The romance of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry has captured the world’s attention, perhaps because it manages to be both freshly modern and steeped in tradition all at once. The royal family has never welcomed anyone quite like the activist American actress Markle, and it’s been fascinating to watch her relationship with Prince Harry breathe some new life into such an old-fashioned family.
From their first date to their storybook wedding, from their travels around the world to the exciting news of a royal baby on the way, let’s take a look at this modern regal duo’s romantic timeline.
July 2016: The First Date
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle met one fateful summer evening in 2016 when a mutual friend set them up on a date in London. Unfazed by Harry’s fame, Markle was most concerned with whether he would be kind. In the couple’s first televised interview together, Markle revealed that the only thing she asked their mutual friend was, “‘Well, is he nice?’ Cause if he wasn’t kind, it just didn’t seem like it would make sense.”
For his part, Harry said at the photo call following the couple’s engagement announcement that he knew Markle was the one for him “the very first time we met.”
Summer / Fall 2016: A Private Trip To Botswana
In the early days of their courtship, Harry wanted to find someplace far from the prying eyes of the public where he and Markle could get to know each other better. He chose someplace very far away indeed, inviting Markle on a trip to Africa where they “camped out with each other under the stars,” Harry explained in the couple’s first interview together. “We were really by ourselves, which was crucial to me to make sure we had a chance to get to know each other.”
Oct. 2016: The World Learns They Are Dating
Although the couple was still keeping their romance under wraps, a friend (or “source”) spilled the beans to the Sunday Express in late October 2016, which ran a lengthy article about the “stunning U.S. actress, model and human rights campaigner” who had reportedly stolen Prince Harry’s heart.
“Harry loves to hear about Meghan’s humanitarian work and he thinks she’s doing a fantastic job,” the chatty source explained. “She is sassy, smart and vivacious and he just adores her love of life. There is a definite meeting of minds between them as well as a physical attraction. The romance is in its early stages but it’s no exaggeration to say he’s besotted with her.”
Nov. 2016: Public Reference Of Markle As Harry’s “Girlfriend” From Kensington Palace
On Nov. 8, 2016, Kensington Palace issued a formal statement on Harry’s behalf that condemned the public’s unsavory treatment of Markle. In other words, the Palace put the internet trolls on blast via an official statement.
More specifically, the announcement stated that “[Harry’s] girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment.” Beyond the internet haters with their vile comments, the statement hinted at legal woes regarding defamatory stories, and Markle’s mother, Doria, being harassed by paparazzi.
Although it’s unfortunate that this treatment occurred, the fact remains that Harry called Markle his girlfriend in the most public and official of forums.
Dec. 2016: First Publicly Spotted Out Together
Although no sneaky photos were snapped, Markle and Harry were spotted in public together, shopping for a Christmas tree in south London. The whole event left the Christmas tree staff members in a tizzy, and they relayed every detail of the sighting to The Telegraph, from the small talk they exchanged with them to the amount Harry paid for his tree and how much he donated to charity (one pound).
One onlooker told The Telegraph, “It was a bit weird seeing Prince Harry browsing the Christmas trees. I thought he’d go for the biggest one around, but he just wanted a little six-footer.”
Feb. 2017: First Time Publicly Photographed Together
Markle and Harry couldn’t avoid the photographers when they stepped out on the town in early Feb. 2017. The couple was seen strolling hand-in-hand along a London street after dining at the members-only Soho House.
March 2017: Markle Is Harry’s Plus One To A Wedding
In one of the more “normal couple” activities in the pair’s relationship, Harry invited Markle to be his plus one at his friend Tom “Skippy” Skip’s wedding in March 2017. Markle chose a floral dress for the occasion and flew down to join Harry in Jamaica. Paparazzi photos captured the pair cozily canoodling as they enjoyed the tropical wedding festivities.
May 2017: First Public Outing
In their first public outing as a couple, Harry participated in the Audi Polo Challenge in Ascot, England, and Markle cheered on her boyfriend from the sidelines. Markle came dressed to impress in a smart navy dress and cream-colored blazer. The couple was spotted possibly partaking in some parking lot PDA after the event, much to the swooning delight of the internet.
