Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's relationship timeline, in their own words

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's relationship timeline, in their own words
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Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex's love story has been able to withstand the flurry of breaking news over the last few years that has captivated their global audience.

Harry, the younger son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, began dating the American actor in 2016. The couple got engaged a year later and walked down the aisle at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in 2018.

The couple’s sixth wedding anniversary is coming up on May 19, but they originally exchanged personal vows privately a few days before their public and legal ceremony.

Since then, the couple has weathered changes — major changes.

They decided to “step back” from their duties as senior royals, announcing their decision to move to the U.S. in January 2020. They detailed why most notably to Oprah Winfrey in 2021 in an interview that created a cascade of fallouts. They shared more about it in their 2022 Netflix docuseries “Harry & Meghan” and in Harry's bombshell 2023 memoir "Spare."

Harry also spoke about his mental health journey in an AppleTV+ series with Winfrey. Meghan, on her end, hosted conversations on the podcast “Archetypes,” opening up about her personal life in the process.

Plus, they have welcomed two children, Archie Harrison Mountbatten Windsor, born in May 2019, and Lilibet Diana Mountbatten Windsor, born in June 2021.

The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Attend The Endeavour Fund Awards (Samir Hussein / WireImage)
The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Attend The Endeavour Fund Awards (Samir Hussein / WireImage)

Starting with their "step back" and beyond, speculation grew of a rift between Harry and his older brother, William. Once considered the Fab Four, Harry, Meghan, William and the former Kate Middleton are now rarely together.

Further, the couple has sought legal action on topics of privacy, libel and security.

Let’s take a look back at how the couple came to be.

Prince Harry Marries Ms. Meghan Markle - Windsor Castle (Steve Parsons / WPA Pool via Getty Images)
Prince Harry Marries Ms. Meghan Markle - Windsor Castle (Steve Parsons / WPA Pool via Getty Images)

Harry sees Meghan for the first time on Instagram

In the couple's Netflix docuseries, "Harry & Meghan," the Duke and Duchess of Sussex revealed they first connected after seeing each other’s Instagram accounts.

“Meghan and I met over Instagram,” Harry said in the show. “I was scrolling through my feed and someone who was a friend had this video of the two of them, it was like a Snapchat.”

Harry said that the video showed Meghan making a goofy face while using a dog-ears filter. And the moment he saw her, he said he asked himself, "Who is that?”


That was when the prince apparently reached out to their mutual friend who had posted the video on Instagram and told them that he wanted to meet Meghan.

Once Meghan learned that someone named "Prince Haz" wanted to see her, she said she asked the friend if she could see her admirer's private Instagram account because that would be the "best barometer" for her decision.

"I went through and it was just, like, beautiful photography and all these environmental shots, and this time he was spending in Africa," she said.

Meghan said that she was interested enough to go on a date with Harry.

Harry and Meghan meet on a date in 2016

After finding each other online, Harry said in the Netflix docuseries "Harry & Meghan" that they then exchanged each other's phone numbers and were "constantly in touch."

The couple ended up meeting each other for the first time in July 2016 when Meghan took a trip to London and carved out some time to see the prince.

"You were late," she said flabbergasted in the show to Harry. "And I couldn't understand why he would be late. But he kept texting. He was like, 'I'm in traffic. I'm so sorry."

Harry added that he was "panicking" as well.

"I was freaking out. I was like, sweating," he said.

Meghan remembered that Harry's tardiness left a bad taste in her mouth.

"I didn't know him, so I was like, 'Oh, is this what he does? Got it.' Like, this I'm not doing," she recalled telling herself at the time.

When Harry asked what she meant, Meghan said that Harry's tardiness made him seem like he was just a guy with a big ego.

"I was just not interested in that," she said.

But when Harry walked in sweating and out of breath, Meghan immediately realized that she was wrong.

The couple also recalled their first encounter in a November 2017 interview with the BBC. Meghan said that she was unsure what type of person Harry would be, given his tile.

