Prince Harry is to marry his American actor girlfriend Meghan Markle in spring next year, Clarence House has announced.
“His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle,” it said in a statement on Monday.
The ceremony is likely to be conducted by Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, who said he was delighted by the news and had been impressed by Harry’s “immense love for his family”.
Harry’s brother and sister-in-law, Prince William and Kate, said: “We are very excited for Harry and Meghan. It has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and to see how happy she and Harry are together.”
Clarence House said the couple got engaged in London this month. They were expected to show off the engagement ring at a photo call later on Monday.
A date and venue for the wedding will have been decided already, with March being the most likely month, leaving enough time to ensure Kate is not about to give birth to her third child.
The couple would live in Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace.
News of the wedding will prompt a media frenzy that is likely to further test Harry’s relationship with the press. The prince, 33, spoke out about the way Markle, who is divorced, was portrayed when news of the relationship became public just over a year ago.
He condemned some of the newspaper reports and comment pieces as racist – Markle, 36, is mixed race – and sexist. His spokesman criticised the “racial undertones of comment pieces” and referred to “the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers”.
Harry also complained of “a smear on the front page” of the Sun, which ran still images of Markle in the television drama Suits appearing on Pornhub, an adult website. It was headlined “Harry girl’s on Pornhub” even though what was posted were clips of intimate scenes from the programme, and not pornography.
The news sparked a torrent of vitriol against Markle on Twitter and other social media platforms as well as in public comments below online news stories.
Markle has spoken of her heritage as a source of pride. “My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African-American,” she has said in the past. “To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.”
Her parents, Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, said in a statement on Monday: “We are incredibly happy for Meghan and Harry. Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person. To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents. We wish them a lifetime of
happiness and are very excited for their future together.”
Markle and Harry were reportedly introduced by the consultant Markus Anderson in 2016. Their relationship became public after about six months.
In September this year, in an interview with Vanity Fair, Markle spoke about her relationship with Harry, saying: “We’re two people who are really happy and in love. We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news, and I was working during that whole time, and the only thing that changed was people’s perception.”
In the same month, the couple made their first public appearance, at the Invictus Games in Toronto.
The statement from Clarence House said: “Prince Harry has informed Her Majesty the Queen and other close members of his family.”
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh “are delighted for the couple and wish them every happiness”, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said.
Theresa May offered her “very warmest congratulations” to the couple.
“This is a time of huge celebration and excitement for two people in love and, on behalf of myself, the government and the country, I wish them great happiness for the future,” the prime minister said in a statement.