Inside Meghan Markle's Relationship With Prince Harry

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's relationship has made headlines since they were first linked in 2016. An American actress marrying into the British royal family might have seemed like a long shot, but once Harry confirmed their very serious relationship in a public statement (which also noted the media's intrusion into every aspect of Meghan's life), the world started counting down to a royal wedding. Their May 2018 nuptials might have seemed like a fairy tale, but behind palace doors, not everything was picture-perfect. The couple would face many tests, from online bullying and racial discrimination to adjusting to life in a new country away from friends and family.

Today, Meghan and Harry's life looks quite different since their departure from royal duties in 2020. But the parents of two have continued to maintain a strong relationship despite the challenges thrown at them over the years. From long-distance dating to fleeing palace life, here's a look at the highs and lows of Harry and Meghan's royal relationship.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle met through a mutual friend

In 2016, Prince Harry was somewhat of a third wheel with his brother, Prince William, and sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. American actress Meghan Markle was also single following the end of her first marriage, and little did the pair know their paths would cross. In their engagement interview, Harry and Meghan said they were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend they declined to name to protect the person's privacy. 

Per E! News, speculations pointed to designer Misha Nonoo or, potentially, Meghan's friend Jessica Mulroney, a stylist with many high-profile clients, but the media outlet revealed the real matchmaker to be ​royal confidant Violet von Westenholz. Violet's father is a friend of Prince Charles, according to E! News, and so she herself has been close to Harry for years. Meghan met the socialite through her work with Ralph Lauren, and the two became fast friends. An anonymous source told E! News, "When Harry told Violet he was having trouble finding someone, Violet said she might just have the perfect girl for him."

Harry and Meghan went on a dinner date at London's Dean Street Townhouse, according to the book "Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family" by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand (via Harper's Bazaar). The rest, as they say, is history. Fun fact: von Westenholz's husband is named Archie ... just like the couple's young son.

Harry took Meghan on a trip to Africa for their third date

After a successful first two meetings, Prince Harry decided it was time to take his relationship with Meghan Markle to the next level ... and although most people wouldn't take someone on a vacation for their (technically) third date, most of us aren't princes. Harry said in their 2017 engagement interview that a few weeks after their first two dates, he "managed to persuade her to come and join me in Botswana, and we camped out with each other under the stars."

According to an excerpt from the book "Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family," originally published in The Times (via Entertainment Tonight), they headed to Johannesburg, South Africa, after spending a night at Harry's Kensington Palace home. They flew on a private plane to a more remote location and took a 4x4 to Botswana's Okavango Delta, where they spent time in a luxurious, nearly-$2,000-per-night tent viewing wildlife and getting to know each other better. It's no wonder that Meghan's engagement ring includes a central stone from Botswana, since the country holds a special place in their hearts (via Marie Claire UK). The pair would later return to Africa as husband and wife on their 2019 tour, meeting with a variety of African charities and locals.

Halloween 2016 was a huge turning point in their relationship

After dating long-distance for several months, rumors began circulating about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's relationship. It's not every day you see a prince strolling the streets of Toronto or an American actress frequently visiting London, per the Mirror. It was only a matter of time before people caught on — and the night of a 2016 Halloween party changed their relationship for good. According to the Mirror, Meghan and Harry, who had kept a low profile while in Toronto, decided to attend a costume party at London's Soho House. The masked pair joined Harry's cousin, Princess Eugenie, and her then-future husband, Jack Brooksbank, during the couple's rare night out. "A cocktail or so into the party, they were both feeling relaxed, absorbing the Halloween spirit," according to the book "Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family" (via the Mirror), that is, until Harry received an upsetting phone call from a palace aide.

The shocking news: Someone had gone to the press about their relationship, and a story would run the following day, per the Mirror. The famously private prince had been understandably hesitant to go public with their relationship, knowing the attention it would bring, but the news had already been leaked. While Meghan was upset they had been outed, she also felt a burden lifted about no longer having to hide or lie to friends and family, the book claimed (via Entertainment Tonight).

In 2017, they appeared in public as a couple for the first time

Unfortunately, it wasn't smooth sailing for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle once the news of their relationship was out. In November 2016, Harry was forced to make an official public statement regarding their relationship after press and social media harassment made him fear for Meghan's safety (via People). The statement, released by the palace, asked for members of the press to ease up on the "wave of abuse and harassment," especially concerning coverage with racial undertones.