Sept. 2017: First Official Public Appearance Together
In September 2017, the happy couple attended an event together — in full view of onlookers and photographers alike — marking the first time they truly appeared in the public eye as a couple. At the international Invictus Games in Toronto, the pair was seen holding hands while watching a wheelchair tennis event. Markle’s mother, Doria, was also in attendance and Markle made sure to spend some quality mother-daughter time with her.
Sept. 2017: Markle Openly Discusses Their Relationship In Vanity Fair
In a fall 2017 interview with Vanity Fair, Markle confessed, “Personally, I love a great love story.” And that includes her own! Markle openly described how happy she and Harry were, and she seemed to relish their relatively low-profile romance thus far, rightly intuiting that their “privacy” would be short-lived.
“We’re a couple,” she told the interviewer. “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.”
Nov. 2017: Official News That Markle Would Leave ‘Suits’
On Nov. 13, 2017, Us magazine released the news that Markle’s role on the USA drama “Suits” would be coming to an end after seven seasons — sparking rumors that Markle and Harry were engaged.
Markle’s departure from the series wasn’t a huge surprise, at least to those working on the show. A source told Us, “She isn’t the main cast member on the show, and quite frankly, everyone already thinks she’s not coming back.” In Feb. 2018, Katherine Heigl joined the cast of “Suits” for its eighth season.
Nov. 2017: Prince Harry Proposes
In the couple’s first interview together, Markle and Harry reminisced about the quiet, private evening when Harry proposed. The question was popped at Nottingham Cottage while the couple was roasting a chicken and enjoying a peaceful night in. In the interview, Markle called the proposal an “amazing surprise, it was so sweet and natural and very romantic. He got on one knee … As a matter of fact, I could barely let you finish proposing. I said, ‘Can I say yes now?'”
Harry said they then hugged, and he reminded her that he had a ring. “I was like, ‘Can I give you the ring?’ She goes, ‘Oh yes, the ring.'”
Nov. 2017: Official Announcement Of Their Engagement
Not long after Harry proposed, on Nov. 27, 2017, Kensington Palace made the couple’s engagement social media-official by announcing the happy news on Twitter. The social media account posted a formal statement, which explained that the two were engaged to be married in the spring of 2018, with more details to be announced “in due course.”
Later that day, the beaming couple posed for photos and the world got its first glimpse of Markle’s sparkle: the gorgeous engagement ring that incorporates a large diamond from Botswana and two smaller stones that belonged to Harry’s mother, Princess Diana.
Nov. 2017: First Interview Together As A Couple
The 27th of November must have been an exhilarating day for the couple, starting with the morning announcement heard ’round the Twitterverse: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were engaged. The pair then posed for photographs and later sat down for their first interview as a couple. The discussion touched on the lovebirds’ first date, their shared passions for humanitarian work and Markle’s first impressions of the Queen, among other topics.
Dec. 2017: First Official Royal Event As An Engaged Couple
Markle and Harry hit the ground running with their charity work on Dec. 1, 2017 — just about a week after their engagement was announced. For their first official event as an engaged couple, the two attended a Terrence Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair in Nottingham. The Terrence Higgins Trust is an HIV and sexual health charity that is part of the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
HIV and AIDs awareness was also a cause that Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, cared about tremendously.
Dec. 2017: A Wedding Date Is Set
On Dec. 15, 2017, the world finally received the news it had been anxiously awaiting since the couple’s engagement was announced on Nov. 27: A royal wedding date was set! The Kensington Palace Twitter account announced that the wedding would take place on Saturday, May 19, 2018, in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. The chapel had not hosted a royal wedding since the union of Autumn Kelly and Peter Phillips (the Queen’s eldest grandchild) in 2008.
And thus, the feverish countdown to the royal nuptials officially began.
Dec. 2017: Palace Releases Formal Engagement Photos
The formal engagement photos released on Dec. 21, 2017 via the royal Instagram account marked a departure from the traditional — some might say stuffy — formal portraits of royal yesteryear. Markle and Harry’s images looked far more like a photo spread in a glossy magazine than anything else, with lush, gauzy lighting and the couple posing in comfortable positions — or even seeming to ignore the camera altogether. Harry, in his classic suit, and Markle, wearing a $75,000 gown, seem relaxed and giddily in love, putting a modern spin on an old-fashioned tradition.
