Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are engaged

Karwai Tang/Getty Images(LONDON) — Prince Harry, fifth in line to the British throne, is engaged to American actress Meghan Markle, Kensington Palace announced Monday.

“His Royal Highness 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. Further details about the wedding day will be announced in due course,” a statement released Monday by Kensington Palace read.

“His Royal Highness and Ms. Markle became engaged in London earlier this month. Prince Harry has informed Her Majesty The Queen and other close members of his family. Prince Harry has also sought and received the blessing of Ms. Markle’s parents,” the statement added. “The couple will live in Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace.”

Harry had to obtain permission from his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, in order to propose to Markle. According to the Perth Agreement of 2011, the first six persons in line to the throne need the sovereign’s permission to marry.

The Kensington Palace issued a statement on behalf of Markle’s parents, Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, who wished the couple “a lifetime of happiness.”

“Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person. To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents,” the statement said. “We wish them a lifetime of happiness and are very excited for their future together.”

Markle is also a divorcée whose first marriage, to film producer Trevor Engelson, ended in 2013. She will become the first bi-racial princess in the British royal family.

Harry’s marriage to Markle will mean that both children of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana are wed. William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, married in 2011 at Westminster Abbey.

Harry and Markle could possibly take the title of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex or the Duke and Duchess of Buckingham upon marriage. Queen Elizabeth would make the designation, as she did with giving the titles of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to William and Kate.

‘We’re two people who are really happy and in love’

Markle first publicly declared her love for Harry when she appeared on the October issue of Vanity Fair magazine.

“I can tell you that at the end of the day, I think it’s really simple,” Markle, who starred on the TV show “Suits” while dating Harry, told the magazine. “We’re two people who are really happy and in love.”

After Markle decided to shut down her lifestyle blog, The Tig, and discontinue her clothing line with a Canadian retail chain last spring, royal watchers began to speculate that her relationship with Harry had become serious. Markle, who had been extremely active on social media, also scaled back her presence online.

Markle, a Northwestern University graduate, is a humanitarian ambassador for the charity World Vision. Her shared interest in charitable endeavors with Harry, who is called “the prince of hearts” for his humanitarian work, reportedly helped the couple bond and fall in love.

Markle’s and Harry’s relationship was officially confirmed by Kensington Palace in November 2016 when the palace issued an unprecedented statement that Harry would not tolerate “harassment and abuse” of Markle.

Of the coverage of Markle, Kensington Palace wrote, “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.”

Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, a Los Angeles-based social worker and yoga instructor, is African-American. Her father, Thomas Markle, an Emmy Award-winning lighting director, is white.

A royal love story

The couple met through mutual friends at Soho House in London in July 2016 and quickly became inseparable, spending time both at Harry’s Nottingham cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace and in Toronto, where “Suits” is filmed.

Harry and Markle were photographed for the first time together in December 2016 on their way to see a play in London’s West End. They traveled to Norway in early 2017 to see the Northern Lights and to Jamaica in March 2017 for the wedding of Tom Inskip, a friend of Harry’s from his school days at Eton.

Markle was Harry’s date to Pippa Middleton’s and James Matthews’ May 2017 wedding reception at the Bucklebury home of Middleton’s parents, Carole and Michael Middleton. That invitation was particularly notable because it marked the first time Harry invited Markle to join him at an event with William and Kate and their two children, Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2.

In August 2017, the couple traveled to Africa together on a three-week holiday to celebrate Markle’s 36th birthday in Botswana before a romantic visit to Victoria Falls.

Markle made her first official appearance at a royal engagement as Harry’s girlfriend in September when she sat a few rows away from Harry at the opening ceremony for the Invictus Games, a Paralympic-style competition founded by Harry for wounded service members.

Harry and Markle also held hands at an Invictus wheelchair tennis competition, marking a carefully choreographed public coming out for the couple.

Markle’s mother joined the couple at the Invictus Games’ closing ceremony. Royal watchers pointed to the inclusion of Markle’s mother at such a high-profile event as a sign that an engagement was no longer a matter of if but when.

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