Understandably, the couple kept a low profile over the next year but, eventually, it came time for their first-ever, official public appearance. Harry chose an event close to his heart: the Invictus Games, which happened to be taking place in Toronto in September 2017 (via ABC News). Harry himself actually launched the event, which celebrates wounded, injured, or sick armed services personnel, after visiting America's Warrior Games in 2013. And he's remained closely involved with the cause over the years. Per PopSugar, Meghan sat in the crowd but not next to Harry during the opening ceremony. Yet, it was during the Invictus Games' wheelchair tennis event when the couple stepped out together in public for their first official appearance. Wearing sunglasses and denim, they both looked happy and relaxed cheering on the competitors as the world finally got to see the couple hand-in-hand.

Harry changed his partying ways after meeting Meghan

Prince Harry was known as the party prince for years (who can forget the Las Vegas incident?), but after meeting Meghan Markle, his life changed quite a bit. Royal author Andrew Morton, who wrote Princess Diana's famous biography, said in an interview on "Podcast Royal" that Harry wasn't dealing with his anger issues and instead relied on drinking and partying to cope (via the Daily Mail). Meghan, who is known for her fondness of yoga and clean eating (via Express), has helped instill some new, healthy habits in the prince. He even gave up drinking while she was pregnant and also cut out smoking, according to the publication. An anonymous friend told the paper how happy Harry seemed and that he had also shed some pounds.

It's no wonder Meghan's healthy habits wore off on Harry: Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, is a yoga teacher, which she told Best Health in a 2015 interview. Meghan shared she'd been practicing yoga since she was a child and that she also loves to cook, telling the magazine, "I try to eat vegan during the week and then have a little bit more flexibility with what I dig into on the weekends." During their 2020 stay in Canada, People shared that the couple were enjoying three of their favorite hobbies: yoga, outdoor walks, and cooking, a far cry from Harry's life a few years before.

Harry proposed to Meghan during a calm evening at home

On November 27, 2017, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped outside Kensington Palace to announce some exciting news: There would be a royal wedding on the way (via BBC News). But how he actually proposed came as a surprise to many. You might imagine someone with the money and resources of a royal family would set up the world's most elaborate proposal, but when it came time for Harry to pop the question to Meghan, he went a much simpler route.

While Harry's brother, Prince William, proposed to his then-girlfriend Kate Middleton on a romantic African vacation, Harry actually asked Meghan to marry him during a quiet moment at home after they'd made a roast chicken. In their November 2017 engagement interview, the couple shared they'd been together for about a year-and-a-half before their engagement and that the proposal caught Meghan completely off guard. "It was a surprise, and so sweet and very romantic," she said in the interview, where they also shared that some of the stones from her ring came from Princess Diana's jewelry.

Though some media outlets questioned whether Harry actually proposed in Africa versus their Nottingham Cottage home, according to the book "Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family," Harry had simply made his serious intentions known to Meghan in Africa (via Hello!). While it wasn't then an official proposal, they both knew marriage was the end goal.

Their royal wedding took place on May 19, 2018

It had been seven years since Prince William married Kate Middleton, and news of another royal wedding had the world buzzing with anticipation. The nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle took place on Saturday, May 19, 2018, in a more intimate venue than that of William and Kate: St. George's Chapel, located on the private grounds of Windsor Castle (via CBS News). The chapel allowed for a smaller wedding than one of the grander London churches (although it still seated a whopping 600 guests, per CBS). Because of his place in the line of succession, Harry didn't have to invite world leaders, unlike his brother, per Vogue

Of course, the wedding was still televised, but keeping with the couple's desire for a slightly more private life, they opted to hand-select who could actually stand inside the castle gates: This included representatives from charities and people who had done good works in their communities (via the official website of the British royal family). This, however, didn't stop members of the public from lining the streets of Windsor, where Harry and Meghan took a carriage ride through town to greet fans for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. They reflected on the day in their 2021 Oprah interview, saying they exchanged vows in private three days before the wedding (via NBC). However, the Archbishop of Canterbury later confirmed "the legal wedding was on the Saturday," per NBC.

