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Prince Harry to Wed American Actress

Engagement shows how much royal traditions have changed

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, London, after the announcement of their engagement

Samir Hussein/Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during an official photocall to announce their engagement at The Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace.

Princess Diana’s second son Prince Harry, 33, next spring will marry an American actress who is three years his senior, Meghan Markle. His mother would be proud.

Her family in the United States and all the major royals, from Harry’s father, Prince Charles — who announced the engagement Monday in London — to his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II and his brother, Prince William, declared themselves thrilled, excited, delighted and wishing the couple every happiness. 

Instead the day became about photo ops and playful statements to the press. When did Harry know she was the one? “The very first time we met.” Was the proposal romantic? Yes. And the ring? Designed by Prince Harry, using two diamonds that had belonged to his mother and a center diamond from Botswana, a country in which the two have spent time together. 

Harry’s engagement is further evidence that the choice of a spouse is a far more modern decision in the 21st century than it was when Harry’s parents were heading down the path to betrothal in the early 1980s. It’s a change of thinking that the late princess would have championed for her sons, whom she wanted to have a normal life — while also carrying out their royal duties. 

Markle, who is divorced, is a working actress — she’s in the cast of the USA Network drama Suits, among other acting jobs. She describes herself as biracial — her mother, a therapist, is African American and her father, a cinematographer, is white. And she is not from the aristocratic circles in which royals such as Princess Diana and Prince Charles traveled all those years ago. As was her soon-to-be sister-in-law, Kate, Prince William’s wife, Markle is considered a commoner — a person without a title of nobility.  

The couple was introduced by Markle’s friend who is a consultant to the group of private clubs Soho House, of which Prince Harry is a member. They dated under the radar for a while, which was no small feat for two high-profile people, but there was no doubt they were together as a couple at the Invictus Games in Toronto last September. Markle also talked about how they were happy and in love in the September issue of Vanity Fair.

No date has been set for the royal wedding. Prince Charles said details will be divulged “in due course.”

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