Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's relationship timeline: from their first date to Lilibet Diana

The Duke & Duchess Of Sussex Visit Sussex
The Duke & Duchess Of Sussex Visit Sussex (Getty)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's whirlwind romance began in 2016. The couple has since revealed even more incredible details about everything from their first dates in London to their married life in California six years on, in their Netflix documentary Harry & Meghanand in Harry's memoirSpare

Prince Harry and Meghan officially stepped back from royal life in March 2020, less than two years after tying the knot. The couple initially moved to Los Angeles after spending time in Canada and have been settling into their new life in Montecito with their children, Prince Archie, four, and two-year-old Princess Lilibet.

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HELLO! takes a look back at Harry and Meghan's royal romance from the very start - which only began in 2016 when the couple were introduced by a mutual friend. A year later, their engagement was announced. Read on for the month-by-month timeline of their blossoming relationship...

July 2016 - First meeting in London

Harry and Meghan first met at Soho House's Dean Street Townhouse London in summer of 2016 after being set up by a mutual friend after Harry saw Meghan in one of their Instagram posts. The Prince recalls the moment he first laid eyes on his future wife in their Netflix docuseries.

Harry confirmed in his book that it was the couple's mutual friend, Violet von Westenholz, who put him in touch with then-Suits star Meghan.

meghan and harry walking on a windy day outside being escorted by man wearing uniform
Meghan and Harry first met in summer 2016 (Getty)

The pair began exchanging messages and set up a first date at Soho House at 76 Dean Street while Meghan was in town to watch the Wimbledon tournament.

August 2016 - Botswana for the third date

a mid shot of harry and meghan seated next to each other on a sofa smiling at someone positioned off camera
The couple spoke about their time in Botswana during their engagement interview (Alamy)

For their third date, Harry whisked Meghan away to Botswana, where the pair camped under the stars. The couple later returned to Botswana for Meghan's birthday the following year.

October 2016 - Royal rumours

In late October, news broke that Prince Harry had a new girlfriend. The Sunday Express was first to report that the sixth-in-line to the throne had found love with Suits actress Meghan. In November 2016, romance rumours intensified after Harry was spotted celebrating Halloween with his Toronto-based love at the city's Soho House. Apart from attending the spooky bash, the couple reportedly spent the majority of the time at Meghan's plush apartment, away from the media glare.

harry and meghan wear similar double breasted navy coats as they walk past crowds outside during the day
The couple pictured just days after announcing their engagement (Getty)

On 8 November, the couple's relationship was made official when Harry issued a lengthy appeal to the media on behalf of his girlfriend. In the rare statement made in response to the harassment, "sexism and racism" Meghan had received, Harry asked for privacy. In the heartfelt post, he acknowledged that there is "significant curiosity about his private life" but appealed to fair-minded people to respect Meghan's privacy. He said he was also "worried" and "deeply disappointed" that he had not been able to protect the Toronto-based actress.

A few weeks later, Meghan was spotted shopping at Whole Foods supermarket on Kensington High Street, confirming rumours that she was visiting Harry and staying at his nearby Kensington Palace home. Their transatlantic relationship was in full force.

December 2016 - First official photos

Meghan had wrapped up filming Suits, but couldn't meet her Prince as he was on a two-week tour of the Caribbean. Harry's tour commitments finished in early December, when he reportedly took a detour to spend precious time with Meghan in Toronto, instead of flying straight home. The Prince travelled 1,700 miles out of his way.

A couple of weeks later, they were reunited when Meghan flew to London. Keeping a low profile, Harry and Meghan went shopping for a Christmas tree at Pines and Needles in Battersea. "They came in at about 8.30pm last night," a spokesperson for the shop told HELLO! . "Prince Harry was with Meghan and hilariously the staff only recognised Meghan at first – they were so excited to have the girl from Suits there. It wasn't particularly cold but they were gloved and hatted out."

A couple of days later, Harry and Meghan were pictured enjoying a night at the theatre at The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.

January 2017 - Romantic time in Norway

Harry and Meghan kicked off the New Year with a romantic getaway to Norway. The pair holidayed in the town of Tromso, staying in a luxurious, secluded cabin. Shortly after, Harry is said to have introduced Meghan to his sister-in-law, Princess Kate.

February 2017 - Soho, London

obscured by a car we see the back of a dark haired womans head and a red haired man kissing
Harry and Meghan snatched a kiss at the polo in May 2017 (Rex)

A week before their first Valentine's Day as a couple, Harry and Meghan were spotted holding hands as they left London's Soho House. The couple were reportedly in their own little world as they dined at the private member's club before retiring to the Prince's home at Kensington Palace.

March 2017 - Montego Bay, Jamaica

Keen to introduce Meghan to more of his friends, Harry brought his actress love as his plus one to a friend's wedding in Jamaica. The couple were spotted leaving the church, before heading to the reception at a nearby hotel. Meghan then returned to Toronto where filming for Suits resumed.

