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Britain's Prince Harry gets engaged to 'Suits' actress Meghan Markle; to wed next year

The announcement says the couple became engaged earlier this month and it says 36-year-old Markle has met Queen Elizabeth II, and Harry also has received the blessing of Markle's parents.

Published: 27th November 2017 03:48 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th November 2017 09:50 PM   |  A+A-

In this Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 file photo, Prince Harry and his girlfriend Meghan Markle arrive for the wheelchair tennis competition during the Invictus Games in Toronto. (AFP Photo)

In this Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 file photo, Prince Harry and his girlfriend Meghan Markle arrive for the wheelchair tennis competition during the Invictus Games in Toronto. (AFP Photo)

By Agencies

LONDON: Britain's royal palace says Prince Harry and 36-year-old US actress Meghan Markle are engaged and will marry in the spring of 2018. Markle portrayed Rachel Zane in the popular legal drama series 'Suits'.

READ HERE | Meghan Markle is a breath of fresh air in Britain's royal family

The announcement came Monday from the office of Harry's father, Prince Charles. Prince Harry's official title is His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales.

The announcement says the couple became engaged earlier this month. It says 36-year-old Markle, who  has met Queen Elizabeth II, and Harry also has received the blessing of Markle's parents.

Markle a mixed-race American raised in California, an outspoken full-time actress, and a divorcee makes a surprising addition to Britain's monarchy. Exasperated by the media frenzy, the palace had earlier released a statement attacking the "sexism" and "racism" that Markle, who is of mixed race, faced in the press.

Harry, 33, is fifth in line to the British throne. 

Meghan Markle's parents say they are happy and excited about their daughter's engagement to Prince Harry. Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland say their 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."

Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle waves as they pose for the media in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London, Monday Nov. 27, 2017. | AP Photo

William and Kate said they were "very excited for Harry and Meghan." "It has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and to see how happy she and Harry are together," said the couple.

Meghan Markle was raised in the Los Angeles area. Her father is a Hollywood lighting director, her mother a yoga instructor and psychotherapist.

Harry has been dating 36-year-old Markle since July 2016 and there has been increasing speculation of a wedding in the New Year ever since the actress moved her dogs to the UK from her Canadian home in Toronto.

Markle has virtually moved into Kensington Palace and had been photographed shopping in Chelsea in London last week. It is unclear if the wedding will be a full church wedding, given that Markle is a divorcee.

Historically, Britain's royals have frowned upon such weddings but that changed as the Queen gave her consent in 2005 for Prince Charles to marry Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who was also a divorcee.

UK bookmaker Ladbrokes had stopped taking bets on the engagement last week and some press reports over the weekend indicated that British Prime Minister Theresa May had "cleared her diary" in expectation of an announcement.

It had been reported last month that the couple went for tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, which was seen as a meeting to seek the monarch's blessing for an engagement.

Town Crier Tony Appleton shouts as he holds a scroll outside Green Park in central London near Buckingham Palace after it was announced that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to be engaged. Monday Nov. 27, 2017. (AP Photo)

Public weigh in on royal happiness

Prime Minister Theresa May offered her "warmest congratulations" to the couple upon their engagement. 

Wellwishers gathered outside Buckingham Palace, including Donna, 46, who called the news "amazing".

"He looks very happy, it's great for him," she told AFP.

"It says a lot for the royal family, younger people are interested, and more people care about the royal family, they feel that both of the sons are much more down with the people."

"It is good for the country," added John Egan, 72.

"The royal family is too tight, too controlled, the older ones exist in the last century, they really need to modernise."

Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle walk away after posing for the media in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London, Monday Nov. 27, 2017 | AP Photo

Wedding details

The couple will live at Nottingham Cottage in London's Kensington Palace, where his brother William and his pregnant wife Kate live with their two children.

Bookmakers have already started taking wedding related bets, with Westminster Abbey a firm favourite to host the event and fashion label Alexander McQueen favourite to design the dress.

Paddy Power is offering odds to 7/1 for Markle to be already pregnant when she walks down the aisle, while Elton John, who had was close to princess Diana, is 6/1 to perform at the service.
 

Here are some key events from Prince Harry's life.

Sept. 15, 1984: Prince Harry is born to Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, and Princess Diana, who died in 1997. He is the royal couple's second son, following Prince William. He was christened three months later. His official title is His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales.

Aug. 31, 1997: Diana dies in a car crash in Paris. One week later, Harry and William walk behind her cortege at her funeral, televised live throughout the world.

September 1998: Harry goes to boarding school at Eton College, where he plays rugby, cricket and polo.

May 2005: Harry carries on a royal family tradition by pursuing a military career as an officer cadet at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Her serves in the British Armed Forces for 10 years, including two operational assignments to Afghanistan. He eventually qualifies as an Apache Attack Helicopter Pilot.

August 2012: Harry and the royal family are embarrassed by publications of photos of him playing "strip billiards" during a party weekend in Las Vegas.

April 2014: Prince Harry's relationship with Cressida Bonas ends after they dated for two years. Some observers thought they might become engaged. Royal commentators said she was unhappy with the constant scrutiny that came with dating a senior royal.

June 2015: Harry leaves active military service but continues to play a key role as organizer of the Invictus Games, a sporting event for wounded, injured or sick military veterans. He takes on more royal duties and becomes involved with more charities.

Nov. 8, 2016: In a statement, Prince Harry confirms Meghan Markle is his girlfriend and bitterly condemns press coverage of her. He says he fears for her safety and says press coverage crossed the line and used "racial undertones" in its stories. His comments reminded many that his mother Diana had died in a car crash while being pursued by press photographers.

Sept. 25, 2017: Harry and Markle are photographed together for the first time when they are holding hands during a wheelchair tennis competition at the Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada.

Nov. 27, 2017: Palace officials announce that Harry and Markle are engaged to be married. They plan to marry in the spring.



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