Latest: Prince Harry 'thrilled' as he steps out with bride-to-be Meghan Markle

Update 12.45pm: Prince Harry declared he was "thrilled" as he and bride-to-be Meghan Markle made their first appearance in public since the announcement of their engagement.

Harry and American actress Meghan Markle stepped out briefly in front of the cameras hand in hand at an open-air photocall in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace.

Photo by Chris Jackson/Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Their long-anticipated engagement was announced by the Prince of Wales on Monday morning with a statement saying the couple, who have been dating for 16 months, will marry in the spring next year.

A beaming Meghan, in a white belted coat, clutched Harry's hand with both of her hands as they posed briefly for the press, and showed off her diamond engagement ring.

Meghan said she was "so very happy, thank you" to be engaged to Harry.

The prince said he was "thrilled, over the moon" adding: "Very glad it's not raining as well."

Photo by Chris Jackson/Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The couple were smiling and giggling throughout their appearance.

When Harry was asked how he proposed, Meghan replied "Save that", with Harry adding: "That will come later".

The pair are giving a television interview to be broadcast on Monday evening

Kensington Palace said the prince designed Meghan's engagement ring himself - using two stones which belonged to his late mother.

The two outside stones are diamonds from the personal collection of Diana, Princess of Wales.

At the centre is a diamond from Botswana, a country that holds special significance for Harry who has visited many times since he was a child.

Photo by Chris Jackson/Chris Jackson/Getty Images

It is also a place the couple has spent time together over the last year and a half, Kensington Palace said.

The band is made of gold and the ring was made by Cleave and Company, Court Jewellers and Medallists to Her Majesty The Queen.

Harry revealed he knew Meghan was "the one" from the first moment they met.

"When did I know she was the one? Very first time we met," the prince said.

The couple braved the cold and answered a number of questions from the waiting press, before waving at the cameras and walking back through the garden arm in arm.

The sunken garden is poignantly the site of the memorial garden created in memory of Harry's late mother Diana, Princess of Wales to mark the 20th anniversary of her death this year.

It was one of the princess's favourite parts of the palace grounds.

Harry and Meghan were separated from the media by several metres of water, standing on the other side of the large ornamental pond.

Meghan's white coat was by Canadian brand Line the Label, and her dress by P.A.R.O.S.H. It appeared as if the Meghan Effect was already under way with Line the Label's website crashing because of the numbers of people trying to access its site.

Meghan's shoes appeared to be strappy Aquazzura Matilde Crisscross Nude Suede Pumps

Fifth in line to the throne Harry, 33, has been dating the 36-year-old star - who found fame in the US legal drama Suits - since the summer of 2016.

Their 16-month whirlwind romance blossomed when they met through mutual friends in London, and the pair have been almost inseparable in recent months.

The much-anticipated engagement news was confirmed by the Prince of Wales in a brief statement issued by Clarence House.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh said they were "delighted" for their grandson and his bride-to-be, and "wish them every happiness".

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said: "We are very excited for Harry and Meghan. It has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and to see how happy she and Harry are together."

Ms Markle's parents Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland wished their daughter and Harry "a lifetime of happiness", adding: "We are incredibly happy for Meghan and Harry."

The pair became engaged in London earlier this month, and modern man Harry sought the blessing of both of Ms Markle's parents.

Harry and Ms Markle will have a church wedding, with the Archbishop of Canterbury saying they had ''chosen to make their vows before God''.

The couple are planning to make Harry's current base, Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace, their marital home.

Meghan will become an HRH and a senior royal after marrying Harry and joining the Windsors.

She is expected to become a duchess - just like Kate Middleton did when she became the Duchess of Cambridge after saying her vows in 2011.

But unlike Kate, Meghan is not a future queen. With the arrival of the Cambridges' children, Harry is too far down the line of succession to have a realistic prospect of being monarch.

She will most probably become HRH the Duchess of Sussex, if Harry is made the Duke of Sussex by the Queen on the morning of his wedding.

The pair were secretly engaged earlier this month, and rumours a wedding was imminent stepped up a gear when Harry took Meghan to meet his grandmother the Queen for tea at Buckingham Palace.

Update 12.45pm: Queen 'delighted' as Prince Harry announces engagement to Meghan Markle

British Prince Harry is to marry to his American actress girlfriend Meghan Markle, with the royal family flocking to congratulate the happy couple.

The Queen and Prince Philip said they were "delighted" for their grandson and his bride-to-be, and "wish them every happiness".

