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Prince Harry, Meghan Markle engaged! Here’s how they met and fell in love

Prince Harry and Suits actor Meghan Markle are now engaged and will tie the knot in Spring 2018. Here’s an account of their romance.

tv Updated: Nov 27, 2017 17:34 IST
Associated Press
Meghan Markle,Prince Harry,Engagement
Britain's Prince Harry will marry his US actor girlfriend Meghan Markle early next year after the couple became engaged earlier this month, Clarence House announced on November 27, 2017.(AFP)

Actor, humanitarian campaigner, lifestyle blogger — and, next spring, a princess. Palace officials announced Monday that Prince Harry is engaged to Meghan Markle, confirming months of rumors that the couple was close to tying the knot.

In some ways, Markle — a mixed-race American raised in California, an outspoken full-time actress, and a divorcee — makes a surprising addition to Britain’s monarchy. She is best known as the feisty Rachel in the show, Suits.

But the institution has moved on with the times, and the romance between Markle and Harry — who has repeatedly stressed his wish to lead as “normal” a life as he could — has a decidedly unstuffy, modern feel to it.

Professing her love

Markle, best known for her role as an ambitious paralegal in the hit U.S. legal drama Suits, surprised many when she shared her feelings for Harry in a September cover story for Vanity Fair. Asked about the media frenzy surrounding their courtship, the 36-year-old said: “At the end of the day I think it’s really simple ... we’re two people who are really happy and in love.”

This handout issued by Clarence House on Monday Nov. 27, 2017, shows the letter announcing the engagement between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. They will marry in the spring. (Clarence House via AP) (AP)

Describing Harry as her “boyfriend,” Markle said that while she expected that she and Harry would have to “come forward” about their relationship at some point, the two were just a couple enjoying time spent with each other.

“Personally, I love a great love story,” she said.

Harry — once known for his “bad boy” antics, including being photographed playing strip billiards in Las Vegas — has largely won over the British public with his winning smile, his military career and his devotion to charities aimed at helping disabled veterans and other causes.

The 33-year-old prince recently won praise with his work campaigning for more openness about mental health issues. Speaking candidly about his personal struggle to cope with the loss of his mother, Princess Diana, when he was only 12, he encouraged others to talk about their own problems rather than keeping them bottled up inside.

Britain's Prince Harry (R) arrives with girlfriend Meghan Markle at the wheelchair tennis event during the Invictus Games in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 25

Markle’s Vanity Fair interview broke new ground. It is unusual for a royal love interest to speak so publicly — and candidly — before becoming engaged. Harry’s past reported girlfriends all shied away from the media limelight, and his sister-in-law, formerly known as Kate Middleton, stayed silent until she and Prince William gave a formal televised interview at Buckingham Palace after their engagement became public.

But then, unlike some other “commoners” romantically linked to Britain’s royals, Markle is no stranger to media exposure and the world of show business.

Putting on Suits

The actor’s most successful role is the feisty Rachel Zane in the TV legal show Suits, now in its seventh season. Her career has included small parts on TV series including Fringe, CSI: Miami, Knight Rider and Castle, as well as movies such as Horrible Bosses. Outside of acting, Markle founded a lifestyle blog called TheTig.com (which closed down in April without explanation), and has lent her celebrity status to humanitarian causes.

(FILES) This file photo taken on September 06, 1997 shows Prince William (left) and Prince Harry (R), the sons of Diana, Princess of Wales, bowing their heads as their mother's coffin is taken out of Westminster Abbey following her funeral service. (AFP)

She has campaigned with the United Nations on gender equality, written in Time magazine about girls’ education and the stigma surrounding menstruation, and has traveled to Rwanda as global ambassador for the charity World Vision Canada. She has described how her mother took her to the slums of Jamaica to witness poverty first-hand, saying experiences like that shaped her social consciousness and charity work.

To some degree that mirrors the experience of Harry, who was also inspired by his mother’s humanitarian work and embraced the types of charities Diana favoured in the final years of her life before her 1997 death in a Paris car crash.

In this Nov. 16, 2010 file photo, Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton pose for the media at St. James's Palace in London, after they announced their engagement. (AP)

Finally some PDA

Harry and Markle held hands for their first official appearance together in September in Toronto at the Invictus Games, a sporting event for wounded service personnel that Harry spearheaded.

Both were dressed casually in jeans, smiling and chatting as they arrived for a tennis match. Several days later, Harry was photographed kissing Markle on the cheek as he joined the actor and her mother in a luxury box to watch the event’s closing ceremony.

Markle said she met Harry through friends in London in July 2016, and that they had been dating quietly for several months before the romance hit the headlines.

The media attention then became so intense that Harry took the unusual step of officially confirming the romance in order to warn the media off. In a strongly worded statement issued through the palace, the prince pleaded for reporters to stop intruding on his girlfriend’s privacy. He condemned “outright sexism and racism” in some online comments, and said some articles with “racial undertones” had crossed the line.

Challenging ‘ethnically ambiguity’

Some tabloids had alluded to Markle’s mixed-race heritage, pointing out she has an African-American mother and a white father.

Markle herself has spoken out about coming to terms with being biracial — both growing up, and in her Hollywood career.

In a March interview with Allure magazine, she said studying race at college was “the first time I could put a name to feeling too light in the black community and too mixed in the white community.

Britain's Prince Harry will marry his US actor girlfriend Meghan Markle early next year in 2018 after the couple became engaged earlier this month, Clarence House announced on November 27, 2017. (AFP)

“For castings, I was labelled ‘ethnically ambiguous’,” she said.

Markle was born Aug. 4, 1981, to a clinical therapist mother and television lighting director father. She grew up in Los Angeles, and now lives in Toronto.

She studied at a girls’ Roman Catholic high school before attending Northwestern University in Illinois, where she studied theater and international relations.

Markle married film producer Trevor Engelson in 2011, but the pair divorced two years later.

It wouldn’t be first time that a British royal has married an American — or a divorcee. In 1936, Edward VIII famously abdicated after he was forced to choose between the monarchy and his relationship with twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson.

In her Vanity Fair interview, Markle made clear the world’s attention on her romance did not faze her.

“I’m still the same person that I am, and I’ve never defined myself by my relationship,” she said. “The people who are close to me anchor me in knowing who I am. The rest is noise.”

'Fiercely independent'

Popular tabloid the Daily Mail wrote that it was "easy to see what happy-go-lucky Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have in common."

"What's less clear is...what some female members of the Royal Family will make of a fiercely independent young woman".

Beyond her role as an ambassador for the Canadian charity "World Vision Canada," which works to improve children's lives in developing countries, Markle regularly asserts the feminist beliefs she forged during her childhood in California.

"Aged 11, she forced a soap manufacturer to alter an advert after she wrote a letter to then First Lady Hillary Clinton and other high-profile figures complaining that it implied women belonged in the kitchen," wrote the BBC.

Nowadays, the actress also campaigns for women's rights alongside the UN.

In a speech she made on the 2015 International Women's Day, she urged women to make their voices heard, saying: "Women need a seat at the table, they need an invitation to be seated there, and in some cases, where this is not available, they need to create their own table".

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First Published: Nov 27, 2017 16:23 IST