Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: Protocol for a royal engagement

They've only been dating since last summer, but Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have already sparked wedding rumors among royal fans. A walk down the aisle for the 32-year-old prince and the Suits actress, 35, would no doubt be the royal event of the year – but what would have to happen before, and after, an official engagement announcement?

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Prince Harry and Suits actress Meghan have been dating for less than a year, but royal fans are already hoping for an engagement Photo: Getty Images

To get married, it is understood that Prince Harry would require a special license from the Archbishop of Canterbury and would also have to ask for permission from his beloved grandmother Queen Elizabeth. According to the Perth Agreement of 2011, the first six people in the line of succession need approval from the monarch. Harry is currently fifth-in-line to the throne, behind his father Prince Charles, brother Prince William and nephew and niece Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

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Historically, royals have not been allowed to marry divorcées, but fans of Harry and Meghan can breathe a sigh of relief. The actress' previous marriage to US film and TV producer Trevor Engelson will not stand in the couple's way. Furthermore, according to the Express, the couple would still be granted a church wedding, and would be allowed to marry at Westminster Abbey, following in the footsteps of royal couples Prince William and Kate Middleton, and Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

Prince Harry would be allowed to marry at Westminster Abbey, just as his brother Prince William did in 2011 Photo: Getty Images

A spokesperson for the historic church said: "The Abbey follows the General Synod Ruling of 2002. Since then it has been possible for divorced people to be married in the Church of England." They added that Meghan's Jewish background would not prevent her from having an "interfaith" marriage there.

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However, Harry may not choose to follow in his brother William's footsteps. Because he is unlikely to become King, Harry has less obligation to hold a huge ceremony at Westminster Abbey or invite press to a big briefing, as William and Kate did when they announced their engagement in 2010. An announcement would be made via Kensington Palace, but anything further than that remains unclear.

To marry, Prince Harry first needs to get approval from his grandmother Queen Elizabeth Photo: Getty Images

Harry and Meghan, who have been notoriously private about their relationship, may also opt for a low-key affair, just as Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall did when they married in 2005. Royal weddings tend to be held at Westminster Abbey or St Paul's Cathedral but Camilla, a divorcée, and the Prince of Wales chose to marry at Windsor Guildhall. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip did not attend the vows, but did go to the service of blessing at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle and also threw a reception for the newlyweds at Windsor Castle.

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The Queen's grandson, a romantic at heart, may go down the sentimental route and choose to marry in St Paul's where his late mother Diana, Princess of Wales said "I do". The Prince was incredibly close to his mother, and marrying at the same church would be a fitting tribute.

In the meantime, royal romantics are looking forward to Meghan and Harry's appearance at Pippa Middleton's wedding on May 20. The Duchess of Cambridge's little sister is to marry James Matthews at 13th century St Mark's Church in Englefield, England before guests head to the Middleton family home in Bucklebury, seven miles away, for the reception.

As we wait to see if Harry and Meghan announce an engagement, check out more royal weddings by clicking here!

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