Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s relationship timeline in pictures

Meghan reveals Harry was late to their first date

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Just days after the release of the first teaser for Harry & Meghan on Thursday, a second trailer was dropped, giving more insight into the story Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle intend to tell. The Netflix series will give an inside look at their relationship and decision to “step back” from royal life. In interviews prior to the trailers’ release, the Duchess of Sussex indicated that she and Harry wanted to tell their “love story,” telling The Cut in August that it’s a “piece of my life I haven’t been able to share, that people haven’t been able to see”. 

Meghan and Harry first met in the summer of 2016 after being set up on a blind date by a mutual friend. The pair sat down at Soho House’s Dean Street Townhouse in London and apparently, it was love at first sight. Authors of Finding Freedom, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, wrote that the pair were “almost obsessed with each other”, quoting a friend of the couple. 

In a serialisation in The Times in 2020, Mr Scobie and Ms Durand wrote: “Over drinks (beer for him, a martini for her), they asked each other questions about their work. Nibbles may have been out on the low table in front of their oversize chairs, but neither touched the food.”

According to friends of the Prince, he was “in a trance” after his first meeting with the actress. And Meghan reportedly called one of her girlfriends, asking: “Do I sound crazy when I say this could have legs?”

As it is known now, the relationship did stand the test of time. The first few months of their romance were a whirlwind; they went on their second date the night after their first and their third date was a trip to Botswana — a place the Prince holds close to his heart.

In October 2016, The Sunday Express reported Britain’s single prince was dating the American actress and philanthropist. A source told the paper that he was “happier than he’s been for many years”. 

In the months that followed, royal introductions were made, the Prince took secret trips to Canada and Meghan called herself the “luckiest girl in the world”. 

However, the relationship was not all roses. In November, just a few months after their first date, Harry was forced to issue an unprecedented statement about concerns regarding his girlfriend’s safety. The statement slammed the intense press coverage surrounding Meghan and their relationship, noting that much of the coverage had been sexist and racist and asking the press to back off. 

Until September 2017, the couple dated quietly, with a holiday to the small Norwegian town of Tromvik, a lowkey attendance at Pippa Middleton’s wedding and a secret meeting with Kate, Princess of Wales, and Princess Charlotte. 

Then, Meghan confirmed the romance in an interview with Vanity Fair, saying she and Harry were “in love”. 

“We’re a couple,” she told the October issue of the magazine. “We’re in love. 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.”

Their first public outing since their initial meeting came soon after; Meghan and Harry attended a tennis event during the Invictus Games in Toronto. 

Two months later, the Prince proposed. “It happened a few weeks ago, earlier this month, here at our cottage; just a standard typical night for us,” Harry told the BBC during their engagement interview.

Markle added: “[We were] trying to roast a chicken and it just — just an amazing surprise, it was so sweet and natural and very romantic. He got on one knee.”

Harry continued: “She didn’t even let me finish, she said ‘can I say yes, can I say yes’ and then were hugs. I had the ring in my finger and I was like ‘can I — can I give you the ring?’ She goes — ‘oh yes the ring.’”

In December, they made their first royal appearance as a couple in Nottingham, and a few weeks later, Meghan broke royal precedent by celebrating Christmas with the Royal Family, an invitation usually reserved until after the wedding. 

Six months later, Harry and Meghan tied the knot at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, becoming the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams and Elton John, were invited to the nuptials, while thousands of well-wishers lined the streets to get a glimpse of the couple. 

In October, the couple announced that they were expecting their first child. That same month, they carried out their first royal tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. 

Unbeknownst at the time, relations between the Sussexes and other members of the Royal Family were deteriorating and the Duchess was struggling. Meghan later opened up about grappling with her mental health during her and Harry’s explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey. 

In January 2019, they attended an event at Royal Albert Hall; the Duchess told Oprah in March 2021 she had expressed concern to her husband over her mental health and not “[wanting] to be alive anymore”. 

She said: “We had to go to an official event. We had to go to this event at the Royal Albert Hall, and a friend said: ‘I know you don’t look at pictures, but, oh, my God, you guys look so great…’” she explained. “I zoomed in, and what I saw was the truth of what that moment was, because right before we had to leave for that, I had just had that conversation with Harry that morning, and it was the next day that I talked to the institution.”

Four months later, the Sussexes welcomed their firstborn — Archie Harrison. Harry gushed to the media about his son and how proud he was of his wife. “It’s been the most amazing experience I could ever have possibly imagined,” he said. “How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension. But we’re both absolutely thrilled and so grateful to all the love and support from everybody out there. It’s been amazing.” 

Later that year, the couple brought their then-six-month-old son on a royal tour of Malawi, Angola and South Africa — marking their final official tour as working royals. Following their trip, in October 2019, the couple revealed they would spend Christmas away from the Royal Family, instead travelling to Canada to spend the festive period with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland. 