“Because I’m from the States, you don’t grow up with the same understanding of the royal family,” she said. “I didn’t know much about him, so the only thing that I had asked (our mutual friend) when she said that she wanted to set us up, was, ‘Well, is he nice?’ Cause if he wasn’t kind, it just didn’t seem like it would make sense.”

Harry said he was also unfamiliar with Markle’s career — she is best known for playing Rachel Zane on “Suits.”

“I was beautifully surprised when I walked into that room and saw her,” Harry said. “I was like, ‘I’m really going to have to up my game here.’”

The next day, Meghan said that she told her friend that she thought that her relationship with Harry could “have legs.”

Harry took their whirlwind romance as a sign, saying, “The fact that I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly is confirmation to me that all the stars are aligned.”

Harry said he knew their bond was ‘special’ during 2nd date

In a February 2021 interview with James Corden on “The Late Late Show,” Harry said his second date with Meghan was “pretty special.”

“Dating with me, or with any member of the royal family I guess, is kind of flipped upside down,” he said. “All the dates become dinners or watching the TV or chatting at home. And then eventually, once you become a couple you venture out to dinners, to the cinema, and everything else. So, everything was done back to front with us.”

“There were no distractions, and that was great, that was an amazing thing. We went from 0 to 60 like in the first two months,” Harry added.

In their post-engagement interview with the BBC in 2017, Harry described the transition away from a cocoon of privacy into a world of overexposure: “I tried to warn (Meghan) as much as possible, but I think both of us were totally surprised by the reaction after the first five, six months that we had to ourselves, of what actually happened from then. So I think you can have as many conversations as you want and try and prepare as much as possible, but we were totally unprepared for what happened after that.”

Kensington Palace confirms that Harry and Meghan are dating in 2016

Prince Harry confirmed his relationship with Meghan Markle via a rare statement from Kensington Palace, condemning the “wave of harassment” Meghan had experienced.

“Some of this has been very public—the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and Web article comments,” the statement read in November 2016.

“Some of it has been hidden from the public — the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriends; the bombardment of nearly every friend, coworker, and loved one in her life.”

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. (Karwai Tang / WireImage)
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. (Karwai Tang / WireImage)

Meghan says that she and Harry are 'in love'

In October 2017, Meghan talked about her relationship with Harry for the first time when she appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine.

In the story, she said, “We’re a couple. 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,” Meghan added. “This is for us. It’s part of what makes it so special, that it’s just ours.”

Image: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle (Peter Dejong / AP)
Image: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle (Peter Dejong / AP)

Meghan and Harry get engaged in 2017

In November 2017, Kensington Palace announced Harry and Meghan's engagement. Her engagement ring includes two of Diana's diamonds.

"Everything about Harry’s thoughtfulness and the inclusion of that, and obviously not being able to meet his mom, it’s so important to me to know that she’s a part of this with us," Meghan told the BBC in their joint interview.

Meghan said that Harry's proposal happened at Nottingham Cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace when they were just having a "standard typical night."

Announcement Of Prince Harry's Engagement To Meghan Markle (Samir Hussein / WireImage)
Announcement Of Prince Harry's Engagement To Meghan Markle (Samir Hussein / WireImage)

“(We were) trying to roast a chicken and it just — just an amazing surprise," she told the BBC. "It was so sweet and natural and very romantic. He got on one knee. As a matter of fact, I could barely let (him) finish proposing. I was like, ‘Can I say yes now?”

“She didn’t even let me finish," Harry added. "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.’”

The couple also shared an unseen candlelit photo from the night they got engaged, and it shows Harry proposing to Meghan on bended knee while they’re surrounded by candles outside. There was also a bouquet of white flowers placed in front of Meghan.


“He’s down on one knee and I was like, ‘Yes!’ I was so joyful and excited. I was like, ‘Ah we’re doing this,’” Meghan recalled herself saying at the time in "Harry & Meghan."

Harry and Meghan get married in 2018

Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams and Elton John were among the guests invited to Harry and Meghan's May 2018 wedding at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Speaking to Oprah in 2021, Harry and Meghan revealed they had exchanged their vows three days before they were set to walk down the aisle.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wedding (Jane Barlow / PA Images via Getty Images)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wedding (Jane Barlow / PA Images via Getty Images)

“No one knows that,” Meghan said. “We called the archbishop and just said, look, this thing, this spectacle is for the world, but we want our union between us, so the vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our backyard with the archbishop of Canterbury.”

