Prince Harry last night confessed he fell in love with Meghan Markle the moment they met on a blind date.
Lifting the lid on their whirlwind romance, he said ‘the stars were aligned’ when ‘this beautiful woman fell into my life’.
The lovestruck Prince declared his late mother Diana would have been ‘jumping up and down’ with excitement at the news he is to marry Miss Markle this spring.
Harry, 33, also promised he and the American actress, 36, will start a family ‘in the near future’.
Miss Markle, who has quit her role in the television drama Suits and will now become a full-time royal, yesterday spent time ‘utterly charming’ the staff at the couple’s new home in Kensington Palace.
Their romance has moved swiftly. In an extraordinarily candid interview, they revealed how they went on just two dates in London last July before a besotted Harry invited her on a magical camping holiday in Botswana.
Below is the full transcript of their first joint interview, in which they covered a range of issues including the proposal, meeting the Queen and how Diana and Meghan would have been ‘best friends’…
Meghan Markle said ‘yes’ immediately to Prince Harry after he proposed on one knee while they were cooking dinner, the couple said today in their first joint interview
Interviewer: Your Royal Highness, Meghan Markle, congratulations to you both.
Meghan Markle: Thank you.
Int: Can we start with the proposal and the actual moment of your engagement. When did it happen? How did it happen?
Prince Harry: It happened a few weeks ago, earlier this month, here at our cottage; just a standard typical night for us.
Meghan Markle: Just a cosy night, it was – what we were doing just roasting chicken and having …
Prince Harry: Roasting a chicken, trying to roast a chicken.
Meghan Markle: Trying to roast a chicken and it just – just an amazing surprise, it was so sweet and natural and very romantic. He got on one knee.
Prince Harry: Of course.
Int: Was it an instant yes from you?
Meghan Markle: Yes, as a matter of fact I could barely let you finish proposing, I said – ‘can I say yes now’?
Prince Harry: She didn’t even let me finish, she said ‘can I say yes, can I say yes’ and then were was hugs and I had the ring in my finger and I was like ‘can I, can I give you the ring?’ She goes – ‘oh yes the ring’.
So no it was, it was a really nice moment, it was just the two of us and I think I managed to catch… catch her by surprise as well.
Meghan Markle: Yeah.
Int: And this is how long after you first met?
Meghan Markle: Oh it would be a year and a half, a little bit more than that?
Prince Harry: No just about – it would be about a year and a half, yeah.
Meghan Markle: Just about that?
Int: Which for most people would be quite a whirlwind, is that how it’s felt to you?
Meghan Markle: I don’t think that I would call it a whirlwind in terms of our relationship, obviously there have been layers attached to how public it has become after we had a good five, six months almost with just privacy, which was amazing.
But no, I think we were able to really have so much time just to connect and we never went longer than two weeks without seeing each other, even though we were obviously doing a long distance relationship. So it’s – we made it work.
Int: How did you first meet?
Prince Harry: Ah yes, we first met – we were introduced actually by a mutual friend, who – we will …
Meghan Markle: We should protect her privacy and not reveal too much of that.
Prince Harry: We’ll protect her privacy yeah. And – but it was – it was literally – it was through her and then we met once and then twice back-to-back two dates in London, last July.
Meghan Markle: Yes.
Prince Harry: The beginning of July. And then it was I think about three, maybe four weeks later that I managed to persuade her to come and join me in Botswana. And we – we camped out with each other under the stars, we spent – she came and joined me for five days out there, which was absolutely fantastic.
So, then we were really by ourselves which was crucial to me to make sure we had a chance to get to know each other.
Int: But the friend who introduced you, was she trying to set you up?
Meghan Markle: Yes, it was definitely a set-up. It was a blind date.
Prince Harry: It was definitely a set-up. It was a blind date for sure.
Meghan Markle: And it’s so interesting because we talk about it now and even then you know, because I’m from the States you don’t grow up with the same understanding of the royal family. And so, while I now understand very clearly there is a global interest there, I didn’t know much about him and so the only thing that I had asked her when she said she wanted to set us up was, ‘I have one question’ which was, ‘Well, is he nice?’ ‘cos if he wasn’t kind it just didn’t seem like it would make sense and so we went and we had a, met for a drink and I think very quickly into that we said, ‘well what are we doing tomorrow? We should meet again.’
Prince Harry: What are we doing tomorrow? Let’s meet again. And then it was like, right, diaries. We need to get the diaries out and find out how we’re going to make this work, because I was off to Africa for a month, she was working. And we just said right where’s the gap? And the gap happened to be in the perfect place.
Int: So how much did you, Prince Harry, know about Meghan? Had you seen her on TV?
