Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's romance has captivated the world, largely because of how quickly these two went from dating to engaged. Just a year-and-a-half after meeting, Harry presented Markle with a diamond ring, crafted with diamonds from his late mother's collection. Despite the relatively short timeline, the couple has covered a surprising amount of ground.
With illustrious vacations, visits with the Queen, and plenty of trips between London and Toronto, the road that led Prince Harry and his bride-to-be to their engagement was action-packed, romantic, and, at times, bumpy. However, "it's all been worth every effort," Markle said, in her first joint interview with the prince, released Monday. Take one look at Harry these days, and it's easy to see that he agrees. Here, a definitive, detailed trajectory of their relationship, from the blind date that started it all to the at-home proposal.
July 2016: The First Date
In July 2016, an undisclosed mutual friend introduced Prince Harry to Meghan Markle on a blind date—reportedly, neither of them knew who the other was. "I'd never watched Suits, I'd never heard of Meghan before," Harry said in the BBC interview. "I was beautifully surprised when I, when I walked into that room and saw her. There she was sitting there. I was like, 'Okay, well, I'm really gonna have to up my game!'" After three dates, Harry took Markle to Botswana for five days, where they "camped out with each other under the stars."
November 2016: Making It Official
One month after rumors of their relationship took root—fueled, in part, by Markle's "telltale" Instagram photo of two bananas spooning—Kensington Palace confirmed the relationship. However, the announcement wasn't a celebratory one. Instead, it served as a plea for Markle and her family's privacy: "Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her," it read. "He knows commentators will say this is 'the price she has to pay' and that 'this is all part of the game.' He strongly disagrees. This is not a game—it is her life and his."
December 2016: Holidays Together
Once December rolled around, the happy couple was photographed out and about in London shopping for a Christmas tree. According to a shop owner, the duo chose a Nordmann Fir, which Harry promptly carried out of the store. "[They] were completely charming together and blissfully unaware that our jaws had hit the floor," he said.
March 2017: Harry's Plus-One
Harry and Markle headed to a luxury resort in Jamaica to attend the wedding of the prince's close friend, Tom Inskip—this was, allegedly, the first wedding they attended together. One month later, Markle shut down her lifestyle blog, The Tig.
May 2017: Pippa's Wedding
Markle attended Pippa Middleton's wedding as Harry's date—she did not, however, attend the ceremony (for English etiquette reasons!). According to a People source, Harry drove over 100 miles to retrieve Markle from the airport in the interim between the ceremony and reception.
September 2017: In Love
Fresh off a romantic trip to Africa, Markle opened up about her relationship with Harry in the September issue of Vanity Fair. "We're a couple. We're in love," she proclaimed. "I'm sure there will be a time when we have to come forward and present ourselves, and have stories to tell, but I hope what people will understand is that this is our time. This is for us. It's part of what makes it so special, that it's just ours."
November 2017: She Said "Yes!"
Markle brought her seven-season-long run on Suits to a close, sold her Toronto home, and moved to London—specifically, into her beau's cottage in the palace. Her abrupt life change sparked major engagement rumors, which were verified weeks later. On Monday, November 27, Kensington Palace broke the news: "His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms. Meghan Markle."
The marriage of Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle will take place at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle in May 2018. pic.twitter.com/lJdtWnbdpB— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) November 28, 2017
The couple's first joint interview was released hours later. On camera, Markle and her prince shared the details of the proposal story. "[We were] trying to roast a chicken and it [was] just an amazing surprise, it was so sweet and natural and very romantic. He got on one knee," said the actress. Just one day after the first announcement, Kensington Palace issued another, stating that the couple would wed in May 2018, in Windsor Castle.