Harry and Meghan keep their children out of the spotlight

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are proud parents of two, but the world doesn't know much about their children (or even what their youngest child looks like). Here's what we do know: Five months after the royal wedding, Harry and Meghan announced to the world they were expecting their first child together, via a statement from Kensington Palace. Baby Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born on May 6, 2019. Although the couple appeared for a photo shoot at Windsor Castle two days after his birth, they didn't hold a traditional royal "hospital steps" media moment (via Marie Claire). In fact, other than a couple of photos on the couple's Instagram account and a public outing during their September 2019 tour of Africa, during which they introduced Archie to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the child's life has remained intensely private. On the rare occasions they've released a photo, such as his July 2019 christening or his second birthday (via the BBC News), we've mostly seen his back, although the couple did release a 2020 Christmas card.

When the pair announced they were expecting a second child (via People), they upped their privacy game even more. The couple has never released a photo of their daughter, Lilibet Diana, named after the queen and Harry's mother (via NBC News). According to the Daily Beast, Harry and Meghan "appear to be seeking nothing less than complete anonymity for their kids."

Their relationship has been tested by the British press

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have never had an easy time with the press, starting with the 2016 palace statement Harry forcibly released regarding the media's harassment of Meghan. Over the years, the media has criticized Meghan for everything, from her biracial background to her status as an older, American divorcee and actress (via Stylist). The Daily Mail even accused Meghan of supporting drug cartels, murder, and environmental abuse by simply eating avocado toast. When it was announced her father accepted money from paparazzi, the couple was faced with yet another media circus.

In a 2019 interview with Tom Bradby, the couple admitted their individual struggles (via ITV). In the interview, Harry expressed his desire to shield Meghan from the same media attention his mother, Princess Diana, received. When asked how she was coping, Megan said, "Not many people have asked if I'm okay," sharing she was not. She spoke of the difficult time she faced, especially as a new wife and mother, while Harry talked about how the relentless media attention triggered him because of his mother's fatal accident after being chased by paparazzi. As Harry told Oprah Winfrey in 2021, he was worried about "history repeating itself."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Harry and Meghan left royal duties behind in 2020

After a difficult year, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle took a break and headed to Canada for a six-week reset in 2019 to celebrate the holidays (via Sky News). However, the world — and the palace — didn't know that, come 2020, the break would become permanent.

According to the book "Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family," Harry and Meghan decided to seek a new path while in Vancouver Island for the holidays (via Vanity Fair). Per the book, the couple was frustrated they couldn't meet with family for another month to discuss their future. Instead, they posted a statement on their Instagram account upon returning to the UK in early January. "We intend to step back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen," the post read, sharing the couple's intent to split their time between the U.K. and North America.

In the following weeks, the family held meetings to work out an agreement, with Harry joining them for "The Sandringham summit" in mid-January 2020, per the BBC News. On January 18, the queen issued a statement on the matter — the Sussexes would officially be stepping back from all royal duties. Their hope to live abroad and continue royal work alongside their own commercial deals would not be realized, but the pair would gain the freedom they'd longed for.

The royal couple traded British palaces for California beaches

After their high-profile departure from royal life, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's world looks quite different. In the U.K., the couple had been living at Frogmore Cottage, just a stone's throw from Windsor Castle. Their new home might not be near a castle, but it certainly is fit for a royal. Upon moving to America in 2020, they temporarily stayed in an $18 million Beverly Hills, California, mansion owned by actor Tyler Perry while he was away working, per Page Six. But, by summer 2020, Harry, Meghan, and Archie had a home of their own: a $14.65 million mansion in Montecito, California (via the New York Post). 

Featuring everything from a wine cellar and a home theater to a whopping 16 bathrooms, per the New York Post, the house has everything the young family could dream of — including a chicken coop. The couple showed Oprah around "Archie's Chick Inn" during their 2021 interview, where a flock of rescued chickens live. Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, lives nearby in Los Angeles (per Hello!), so the couple has grandma nearby for family support, too. It's not the same as tiaras and palaces, but it sounds like California living "suits" the couple just fine — Meghan was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, after all (via The San Diego Union-Tribune).