“Just the three of us,” Harry said.

Later that year, Harry and Meghan announce a baby was on the way

In October 2018, Kensington Palace released a statement about Harry and Meghan's growing family, saying they were expecting their first child in spring 2019.

Harry and Meghan welcome their first child in 2019

In May 2019, Meghan gave birth to her first child with Harry, a boy named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

“I’m very excited to announce that Meghan and myself had a baby boy this morning, a very healthy baby boy,” Harry told reporters outside his Windsor home. “It’s been the most amazing experience I can ever possibly imagine ... This little thing is absolutely to die for.”

The Duke & Duchess Of Sussex Visit South Africa (Samir Hussein / Pool via WireImage)
The Duke & Duchess Of Sussex Visit South Africa (Samir Hussein / Pool via WireImage)

They 'step back' from royal duties in 2020

In January 2020, Harry and Meghan announced on Instagram that they were going to "step back" as senior members of the royal family to become financially independent and carve out "progressive" new roles for themselves.

Later, during his interview with Oprah, Harry said that his family "cut (him) off financially," and that the couple was living off his inheritance from his late mother. “I’ve got what my mum left me, and without that, we would not have been able to do this," he said.

They said they would "continue to honor (their) duty" to Queen Elizabeth II, who died at 96 in September 2022.

“It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment," they said on Instagram. "We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America."

Harry and Meghan move to California

Harry and Meghan made their big move to California in March 2020, following one last royal event. Upon arriving, the couple lived in Tyler Perry’s home.

“We didn’t have a plan,” Meghan told Winfrey during the 2021 interview. “We needed a house and (Perry) offered his security as well, so it gave us breathing room to try to figure out what we were going to do.”

In the summer of 2020, the couple purchased a home in Santa Barbara, a spokesperson confirmed.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex moved into their family home in July of this year,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “They have settled into the quiet privacy of their community since their arrival and hope that this will be respected for their neighbors, as well as for them as a family.”

The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Visit New Zealand - Day 2 (Samir Hussein / Pool via WireImage)
The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Visit New Zealand - Day 2 (Samir Hussein / Pool via WireImage)

Meghan reveals she had a miscarriage

In November 2020, Meghan revealed she suffered a miscarriage the previous July in a moving op-ed she wrote for the New York Times.

In her essay, Meghan said that losing her second child with Harry felt like “an almost unbearable grief.”

She also recalled the moment when she knew that something was wrong with her pregnancy.

Prince Harry visit to Cardiff Castle (Ben Birchall / Getty Images)
Prince Harry visit to Cardiff Castle (Ben Birchall / Getty Images)

“I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second,” Meghan wrote.

“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," she continued. "Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we’d heal.”

Meghan and Harry sit down with Oprah Winfrey in 2021

In March 2021, Meghan and Harry gave a candid interview with Oprah Winfrey about their lives in the spotlight.

The interview painted a portrait of a couple at the center of turmoil. Meghan, who is half Black, described encountering racism in the press and within the palace halls. She alleged that some members of the royal family had “concerns and conversations” about “how dark” Archie’s skin color will be ahead of his birth.

When Winfrey asked if it would be a problem if Archie was "too brown," Meghan said, “I wasn’t able to follow up with why, but if that’s the assumption you’re making, I think that feels like a pretty safe one.”

Winfrey then asked Harry more about it, and he said, “That conversation I am never going to share, but at the time it was awkward and I was a bit shocked. That was right at the beginning ... what will the kids look like?”

Harry also spoke about his relationships to his family members, as they stood in 2021. He said felt “let down” by his father, now King Charles III, and that he has “space” from his brother.

Harry and Meghan announce they are expecting another child in 2021

In February 2021, Harry and Meghan announced that they were expecting their second child.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the couple said, “We can confirm that Archie is going to be a big brother. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are overjoyed to be expecting their second child.”