May 2017 - Ascot and Pippa Middleton's wedding

The actress was back in the UK a couple of months later and caused quite a stir when she attended a high-profile polo match in Ascot to watch her boyfriend compete. Meghan could be seen applauding Harry from the royal box, and was later pictured kissing her beau after the charity game. Meghan's attendance at the high-society affair as a royal girlfriend was a sure sign that an engagement was on the cards.

Meghan Markle in a denim outfit applauding
Meghan was seen supporting her boyfriend at a polo event (Samir Hussein)

Pippa Middleton's wedding on 19 May was another important outing for the couple. Though she was not invited to the church ceremony, Meghan joined her boyfriend at the more private reception held at the Middleton family home.

August 2017 - Romantic holiday in Africa

Harry and Meghan looked the picture of happiness as they arrived in Africa to celebrate Meghan's 36th birthday. The royal and the actress were photographed walking together from a plane, with Harry lovingly placing his arm around his girlfriend. Harry took his girlfriend to the Meno a Kwena camp in Botswana – a place that he has visited on several occasions since his first stay 20 years ago. A source at the time said: "Harry has been planning this holiday for a long time. He's made the trip incredibly romantic. They'll go on boats across the lake, walk in the bush at dawn and camp under the stars."

September 2017 - Vanity Fair interview

Meghan spoke openly about her relationship with Harry for the first time in an interview with Vanity Fair. The Suits actress, who had been dating the Prince for over a year at this point, told the magazine that the couple are "very happy and in love".

meghan and harry dressed casually in jeans and shades in the front row of a spots match
The couple made their official debut at the Invictus Games (Getty)

"I can tell you that at the end of the day I think it's really simple," she said. "We're two people who are really happy and in love. 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. 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."

Later that month, Harry and Meghan made their official debut as a couple at the royal's Invictus Games, which were held in Toronto. Meghan attended the opening ceremony but was seated a section away from her royal boyfriend. At the closing ceremony at the end of the week, Harry briefly left his VIP box to hang out with Meghan, her mum, and her friends Jessica Mulroney and Markus Anderson in the luxury Air Canada box. The couple also attended the wheelchair tennis together.

During his stay in Toronto, Harry surprised his girlfriend on the set of Suits. "He was super low-key, met some crew and was so happy to watch his lady," a source told HELLO!. "He's incredibly supportive of her work." The insider added: "Meghan showed him around set. Everyone was so excited."

November 2017 - The royal engagement is announced

Following their official debut, engagement rumours had reached fever pitch by November. Meghan quit Suits and moved to London, fuelling reports of a wedding announcement. The big news came on Monday 27 November, when Kensington Palace announced the couple were engaged to be married. Harry and Meghan took part in their first photocall in the palace gardens, followed by their first joint televised interview with the BBC.

harry wears a blue suit and wraps his arm around meghan who wears a white coat as they wave at cameras
They announced their engagement in November 2017 (Getty)

In the revealing interview, Harry said he proposed at home over a roast chicken dinner. Meghan revealed she had been introduced to "wonderful" Kate, while Harry had met the actress' "amazing" mum. Of his late mother Princess Diana, he said Meghan and Diana would have been "thick as thieves".

A few days later, Harry and Meghan carried out their first official engagement together – a visit to Nottingham. The Prince was keen to show his fiancée as much of the UK as possible before the wedding, and day trips to Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and Birmingham followed that winter.

December 2017 - The Queen's Christmas celebrations in Sandringham

the camera is focused on kate meghan and harrys smiling faces as they walk outside among other members of the royal family
Meghan was invited to Christmas with the royals a month later (Getty)

While most royal partners are not invited to join the Queen's Christmas celebrations in Sandringham, Meghan was an exception. She joined the royal family at church on Christmas Day, making her first official outing with Prince William and Kate.

February 2018 - Royal Foundation Forum

Prince William, Kate, Prince Harry and Meghan carried out their first official engagement together in February 2018. The Fantastic Four attended the Royal Foundation Forum in central London.

harry meghan kate who is heavily pregnant and william sit side by side in chairs on a stage
Harry, Meghan, Kate and William were once dubbed the 'Fab Four' (Getty)

It was also revealed that Meghan would be joining the foundation as its fourth patron after the wedding. The actress had also been making private visits to hospitals and organisations to better understand the charity sector before the nuptials.

May 2018 - Royal wedding

harry wearing military uniform and meghan wearing a wedding dress and veil as they stand at an alter getting married
Harry and Meghan tied the knot in Windsor (Getty)

The couple tied the knot in a fairytale wedding at St George's Chapel on 19 May 2018, with the beautiful royal bride wearing a satin boat neck gown designed by Clare Waight Keller of Givenchy, with Queen Mary's Diamond Bandeau tiara.