Harry told Oprah that Meghan saved him from royal life

One of the most significant moments in Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's relationship took place in March 2021 when they sat down with Oprah Winfrey for an exclusive — and shocking — interview. The special, which aired on CBS, featured a candid conversation with the couple, who spoke about everything from race to Harry's relationship with the royal family. We found out some fun facts like the new royal baby's gender (a girl!), their plans to keep their family to two kids, and Meghan's connection to Princess Eugenie before meeting Harry (via Glamour).

But most of the interview revealed more upsetting aspects of the couple's relationship, including the revelation that Meghan experienced suicidal thoughts while living in the UK, per Glamour. Telling Oprah she once attended an event with Harry because she couldn't be left alone, Meghan confessed the toll the pressures of royal life took on her mental health. Harry spoke of his worries about Meghan and his comparison to his mother, sharing he didn't want the same thing to happen to his wife. Harry also confessed his own mental health struggles, revealing Meghan saved him from being "trapped" in palace life (via Metro). "I would not have been able to," he said, when asked if he would've ever left the royal family without meeting Meghan.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

The couple counts many celebrities as friends

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle might live outside of Hollywood, but even before moving to America they had quite a few famous friends. While everyone knows about their Oprah Winfrey interview, she was actually a guest at their 2018 wedding and is friendly with Meghan's mother (Oprah Winfrey told Entertainment Tonight in 2018 that she had invited Doria Ragland to her home for yoga). Another royal wedding guest-turned-interviewer is James Corden, who hosts "The Late Late Show" on CBS. Corden filmed a lighthearted segment with Harry just a week before the bombshell Oprah interview aired. The two are said to have been close friends for years, per "Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family" (via The U.S. Sun).

Elton John is another trusted confidante of the couple, and, according to the Mirror, Harry and Meghan are so close with the singer that he knew they were going to leave the royal family even before the queen found out. The pair also share a friendship with George Clooney and his wife, Amal Clooney, per the Mirror, and have visited their Italian home. As a former TV actress, it's no surprise that Meghan's pals include Serena Williams and Priyanka Chopra. "Megs ... she was always meant for big things," Chopra told Elle in a 2019 interview. Coincidentally, the two met during an event hosted by Elle in 2016, per the magazine.

An argument with Meghan convinced Harry to go to therapy

Like every couple, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have their share of disagreements. But the one argument made public was about Harry's mental health (via People). Harry shared the details in a documentary he filmed with Oprah Winfrey called "The Me You Can't See," according to the magazine. Discussing that Meghan saw how he dealt with some of his mental health issues, Harry shared how he got defensive. "When she said, 'I think you need to see someone,' that was in reaction to an argument we had," he said, continuing that he "reverted back to 12-year-old Harry" in the spat. Once he started seeing a therapist, Harry shared in the documentary how he realized he'd never dealt with some of the grief and trauma of his childhood. Harry also confessed that he realized he needed to properly address his mental health or else lose his relationship.

Harry had already sought out therapy in previous years, which he credited to his brother, Prince William, in a 2017 podcast interview with The Telegraph's Bryony Gordon. In the interview, Harry said he was doing much better mentally and had been able to focus on his work and private life in a healthier way, thanks to therapy. However, it's not surprising that the intense media interest in his relationship and the stress they dealt with caused him to seek out additional help down the line.

They're focusing on charity work and commercial deals in America

Although they are no longer carrying out official royal duties, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are keeping busy with their own initiatives in the U.S. They work together on Archewell, the organization they launched in April 2020 (via Harper's Bazaar). Inspired by their son's name, Archewell combines a nonprofit foundation with audio and video production divisions in conjunction with Spotify and Netflix, per the magazine.

In their Oprah Winfrey interview, the couple shared they no longer receive family money since they no longer work to support the queen (via People). Being such a high-profile couple, they quickly signed commercial deals with Netflix and Spotify to support themselves in their new life, with their Spotify deal estimated at a staggering $25 million, according to ITV. One of their projects is an animated Netflix show called "Pearl" (per Hello!), in which Meghan partnered with their friend David Furnish.

In September 2021, Harry and Meghan visited New York City to support some of the causes they hold close to their hearts, like vaccine equity (via Forbes). The pair had written about the pressing issue in a letter to G20 Summit leaders they co-wrote with the director-general of the World Health Organization (via People). 

Sounds like the pair has quite a lot on their hands even without carrying out royal duties!