Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are engaged

– Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have announced their engagement
– The couple will get married in spring 2018
– Meghan, 36, and Harry, 33, have been dating for over a year
– Couple give first interview following engagement
– Harry reveals how he proposed and that they met on a blind date
– Meghan says early press focus on her mixed-race background was ‘disheartening’

Prince Harry has opened up about his relationship to Meghan Markle for the first time, revealing he met the American actress on a blind date and proposed over roast chicken.

Following months of speculation, the couple confirmed they were engaged on Monday morning, saying they plan to marry in spring 2018.

In the couple’s first joint interview, Harry described the proposal as “just a standard typical night for us; trying to roast a chicken.”

Meghan said it was an instant yes from her.

The couple also spoke at length about their relationship – details of which had been closely guarded for many months.

She said they had had “five, six months of privacy” and “never went longer than two weeks without seeing each other.”

She also said she was “disheartened” at the press reaction to her mixed race background.

The pair said they were introduced by a mutual female friend in July 2016 via a blind date, but declined to reveal her name.

Harry told how they camped out under the stars in Botswana a few weeks after they met when Harry persuaded Ms Markle to join him on holiday.

“Then it was I think about three, maybe four weeks later that I managed to persuade her to come and join me in Botswana. And we, we camped out with each other under the stars, we spent, she came and joined me for five days out there, which was absolutely fantastic.”

Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle [Photo: AP]

The actress also revealed she had met the Queen a couple of times, describing her as an “incredible woman” while Harry said the monarch’s pet corgis “took to [Meghan] straight away.”

When asked whether children were on the cards, Meghan replied: “Not right now.” Prince Harry adding: “In the near future.”

Meghan’s engagement ring was designed by Harry himself and features three diamonds: one from Botswana and two from the personal collection of his late mother, Princess Diana. Harry added that he chose diamonds from Diana’s jewellery box so that she could “be with us on this crazy journey together.”

Harry said that Diana and Meghan would have been “thick as thieves” and that his mother would be “over the moon, jumping up and down” at the news.

Earlier the couple had appeared for official photos outside Kensington Palace at 2pm on Monday afternoon. The royal said he was “thrilled” to be engaged while Meghan said she was “very happy.”

When asked whether his proposal was romantic, Harry replied “of course it was,” saying that he knew Meghan was the one from the “very first time we met.”

It’s believed the pair will have a church wedding after the Archbishop of Canterbury said Harry and Meghan had “chosen to make their vows to God.”

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh said they were “delighted for the couple and wish them every happiness” while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge commented: “We are very excited for Harry and Meghan. It has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and to see how happy she and Harry are together.”

The couple will marry in spring 2018 [Photo: Getty]

Harry first met the 36-year-old divorcee in May 2016 in her hometown of Toronto while promoting the 2017 Invictus Games. They officially began dating in the summer of last year but did not publicly confirm their relationship until November.

Kensington Palace was forced to issue a statement after Meghan and her family were hounded by the press. In it, she was described as Prince Harry’s “girlfriend” of a few months.

The 33-year-old royal believed a “line had been crossed” and reminded everyone that “this is not a game – it is her life and his.”

The actress has appeared in US legal drama ‘Suits’ since 2011 [Photo: PA]

Although Meghan is primarily known for her role on US legal drama Suits, she has used her public profile to raise awareness of a number of humanitarian causes along with issues such as gender and racial equality.

According to People, Meghan was quickly introduced to Harry’s father, Prince Charles. She met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on her next visit to London in late November.

Kate was said to be “thrilled” with Harry’s romantic choice and vowed to do all she could to support Meghan as she entered a rather unique relationship.

While the headlines surrounding the couple grew, Meghan was far from private. She penned an essay for ELLE on finding the right balance between fame and philanthropy and how she will always strive for gender equality.

“With fame comes opportunity, but it also includes responsibility – to advocate and share, to focus less on glass slippers and more on pushing through glass ceilings. And, if I’m lucky enough, to inspire,” she wrote.

Things started heating up for the pair around Christmas when they were spotted together in public for the first time. Meghan and Harry were seen buying a Christmas tree in Battersea Park, leading people to believe that things were becoming serious.

In February, the first official paparazzi photos of the couple emerged. They enjoyed a date night at London’s Soho House and were pictured holding hands after an intimate dinner.

The star is set to leave her acting career behind with Prince Harry expected to take on more royal duties [Photo: PA/Rex]

Meghan began wearing jewellery with the letter ‘H’ branded on it. Whether it was a deliberate attempt to show off her new boyfriend or simple gifts from the Prince, the actress wasn’t afraid of brandishing the ring and necklace for all to see.

According to insiders, the pair were “inseparable” with Meghan spending all of her free time away from filming with the royal.

Wedding fever then began after Meghan and Harry were photographed in Jamaica at the nuptials of Harry’s close friend, Tom Inskip.

Media crews flooded Kensington Palace on Monday morning [Photo: PA]

At the end of March, rumours began flying around that the couple were planning to move in together. A source told the Daily Mail  that Harry was renovating a brand new apartment in Kensington Palace for Meghan to move into, leaving his two-bedroom bachelor pad behind.

