For months, Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle's increasingly serious romance sparked whispers about wedding bells. But in November 2017, the rumor mill ground to a halt as Clarence House announced that Harry had popped the question to his girlfriend of nearly 17 months. Now that the couple have tied the knot, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at how Harry and Meghan's love story unfolded. Keep reading to get the scoop…
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Once word was out that Prince Harry might be off the market, everyone wanted to know how he and the American actress met! In November 2016, stories speculated that Harry and Meghan Markle were introduced via Misha Nonoo, the fashion designer wife of one of his old Etonian school friends, Alexander Gilkes. Misha and Meghan had been close pals before Misha reportedly played matchmaker during the summer of 2016. But after Harry and Meghan's engagement announcement, fresh reports claimed the secret matchmaker was actually Violet von Westenholz, a member of Harry's friend circle whose father, a baron, is close to his dad, Prince Charles. Violet had met Meghan through her work doing public relationships for Ralph Lauren, E! News reported, and set the two up in the summer of 2016 thinking they'd hit it off.
Just a few weeks after they fell for one another during two back-to-back dates in London in early July 2016, Meghan Markle joined Prince Harry on a secret trip to Africa, he revealed more than a year later in their official engagement interview. "I think about three, maybe four weeks later that I managed to persuade her to come and join me in Botswana. And we camped out with each other under the stars… she came and joined me for five days out there, which was absolutely fantastic," Harry said. "So then we were really by ourselves. Which I think… was crucial to me to make sure we had a chance to get to know each other."
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At the same time speculation that Meghan Markle was dating England's most eligible bachelor was fueling headlines, Meghan was hard at work promoting her latest venture — a capsule collection for Reitmans, a popular Canadian brand. While outlets in Canada tried to get the scoop on her new beau in November 2016, Meghan remained coy, though she did have a cute quote for the Vancouver Sun while speaking about her busy schedule, calling herself "the luckiest girl in the world."
Prince Harry made things official on Nov. 8 when he took a chivalrous and unprecedented stand to support his new girlfriend. The royal released a statement via his communications secretary condemning abuse directed at his new love. "The past week has seen a line crossed. His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public — the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments. Some of it has been hidden from the public — the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend; the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker, and loved one in her life," the statement read. It also included a personal appeal, asking readers to respect their relationship: "It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm. He knows commentators will say this is 'the price she has to pay' and that 'this is all part of the game.' He strongly disagrees. This is not a game — it is her life and his."
Later in November 2016, Prince Harry made a trip to Antigua. Prime Minister Gaston Browne wasn't shy when commenting on the royal's new romance. "I believe we are expecting a new princess soon. I want you to know that you are very welcome to come on your honeymoon here… there will be nowhere in the world as special to spend your honeymoon, when that day arrives," he told a red-faced Harry.
Toward the end of November 2016, following rumors that Prince William wasn't happy with his brother's burgeoning romance, another statement was released by Kensington Palace. This time, William came forward to back (and confirm!) his brother's relationship. It read: "The Duke of Cambridge absolutely understands the situation concerning privacy and supports the need for Prince Harry to support those closest to him."
After Prince Harry wrapped up his obligations in the Caribbean, instead of heading back to London to continue his royal duties, he made a slight detour… if 1,700 miles sounds slight to you! That's right, Prince Harry made a pit stop in Toronto on the way back to London so he could spend some time with his love, Meghan Markle, in early December 2016.
It was Meghan Markle's turn to make a trip overseas next: The actress was spotted in London in mid-December 2016 picking out a Christmas tree alongside Prince Harry. At that same time, Google released its list of the most searched stars — with Meghan emerging as the most searched actress in 2016.
In December 2016, Us Weekly reported that another important family member had given Meghan Markle her seal of approval. The magazine's sources claimed that Queen Elizabeth II had weighed in on Prince Harry's new lady and was "fully supportive" of the pair's relationship.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle rang in 2017 together, opting to celebrate in Harry's native London. From there, they jetted off to Norway for a romantic vacation where they saw the Northern Lights and went whale-watching.
Future sister-in-laws? In January 2017, Prince Harry introduced Meghan Markle to more of the family, this time arranging a meeting with his sister-in-law, Duchess Kate. A source shared with Us Weekly that the meeting between the two women "went well" and took place at Kensington Palace.
By late January 2017, rumors were swirling that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were essentially living together in his Kensington Palace cottage while Meghan was on a break from shooting "Suits." The couple were spotted holding hands at London's Soho House, where they reportedly had their first date back in the summer of 2016. And since "Suits" filming didn't resume until March, the two were free to spend their first Valentine's Day together that February.
Making things seem even more official, Prince Harry brought Meghan Markle along as his plus-one to his friend Tom Inskip's wedding in March 2017. The two flew to Montego Bay, Jamaica, to celebrate the newlyweds. Harry served as an usher and Meghan was a picture-perfect wedding guest in a long floral dress. The couple were caught by paparazzi showing off plenty of PDA at the event.
In April 2017, Meghan Markle announced that she would be shutting down her lifestyle website, The Tig, after three years of publishing. Meghan wrote a personal note on Instagram explaining the site's closure. "What began as a passion project (my little engine that could) evolved into an amazing community of inspiration, support, fun and frivolity. You've made my days brighter and filled this experience with so much joy. Keep finding those Tig moments of discovery, keep laughing and taking risks, and keep being 'the change you wish to see in the world,'" Meghan wrote, to the disappointment of her fans. The move sparked speculation that she did it because she and Harry were getting more serious — and a future royal wife wouldn't be allowed to run such a website.