Prince Harry: No. I’d never even heard about her until this friend said Meghan Markle. I was like ‘right, okay, give me a bit of background … what’s going on here?’ So no, I’d never watched Suits, I’d never heard of Meghan before, and I was beautifully surprised when I walked into that room and saw her. And there she was sitting there… I was like okay well I’m going to have to up my game … sit down and make sure I’ve got good chat.
Meghan Markle: I think for both of us though it was, it was really refreshing because, given that I didn’t know a lot about him, everything that I’ve learned about him, I learned through him as opposed to having grown up around different news stories or tabloids or whatever else… anything I’ve learned about him and his family was what he would share with me and vice versa, so for both of us it was just a really authentic and organic way to get to know each other.
Int: And was that quite refreshing for you in the way that you’ve been brought up, with a lot of people knowing a lot about you, was it refreshing?
Prince Harry: Or thinking they know
Int: Or thinking they know.
Meghan Markle: Exactly
Prince Harry: It was hugely refreshing to be able to get to know someone who isn’t necessarily within your circle, doesn’t know much about me, I don’t know much about her. So to be able to start almost afresh, right from the beginning, getting to know each other, step by step and then taking that huge leap of only two dates and then going effectively on holiday together in the middle of nowhere and you know sharing a tent together and all that kind of stuff. It was … fantastic. It was absolutely amazing to get to know her as quickly as I did.
Int: And starting a long distance relationship, you (Meghan Markle) were working on Suits, you had, I imagine, a packed filming schedule, you’ve (Prince Harry) got lots of commitments of your own, how hard was it to keep things going?
Prince Harry: (exhales) It was, yeah.
Meghan Markle: It was just a choice, right. I think that, very early on when we realised we were going to commit to each other, we knew we had to invest the time and the energy and whatever it took to make that happen. And so yes with the filming schedule it was (laughs) not the easiest because it of course included a lot of travel back and forth.
Prince Harry: I don’t think you’ve had any idea what time zone you’ve been on for the last year and a half.
Meghan Markle: No. (laughs)
Prince Harry: Coming over here four days or a week and then going back, and then straight into filming the next day, 4am wake-up calls on a Monday, straight into set.
Meghan Markle: Right off the plane and straight to set. And just coming back and doing it again.
Prince Harry: And just trying to stay as close as possible but you know on two different time zones. And five hours apart does have its challenges. But we made it work and now we’re here so, we’re thrilled.
Int: In the case of your relationship, unlike for most people, there’s this whole layer of what it means to get involved with someone from the royal family. How much of a sense did you have Meghan of the enormity of what you were getting into? What it might mean for your life?
Meghan Markle: I think I can very safely say, as naive as it sounds now, having gone through this learning curve in the past year and a half, I did not have any understanding of just what it would be like. I don’t think either of us did though, we both said that even though we knew that it would be…
Prince Harry: I tried… to warn you as much as possible but I think both of us were totally surprised by the reaction after the first five, six months when we had to ourselves of what actually happened from then. So I think you can have as many conversations as you want and try and prepare as much as possible but we were totally unprepared for what happened after that.
Int: The scrutiny?
Prince Harry: Well all sorts.
Meghan Markle: Well I mean, I think also, because … there’s a misconception that because I have worked in the entertainment industry that this would be something I would be familiar with. But even though I’d been on my show for six years at that point, and working before that, I have never been part of tabloid culture. I’ve never been in pop culture to that degree and lived a relatively quiet life even though I focused so much on my job and so that was a really stark difference out of the gate. But… and I think we were just hit so hard at the beginning with a lot of mistruths that I made the choice to not read anything, positive or negative it just didn’t make sense and instead we focused all of our energies just on nurturing our relationship.
Prince Harry: On us.
Meghan Markle: On us.
Int: And some of that scrutiny – and you ended up making a very public statement about that – some of that scrutiny was centred around your ethnicity Meghan. When you realised that, what did you think?
Meghan Markle: Of course it’s disheartening. You know it’s a shame that that is the climate in this world, to focus that much on that , or that that would be discriminatory in that sense, but I think you know at the end of the day I’m really just proud of who I am and where I come from, and we have never put any focus on that we’ve just focused on who we are as a couple. And so when you take all those extra layers away, and all of that noise I think it makes it really easy to just enjoy being together and tune all the rest of that out.
Int: But now that it is all official, Prince Harry, do you have that sense that the combination of the two of you, your different backgrounds, that you together represent something new for the royal family?
Harry: I don’t know if it’s something new, I think it’s, you know it’s … for me it’s an added member of the family. It’s another team player as part of the bigger team, and for all of us all we want to do is be able to carry out the right engagements, carry out our work and try and encourage others and the younger generation to be able to see the world in the correct sense rather than perhaps being, having a distorted view. So the fact that I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly was sort of confirmation to me that everything, all the stars were aligned, everything was just perfect. It was this beautiful woman just sort of literally tripped and fell into my life, I fell into her life. And the fact, I know the fact that she’ll be really unbelievably good at the job part of it as well is obviously a huge relief to me because she’ll be able to deal with everything else that comes with it. But we’re a fantastic team, we know we are, and we hope to over time try and have as much impact for all the things we care about as much as possible.
