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Prince Harry and his girlfriend Meghan Markle are engaged

The Prince, 33, started dating Suits actress, Meghan Markle, last summer

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Sorry ladies, Prince Harry is off the market! The 33-year-old Prince has announced his engagement to US actress Meghan Markle, who is best known for starring in legal drama Suits. The couple started secretly dating last summer and it seems that Harry and Meghan, 36, are ready to take the leap. A statement was released from Kensington Palace that read: "His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms. Meghan Markle. The wedding will take place in Spring 2018. Further details about the wedding day will be announced in due course. His Royal Highness and Ms. Markle became engaged in London earlier this month. Prince Harry has informed Her Majesty the Queen and other close members of his family. Prince Harry has also sought and received the blessing of Ms. Markle’s parents. The couple will live in Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace." 

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle seen for the first time after confirming engagement

A short while later, Harry and Meghan appeared hand-in-hand in public for the first time since announcing their engagement. The couple picked their first photocall in the beautiful Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, the place loved by Harry's late mother, Princess Diana. A beaming Ms Markle, in a white belted coat, clutched Harry's hand with both of her hands as they posed briefly for the press, and showed off her diamond engagement ring. The lovebirds, who started dating last summer, looked head-over-heels in love as they posed for their first official photographs together, following their public debut in September at the Invictus Games. When asked if it had been a romantic proposal, Meghan smiled knowingly at Harry, before replying: "Very!" while the Prince added: "Of course!" The royal also sweetly said that he had known Meghan was the One "since the very first time we met".

READ: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal engagement: signs the announcement was imminent 

A statement issued on behalf of Meghan's parents, Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, read: "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." Prince William and Kate also sent well-wishes to the couple, and their statement read: "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."

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The news was announced through Kensington Palace

Theresa May also congratulated Prince Harry on his engagement to Meghan Markle, wishing the couple "great happiness for the future". The Prime Minister led the list of politicians who sent their well-wishes following weeks of speculation. "I would like to offer my very warmest congratulations to HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle upon their engagement," said Mrs May in a statement. "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."

Royal watchers had been speculating for months when Harry would pop the question. The couple have gone the extra mile to make their transatlantic relationship work, jetting between Harry's hometown of London and Meghan's base of Toronto to see each other as often as they can. They've enjoyed secret holidays, attended high-society weddings and have largely managed to fly under the radar. It is widely speculated that Meghan will settle down in London ahead of the wedding; she has reportedly left her Suits acting job in Canada for good.

GALLERY: Everything you need to know about Meghan

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Meghan and Harry have announced their engagement 

But there have been signs – some subtle and others not so subtle – that pointed to Meghan preparing for a royal life. In April, the actress closed her lifestyle blog The Tig, which focused on food, travel, beauty and fashion. A week later, Meghan also ended her role as ambassador to Canadian clothing company Reitmans. Personal blogs and endorsement deals are not deemed appropriate for royals, as they focus their time on carrying out official duties on behalf of Her Majesty. Meghan has also kept a lower profile on social media, and has noticeably been posting less and less on her Instagram account, which boasts 1.9m followers.

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The couple made their first official appearance at the Invictus Games

The couple have also been taking gradual steps to go public. In September, they made their first official appearance at the Invictus Games Opening Ceremony. The couple stepped out together during that week, with Meghan showing her support for her boyfriend's venture. Earlier in the year in May, Harry and Meghan were also pictured kissing at the Audi Polo Cup Challenge at Coworth Park in Ascot. It was the first time that Harry had taken his girlfriend to such a public event and he didn't seem to care who was watching as he embraced his other half.

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GALLERY: Everything you need to know about Meghan

It was clear from the very start that Harry was serious about Meghan. Just a couple of months into their relationship, the Prince released a heartfelt and lengthy statement via Kensington Palace, asking for privacy for himself and Meghan. He said he was "worried" and "deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect" the actress from harassment, "sexism and racism". The very public statement was a rare move for the Prince, who is clearly head over heels in love with his new fiancée. 

Stay tuned for all the news and details on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement here!

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