October 2018 - Baby on the way

In a very exciting announcement, Harry and Meghan revealed they were soon to become a mum and dad. Speculation had been mounting that Prince Harry's wife was indeed expecting, but the confirmation didn't come until 15 October.

a montage of three images of meghan wearing mid length dresses at varying stages of pregnancy
Meghan and Harry continued their public engagements together

The baby news was confirmed as the couple were about to kick off their Australasia autumn tour. With the secret out, Meghan was able to dress as she pleased throughout the tour, and the first hint of a baby bump was seen during her visit to Fiji.

May 2019 - Baby Archie Harrison born

And baby makes three! The happy pairpresented their newborn son to the world in a much-anticipated photocall and interview. The royal parents introduced their baby boy to press inside St George's Hall, Windsor Castle. The little bundle of joy looked adorable wrapped up in a blanket as the new parents cooed over their son.

a close up photo of baby archie wrapped in a white blanket and hat with meghan and harrys hands touching him
The couple welcomed their first child Archie in May 2019 (Getty)

The following year, Meghanrevealed how she and Harry had supported each other through a devastating miscarriage in July 2020 in a candid open letter in the New York Times.

June 2021 - Baby Lilibet Diana born

one year old lilibet sits on grass wearing a light blue dress and matching bow in her hair
Lilibet Diana is their second child (Instagram)

Harry and Meghan's daughter Lilibet Diana was born on 4 June 2021, in the US at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Unlike with baby Archie, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle decided to find out if they were having a boy or girl when Meghan was carrying Lilibet. So, they may have had the sweet name in mind for a while ahead of her arrival.

The couple is now a family of four, living in Montecito, California where they love feeding their chickens and discovering delightful new hobbies.

September 2022 - Supporting each other through the Queen's death

Harry and Meghan had returned to the United Kingdom in September 2022 for the WellChild Awards, however, their visit coincided with the death of Harry's grandmother, the late Queen. The couple supported each other through the difficult time and Meghan was seen holding her husband's hand during some of the emotional moments of the state funeral.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle walking hand-in-hand
Meghan supported Harry following the death of his grandmother (WPA Pool)

Speaking to Variety, Meghan revealed how "proud" she was to be able to offer her support to her husband through the trying time. Revealing how her family coped with the loss, the Duchess shared: "Right now, we feel energised and excited about all of the things we've been building toward. We're also focused on our foundation. So much of the work we do includes the philanthropic space."

March 2023 - Archie and Lilibet's royal titles

In a statement announcing that Lilibet had been christened at their California home, Harry and Meghan confirmed their choice to begin using their children's royal titles following Charles's accession to the throne.  The couple's children are now known as Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet of Sussex, which will be will be used in formal settings, but not in everyday conversational use.

April 2023 - Date nights

Meghan Markle whispering into Prince Harry's ear as they sit in a crowd
The couple enjoyed a date night in March 2023 (Allen Berezovsky)

Despite having a young family back at home, Harry and Meghan are still able to enjoy private date nights with one another. In April 2023, the pair were spotted in the crowd during a basketball match between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies. The couple opted for casual ensembles for their night on the town with Harry in a shirt and jeans, while Meghan styled out a pink outfit.

May 2023 - Car chase

On 16 May 2023, Meghan accepted an award at the Ms. Foundation for Women's annual gala, but following the event, the couple, who had been joined by Meghan's mum, Doria Ragland, alleged they were involved in a "near-catastrophic" car chase.

Prince Harry walking with Meghan Markle and security
The couple experienced a dramatic moment in May 2023 (James Devaney)

In a statement, the couple's spokesperson said: "Last night, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Ms. Ragland were involved in a near catastrophic car chase at the hands of a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi. This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers. While being a public figure comes with a level of interest from the public, it should never come at the cost of anyone's safety."

February 2024 - Valentine's trip to Canada

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in wintery clothing
Harry and Meghan made a Valentine's trip to Canada (Karwai Tang)

The Invictus Games will always be a special place for Harry and Meghan, with the pair making their public debut there and ahead of the 2025 Games, they headed out to see preparations in Whistler, Canada, and even got involved in the festivities. The Duke ended up trying skeleton racing and he was cheered on by his wife as he reached the end of the track.

May 2024 - Nigeria visit

Following a whistlestop visit to the UK, Harry reunited with wife Meghan as they undertook their first tour since stepping down from royal duties. The couple headed to Nigeria, a country that held a special place in the Duchess' heart, as in 2022 she discovered her Nigerian heritage.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry wholding hands in Nigeria
The couple had a tour of Nigeria in May 2024 (Andrew Esiebo)

During their visit, the couple attended events related to Prince Harry's Invictus Games. There was talk of bringing the Games to Nigeria to showcase the "true Nigerian competitiveness," a proposal that aligns with the country's spirited and resilient nature.