Prince Harry to marry US girlfriend Meghan Markle
Britain’s Prince Harry proposed to his American actor girlfriend Meghan Markle as they prepared a roast chicken dinner at a royal residence in London, he revealed last night.
The fifth in line to the throne went down on one knee to propose to Ms Markle some 16 months after they first started dating secretly out of the public spotlight.
He told the BBC that “this beautiful woman just sort of literally tripped and fell into my life, I fell into her life".
The couple are due to marry in spring 2018 with Ms Markle set to give up her acting career to take on the responsibilities of a full-time royal.
The couple became engaged earlier this month, his father Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, said in a statement. It said 36-year-old Ms Markle has met Queen Elizabeth II, and Harry, 33, also has received the blessing of Ms Markle's parents.
Rumours had been flying about an imminent engagement announcement after Ms Markle was spotted shopping in London last week.
The US actress, best known for her role in TV legal drama "Suits", is in the process of moving to London.
According to the Clarence House statement, they will live in Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace.
The couple made a brief appearance before photographers on the grounds of the palace hours after their engagement was announced.
Harry, wearing a blue suit and tie, said he was "thrilled". A beaming Ms Markle, in a white belted coat, showed off her engagement ring to photographers, which includes two diamonds that belonged to Princess Diana.
Royal officials said Harry designed the ring himself. It features two diamonds from the collection of his late mother, who died in 1997 when Harry was 12. They flank a central diamond from Botswana.
The relationship of the former soldier and the actor has been closely followed by British media despite Harry's requests to grant them a certain amount of privacy.
Exasperated by the media frenzy, the palace released a statement last year attacking the "sexism" and "racism" that Ms Markle, who is of mixed race, faced in social media and the press.
The Queen is said to be "delighted" about the engagement.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are delighted for the couple and wish them every happiness.”
Speaking during a visit to Dorset, Prince Charles added that he was "thrilled" and "very happy indeed" for his son and Ms Markle.
Harry's brother, Prince William, also put out a statement saying he was "very excited" by the news.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said: “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.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May offered her "warmest congratulations" to the newly-engaged couple, in a tweet on Monday morning.
Congratulations also flooded in from other senior politicians, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said: "Congratulations to Harry and Meghan. I wish them well. I hope they have a great time and great fun together and having met Harry a couple of times I’m sure they are going to have a great deal of fun together."
Harry and Ms Markle made their first public appearance as a couple this September, when they were pictured holding hands at the Invictus Games in Canada.
Also in September, Ms Markle gave an interview to Vanity Fair magazine in which she revealed that the couple were “in love”, sending speculation about their relationship into overdrive.
Ms Markle said that she and Harry were “two people who are really happy” in remarks which shortened the odds on the likelihood of another royal wedding.
The actress also opened up about the couple’s early courtship, explaining that they had been together for six months before news of their relationship became common knowledge. “I was working during that whole time, and the only thing that changed was people’s perception,” she told the magazine.
“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.
“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.”
Before taking Ms Markle's hand in marriage, the prince sought and received the blessing of her parents.
Ms Markle's parents, Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, released a statement on Monday saying: “We’re incredibly happy for Meghan and Harry.
“Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person.
“To see her union with Prince Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents.
“We wish them a lifetime of happiness and are very excited for their future together.”