The star’s inspirational lifestyle blog, The Tig, was shut down in April. Speculation that Meghan was forced to quit her blog to become fully integrated into the public family was rife.

Shortly after, Meghan’s half-sister threatened the actress with a tell-all book, saying that the truth about ‘Princess Pushy’ would “kill her relationship with Prince Harry.” Samantha Grant was criticised for cashing in on her relation’s newfound fame.

Click below to see Meghan Markle’s top red carpet looks:

As news of Pippa Middleton’s wedding emerged, the world was left wondering whether Harry would bring Meghan as his plus one. Pippa’s ‘no ring, no bring’ policy that meant only couples who were married could attend brought an end to that rumour.

However, Meghan was invited to the wedding reception held at the Middleton family home in Berkshire. Annoyingly for us, there were no photos of her at the reception – although a source said she was there wearing a backless maroon dress.

In September, Meghan spoke out about her relationship with Harry for the first time in a mega Vanity Fair interview, telling all about how the pair met and saying: “We’re a couple. We’re in love. I’m sure there will be a time when we will have to come forward and present ourselves and have stories to tell, but I hope what people will understand is that this is our time. This is for us.”

The couple’s first public appearance together came at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto where Harry performed a whole lot of PDA on the actress. Then came news that Meghan had told her TV bosses that she would not be returning to work on the eighth series of ‘Suits’ next year, prompting many to believe that the American was planning a permanent move to London.

Now, there are talks of when and where the couple will get married [Photo: Getty]

Now, all the rumours have been proven true. Last week, removal vans were reportedly spotted outside Meghan’s Toronto home with the actress spotted doing a bit of Christmas shopping on London’s King’s Road.

The couple will be living in Nottingham Cottage, Harry’s two-bedroom apartment in Kensington Palace.

Meghan is expected to join the royal family for Christmas at Sandringham. It would go against royal protocol as the Duchess of Cambridge wasn’t invited to the three-day celebrations in 2010 despite getting engaged to Prince William a month before.

We already speculated as to what Meghan will give up if she marries into the royal family. Now that she has accepted Prince Harry’s proposal, it’s only a matter of time before the acting and social media comes to a complete halt.

Her dress sense is also likely to require a revamp. The Duchess of Cambridge rarely shows off any skin with knee length dresses being her shortest style. Meghan, however, has been seen in teeny tiny shorts and ripped jeans since dating Prince Harry.

Whatever she wears, we can’t wait for the next royal wedding.

READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

00:00:15

Int: Your Royal Highness, Meghan Markle, congratulations to you both.

00:00:19

Meghan Markle: Thank you.

Int: Can we start with the proposal and the actual moment of your engagement.  When did it happen?  How did it happen?

00:00:25

Prince Harry: It happened a few weeks ago, earlier this month, here at our cottage; just a standard typical night for us.

00:00:34

Meghan Markle: Just a cosy night, it was – what we were doing just roasting chicken and having …

00:00:38

Prince Harry: Roasting a chicken, trying to roast a chicken.

Meghan Markle: Trying to roast a chicken and it just – just an amazing surprise, it was so sweet and natural and very romantic.  He got on one knee.

00:00:50

Prince Harry: Of course.

Int: Was it an instant yes from you?

00:00:52

Meghan Markle: Yes, as a matter of fact I could barely let you finish proposing, I said – can I say yes now?

00:00:56

Prince Harry: She didn’t even let me finish, she said can I say yes, can I say yes and then were was hugs and I had the ring in my finger and I was like can I – can I give you the ring?  She goes – oh yes the ring.  

00:01:04 So no it was – it was a really nice moment, it was just the two of us and I think managed to catch – catch her by surprise as well.

Meghan Markle: Yeah.

Int: And this is how long after you first met?

00:01:14

Meghan Markle: Oh it would be a year and a half, a little bit more than that?

00:01:17

Prince Harry: No just about – it would be about a year and a half yeah.

Meghan Markle: Just about that?

Int: Which for most people would be quite a whirlwind, is that how it’s felt to you?

00:01:24

Meghan Markle: I don’t think that I would call it a whirlwind in terms of our relationship, obviously there have been layers attached to how public it has become after we had a good five, six months almost with just privacy, which was amazing.  

00:01:40 But no, I think we were able to really have so much time just to connect and we never went longer than two weeks without seeing each other, even though we were obviously doing a long distance relationship.  So it’s – we made it work.

Int: How did you first meet?

00:01:56

Prince Harry: Ah yes, we first met – we were introduced actually by a mutual friend, who – we will …

00:02:02

Meghan Markle: We should protect her privacy and not reveal too much of that.

00:02:03

Prince Harry: We’ll protect her privacy yeah.  And – but it was – it was literally – it was through her and then we met once and then twice back to back two dates in London, last July.

Meghan Markle: Yes.

00:02:17

Prince Harry: The beginning of July.  And then it was I think about three, maybe four weeks later that I managed to persuade her to come and join me in Botswana.  And we – we camped out with each other under the stars, we spent – she came and joined me for five days out there, which was absolutely fantastic.

