Prince Harry Engaged to Meghan Markle, They are Set to Marry Next Year

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Kensington Palace on Monday after their engagement was announced. Credit Toby Melville/Reuters
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Kensington Palace on Monday after their engagement was announced. Credit Toby Melville/Reuters

Prince Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II who is fifth in line to the throne, is engaged to Meghan Markle, his American girlfriend, the royal family said on Monday.

The prince, 33, got engaged this month to Ms. Markle, 36, a statement from Clarence House said, adding that the wedding would be next spring.

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The relationship of Prince Harry and Ms. Markle, an actress, has been the subject of intense media scrutiny, which last year prompted the prince to denounce the “racial undertones” of news coverage of Ms. Markle, whose mother is black and whose father is white.

The pair have dated for more than a year, and made their first official outing together in September in Toronto at the Invictus Games, a Paralympic-style competition for wounded or sick members of the military.

The prince’s reputation has changed markedly in recent years.

He has gotten into trouble in the past, once wearing a Nazi costume at a party, but he has since become a vocal advocate for mental health awareness and has spoken about the difficulties he faced after the death of his mother, Princess Diana. He has also taken an H.I.V. test, broadcast live on the royals’ Facebook page in 2016, to promote the importance of testing for the virus.

He has also come to be the face of a new generation of royals — modern, down-to-earth and more in touch with the public. This year, he even suggested that no one in the royal family actually wants to sit on the throne.

“We are involved in modernizing the British monarchy. We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people,” he said in an interview with Newsweek.

“Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.”

In another unusual break from palace protocol but one that drew praise, he divulged to a newspaper that he had suffered for years after the death of his mother in 1997, before finally getting help about three years ago at the urging of his elder brother, Prince William.

The candid statement by the Prince Harry, in a podcast released by The Daily Telegraph, was the latest indication of a shift within the British monarchy toward greater openness, led by a younger generation. The two princes, along with Prince William’s wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, are leading a campaign called Heads Together to end stigma around mental illness.

Prince Harry said that not dealing with the trauma had contributed to years of “total chaos” in his late 20s.

“I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well,” he said.

He added: “I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and sort of lies and misconceptions and everything are coming to you from every angle.”

It was his public statement in defense of Ms. Markle that effectively confirmed their relationship, while also taking on the British newspapers that have long hungered for news of the royals and their foibles.

In the unusually blunt rebuke, Prince Harry, through his spokesman, called out “the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”

Their relationship is not the first time a British royal has fallen in love with an American.

King Edward VIII caused a constitutional crisis in 1936 when he abandoned the throne for the American socialite Wallis Simpson, who had herself been divorced.

The Church of England opposed the marriage at the time, but the king chose love over his royal duties and abdicated, allowing his younger brother to take his place as King George VI. Edward and Ms. Simpson were married in 1937.

Prince Harry served on active duty in the British military for about a decade, rising to the rank of captain. During that time, he served two tours in Afghanistan, where he co-piloted an Apache helicopter and was a weapons officer.

The announcement of the engagement was quickly followed by messages of congratulations from the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, who recently celebrated 70 years of marriage. The couple said they were “delighted” and wished Prince Harry and Ms. Markle “every happiness.”

Prince Harry’s father, Prince Charles, said that he and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall were “thrilled” by the engagement. “We hope they’ll be very happy indeed,” he said.

Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement: “This is a time of huge celebration and excitement for two people in love and, on behalf of myself, the government and the country, I wish them great happiness for the future.”

William and Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge said in a separate statement that they were “very excited for Harry and Meghan.”

“It has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and see how happy she and Harry are together,” they said. William and Catherine, the former Kate Middleton, were married in April 2011. The date of Prince Harry and Ms. Markle’s wedding may be close to another major royal event: the birth of William and Kate’s third child, due in April.

Kate’s wedding to Prince William was unusual in the context of the royal family, because she was a commoner — her parents had founded a mail-order party supply company.

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SOURCE: The New Times, by