Kate Middleton and Prince William said: "We are very excited for Harry and Meghan. It has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and to see how happy she and Harry are together."

Ms Markle's parents wished their daughter and Harry "a lifetime of happiness", adding: "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 royal wedding will take place in the spring of next year, and Harry and Ms Markle will appear at a photocall at Kensington Palace on Monday afternoon to celebrate their engagement, and record a television broadcast, due to be screened this evening.

Fifth in line to the throne Harry, 33, has been dating the 36-year-old star - who found fame in the US legal drama Suits - since the summer of 2016.

Their 16-month whirlwind romance blossomed when they met through mutual friends in London, and the pair have been almost inseparable in recent months.

The much-anticipated news was confirmed by the Prince of Wales in a brief statement issued by Clarence House.

It read: "His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle."

It revealed that the pair 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 statement said.

The couple will live together in Harry's current home, Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace.

Ms Markle will become an HRH and a senior royal after marrying Harry and joining the Windsors.

She is expected to become a duchess - just like Kate Middleton did when she became the Duchess of Cambridge after saying her vows in 2011.

But unlike Kate, Ms Markle is not a future queen. With the arrival of the Cambridges' children, Harry is too far down the line of succession to have a realistic prospect of being monarch.

Ms Markle will most probably become HRH the Duchess of Sussex, if Harry is made the Duke of Sussex by the Queen on the morning of his wedding.

The pair were secretly engaged earlier this month, and rumours a wedding was imminent stepped up a gear when Harry took Ms Markle to meet his grandmother the Queen for tea at Buckingham Palace.

The prince had to obtain the monarch's permission to wed Ms Markle - thanks to the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which requires the first six people in the line to the throne to seek the monarch's consent.

Ms Markle is a divorcee. In 2011, she wed film producer Trevor Engelson after dating him for six years - but the pair split amicably less than two years later.

Harry and Ms Markle made their first official public appearance together at the Invictus Games in Toronto - where the star is based - in September.

They arrived hand-in-hand to watch the wheelchair tennis, and the tactile pair were clearly devoted to one another.

At the closing ceremony a few days later, the prince was spotted kissing his girlfriend on the cheek as they watched the show from the VIP box, with Ms Markle's mother Doria Ragland.

Ms Markle was also reported to be leaving Suits, where she played paralegal-turned-lawyer Rachel Zane, after finishing the filming of Season 7.

When news of their relationship first broke in October 2016, smitten Harry was described as being happier than he had been in years.

Theatre dates followed, along with romantic African holidays and expeditions to see the Northern Lights, and a shopping trip to buy a Christmas tree together for Harry's Kensington Palace pad.

As a newly-engaged couple, Harry and his bride-to-be may be invited to spend Christmas with Queen and the rest of the royals at Sandringham this year.

The pair share a strong bond through their philanthropy, with Harry supporting veterans and mental health organisations via his charity work, and Ms Markle pursuing her role as a humanitarian campaigner.

Even in its early days, their union appeared to be a serious one. Six months in and just days after it became public they were dating, Harry took the unusual step of issuing a lengthy statement condemning media treatment of his girlfriend and criticising the "wave of abuse and harassment" she was facing.

It was Ms Markle who offered the biggest insight into their affair when she was interviewed by Vanity Fair magazine in September 2017 and revealed they were in love.

"We're two people who are really happy and in love," she said.

She added: "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."

The confirmation from the Palace has come a week on from the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh's platinum wedding anniversary.

Earlier: Prince Harry engaged to Meghan Markle

Britain's Prince Harry is to marry his American actress girlfriend Meghan Markle, Clarence House has announced.

The couple became engaged in London earlier this month.

They will be married in Spring 2018.

"His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms. Meghan Markle," a statement reads.

"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."

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh "are delighted for the couple and wish them every happiness", a Buckingham Palace spokesman said.

Meghan's parents, Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, say they are "incredibly happy" with the engagement.

"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.

"We wish them a lifetime of happiness and are very excited for their future together."

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said they are "excited" for the couple.

"We are very excited for Harry and Meghan. It has been wonderful getting to

know Meghan and to see how happy she and Harry are together."


Related Articles

More in this Section

Ex-Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn charged over pay allegations

European Court of Justice rules UK can unilaterally revoke its withdrawal from EU

Man appears in court charged with murder of British backpacker Grace Millane

Brexit vote week: What are the key events to come?


Lifestyle

Islands of Ireland: The lady of the lake

Beauty and miraculous evolution of avian flight

Celebrate the pine marten

Who are the top dogs among hyenas?

More From The Irish Examiner