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A timeline of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s relationship: From their first date to their shocking new Netflix documentary

A timeline of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's relationship: From their first date to their shocking new Netflix documentary
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It all started with a blind date and one question: “Is he nice?” Now — six years, two children and a royal exit later — one of the world’s most famous couples, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, are revealing new details of their relationship and what led them to step back from the royal family

The six-part Netflix documentary “Harry & Meghan” is already controversial, with trailers revealing provocative soundbites and emotional moments from their lives, and promising much more. The first three episodes of the docuseries drop Thursday, with the remainder of the episodes released on December 15. 

Here’s what to know about the couple at the center of the media storm.

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These photos show Meghan Markle attending a movie premiere in London in 2013 and Prince Harry in London in 2016.

JUSTIN TALLIS, ANDREW COWIE/AFP via Getty Images


July 2016: Meeting on a blind date 

The start of Harry and Meghan’s romance was far from the royal norm. The British royal and the American actress first met when a mutual friend set them up on a blind date in 2016, with neither of them having any idea who the other was. In fact, the only question Meghan had for their mutual friend prior to that first date was, “Is he nice?” 

“Because if he wasn’t kind, it just, it didn’t seem like it would make sense,” she told the BBC in 2017. “And so we went and met for a drink and then I think very quickly into that we said, ‘Well, what are we doing tomorrow?'”

They quickly had two more “back-to-back” dates in London, Prince Harry told BBC News, and within a few weeks, Meghan traveled to Botswana with the prince, where they “camped out with each other under the stars.”

“It was fantastic, it was absolutely amazing to get to know her as quickly as I did,” Harry said. 

October 2016: First reports of their relationship 

The first report of the couple’s relationship appeared in the British tabloid The Sunday Express on October 31, 2016. Citing anonymous sources, the outlet report that Harry, then 32, was “besotted” with Meghan, who was 35 at the time.  

November 2016: Prince Harry blasts tabloids for racist and sexist “abuse and harassment”

After that first story on their relationship, outlets went wild with the news, some of it rife with racist and sexist commentary. One tabloid, The Sun, published a cover story referring to Meghan as “Harry girl’s on Pornhub,” making it seem as though the actress had posted sex tapes, when in reality someone else had uploaded steamy scenes from her USA network show “Suits” to the Pornhub website. 

This, among other headlines, prompted the royal family to issue an unusual public statement about relationship, blasting the media for the tone of its coverage. 

“The past week has seen a line crossed. [Harry’s] girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public – the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments,” the Palace said in a statement. 

“Some of it has been hidden from the public — the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend; the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker, and loved one in her life.”

The statement said Harry was worried about Meghan’s safety and was “deeply disappointed” he hadn’t been able to protect her from the maelstrom. 

“It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm,” the statement said. “He knows commentators will say this is ‘the price she has to pay’ and that ‘this is all part of the game’. He strongly disagrees — it is her life and his.”

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend a wheelchair tennis match at the Invictus Games on Sept. 25, 2017 in Toronto, Canada.

Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage


September 2017: Meghan’s first big interview and public appearance with Harry 

Meghan Markle’s first major interview about her royal romance with the prince was published in September 2017 in Vanity Fair, during which she discussed the “waves” of challenges that had emerged in the couple’s first year. 

“We’re two people who are really happy and in love. We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news, and I was working during that whole time, and the only thing that changed was people’s perception,” she told the magazine. “Nothing about me changed. I’m still the same person that I am, and I’ve never defined myself by my relationship.”

That interview led British betting-exchange Betfair to promote odds on when the couple would get engaged. Soon after the interview’s publication, Meghan and Harry made their first official public appearance together as a couple, holding hands at the Invictus Games, an event founded by Harry to help wounded veterans. 

November 2017: A royal engagement

Two months after their first joint appearance and a little over one year after they first started dating, Harry’s dad, Prince Charles — now King Charles, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II — officially announced Harry and Meghan’s engagement

Announcement Of Prince Harry's Engagement To Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle hold hands at a photocall to announce their engagement at Kensington Palace in London on Nov. 27, 2017 

Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage


Many key members of the royal family, including Charles and Harry’s brother Prince William, announced their excitement about the news. 

May 2018: A historic wedding at St. George’s Chapel

Harry and Meghan’s wedding was lavish, historic and somewhat controversial. Meghan became the first American in decades to marry into the royal family. The last to do so was Wallis Simpson, who married the former Edward VIII after he abdicated the throne in 1936. 

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Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex share a kiss after their wedding at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.

WPA Pool / Getty Images


Meghan also became the first known mixed-race woman to marry into the royal family. 

The wedding ceremony included the first African American presiding bishop to help officiate a royal wedding, Michael Curry. 