Prince Harry flew across the pond to join Meghan Markle for Easter in April 2017. E! News cameras caught the royal arriving at her home with a duffel bag as he attempted to obscure his identity by wearing a baseball cap. That same week, TMZ ran a picture of Meghan wearing a ring emblazoned with the letter "H" on her left index finger. It seemed that things were really heating up.
Their first public appearance and first public kiss! May 2017 was a big month for the famous couple, as they attended the Audi Polo Challenge on May 7. Prince Harry participated in the polo match while Meghan Markle cheered from the sidelines. Afterward, the two shared a parking lot kiss that was caught by paparazzi.
Meghan Markle's love life became the main attraction during a "Suits" script reading as part of the 2017 ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas, in June 2017. Though she was asked about her relationship with Prince Harry, the actress only smiled in response to those questions and kept things focused on the show.
For Meghan Markle's 36th birthday, Prince Harry whisked his lady love off on a safari-filled vacation in Africa. There's been a lot of speculation that this was the turning point for the private couple and would lead to an engagement. Around the same time, it was reported that Meghan planned to quit her show, "Suits," to make room for a new royal life. "Meghan knows she can't really act at the same time as being a princess and is happy to make this career sacrifice," a royals source told the Daily Star.
While Prince Harry was in Toronto to support his beloved Invictus Games, Meghan Markle — who was still shooting "Suits" in the Canadian city — joined him. They made their official public debut as a couple at an Invictus event in September 2017. The two were spotted happily watching matches, holding hands and sharing a few respectful moments of PDA.
The same week Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made a public appearance together at an Invictus Games match, they were seen hanging out publicly with her mom, social worker and yoga instructor Doria Ragland, in a private box at the Invictus Games' closing ceremonies on Sept. 30, 2017. Harry, who was affectionate with Meghan, also appeared perfectly at ease with Doria, sparking speculation that she might soon become his mother-in-law.
After dodging paparazzi and avoiding reporters' romance questions for months, Meghan Markle appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in September 2017 and publicly discussed her relationship with Prince Harry for the first time. She acknowledged that the public interest in their love life "has its challenges," but said she had the support of those close to her, including her boyfriend. "We're a couple," she said. "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."
First comes love, then comes marriage! Clarence House announced the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Nov. 27, 2017, via Twitter: "The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms. Meghan Markle. The wedding will take place in spring 2018." The statement further noted that the couple "became engaged earlier this month," that the queen and Meghan's parents had all given their blessing and that the couple planned to live in Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace in London.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle held their official engagement photocall at the Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace in London on Nov. 27, 2017, just hours after their exciting betrothal news was shared with the world via Twitter. It's where Meghan showed off her beautiful ring — featuring a diamond from Botswana as well as two stones from Princess Diana's personal jewelry collection — for the first time.
Just days after their engagement was announced, Meghan Markle joined Prince Harry at the Terrence Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair in Nottingham, England. The event marked the very first time they'd carried out an official royal engagement together.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle looked like a picture-perfect couple in their official engagement photos. The charming couple released the pictures, taken by fashion photographer Alexi Lubomirski — who was later announced as their wedding photographer — at Frogmore House at Windsor Castle on Dec. 21, 2017. Meghan sparkled in a Ralph & Russo couture gown featuring a beaded and embroidered sheer bodice.
Christmas Day brought another big milestone for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. The couple joined other members of the royal family for Christmas Day church services near the queen's Sandringham estate in rural Norfolk, England. It marked the first time someone who had yet to marry into the royal family had been invited to take part in the family celebrations. (Even Duchess Kate had to wait until she and Prince William were wed before she was invited!)
Meghan Markle took another big step toward being a royal in January 2018: She deleted all of her social media accounts. The former actress had been slowly stepping away from social media ever since she was publicly linked to Prince Harry and, at the time of the deletion, hadn't posted anything to her Instagram or Twitter accounts since April 2017.
Meghan Markle joined fiance Prince Harry, future sister-in-law Duchess Kate and future brother-in-law Prince William at the first annual Royal Foundation Forum in London on Feb. 28, 2018, where they spoke about their future plans for public service and bringing Meghan into the fold. The forum was the first time both couples — dubbed the "Fab Four" by British media — appeared together at an official royal engagement (not counting Christmas services).
In preparation for her wedding, Meghan Markle was baptized and confirmed as a member of the Church of England in a private ceremony in March 2018. Considering that Queen Elizabeth II is the head of the church, it's only fitting that Meghan would accept the monarch's faith as her own. Her future sister-in-law, Duchess Kate, was also confirmed in the Anglican church (she'd already been baptized as a baby) prior to her nuptials in 2011.
Meghan Markle joined Prince Harry and other members of the royal family — including Queen Elizabeth II — at the Commonwealth Day observance service at Westminster Abbey in London on March 12, 2018. The event was the first official engagement Meghan attended with the monarch and she fit in flawlessly. The American actress even reportedly knew all the words to "God Save the Queen."
Anticipation continued to build for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding day — especially when they started trickling out details about their May 19, 2018, nuptials at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. In March, they announced their choice of wedding cake flavor (lemon elderberry) and its baker (American pastry chef Claire Ptak, who owns London's Violet Bakery). They also shared that they'd sent out 600 invitations for the ceremony and daytime reception to be hosted by the queen. In April, they revealed the name of their wedding photographer (Alexi Lubomirski) and identified the many musicians — including a cello soloist and a gospel choir — who would be performing on their big day.
Their big day finally arrived on May 19 in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle! Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — now known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — married each other in front of 600 guests and millions more on TV. Following the wedding ceremony, Prince Harry and his bride took a carriage ride through the town before the rest of their wedding festivities continued.