Prince Harry and Meghan leave the Youth Employment Services Hub in Tembisa township, Johannesburg
Prince Harry and Meghan leave the Youth Employment Services Hub in Tembisa township, Johannesburg

Everything we know about the early days of Harry and Meghan’s relationship

The couple celebrate three years of marriage on 19 May 2021

Saman Javed
Tuesday 18 May 2021 16:50

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will celebrate three years of marriage on Wednesday 19 May, marking their leather anniversary.

The couple married in a televised ceremony in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in 2018, two years after they were first introduced.

In the years since, they have welcomed their son, baby Archie, stepped back from their senior royal duties and settled in California, where they are now expecting a baby daughter.

While the couple has faced worldwide scrutiny in the years since their relationship first became known to the tabloid press, they were able to enjoy some privacy in the early days of their courtship.

We took a closer look at how they met, their date venue of choice and the early challenges they faced together.

They were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend

In their first joint interview following their engagement, Prince Harry said: “Ah yes, we first met - we were introduced actually by a mutual friend”, to which Meghan added: “We should protect her privacy and not reveal too much of that.”

Since then it has been rumoured that the couple were set up by Ralph Lauren PR executive Violet von Westenholz, who grew up going on skiing holidays with Prince William and Harry.

Westenholz is also a close friend of Serena Williams, who famously threw Meghan Markle’s baby shower when she was pregnant with baby Archie.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with their baby son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor

Meghan’s first concern was whether Harry was “nice” and Googled him beforehand

When told that she was being set up with a prince, Meghan recalled asking their mutual friend whether or not he was kind.

“I didn’t know much about him, and so the only thing that I had asked her when she said that she wanted to set us up, was, I had one question. I said, ‘Well is he nice?’” she recalled during the couple’s first televised interview with BBC in 2017.

Meghan went on to say that if he “wasn’t kind”, then “it didn’t seem like it would make sense”.

In royal biography Finding Freedom, Carolyn Durand and Omid Scobie write that both Harry and Meghan conducted “thorough Google searches” of each other before their first date. Although Meghan insisted she knew little about the royal family being from the US.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex leave Mansion House in London after attending the Endeavour Fund Awards

Meghan’s agent warned her about the impact of a potential relationship

Her agent, Gina Nelthorpe-Crowne reportedly told the actor prior to their first date that she would “be the most wanted woman” if their relationship progressed.

To which, Meghan replied: “Well it’s going to be an experience … and at least it will be a fun night.”

They had their first date at Soho House in London

As per Finding Freedom, they first came face to face in a “private dining area cordoned off being floor-to-ceiling velvet drapes”, as coordinated by Soho House consultant Markus Anderson.

On his first impressions of Meghan, Harry told a friend afterwards: “Wow, the most beautiful woman I’ve seen in my life”.

The first date got off to a bashful start, but Meghan and Harry quickly grew comfortable with one another. Although they did not kiss on the first date, they both agreed very quickly to meet up again.

They didn’t wait long before their second date

Meghan said they had planned their second date, which also took place at Soho House, whilst still on their first.

“I think very quickly into that we said, ‘Well what are we doing tomorrow? We should meet again’,” she recalled during the couple’s first interview.

Harry said: “We met once and then twice back to back two dates in London, last July [2016].”

During an appearance on the Late Late Show earlier this year, Harry told James Corden he knew Meghan was “the one” after the second date.

“The second date I was starting to think wow this is pretty special,” he said.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle watch Wheelchair Tennis at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada

Prince Harry didn’t waste time in texting Meghan

Meghan received a text message from Harry the same evening of their first date.

Harry’s texts were said to be “often short and full of emojis, in particular the ghost emoji”, which Meghan found “funny and adorable”.

They went on their first trip together within weeks of meeting

During their first televised interview with BBC, Harry said he persuaded Meghan to join him on a trip to Botswana three to four weeks after they first met.

On this trip, they camped together for five days. “So then we were really by ourselves. Which I think, which was crucial to me to make sure we had a chance to get to know each other,” he said.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex leaving after the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day

They went from “zero to 60”

Speaking on the Late Late Show, Harry said they spent an enormous amount of time together in the first two months of their relationship.

“There were no distractions, and that was great, it was an amazing thing.

“We went from zero to 60 in the first two months,” he said.

The couple left clues of their burgeoning romance on social media

On the evening of the couple’s first date, the Duchess of Sussex began following an Instagram account with the handle @SpikeyMau5, thought to be Harry’s private account.

According to Finding Freedom, on the same night as one of their earlier dates, Meghan also shared a photograph of a Love Hearts sweet that read “kiss me”. She captioned the image “Lovehearts in #London”.

They got off to a rocky start with the media

In November 2016, a statement issued by Harry’s communications secretary said he was worried about Meghan’s safety.

“Meghan Markle has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public - the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at a reception at the High Commissioner's Residence in Cape Town

The statement continued, “it is not right that a few months into a relationship with him”, that Meghan should be subjected to such a storm.

“This is not a game - it is her life and his,” it added.

They pretended to not know each other in a supermarket

During an episode of US podcast Armchair Expert, Harry told Dax Shepard that the couple went “incognito” at a supermarket and pretended they didn’t know each other the first time Meghan came to visit him in London.

“The first time Meghan and I met up for her to come and stay with me, we met up in a supermarket in London, pretending we didn’t know each other, texting each other from the other side of the aisles,” he said.

The first “I love you”

The couple first declared their love for one another three months into the relationship, with Harry being the first to say “I love you”.

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