Prince Harry and his girlfriend Meghan Markle are engaged

Sorry ladies, Prince Harry is officially off the market! The 32-year-old Prince has announced his engagement to American actress Meghan Markle, who is best known for starring in legal drama Suits. The couple started secretly dating last summer and now Harry and Meghan, 36, are ready to take the leap. A statement was released from Clarence House 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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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."

The pair will marry in spring 2018 Photo: Getty Images

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 romantic vacations, 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 left her Suits acting job in Canada for good.

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Meghan and Harry announced their engagement on Monday morning Photo: Getty Images

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.

The couple made their first official appearance at the Invictus Games in September Photo: Getty Images

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.

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.

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