Meghan Markle Prince Harry engagement photograph Kensington Palace 2017

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for photographs in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London after their engagement announcement. (Picture by Stephen Lock / i-Images)

After a whirlwind romance, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made it official on Nov. 27, 2017. They are getting married. (A Royal Family 101 story with needed background information on the couple is here.)

The engagement

The announcement came at 10 a.m. London time from Clarence House, home of Prince Charles. Like that of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011, it was short, simple and direct:

Prince Henry of Wales & Meghan Markle are engaged to be married

27th November 2017

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.

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 couple will live in Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace.

Meghan Markle’s clothes: 

She wore a white coat by Canadian firm Line, the Toronto-based knitwear firm that has supplied many of her coats. Her gold-and-opal earrings were from Birks, a Canadian jewellery institution since 1879. Her sleeveless green dress is by Italian design company P.A.R.O.S.H.

Prince Harry designed her very simple engagement ring, which was made by court jeweller Cleave & Co. Ltd. It features a large diamond from Botswana flanked by two smaller ones from the personal collection of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. (Prince Harry wore one of his favourite blue suits, with a black tie, reportedly in respect for his mother.) Aside from Prince Harry saying “I’m thrilled” and Meghan Markle being “so very happy,” they said little at the photo op in the sunken garden of Kensington Palace. There wasn’t time. After around two minutes, the couple left.

 

The interview

In a 20-minute interview with the BBC’s Mishal Husain that aired on every network in Britain (and most others around the world), an obviously love-struck couple talked about their relationship. “she choses me, I chose her,” is Prince Harry’s simple explanation.

Prince Harry Meghan Markle BBC interview engagement 2017

BBC interview with Mishal Husain (screenshot)

First, though, were details about the proposal. It happened at his London base, Nottingham Cottage, when he got down on one knee. She said yes almost before he finished the question. He already had the ring in his hand, and, in case anyone was wondering, they were roasting chicken at the time.

They were set up on a blind date by a female friend. “Is he nice?” Meghan asked, not knowing much about the royal family. “Everyting I learned about him, I learned through him,” she explained. Harry ended speculation he was a Suits fan by saying he’d never heard of her. After two dates, they pulled out their calendars and planned to spend as much time as possible together. Within three or four weeks, they were camping together under the stars in a tent in Botswana. During the next 18 months, they were never apart “longer than two weeks,” he said.

Meghan confirmed that her acting career is over. It’s a “transition out of my career into my role” as a full-time member of the royal family, she explains.

Interestingly, Meghan has met all the key members of Harry’s family multiple times, while Harry has only met her mother, whom he clearly adores. He has only talked to her father, Thomas Markle. Harry hasn’t met him—he lives in Mexico–and there was no mention of Meghan’s half- and step-siblings (her father has married several times.)

The wedding

Can she and Prince Harry get married in a church? After all, Meghan Markle is divorced. The answer is Yes. The Church of England changed their matrimonial rules in 2002 to allow divorcees to remarry in the church. (That option wasn’t open to Prince Charles as he will be the head of the Church of England one day. That’s why he married in a civil service, and why his parents didn’t attend that ceremony though they did go to the later religious commitment service.)

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury settled any doubts with his congratulatory announcement that included this sentence:  “I am so happy that Prince Harry and Ms Markle have chosen to make their vows before God.”

When will they get married? The engagement notice said “spring 2018” but there is always wiggle room. The royal calendar is already packed with events. Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, gives birth to her third child in April. She will need time to recover.

There is usually a state visit in May and possibly a speech from the throne, and then early June is filled with Trooping the Colour (which is on June 9, but also has full dress rehearsals in the two weekends prior to that) as well as Ascot and the Order of the Garter ceremony at Windsor Castle (which was cancelled last year because of a sudden need for a throne speech.)

So…perhaps around June 21, which would be Prince William’s 36th birthday.

Or the reverse, and marry as early as possible in March, ahead of Kate’s due date.

Wedding locations: Royals can get married anywhere, but options narrow the closer they get to the throne. William and Kate had a huge, grand wedding at Westminster Abbey, but Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are likely to pick a venue that allows for a more intimate, personal wedding. The top spot is St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. It’s large enough for friends and family, yet small enough that the couple can avoid inviting obligatory diplomatic guests. In other words, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former U.S. president Barack Obama are likely to attend, but not Donald or Melania Trump.

Royal titles for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Meghan’s new title: If history is any indication, she will be “Her Royal Highness the Duchess of SOMETHING.” The Queen made William the Duke of Cambridge, and will all but certainly give a dukedom to Harry. Rumours say it will be Sussex. If not, then Meghan becomes HRH the Princess Henry (his real name, not Harry). She will never be Princess Meghan as she wasn’t born royal, like Princess Anne. (Royal styles are complicated. Yes, her status is technically “princess” but she’ll use the duchess title.)

Any children will not get the title “prince” or “princess” and the honorific HRH. That’s because of the Letters Patent signed by King George V in 1917 that stated “the children of any Sovereign of these Realms and the children of the sons of any such Sovereign and the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales shall have and at all times hold and enjoy the style title or attribute of Royal Highness with their titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their respective Christian names or with their other titles of honour.”

So when Prince George was about to be born in 2013, the Queen realized that the future king wouldn’t get a royal title. So she tweaked the rules for the immediate line of succession: “The Queen has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm dated 31 December 2012 to declare that all the children of the eldest son of The Prince of Wales should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of Royal Highness with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honour.

Updating the royal family tree

For those wondering how Meghan Markle and Prince Harry fit into the larger royal family, Matt Baker, the founder and creative force behind of UsefulCharts.com, has created a handy royal family tree, which he’s generously shared with me. royal family tree genealogy 2017

Where will they live?

They will be based at Nottingham Cottage, a tiny two-bedroom house nestled within the Kensington Palace complex. William and Kate lived there until after the birth of Prince George until their much larger apartment was renovated. Then Prince Harry moved in. It was also home to Marion “Crawfie” Crawford, according to royal biographer Gyles Brandreth. The governess to little Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret is infamous within the royal household as she broke all tradition by writing a saccharine tell-all of her life, and those of the girls, behind palace gates. Her bags were quickly packed and she moved out.

This post is being updated with all the latest from the engagement day of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

Prince Harry Meghan Markle together Invictus Games Toronto September 2017

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle watch a wheelchair tennis match at the Invictus Games in Toronto on Sept. 25, 2017. (Picture by James Whatling)