Just days after a spokesperson for the royal family indicated that they’d had it with constant inquiries about Prince Harry’s love life, he and American actress Meghan Markle announced their engagement.
“His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms. Meghan Markle,” read a statement from Clarence House. “The wedding will take place in Spring 2018. Further details about the wedding day will be announced in due course.”
According to the official statement, the couple, who have been dating since July 2016, got engaged in London earlier this month. After their marriage, they will live in Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace.
Prince Harry asked Markle’s parents for their blessing, and they said in the statement that they are “incredibly happy” for the couple. “Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person,” they said. “To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents.”
The Queen has given her blessing as well, which is required by law. The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 states that up to the sixth-in-line to the throne must receive the Queen’s permission to marry. Prince Harry is currently fifth-in-line and will fall one spot when Prince William and Kate Middleton welcome their third child in the spring.
Just a few decades ago, the union between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle might have been forbidden by the royal family. Markle is biracial, she attended a Roman Catholic school, and she’s divorced from film producer Trevor Engelson. Rules on divorce have relaxed in recent years, and Harry’s father, Prince Charles, was allowed to marry another divorcée, Camilla Parker Bowles, in 2005. Before 2013, marrying a Roman Catholic disqualified a royal from the line of succession.
A few months after they started dating, Harry released a rare statement calling for an end to the “wave of abuse and harassment” that Markle had experienced. It condemned the “racial undertones of comment pieces” and “outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”
The couple has mostly kept their relationship quiet, but engagement rumors intensified after they made their first public appearance together in September at the Invictus Games. Around the same time, Markle spoke about the relationship to Vanity Fair.
“We’re in love,” she said. “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. It’s part of what makes it so special, that it’s just ours. But we’re happy. Personally, I love a great love story.”