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Britain's Prince Harry to marry US actress Meghan Markle

[LONDON] Britain's Prince Harry and US actress Meghan Markle announced on Monday they were engaged and would get married in the spring of next year.

Harry, 33, Queen Elizabeth's grandson and fifth-in-line to the British throne, and Markle, 36, best known for her role in the U.S. TV legal drama "Suits", got engaged earlier this month in London.

"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," a statement issued by Prince Charles said.

The queen, who had to give her assent for the union, and her husband Prince Philip are delighted, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said.

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Harry and Markle, who is a divorcee, met in July 2016 after they were introduced through friends.

The prince, the youngest son of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and his first wife Princess Diana, publicly confirmed their relationship months later in a rebuke to the media over its alleged intrusion into Markle's private life.

But it was not until September that they made their first public appearance together at the Invictus Games in Toronto, a sports event for wounded veterans.

"We're in love," Markle told Vanity Fair magazine that month. "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.

"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," British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Twitter.

The wedding is likely to attract huge attention across the world, as did the marriage of Harry's elder brother William to Kate Middleton in 2011.

"We are very excited for Harry and Meghan," William and Kate said in a statement. "It has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and to see how happy she and Harry are together." In his office's warning to the media, Harry referred to the sexism and racism directed at Markle, whose father is white and her mother African-American.

"We are incredibly happy for Meghan and Harry. Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person," Markle's parents Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland said in a statement.

"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." Harry's previous girlfriends included Zimbabwe-born Chelsy Davy, who he dated on and off for about five years, and actress Cressida Bonas.

Like William's wife Kate, Meghan will not become a princess in her own right after marrying Harry. However, Harry, like his brother, is likely to be made a duke when he marries, meaning Meghan would become a duchess.

Markle was born in Los Angeles in 1981. Her father was a TV lighting director for soaps and sitcoms and her mother a clinical therapist.

She made her first TV appearance in a 2002 episode of medical drama "General Hospital" has appeared in a number of TV shows and films, such as "Horrible Bosses", but achieved greatest fame for her starring part as Rachel Zane in the ongoing "Suits" series.

In 2011, she married film producer Trevor Engelson but they divorced two years later. She had her own lifestyle blog thetig.com, which she recently shut down, and like her future husband has become a prominent humanitarian campaigner.

The couple will live in Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace.

"I sometimes still feel I am living in a goldfish bowl, but I now manage it better," Harry said in an interview with a US magazine Newsweek published in June 2017.

"But I am determined to have a relatively normal life, and if I am lucky enough to have children, they can have one too."

REUTERS

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