Prince Harry and US actress Meghan Markle engaged, to wed next year
Prince Harry, fifth in line to the British throne, will marry American actress Meghan Markle in the spring, palace officials announced Monday, confirming months of speculation.
Markle, a humanitarian campaigner and lifestyle blogger who succeeded in show business before falling for Harry, will become a senior member of the royal family as the wife of one of the monarchy's most popular figures.
Harry, a bad-boy-made-good by his tireless devotion to wounded veterans and his embrace of a variety of charitable causes, has said for several years that he wants to start a family, and the rumours of his engagement to Markle have been flying for some time.
The marriage represents a first-ever blending of Hollywood glamour with the once-stuffy royal family, which has of late seemed less fixed in its ways, and brings a mixed-race American divorcee into a highly visible role.
The couple made a brief appearance before photographers on the grounds of Kensington Palace hours after their engagement was announced.
Harry, wearing a blue suit and tie, said he was "thrilled" and that details about his proposal would come out later. He was then asked if the proposal was romantic, and he replied: "Of course!"
Markle, who said she was "so happy," was wearing an engagement ring for the first time in public. She held Harry's hand and rubbed his arm.
They left with their arms around each other. The couple plan to give their first interview later in the day.
Harry's brother, Prince William, and his pregnant wife Kate welcomed Markle to the royal family.
"We are very excited for Harry and Meghan," they said in a statement. "It has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and to see how happy she and Harry are together."
Harry's father, Prince Charles, told reporters he was "thrilled" with the engagement.
"They'll be very happy indeed," he said.
The engagement announcement says the couple became engaged in London earlier this month and that Harry has informed his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. It says he sought and received the permission of Markle's parents.