Seven facts about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s engagement

Markle is the first American to marry into Britain’s royal family since Wallis Simpson

Harry's father Britain's Prince Charles, as well as UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, were just a few of the first people to congratulate the couple on their upcoming wedding.

 

Prince Harry is to marry his girlfriend, the American actor Meghan Markle, in spring 2018. The couple got engaged earlier this month.

1 Markle is the first American to marry into the British royal family since 1937, when the duke of Windsor (also the former King Edward VIII) married the American socialite Wallis Simpson. The duke abdicated when it was decreed that he would not be allowed to marry Simpson as king. Markle’s father is of Irish and Dutch descent; her mother is African-American, and she was born and raised in Los Angeles.

Edward VIII with his wife Wallis Simpson
Edward VIII with his wife Wallis Simpson

2 It has been a whirlwind romance compared with that of the duke and duchess of Cambridge. Markle and Harry had been in a relationship for 16 months before their engagement. Harry’s brother, Prince William, met his future wife, Kate Middleton, in 2001; they began a relationship in 2003, got engaged in 2010 and married in 2011. 

3 It’s likely to be a short engagement, too. The wedding is set for “spring 2018”, leaving only a few months to plan it. But this is not unusual for royal weddings. William and Kate married seven months after their engagement. William and Harry’s father, Prince Charles, married Camilla Parker Bowles just two months after the announcement of their engagement, in 2005, and Charles’s engagement to Princess Diana lasted just five months in 1981. Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson  also had a five-month gap between proposal and marriage, in 1986.

Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in the grounds of Buckingham Palace after announcing their engagement. Photograph: Ron Bell/PA Wire
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in the grounds of Buckingham Palace after announcing their engagement. Photograph: Ron Bell/PA Wire
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson at Buckingham Palace, London, after their engagement was announced. Photograph: PA Wire
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson at Buckingham Palace, London, after their engagement was announced. Photograph: PA Wire

4 Markle has been married before, to the actor and producer Trevor Engelson, between 2011 and 2013. While still controversial, Harry will not be the first royal to marry a divorcee. Camilla Parker Bowles was also a divorcee when Charles married her. Although  Queen Elizabeth did not attend the ceremony, she offered her blessing and hosted the reception at Windsor Castle. Prince Harry has to ask his grandmother’s permission to marry Markle.

5 The public nature of their relationship saw them get off to a rocky start. In a statement from the communications secretary to Prince Harry published last November, the office condemned the “abuse and harassment” Markle faced as a result of their relationship – specifically, “the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments”.

6 As a future spouse of one of the queen’s grandchildren, Markle will have to undertake some official duties. This often includes charity work, to which Markle is no stranger. She has been a global ambassador for World Vision Canada, was a counsellor for One Young World, and has worked as an advocate for the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

7 Markle will also leave her long-term role as Rachel Zane  on the US legal drama Suits after this season, perhaps in part due to her upcoming nuptials. Her costar and love interest on the programme, Patrick J Adams, is also set to leave after the current, seventh season.

Meghan Markle playing Rachel Zane in Suits. Photograph: Shane Mahood/USA Network/PA Wire
Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane in Suits. Photograph: Shane Mahood/USA Network/PA Wire