Dec. 2017: Christmas With The Queen
Meghan Markle had likely never spent a Christmas quite like the one she had on Dec. 25, 2017, as it was the first time she spent the holiday alongside the Queen of England. Her Yuletide presence was new for the Palace as well, as Markle was the first-ever royal fiancée to be invited to share Christmas with the Queen and her family. Even Kate Middleton didn’t receive this invitation over the nine years she dated Prince William, only ever attending Christmas with the Queen after she and William were married, but Prince Harry reportedly asked his grandmother to make an exception and invite Markle to the holiday festivities.
The family’s celebrations include a church service on Christmas Day, along with a viewing of the Queen’s yearly Christmas broadcast, a black-tie dinner and a pheasant shoot on Boxing Day, Dec. 26.
Feb. 2018: Markle’s First Official Evening Affair
For Markle’s first official evening affair, she and Harry attended the Endeavor Fund Awards, an event that honors wounded, sick and injured service members who have taken part in sporting and event challenges over the year. Markle looked sleek in an Alexander McQueen pantsuit and stiletto heels.
But the most impressive part of her evening came when there was a bit of confusion at the podium as Markle attempted to present an award and her co-presenter had a mix-up with his notes. Markle handled the awkward moment graciously, smiling warmly and helping the man sort through his notes and find his place.
March 2018: Queen Elizabeth Gives Written Consent For The Couple To Marry
Can you imagine having to wait for your grandmother to give you her written permission before you were allowed to get married? Well, this was a reality for Prince Harry. Yes, truly. The written consent of the Queen was a requirement in order for Harry and Markle to make it down the aisle.
Per the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013, the first six people in line for the throne need to obtain the Queen’s express consent before getting married. Harry is currently sixth in line for the throne — after his littlest nephew, Louis — so the Queen had to put a literal stamp of approval on her grandson’s request to marry Meghan Markle. The Queen issued her consent on March 14, 2018.
March 2018: Markle Baptized Into The Church Of England
Another stepping stone on Markle’s journey to marrying Prince Harry was being baptized and confirmed in the Church of England, also known as Anglicanism. Markle was raised Protestant and she attended a Catholic high school in Los Angeles, but her baptism and confirmation in the Church of England was a requirement — just like it was for Kate Middleton — as the Queen holds the title of “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.”
The private ceremony was held in the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace in London, and the sacrament was administered by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
May 2018: The Royal Wedding Of Meghan And Harry
After months of sheer royal wedding fever, the big day finally arrived on Saturday, May 19, 2018 — and it did not disappoint. Viewers around the globe tuned in for the televised ceremony and there seemed to be an endless array of details to discuss and pick apart, including the hidden secrets of Markle’s wedding gown, the reason for that empty chair in front of the Queen and so much more.
For weeks afterward (long after all the wedding flowers had been donated to hospice centers), people were still buzzing about the guests who were in attendance (and their hats!), the moving rendition of “Stand By Me” and the cute message Prince Harry uttered to his bride when she joined him at the altar.
Truly a blend of old and new, the wedding of Harry and Markle both honored tradition and broke from it, and seemed to usher in a fresh, modern era for the royal family.
May 2018: First Public Appearance As A Married Couple
Just a few days after the couple’s modern fairytale wedding, Markle and Harry stepped out in public for the first time as husband and wife. The newlyweds attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace in honor of Prince Harry’s father — Markle’s brand-new father-in-law — Prince Charles.
Days earlier, Charles had walked Markle partway down the aisle after it was announced that Markle’s own father wouldn’t attend the wedding. Charles also reportedly gave a speech at the lunchtime reception that left everyone in tears — especially Charles’ youngest son, his “darling old Harry.”
May / June 2018: Top-Secret Honeymoon
In an extraordinary feat of discretion, Harry and Markle went on a honeymoon … and almost nobody knows where they went. The only people entrusted with knowledge of the mysterious honeymoon locale were the Queen, Prince William and certain trustworthy security officers.
Many have speculated about the location of the newlyweds’ post-nuptial rendezvous, with guesses including Botswana, Canada, the Seychelles, Ashford Castle in Ireland and Birkhall, the Queen’s royal residence in Scotland.
Namibia was also a possibility, though when asked outright by a youngster if Namibia was the location, Harry reportedly replied, “No, we didn’t go to Namibia. I’m not going to say where.”