Ms Markle: I am very excited about that, yeah.
Int: And Meghan given your acting and the profile you had, you’ve already been involved with various causes, you’ve been an ambassador for UN women. What about this new role? You’re going to have a bigger platform, a bigger voice, what do you want to do with it?
Meghan Markle: I mean…
Prince Harry: Sing.
Meghan Markle: (laughs) Can you imagine? No. I’m not a singer. I think what’s been really exciting is we talk about the transition of this, out of my career but into the role is that, as you said the causes that have been very important to me I can focus even more energy on, because very early out of the gate I think you realise once you have access or a voice that people are willing to listen to, with that comes a lot of responsibility, which I take seriously.
And at the same time I think in these beginning few months and now being boots on the ground in the UK I’m excited to just really get to know more about the different communities here, smaller organisations who are working on the same causes that I’ve always been passionate about under this umbrella, and also being able to go round the Commonwealth, I think it’s just the beginning.
Prince Harry: There’s a lot to do. There’s a lot to do.
Int: And it’s an immense change. You’re getting a new country out of it. A husband, obviously.
Prince Harry: Sounds nice doesn’t it?
Meghan Markle: It does sound nice.
Int: (to Meghan Markle) But also giving up your career.
Meghan Markle. Yes. But I don’t see it as giving anything up. I just see it as a change.
Prince Harry: It’s a new challenge.
Meghan Markle: It’s a new chapter. Right? And also, keep in mind, I’ve been working on my show for seven years, so we were very, very fortunate to be able to have that sort of longevity on a series, and for me, once we hit the 100th episode marker I thought ‘You know what? I have ticked this box’ and I feel really proud of the work I’ve done there and now it’s time to, as you said, work as a team with you.
Int: But do you have that sense of responsibility, Prince Harry, for what you’re asking Meghan to do?
Prince Harry: Of course, that sense of responsibility was essentially from day one or maybe a couple of months in, when I suddenly realised actually this is… I feel, I know that I’m in love with this girl, and I hope that she’s in love with me, but we still had to sit down on the sofa. I still had to have some pretty frank conversations with her to say, you know what you’re letting yourself in for, is …it’s a big deal and it’s not…it’s not easy for anybody. But I know that at the end of the day she chooses me, and I choose her, and therefore whatever we have to tackle together or individually we’ll always be us together as a team, so I think she’s capable…
Meghan Markle: That’s so nicely said, isn’t it?
Prince Harry: …She’s capable of anything
Meghan Markle: Thank you
Prince Harry: And together as I said there’s a hell of a lot of stuff and work that needs doing. At the moment for us it’s going to be making sure our relationship is always put first. But both of us have passions for wanting to make change, change for good, and with lots of young people running around the Commonwealth that’s where we’re going to spend most of our time hopefully.
Meghan Markle: And it was really one of the first things we connected on. It was one of the first things we started talking about when we met was just the different things that we wanted to do in the world and how passionate we were about seeing change. I think that was, that’s what’s got date two in the books probably (laughs).
Prince Harry: Plenty to talk about.
Prince Harry: Not currently, no. No, of course, you know, I think one step at a time, and hopefully we’ll start a family in the near future.
Int: You’ve met each other’s families I imagine?
Meghan Markle: Yes, his family’s been so welcoming.
Prince Harry: You’ve met quite a few of them actually.
Meghan Markle: I have, on both sides of his family, his mum’s side as well, which has been really important to me too. But yes, the family has been great, and over the past year and a half we’ve just had a really nice time getting to know them and progressively helping me feel a part of, not just the institution, but also part of the family which has been really special.
Prince Harry: Trying to track them down and make sure that they’re around at the same time that she’s popping in without telling too many people … we’ve managed, we’ve actually done incredibly well to make sure that you’ve met all the key people.
Int: So does that mean a lot of the time that you’ve been together in this last year and a half, you’ve been at home a lot?
Prince Harry: Yes, we’ve had to sort of reverse the whole process, and cosy nights in, in front of the television, cooking dinner just the two of us by ourselves in our little cottage, rather than going out for dinner and being seen in public, so we have, we’ve reversed the whole process which … it’s provided different opportunities, and it’s made us a hell of a lot closer in a shorter space of time without question.
Meghan Markle: That’s true.
Prince Harry: So if anybody else at home is listening then maybe slow down on dates and maybe spend more time at home. But, for us, it’s an opportunity to really get to know each other without other people looking or trying to take photos on their phones and all that kind of stuff. That comes with the job, comes with the role.
