A royal timeline: How Meghan and Harry met and first kept their relationship under wraps 4 years ago

A royal timeline: How Meghan and Harry met and first kept their relationship under wraps

It was the definition of a whirlwind romance - less than a year and a half until he popped the question - but it's one that's had the world hooked.

We love us a bit of Harry and Meghan so here's everything that's happened up to when they announced their engagement one year ago today.

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Meghan and Harry first began dating in June of 2016, having been introduced by a mutual friend.

Though they lived on different continents, Harry reportedly kept the romance going after the initial date with months of texts. It turns out that he had fancied Meghan from afar for quite a while.

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According to Channel 4's When Harry Met Meghan: A Royal Romance, he had had a crush on her for two years before they ever met.

"She [Harry's friend] told me she'd been on a night out with Prince Harry," explained royal commentator Katie Nicholl in the documentary.

"He was single at the time, so she said, 'Harry, who's your ideal girl?'

"And he said 'Meghan Markle from Suits'."

Kensington Palace confirmed the couple's relationship in a roundabout way in November of 2016, five months after they started seeing each other.

In an unprecedented move, it released a statement saying that Harry's "... girlfriend Meghan Markle has been subject to a wave abuse and harassment." 

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This included "a smear on the front page of a national newspaper" and "the racial undertones of comment pieces," it said.

It also claimed that the media had harassed her mother, tried to break into her home and attempted to bribe ex-boyfriends (yikes) and said that Harry was "deeply disappointed" he hadn't been able to protect her.

In the months that followed, the media interest did not subside. Given Harry and William's wariness of the media and its link to their mother Princess Diana's death (Diana's car was driving away from paparazzi before the fatal crash in 1997), it's no surprise Harry stepped up his game to keep Meghan safe.

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He reportedly hired a former Scotland Yard Personal Protection Officer to shadow Meghan and boosted security around her to levels normally reserved for actual royal family members.

In December of that year, Meghan spoke published an essay in Elle Magazine about the racism she'd endured in her life.

''I wasn't black enough for the black roles and I wasn't white enough for the white ones, leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn't book a job.''

At that point, the couple had not yet stepped out together publicly but fans noticed they'd been wearing matching bracelets.

They were finally seen together in public in December when they were spotted buying a Christmas tree together in London.

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Their relationship continued into 2017, with Harry bringing Meghan as his guest to a friend's wedding in Jamaica. This outing fuelled rumours that they could be next to tie the knot.

"This the first time that she and Harry have socialised so openly as a couple and is a significant step up in their relationship," a friend said at the time.

"Make no mistake, he is heads over heels about her. This one could go all the way."

The next hint that Meghan and Harry were getting serious came when it emerged that she'd be attending Pippa Middleton's wedding in May.

Pippa was believed have a strict 'no ring, no bring' rule in place for the big day, so even though we barely got a glimpse at her, Meghan joining Harry at the family occasion was a tell-tale sign that this was no fling.

As 2017 went on, more and more signs that Meghan was set to become a royal came. She had already shut down her lifestyle website The Tig in April after three years.

"What began as a passion project (my little engine that could) evolved into an amazing community of inspiration, support, fun and frivolity," she wrote on the website.

"You've made my days brighter and filled this experience with so much joy."

It was then reported that she was winding down her acting career too.

After six years playing Rachel Zane on legal drama Suits, Meghan failed to sign up for another series of the show, according to a number of outlets, further driving speculation that an engagement was imminent.

"She really enjoys her charity work with Unicef and will broaden out her charity commitments when she becomes a full-time royal," a friend said of her decision to step away from the show.

As their relationship became more and more public, Harry whisked her away to Botswana in Africa for a holiday for her 36th birthday in August.

Finally, Meghan finally spoke out about their relationship in a Vanity Fair cover story.

"We’re a couple. We’re in love," she told the magazine in September.

"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.

“This is for us. It’s part of what makes it so special, that it’s just ours. But we’re happy. Personally, I love a great love story… I think it’s really simple."

Vanity Fair's October cover image by Peter Lindbergh

She admitted that the furore surrounding their relationship was "challenging".

"It has its challenges, and it comes in waves - some days it can feel more challenging than others.

"And right out of the gate it was surprising the way things changed. But I still have this support system all around me, and, of course, my boyfriend’s support."

We finally got to see the pair together properly later that month when they made their first public appearance at the Invictus Games in Toronto looking very loved up.

A post shared by ET Canada (@etcanada) on

After that, things really kicked up a notch.

The pair were said to be house-hunting in England, Meghan had met all of his family including the Queen and she was even invited to spend Christmas at Buckingham Palace.

Considering the fact that Kate Middleton didn't meet the Queen until she and William had been going out for four years (seriously), things were only ever going to go one way - engagement.

On 27 November last year, Kensington Palace announced that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were set to get married.

The 365 days since have certainly been eventful - the celebrity wedding of the year in May and a pregnancy announcement in October, not to mention countless public appearances, a foreign tour, a cook book and, of course, drama in their personal lives.

With a baby on the way in 2019, we can only imagine that the next year will be just as mad.