Britain's Prince Harry, who is considered as one of the world's most eligible bachelors, is getting married to outspoken American actress Meghan Markle next year after they announced today that they got engaged earlier this month.
"The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle," Clarence House said in a statement on behalf of Harry's father Prince Charles. "The wedding will take place in Spring 2018. Further details about the wedding day will be announced in duecourse," it adds.
The announcement confirms that the couple had got engaged in London earlier this month and that the 33-year-old fifth in line to Britain's throne had informed Queen Elizabeth II of his intention to marry Markle.
Markle a mixed-race American raised in California, an outspoken full-time actress, and a divorcee makes a surprising addition to Britain's monarchy.
Markle, besides being an actress and model, is a blogger who has written about her heritage on her website, describing herself as biracial, and has been a United Nations (UN) women's advocate.
She has campaigned with the United Nations on gender equality, written in Time magazine about girls' education and the stigma surrounding menstruation, and has travelled to Rwanda as global ambassador for the charity World Vision Canada.
In January, Markle visited India with World Vision to meet girls and women who directly bear the brunt of social stigma associated with periods and how it costs them their right to education.
"Prince Harry has also sought and received the blessing of Markle's parents. The couple will live in Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace," Clarence House said.
Harry has been dating 36-year-old Markle since July 2016 and there has been increasing speculation of a wedding in the New Year ever since the actress moved her dogs to the UK from her Canadian home in Toronto recently.
It is unclear if the wedding will be a full church wedding, given that Markle is a divorcee. Historically, Britain's royals have frowned upon such weddings but that changed as the Queen gave her consent in 2005 for Prince Charles to marry Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who was also a divorcee.
The UK bookmaker Ladbrokes had stopped taking bets on the engagement last week and some press reports over the weekend indicated that British Prime Minister Theresa May had "cleared her diary" in expectation of an announcement.
May offered her "very warmest congratulations" to the royal couple. "This is a time of huge celebration and excitement for two people in love and, on behalf of myself, the Government and the country, I wish them great happiness for the future," she said in a statement.
It had been reported last month that the couple went for tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, which was seen as a meeting to seek the monarch?s blessing for an engagement.
"The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are delighted for the couple and wish them every happiness," the Buckingham Palace said in a statement. Harry's older brother, William, and sister-in-law Kate Middleton said they were "very excited" by the announcement.
"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," the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said soon after the announcement today.
Harry and Meghan's spring wedding is widely expected to take place some time in May 2018, soon after William and Kate?s third child is born in April 2018.
According to royal observers in Britain, Markle, who has an African-American mother and a white father and was brought up a Catholic, is unlikely to continue with her acting career once she becomes a part of the country's royal family.
The couple had met through mutual friends in London and have been seen in public together with greater frequency in recent months.
In September 2017, Markle spoke publicly about their relationship for the first time in an interview with 'Vanity Fair' magazine and said they were "really happy and in love".
Markle's parents, Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, said they were "incredibly happy" with the couple's engagement, adding: "We wish them a lifetime of happiness."
"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," they said. "We wish them a lifetime of happiness and are very excited for their future together."
She is also a global ambassador for World Vision Canada and owns her own clothes line, Meghan Markle Collection.
In 2015, Prince Harry was named as the world's most eligible bachelor after he ousted George Clooney from that slot, British media reported.