As many know, Prince Harry is now engaged to the beautiful young American actress Meghan Markle. And their relationship is one that, some have said, has moved along fairly quickly, too. After all, the couple had been dating for only 18 months or so before their engagement was announced; in May 2018, moreover, the pair will be married. But a royal expert has theorized that there’s a major reason why Harry and Meghan are tying the knot now instead of waiting for a few years.
It must be said, though, that the public wasn’t even certain that Harry and Meghan were dating until November 8, 2016. That was the day that Harry took the unprecedented step of releasing a statement requesting that the press leave his girlfriend alone; it also confirmed that the couple were “a few months into a relationship.”
Furthermore, the announcement also seemed to suggest that Harry felt strongly enough about Meghan to defend her. “Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her,” the statement 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.”
And while the couple’s romance would subsequently be relatively out of the public eye, Meghan did nevertheless talk to Vanity Fair about her feelings for Harry. “We’re two people who are really happy and in love,” she said in the interview, published in October 2017. “We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news.”
Not that long afterwards, though, there would be more news. On November 27, 2017, in fact, an official announcement came from Kensington Palace. Harry had proposed to Meghan, and the pair would be married in 2018. And, understandably, fans of the British royal family were pleased that the prince had found happiness.
Then, after their first official photoshoot together, Harry and his bride-to-be sat down with the BBC for a joint interview. And in it, they revealed how they had actually met: as it turned out, a friend had set them up on a blind date. And that date had gone well enough for Harry to later invite Meghan on a five-day holiday to Botswana. There, apparently, they had “had a chance to get to know each other.”
And less than a year and a half after their initial meeting, Harry proposed. According to the couple, they were at home “trying to roast a chicken” when Harry got down on one knee. As for Meghan’s reaction? Well, as she recalled in the BBC interview, “I could barely let [Harry] finish proposing. I said, ‘Can I say yes now?’”
The BBC interviewer would also ask the pair, though, if their romance had felt like a “whirlwind.” “I don’t think that I would call it a whirlwind in terms of our relationship,” Meghan answered. “Obviously there have been layers attached to how public it has become, [but] we had a good five, six months almost with just privacy, which was amazing.”
Meghan continued, “I think we were able to really have so much time just to connect. And we never went longer than two weeks without seeing each other, even though we were obviously doing a long-distance relationship.” But even though the bride-to-be didn’t think that her relationship had moved particularly quickly, it had in comparison to that of her future brother and sister-in-law’s.
Indeed, Kate Middleton and Prince William had dated on and off for ten years before William popped the question. Harry and Meghan, by contrast had a much shorter time together before their engagement. It’s not unusual for that to happen, of course. But in the prince’s case, it’s been suggested that there’s a good reason why he’s marrying so swiftly.
And that reason is Prince Philip, Harry’s 96-year-old grandfather. “One of the reasons that Prince Harry has wanted this wedding to happen quite quickly – this is really whirlwind by royal standards – is because his 96-year-old grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, is retired now and Prince Harry really wants him to be at his wedding,” royal expert Kate Nicholl told Entertainment Weekly in November 2017.
Nicholl continued, “[Harry]’s incredibly close to his grandfather and… [so he] thought it was a great thing to [have] the wedding sooner rather than later, so his grandfather could be there, fit and healthy.” She added, “I think Harry and Meghan were both united on the idea of having a small, family, intimate wedding. I know it doesn’t sound small with 800 people. But by royal standards, it is smaller.”
Indeed, although Prince Philip has access to the best healthcare money can buy, age has begun to take its toll. In December 2011, for instance, he was admitted to hospital with chest pains and had to have a coronary angioplasty.
And in 2012 he missed his wife’s Diamond Jubilee concert after being admitted to hospital with a bladder infection. But while there were some murmurings of a problem with Philip’s prostate gland at that time, Palace officials would say that the hospital stay was merely a “precautionary measure.”
Then, on August 2, 2017, Philip officially retired from royal duties. This marked a new period in Prince Harry’s life, too, as he, his brother and his father Prince Charles have now taken over some of Philip’s royal duties. Indeed, the three will likely take over even more tasks as the Queen herself cuts down on her work.
And although royal commentators have said that Philip’s decision to retire was not connected to his health, the media has still speculated about what would happen when he does inevitably die. Futhermore, some news corporations already have protocols in place for when the Duke of Edinburgh’s death is announced.
Specifically, the BBC will report the news first, and then an official period of mourning will begin. The Queen will cancel all her royal engagements, and flags across Britain will be flown at half-mast – apart from the Royal Standard flag at Buckingham Palace.
And, obviously, Harry is not the first person to want all of his family to be present at his wedding. Sadly, though, there will be one prominent absentee nevertheless, as famously Harry lost his mother, Princess Diana, when he was just 12 years old. Harry and Prince William have subsequently spoken about their grief at her death, and Harry even ensured that the engagement ring he gave to Meghan had some of Diana’s jewels in it.
But, naturally, Harry’s fears for the health of his grandfather isn’t the only reason that he decided to marry Meghan. The primary justification is because he loves her, and he said as much in the BBC post-engagement interview. There, the prince explained, “The fact that I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly was sort of confirmation to me that all the stars were aligned. Everything was just perfect.”
The wedding itself, meanwhile, is due to take place on May 19, 2018, at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle – hopefully, with Harry’s nearest and dearest present. And so even if the prince is one of the most famous people in the world, he’s much like the rest of us in that respect.