Instagram snaps; the photo was originally taken during a stay at the Soho Farmhouse in the Oxfordshire countryside. Harry reportedly got the bracelet during a trip to Africa and has been photographed sporting it since March. Meghan has also been spotted wearing a delicate gold necklace with the letters "H" and "M" on it, as well as a dainty gold ring with Harry's initial.
Taking a Stand
In early November 2016, Harry released a statement via the Kensington Palace Twitter account to urge the public to respect Meghan's privacy in the wake of many UK outlets making racist and sexist comments about the actress. The prince alluded to "nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of the papers," along with incessant harassment of Meghan, her family, friends, and even ex-boyfriends. "This is not a game," the statement read. "It is her life and his."
A source close to the prince revealed late last year that Harry had wedding bells on the brain. "It wouldn't surprise me if he's already thinking about an engagement just because that's where his head goes, but that's not where the relationship is at right now," they told E! News. "This is totally Harry. The problem with Harry is when he falls, he falls hard. He goes in big time." And while she didn't mention Harry by name, it appeared that the feelings were mutual for Meghan, who, during an interview with a Canadian newspaper, said, "My cup runneth over and I'm the luckiest girl in the world." In addition to being invited to honeymoon in Antigua and Barbuda by the prime minister during Harry's Caribbean tour in November 2016, a source told E! News that the prince had found "the one." "Harry is more serious [about Meghan] than he ever has been about a woman before," the source said, referencing his past girlfriends.
Meeting the Royal Family
In October 2016, it was reported that Harry was so "besotted" with Meghan that he introduced her to his father, Prince Charles. Apparently they met when Meghan visited the family's Balmoral estate for a shooting party as part of Harry's 32nd birthday back in September 2016. She must have gotten the seal of approval, because that November Harry introduced Meghan to brother Prince William. Us Weekly reports that they "got on fabulously," and that "William is very happy for his brother." Around that same time, the magazine revealed "Kate is really keen to see what Meghan is all about," and in January 2017, it was reported that Meghan and the Duchess of Cambridge finally came face to face. She also got to meet Princess Charlotte! An insider revealed that the meeting "went well," adding, "Meghan's so happy she's getting to know more of Harry's nearest and dearest." Meghan bought the duchess a leather-bound Smythson notebook, as her birthday was the day before.
In August 2017, Harry's cousin-in-law Mike Tindall gave an interview about the couple's relationship, saying that despite the "nerve-racking" experience of dating a royal, Meghan "has been under enough scrutiny and pressure in her day-to-day life, so I'm sure she will get through it. She will be fine." He expressed excitement in one day meeting Meghan, adding, "As long as they are both happy, that's all that you can ask for. She'll do absolutely fine."
Shortly after their three-week holiday in Botswana and Zambia in August, the famous royal flew Meghan to Scotland to meet Queen Elizabeth II. After visiting with his dad, Prince Charles, and stepmother, Camilla, at Birkhall (their estate in Aberdeenshire), the duo headed over to the Queen's Summer residence, Balmoral Castle, about seven miles away. In October, Harry and Meghan went to Buckingham Palace for an hour-long, private tea party with the Queen.
Image Source: Getty / Chris Jackso
The Wedding Date
One of the couple's major milestones happened in early March 2017, when Harry brought Meghan as his date to the wedding of his best friend, Tom "Skippy" Inskip, in Jamaica. The two showed sweet PDA, cuddling at their table and holding hands, and at one point Harry even "busted out with some dance moves" and "Meghan looked on adoringly at him." They attended another big wedding together a couple of months later — well, sort of. In May, the Duchess of Cambridge's sister, Pippa, married James Matthews in England, and though it was initially reported that Pippa had bent the rules to allow the unmarried couple to attend, we didn't see Meghan there at all.
The actress allegedly skipped the ceremony as part of royal protocol; since Pippa's wedding was not technically a royal event, it's against royal customs for members of the royal family to upstage proceedings, and it was believed that Meghan's being there would have distracted from Pippa and James's wedding. Meghan reportedly stayed in London during the church service, after which Harry picked her up and brought her to the reception at the Middleton family home in Bucklebury. According to The Telegraph, Meghan wore a maroon backless gown but didn't even get to sit with Harry — Pippa's strict seating arrangement didn't allow for couples to sit together.
Out of Africa
Image Source: Getty / Samir Hussein
Making Things Official
Over a year after they began dating, Meghan finally opened up about her relationship with a gushy interview in the October 2017 issue of Vanity Fair. "We're two people who are really happy and in love," she told the magazine. "We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news, and I was working during that whole time, and the only thing that changed was people's perception. Nothing about me changed. I'm still the same person that I am, and I've never defined myself by my relationship."
When Prince Harry hosted the annual Invictus Games in Toronto in Sept. 2017, he arrived hand in hand with Meghan, marking the first time they attended a public event together as a couple. During the event's closing ceremony, Harry was spotted planting a sweet kiss on Meghan as they watched the festivities with her mother, Doria Ragland, who he is said to have visited in LA over the Summer.
Just two months after their first public appearance, Harry and Meghan officially announced their engagement. Hours later, the happy couple stepped out for a gorgeous photocall at the Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace to mark the occasion. Meghan, dressed in a white coat, held tight to her fiancé as she flashed her engagement ring to the crowd, while Harry couldn't keep his eyes off his beautiful bride-to-be. When asked by a reporter when he knew that Meghan was "the one," the prince replied, "The very first time we met."
Image Source: Getty / Samir Hussein