Harry and Meghan welcome their second child later that year

In June 2021, Harry and Meghan expanded their family once again when they welcomed their second child, daughter Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, into the world at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with their family. (Alexi Lubomirski / Courtesy Archewell Foundation)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with their family. (Alexi Lubomirski / Courtesy Archewell Foundation)

Harry remembers Queen Elizabeth II after her death in 2022

In September 2022, Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully at her Balmoral estate, Buckingham Palace said in a statement. She was 96.

A few days after her death, Harry paid tribute to his late grandmother by posting a statement on the website for Archewell, the Sussexes' multimedia organization.

Harry wrote, “Granny, while this final parting brings us great sadness, I am forever grateful for all of our first meetings — from my earliest childhood memories with you, to meeting you for the first time as my Commander-in-Chief, to the first moment you met my darling wife and hugged your beloved great-grandchildren."

“I cherish these times shared with you, and the many other special moments in between. You are already sorely missed, not just by us, but by the world over," Harry continued. "And as it comes to first meetings, we now honour my father in his new role as King Charles III.”

Harry and Meghan later attended Queen Elizabeth's funeral on Sept. 19.

Meghan and Harry release a Netflix documentary at the end of 2022

Directed by Liz Garbus, the documentary "Harry & Meghan" features revelations about their relationship and never-before-seen footage, photos and tidbits — like why Meghan wore "muted" colors with the royals.

“The piece of my life I haven’t been able to share, that people haven’t been able to see, is our love story,” Meghan said in an interview with The Cut.

Harry releases bombshell memoir ‘Spare’ in January 2023

Harry’s highly anticipated memoir, “Spare,” was released in January 2023 and pulled back the curtain on his drug use, disagreements Meghan had with Catherine, the Princess of Wales, and other notable revelations that rounded up here.

Harry and Meghan 'vacate' UK home in 2023

After moving to California in 2020, the couple maintained their residence at Frogmore Cottage in the United Kingdom. But in March 2023, a spokesperson for their Archewell Foundation said in an email obtained by that they'd been asked to vacate the property.

“We can confirm The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been requested to vacate their residence at Frogmore Cottage,” the email read.

Harry and Meghan get in ‘near catastrophic car chase’ in May 2023

On May 16, 2023, the couple attended the Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards in New York City. Afterward, Harry, Meghan and her mother, Doria Ragland, were involved in a "near catastrophic car chase" with paparazzi, according to a statement a spokesperson for the couple gave to NBC News on May 17.

“Last night, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Ms. Ragland were involved in a near catastrophic car chase at the hands of a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi,” the spokesperson said.

“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD (New York Police Department) officers,” the statement added.

Two senior law enforcement sources described it as a “bit of a chaotic scene” to NBC New York.

In February 2024, a U.K. court filing indicated that a letter from the NYPD supported Harry and Meghan's contention that they were victims of a "reckless" chase by paparazzi.

Meghan and Harry attend Invictus Games in September 2023

The couple traveled to Germany to attend the 2023 Invictus Games in September 2023. The tournament was held Sept. 9 through Sept. 16.

Harry founded the Invictus Games Foundation in 2014 to help veterans across the globe transition to civilian life after any physical or mental injuries they may have sustained while serving. Activities include sports, adventurous challenges, employment and volunteering, the foundation's website says.

Harry and Meghan attend premiere of 'Bob Marley: One Love' in Jamaica to start 2024

Harry and Meghan's 2024 opened with some time in Kingston, Jamaica, to see the biopic "Bob Marley: One Love." Meghan wore a black spaghetti strapped dress while Harry wore a navy blue casual suit. The film highlights reggae legend Bob Marley’s sociopolitical music career.

Jamaica is a member of the British Commonwealth, but became independent in 1962.

Harry and Meghan wish Kate ‘health and healing’ in March 2024 after news of cancer diagnosis

Harry and Meghan issued a statement of support after Kate publicly shared on March 22 that she had been diagnosed with cancer.

“We wish health and healing for Kate and the family, and hope they are able to do so privately and in peace,” the couple said in a statement obtained by NBC News.

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