Prince Harry is to marry his American actress girlfriend Meghan Markle, Prince Charles has announced.

Harry, fifth in line to the throne, will marry Ms Markle next spring and will live at Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace in London.

The couple, who have been dating since 2016, got engaged earlier this month.

In a statement, Prince Harry said he was “delighted to announce” the news and had received the blessing of Ms Markle’s parents.

Only the Queen and “other close members of his family” initially knew of the engagement, which took place in London.

The announcement, issued by Clarence House, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s official residence, said details about the wedding day would be “announced in due course”.

After the wedding, Ms Markle will become an HRH and a senior royal.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh said they were “delighted for the couple and wish them every happiness”, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said.

Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, said they were “very excited for Harry and Meghan”, adding: “It has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and to see how happy she and Harry are together.”

Meghan Markle attends a party celebrating 25 years of P.S. ARTS in May 2016 in Los Angeles, California
Getty Images

Prime Minister Theresa May offered her “very warmest congratulations” and wished the couple “great happiness for the future”.

Ms Markle’s parents, Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, said they were “incredibly happy” for the couple.

“To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents,” they said.

The prince and Ms Markle made their first public appearance as a couple in September.

Harry first confirmed his relationship with Ms Markle in November 2016, in a statement from Kensington Palace attacking the media for subjecting her to a “wave of abuse and harassment”.

That statement said the couple were “a few months into a relationship” and it was “not right” that Ms Markle should receive such treatment.

It described nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers, attempts by reporters and photographers to get into her home and the “bombardment” of nearly every friend and loved one in her life.

They were seen together at the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games, an international sporting event set up by the prince for injured soldiers.

Earlier that month, the actress spoke about her love for Harry for the first time – telling Vanity Fair magazine: “We’re two people who are really happy and in love”.

‘This is our time’

She said the pair were enjoying a “special” time together, adding: “I’m sure there will be a time when we will 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.”

Ms Markle, 36, may not have been a familiar name in Britain until recently, but in the US she is better known for her role as Rachel Zane in TV legal drama Suits.

The Los-Angeles born actress, whose father was a lighting director and mother is a social worker and yoga instructor, grew up in what has been described as the “Black Beverly Hills”.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry made their first appearance together in public in September 2017
Reuters

She attended a private primary school before studying at a girls’ Roman Catholic college and later graduating from Northwestern University School of Communication in 2003, just as her acting career was beginning.

Until recently, a union with Ms Markle would have ruled Harry out of succeeding to the throne – due to her being a Roman Catholic.

But new rules on royal succession came into force in 2015 , allowing members of the Royal Family to marry a Roman Catholic and become king or queen.

BBC

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