Upon their marriage, they were given the titles Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit Bondi Beach on October 19, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. 

Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage


October 2018: Couple expecting their first child 

The royal family announced on October 15, 2018 that Harry and Meghan were expecting their first child together.

Palace officials said the couple “appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public.” 

May 2019: Baby Archie is born 

On May 6, 2019, Meghan delivered a baby boy they named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. 

Archie became the first known child of mixed-race heritage to be born into the royal family. The celebration was somewhat overshadowed, as Meghan later revealed that there were “several conversations” by royal insiders speculating on “how dark” the baby’s skin color would be

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Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor during their royal tour of South Africa on September 25, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Toby Melville – Pool/Getty Images


October 2019: Documentary reveals chaos behind the public spotlight

ITV News unveiled a documentary featuring interviews with the royal couple, who discussed their recent trip to Africa, what it was like for Harry to retrace the steps his mother took just months before her tragic death, and the couple’s ongoing battle with the press. For the prince, the constant turmoil with the media felt triggering, as it was a paparazzi-filled car chase that led to his mother’s death in 1997, when he was 12. 

“I think being part of this family — in this role, in this job — every single time I see a camera, every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash, it takes me straight back,” Harry said in the interview. “In that respect, it’s the worst reminder of her life as opposed to the best.” 

Meghan was also asked of her struggles with the press. 

“Not many people have asked if I’m OK,” she told ITV’s Tom Bradby, tearfully agreeing that she had been struggling. “It’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”  

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Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex depart Canada House in London on January 7, 2020.

Neil Mockford/GC Images


January 2020: Plans to step away from “senior” roles 

A few months after those interviews, Harry and Meghan made the stunning announcement that they would be stepping away from “senior” royal roles. They said they would work to become financially independent and split their time between the U.K. and North America. They made the decision, they said, in part to “raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter.” 

On their new website, Sussex Royal, couple said they would no longer be using the British pool system of royal correspondents, which, despite being “regarded internationally as credible sources,” actually help in the “amplifying of frequent misreporting.” 

Members Of The Royal Family Attend Events To Mark The Centenary Of The RAF
(L-R) Prince Charles; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; Queen Elizabeth II; Meghan, Duchess of Sussex; Prince Harry, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, on July 10, 2018 in London, England.

Chris Jackson/Chris Jackson/Getty Images


February 2021: Official split from the royal family

After months of speculation, Buckingham Palace announced that Harry and Meghan would not be returning as working members of the royal family. 

“Following conversations with The Duke, The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of the Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service,” a Buckingham Palace spokesman said. “…While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family.”

A spokesperson for the couple also released a statement at the time, saying that they would “remain committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world,” regardless of their “official role.” 

“We can all live a life of service,” the statement said. “Service is universal.” 

The couple eventually settled into a new home in California and announced a series of new projects, including deals with Spotify and Netflix.

March 2021: Explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey 

Oprah interviews Prince Harry and Meghan
Oprah Winfrey interviews Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on a CBS primetime special that aired on March 7, 2021.

Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese via Getty Images


In a stunning interview, Harry and Meghan sat down with Oprah Winfrey in a prime-time special on CBS and spoke out about the numerous struggles that took place behind closed doors at the palace. Among other things, they recounted conversations about “how dark” their son Archie’s skin color would be, and described the lack of support that resulted in Meghan feeling that she “just didn’t want to be alive anymore.” 

They also shared that despite many tabloid suggestions, Harry had a “really good relationship” with his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. However, he said he was “disappointed” by actions of his father, and said he and his older brother, Prince William, were on “different paths.” 

While they unveiled a slew of accusations and revelations in the interview, they also disclosed a happy development: they were expecting a baby girl. 

“It’s a girl,” Prince Harry told Winfrey during the interview. The couple had announced the pregnancy on Valentine’s Day — 37 years to the day after Harry’s mother, the late Princess Diana, announced her pregnancy. 

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Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend the 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala at New York Hilton on December 6, 2022 in New York City.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images


June 2021: Baby Lilibet is born

The couple’s second child was born on June 4, 2021. They named her Lilibet Diana — Lilibet being the family nickname for Queen Elizabeth, and Diana in honor of Harry’s late mother.

December 2022: The “full truth” in controversial Netflix docuseries

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex say they’ll be revealing much more about what’s gone on behind the scenes of their relationship and within the royal family, with the premiere of the Netflix docuseries “Harry & Meghan.” In a trailer for the series, Prince Harry teased that only they know the “full truth” about what has happened over the past six years. 

“No one knows the full truth. We know the full truth,” Prince Harry says, later intimating that he’ll expose some sordid stories of royal life.

“There’s a hierarchy of the family. You know, there’s leaking, but there’s also planting of stories,” he says.  “…It’s a dirty game.” 



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