May 2018: Announcement Of Their Country Home
Oh, to be a British royal! Not only will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle live primarily in a cottage on the grounds of London’s Kensington Palace, but they also reportedly found a charming country home for spending weekends and holidays.
On May 30, 2018, Us Weekly broke the news that the royal pair had signed a two-year lease on a property on the Great Tew Estate in the Cotswolds, a lush and lovely area about 90 minutes from London.
June 2018: Balcony Debut At Trooping The Colour
Another celebration saw the newlyweds out in the public eye once more — this time in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s birthday. On June 9, 2018, Markle made her Buckingham Palace balcony debut when she joined her husband at the annual Trooping of the Colour. The newly minted Duchess once again chose a blush-colored dress for the event, as she had for several other occasions around the same time.
In a show of deference, Markle stood behind her sister-in-law, Duchess Kate Middleton, in observance of the hierarchy that suggests the elder brother (Prince William) and his wife would take a more central position in the royal family lineup.
June 2018: One-Month Anniversary
One month after saying “I do” in front of millions of people around the world, all eyes were once again on Meghan Markle (or rather, the Duchess of Sussex!) wearing a white Givenchy dress. She and Harry attended the Royal Ascot on the one-month anniversary of their wedding, and Markle chose an elegant white button-front dress for the occasion — designed by her wedding gown-maker, Givenchy — paired with a chic black clutch and a black and white hat. Harry looked ever the British gentleman in his top hat and tails.
July 2018: First Foreign Trip As A Married Couple—Ireland
The royal couple’s first trip overseas was not so much an epic journey as it was a quick puddle hop. The pair visited Ireland in July and spent some time meeting Ireland’s president, attending an elegant party and touring the famine memorial. Although they were only there for a couple of days, Markle managed to work in several different stunning outfits, including gorgeous designer frocks and her first chic pantsuit since getting married.
Sept. 2018: Markle Gives Her First Speech As Duchess
With her husband and her mom by her side for support, Markle held a luncheon to mark the launch of her first charity project, a cookbook titled, “Together: Our Community Cookbook,” the proceeds of which benefit the women of Hubb Community Kitchen, an organization founded in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in London.
Prince Harry watched with pride as his wife gave her first public speech as a duchess, in which she emphasized the connective power of sharing recipes, and the ability food has “to celebrate what connects us rather than what divides us.”
Oct. 2018: Official Pregnancy Announcement
About five months after they tied the knot, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle revealed the news that the world had been anxiously waiting to hear: A new royal baby was on the way! Kensington Palace released a statement that Markle and Harry were expecting their first child in the spring of 2019, though no specific due date was given. When the baby arrives, he or she will be seventh in line for the throne.
Speculation over the baby’s name began immediately, with many predicting (and even making bets) that he/she will be given a royal moniker such as Diana, Albert or Elizabeth. Others wonder if Markle’s American heritage will come into play, however, with Alvin being the name of her beloved grandfather and Rachel being Markle’s actual first name.
Oct. 2018: The Couple’s First Royal Tour
In June 2018, Kensington Palace announced that the newlywed Harry and Markle would embark on their first official royal tour in the fall, with visits to Australia, Fiji, the Kingdom of Tonga and New Zealand on the agenda. The pair set off on their adventure in mid-October and made many stops over 16 days, with a focus on promoting youth-led initiatives and conservation efforts.
Their travels came directly on the heels of the couple’s pregnancy announcement and both expectant parents seemed to be all smiles throughout their trip. Their interactions with communities in the countries they visited made for some of the royal family’s most adorable moments ever.
Oct. 2018: First Baby Gifts Received In Australia
While visiting Sydney, Australia, during their first royal tour, the couple met with Australian Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and his wife Lady Cosgrove, who presented the royals with some sweet gifts for their baby: a stuffed kangaroo with a joey in its pouch and a tiny pair of Ugg booties. Harry smiled and laughed, while Markle delightedly exclaimed, “This is our first baby gift!”
These cute gifts proved to be just the beginning of Australia’s generous offerings for the baby-to-be. The couple went on to receive many more presents for their little one, including a plush anteater, Australian children’s books and a tiny lifeguard uniform, among other items.