Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have today officially announced they are engaged and will marry early next year after days of speculation.
“His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle,” it said in a statement on Monday.
The couple will appear together on national TV in the UK for the first time this evening to discuss their engagement and whirlwind relationship of 16 months.
Harry, 33, who revealed a year ago he had fallen for the actress after a four to six month secret relationship, proposed to Meghan, 36, in London earlier this month, a statement from Harry’s father Prince Charles revealed.
Royal protocol dictated that fifth in line to the throne Harry had to ask his grandmother the Queen for permission to marry and she agreed in the month where she celebrated her own 70th wedding anniversary.
In a statement Her Majesty and Prince Philip said they are ‘delighted for the couple and wish them every happiness’.
Harry’s brother and sister-in-law, Prince William and Kate, 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.”
Harry and his American fiancee, who divorced her first husband in 2013, will move into Nottingham Cottage in the grounds of Kensington Palace next door to his brother William and sister-in-law Kate.
Their father Prince Charles said he was ‘thrilled’ and ‘very happy indeed’ for them.
Harry also asked Meghan’s parents Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, who divorced when their daughter was six, for her hand in marriage before popping the question a few weeks ago, it emerged today.
They said: ‘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’.
Harry and Meghan have not said where they will marry but most senior royals marry at Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral or the chapel at Windsor Castle. Sources have said it is likely to be a church wedding.
But they are likely to wait until Prince William and Kate have their third child, which is due in April.
The couple, who have been dating since the summer of 2016, secretly got engaged earlier this month.
Harry first confirmed his relationship with Ms Markle in November 2016, in a statement from Kensington Palace attacking the media for subjecting her to a “wave of abuse and HARRASMENT”.
That statement said the couple were “a few months into a relationship” and it was “not right” that Ms Markle should receive such treatment.
They were seen together at the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games, an international sporting event set up by the prince for injured soldiers.
Earlier that month, the actress spoke about her love for Harry for the first time – telling Vanity Fair magazine: “We’re two people who are really happy and in love”.
She said the pair were enjoying a “special” time together, adding: “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.”