Meghan Markle: And we were able to really get to know each other that way, but also then to go and have friends over for dinner or to go to his family’s for tea or…. any of those sort of things and even you know just to take the time to be able to go on long country walks and just talk.
Prince Harry: We’ve been all over the place.
Int: Have you met the Queen?
Meghan Markle: I have, yes.
Prince Harry: A couple of times.
Meghan Markle: Yes, true, a couple of times.
Int: What was that like?
Meghan Markle: It’s incredible, I think, you know, a) to be able to meet her through his lens, not just with his honour and respect for her as the monarch, but the love that he has for her as his grandmother, all of those layers have been so important for me so that when I met her I had such a deep understanding and of course incredible respect for being able to have that time with her. And we’ve had a really, she’s, she’s an incredible woman.
Prince Harry: And the corgis took to you straight away.
Meghan Markle: That’s true.
Prince Harry: I’ve spent the last 33 years being barked at; this one walks in, absolutely nothing …
Meghan Markle: Just laying on my feet during tea, it was very sweet.
Prince Harry: … just wagging tails and I was just like argh.
Int: That has to be a good sign. Speaking of dogs, have you brought yours to the UK?
Meghan Markle: Well I have two dogs that I’ve had for quite a long time, both my rescue pups. And one is now staying with very close friends and my other little guy is, yes he’s in the UK, he’s been here for a while.
Int: Okay, let’s hope he adjusts well.
Meghan Markle: I think he’s doing just fine.
Int: What was it like introducing Meghan to your father and your brother?
Prince Harry: What was it like? It was exciting I mean I’ve, you know I’d been seeing her for a period of time when I, literally didn’t tell anybody at all. And then William was longing to meet her and so was Catherine, so you know being our neighbours we managed to get that in a couple of, well quite a few times now and Catherine has been absolutely …
Meghan Markle: She’s been wonderful.
Prince Harry: … amazing, as has William as well, you know, fantastic support. And then my – my father as well, we had a couple of – no more than that …
Meghan Markle: We’ve had …
Prince Harry: … A handful of teas and meetings and all sorts of gatherings over at his place as well. So no the family together have been absolutely, you know, a solid support and my grandparents as well have been, have been wonderful throughout this whole process and they’ve known for quite some time. So how they, how they haven’t told anybody is, is again a miracle in itself. But now the whole family have come together and have been a huge amount of support.
Meghan Markle: They’ve been amazing.
Int: And Meghan your parents, do you think – you know while very happy for you obviously …
Meghan Markle: Yes.
Int: … Do you think they have worried at all about the scale of what you’re getting into?
Meghan Markle: Well I’m sure the onset, both my parents and my close friends were concerned, because we got very quickly swept up in a media storm that, as I shared, was not part of my life before that, but they also had never seen me so happy. And I think also once my friends, excuse me, were able to, to really meet Harry, and my mom, who we’ve spent a lot of time with, who is so much fun.
Prince Harry: Her mum’s amazing.
Meghan Markle: It was just – you know it was just obvious that no matter what we were being put through that it was just temporary and that we were going to be able to get through that. So everybody was really happy. And he’s talked to my dad a few times, hasn’t been able to meet him just yet, but it’s all been, it’s all been worth every effort.
Prince Harry: Yeah, yeah it’s been great.
Int: Your ring.
Meghan Markle: Oh yes.
Int: Tell us about your ring.
Prince Harry: The ring is – is obviously yellow gold because that’s what – her favourite and the main stone itself I sourced from Botswana and the – the little diamonds either side are from my mother’s jewellery collection to make sure that she’s with us on this – on this crazy journey together. And …
Meghan Markle: It’s beautiful, and he designed it, it’s incredible.
Prince Harry: Yeah, make sure it stays on that finger.
Meghan Markle: Of course.
Int: What does it mean to you Meghan to have those stones on your finger that once belonged to Princess Diana?
Meghan Markle: I think everything about Harry’s thoughtfulness is, and the inclusion of that and obviously not being able to meet his mom it’s so important to me to, to know that she’s a part of this with us. And I think in being able to meet his aunts and, and also like Julia and just different people who were so important to his mom, I’m able to, in some way, know a part of her through them and of course through him. And it’s, it’s incredibly special. And you know to be able to have this which sort of links where you come from and Botswana which is important to us and it’s, it’s perfect.
Int: What do you think your mother would have thought of Meghan, or said about Meghan?
Prince Harry: Oh they’d be thick as thieves, without question, I think she would be over the moon, jumping up and down, you know so excited for me, but then, as I said, would have probably been best friends, best friends with Meghan.
So no it’s, you know it is days like, days like today when, when I really miss having her around and miss being able to share the happy news. But you know with the ring and with everything else that’s going on I’m sure she’s …
Meghan Markle: She’s with us.
Prince Harry: I’m sure she’s with us yeah, you know, jumping up and down somewhere else.