00:02:34

Meghan Markle: Just to take the – take the time to be able to go on long country walks and just talk.

00:02:41

Prince Harry: We’ve been – we’ve been all over the place.

Int: Have you met the Queen?

00:02:44

Meghan Markle: I have, yes.

Prince Harry: A couple of times.

Meghan Markle: Yes, true, a couple of times.

Int: What was that like?

00:02:48

Meghan Markle: It’s incredible, I think, you know, a) to be able to meet her through his lens, not just with his honour and respect for her as the monarch, but the love that he has for her as his grandmother, all of those layers have been so important for me so that when I met her I had such a deep understanding and of course incredible respect for being able to have that time with her.  And we’ve had a really – she’s – she’s an incredible woman.

00:03:17

Prince Harry: And the corgis took to you straight away.

Meghan Markle: That’s true.

00:03:19

Prince Harry: I’ve spent the last 33 years being barked at; this one walks in, absolutely nothing …

00:03:23

Meghan Markle: Just laying on my feet during tea, it was very sweet.

Prince Harry: … just wagging tails and I was just like argh.

Int: That has to be a good sign.  Speaking of dogs, have you brought yours to the UK?

00:03:32

Meghan Markle: Well I have two dogs that I’ve had for quite a long time, both my rescue pups.  And one is now staying with very close friends and my other little guy is – yes he’s in the UK, he’s been here for a while.

Int: Okay, let’s hope he adjusts well.

00:03:45

Meghan Markle: I think he’s doing just fine.

Int: What was it like introducing Meghan to your father and your brother?

00:03:56

Prince Harry: What was it like?  It was exciting I mean I’ve – you know I’d been seeing her for a period of time when I – literally didn’t tell anybody at all.  And then William was longing to meet her and so was Catherine, so you know being our neighbours we managed to get that in a couple of – well quite a few times now and Catherine has been absolutely …

00:04:16

Meghan Markle: She’s been wonderful.

Prince Harry: … amazing, as has William as well, you know, fantastic support.  And then my – my father as well, we had a couple of – no more than that …

Meghan Markle: We’ve had …

00:04:24

Prince Harry: … A handful of teas and meetings and all sorts of gatherings over at his place as well.  So no the family together have been absolutely, you know, a solid support and my grandparents as well have been – have been wonderful throughout this whole process and they’ve known for quite some time.  So how they – how they haven’t told anybody is – is again a miracle in itself.  But now the whole family have come together and have been a huge amount of support.

Meghan Markle: They’ve been amazing.

Int: And Meghan your parents, do you think – you know while very happy for you obviously …

Meghan Markle: Yes.

Int: … Do you think they have worried at all about the scale of what you’re getting into?

00:05:00

Meghan Markle: Well I’m sure the onset, both my parents and my close friends were concerned, because we got very quickly swept up in a media storm that, as I shared, was not part of my life before that, but they also had never seen me so happy.  And I think also once my friends – excuse me, were able to – to really meet Harry, and my mom, who we’ve spent a lot of time with, who is so much fun.

Prince Harry: Her mum’s amazing.

00:05:29

Meghan Markle: It was just – you know it was just obvious that no matter what we were being put through that it was just temporary and that we were going to be able to get through that.  So everybody was really happy.  And he’s talked to my dad a few times, hasn’t been able to meet him just yet, but it’s all been – it’s all been worth every effort.

00:05:49

Prince Harry: Yeah, yeah it’s been great.

Int: Your ring.

Meghan Markle: Oh yes.

Int: Tell us about your ring.

00:05:57

Prince Harry: The ring is – is obviously yellow gold because that’s what – her favourite and the main stone itself I sourced from Botswana and the – the little diamonds either side are from my mother’s jewellery collection to make sure that she’s with us on this – on this crazy journey together.  And …

00:06:16

Meghan Markle: It’s beautiful, and he designed it, it’s incredible.  

Prince Harry: Yeah, make sure it stays on that finger.

Meghan Markle: Of course.

Int: What does it mean to you Meghan to have those stones on your finger that once belonged to Princess Diana?

00:06:32

Meghan Markle: I think everything about Harry’s thoughtfulness is – and the inclusion of that and obviously not being able to meet his mom it’s so important to me to – to know that she’s a part of this with us.  And I think in being able to meet his aunts and – and also like Julia and just different people who were so important to his mom, I’m able to, in some way, know a part of her through them and of course through him.  And it’s – it’s incredibly special.  And you know to be able to have this which sort of links where you come from and Botswana which is important to us and it’s – it’s perfect.

Int: What do you think your mother would have thought of Meghan, or said about Meghan?

00:07:18

Prince Harry: Oh they’d be thick as thieves, without question, I think she would be over the moon, jumping up and down, you know so excited for me, but then, as I said, would have probably been best friends – best friends with Meghan.  

00:07:31 So no it’s – you know it is days like – days like today when – when I really miss having her around and miss being able to share the happy news.  But you know with the ring and with everything else that’s going on I’m sure she’s …

Meghan Markle: She’s with us.

00:07:43

Prince Harry: I’m sure she’s with us yeah, you know, jumping up and down somewhere else.

END

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