It was around this time that the couple featured in an ITV documentary about their tour, during which Meghan gave insight into just how much she was struggling with public life. “Not many people have asked if I’m OK, but it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes,” she told reporter Tom Bradby. 

Upon their return to the UK in January 2020, the Duke and Duchess confirmed their decision to step back from their senior royal positions. Initially, they planned to split their time between the UK and the US, and royal duties and private ventures. However, it was later announced that the couple would be stepping down, unable to be ‘part-time royals’. 

In March 2020, the couple attended their final royal engagements, with their time as working royals concluded with the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey. 

It marked the last time the so-called ‘Fab Four’ were seen together for over two years, and according to royal experts and commentators at the time, the interactions between the couples, or lack thereof, were visibly frosty. 

Harry and Meghan moved to North America and embarked on their careers outside of the Royal Family, launching their non-profit Archewell in April 2020. The couple purchased their first home in Montecito in July, and signed multi-million-pound deals with Spotify and Netflix in September. 

In November, Meghan opened up about having a miscarriage over the summer, penning an essay in the New York Times about the “unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few”. She wrote: “I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second. Hours later, I lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband’s hand. I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears. Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we’d heal.” 

Three months later, in February 2021, the couple announced they were expecting their second child, revealing their daughter would be born in June during their interview with Oprah.  

Around the same time, it was confirmed that the Sussexes would no longer represent the Royal Family and would not be returning as working royals. 

Then, in their first sit-down interview since their exit, the couple opened up about everything from parenthood to the pressures of public life. Both Harry and Meghan admitted to struggling with their mental health and claimed they felt neglected by the institution. They also made allegations of racism within the Firm. 

The following month, Harry returned to the UK for his grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral; Meghan, who was heavily pregnant at the time, stayed in the US. 

Their daughter, Lilibet Diana, was born two months later in June. The name ‘Lilibet’ is the Royal Family’s longtime nickname for Queen Elizabeth II. 

Maintaining relatively low-profile lives in the US, the couple were rarely spotted until they made their first return to Europe since their exit. Harry and Meghan travelled to the UK secretly before heading to The Netherlands for the Invictus Games in April 2022. 

In June, they travelled to the UK with their two children for the first time, joining the Royal Family to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. They were spotted at the Trooping the Colour parade but did not join the working royals on the Buckingham Palace balcony. 

Despite their return, tensions between the Sussexes and the royals seemingly remained. And, in August, the Duchess gave a particularly controversial interview with The Cut, a New York-based magazine, that hinted at unresolved relations. 

She also gave insight into her and Harry’s lives in Montecito, saying they were like “salt and pepper,” explaining: “You never move one without the other.” 

Then, in September, the couple returned to the UK once again for a week of charity events. Originally, the Sussexes had no plans to reunite with the UK-based royals, but when Queen Elizabeth II’s health began deteriorating, Harry and Meghan cancelled their engagements and the Prince travelled to Balmoral to be with his family. 

Following the Queen’s death, the Duke and Duchess joined the Royal Family in mourning, accompanying the Prince and Princess of Wales on a walkabout, taking part in emotional vigils and attending the state funeral for the late monarch. 

In October, Meghan sat down for an interview with Variety magazine and opened up about how she and her family were coping with the grief and confirming they were working on a long-anticipated docuseries about their lives. 

“It’s nice to be able to trust someone with our story — a seasoned director whose work I’ve long admired — even if it means it may not be the way we would have told it,” she told the interviewer. “But that’s not why we’re telling it. We’re trusting our story to someone else, and that means it will go through their lens.”

Harry & Meghan will consist of six episodes and will be released on Netflix on Thursday, December 8. The official trailer for the series features interviews with the couple, behind-the-scenes photos from their royal life, and promises to give an in-depth, personal look at their decision to relinquish their royal duties and step back from public life. 

“When the stakes are this high, doesn’t it make more sense to hear our story from us?” Meghan asks in the trailer. “I had to do everything I could to protect my family,” Harry adds. 

The fiery trailer came in the same week as the couple accepting an award for their racial justice and mental health work. Harry and Meghan received the Ripple of Hope Award from the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR) organisation at a gala in New York on Tuesday. 

The two spoke about their “belief of courage over fear and love over hate,” saying “we know a ripple of hope can turn into a wave of change”. 

It has long been said that the Sussexes take on an “us against the world” approach, with some saying their intense bond got them through months of turmoil and others describing it as disastrous. 

Nonetheless, Harry and Meghan appear to be happy with their new lives in Montecito and are now ready to tell their story. 

Volume 1 of Harry & Meghan will air on Netflix at 8am on Thursday, December 8. 

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