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Read About Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Sweet First Date in Their Post-Engagement Interview

22 minute read

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle spoke out on Monday in their first interview after announcing their engagement, sharing the story of how they met on a blind date, fell in love in Botswana and got engaged on a “cozy night” in their Kensington Palace cottage.

Read the full transcript of their interview with the BBC’s Mishal Husain:

BBC: Your Royal Highness, Markle, congratulations to you both.

Markle: Thank you.

BBC: Can we start with the proposal and the actual moment of your engagement? When did it happen? How did it happen?

Prince Harry: It happened a few weeks ago, earlier this month, here at our cottage, just a standard typical night for us.

Markle: Just a cozy night. It was — what we were doing? Just roasting chicken and having …

Prince Harry: Roasting a chicken, trying to roast a chicken.

Markle: Trying to roast a chicken and it just — just an amazing surprise. It was so sweet and natural and very romantic. He got on one knee.

Prince Harry: Of course.

BBC: Was it an instant yes from you?

Markle: Yes, as a matter of fact, I could barely let you finish proposing. I said, ‘Can I say yes now?’

Prince Harry: She didn’t even let me finish. She said, ‘Can I say yes? Can I say yes?’ And then was hugs and I had the ring in my finger and I was like, can I give you the ring? She goes, ‘Oh yes, the ring.’ So no it was a really nice moment, it was just the two of us and I think managed to catch her by surprise as well.

Markle: Yeah.

BBC: And this is how long after you first met?

Markle: Oh it would be a year and a half, a little bit more than that?

Prince Harry: No, just about. It would be about a year and a half, yeah.

Markle: Just about that?

BBC: Which for most people would be quite a whirlwind. Is that how it’s felt to you?

Markle: I don’t think that I would call it a whirlwind in terms of our relationship. Obviously there have been layers attached to how public it has become after we had a good five, six months almost with just privacy, which was amazing. But no, I think we were able to really have so much time just to connect and we never went longer than two weeks without seeing each other, even though we were obviously doing a long distance relationship. So it’s — we made it work.

BBC: How did you first meet?

Prince Harry: Ah yes, we first met — we were introduced actually by a mutual friend, who we will …

Markle: We should protect her privacy and not reveal too much of that.

Prince Harry: We’ll protect her privacy yeah. But it was literally — it was through her and then we met once and then twice back-to-back two dates in London last July.

Markle: Yes.

Prince Harry: The beginning of July. And then it was I think about three, maybe four weeks later that I managed to persuade her to come and join me in Botswana. And we camped out with each other under the stars, we spent — she came and joined me for five days out there, which was absolutely fantastic. So then we were really by ourselves, which was crucial to me to make sure that we had a chance to get to know each other.

BBC: The friend who introduced you — was she trying to set you up?

Markle: Yes, It was definitely a set up. It was a blind date.

Prince Harry: It was a blind date, for sure.

Markle: It’s so interesting because we talk about it now and even then, you know, because I’m from the States, you don’t grow up with the same understanding of the royal family. While I now understand very clearly there is a global interest there, I didn’t know much about him and so the only thing that I had asked her when she said she wanted to set us up was — I had one question. I said, ‘Well, is he nice?’ Because if he wasn’t kind, then it didn’t seem like it would make sense. So we went and met for a drink then, I think, very quickly into that we said, ‘What are we doing tomorrow? We should meet again.’

Prince Harry: ‘What are we doing tomorrow? Let’s meet again.’ And then it was like — diaries. We need to get the diaries out and find out how we are going to make this work because I was off to Africa for a month. She was working. We said, ‘Right, where is the gap?’ And the gap happened to be in the perfect place.

BBC: How much did you, Prince Harry, know about Meghan? Had you seen her on TV?

Prince Harry: No, I had never even heard about her until this friend said Meghan Markle. I was like, ‘Right, give me a bit of background, what’s going on here?’ So I had never watched Suits. I had never heard of Meghan before. I was beautifully surprised when I walked into that room and saw her and there she was sitting there. I thought, I am really going to have to up my game here, sit down and make sure I I’ve got a good chat.

Markle: I think for both of us, though, it was really refreshing because given that I didn’t know a lot about him, everything that I have learned about him, I learned through him as opposed to having grown up around different news stories or tabloids, whatever else. Anything I learned about him and his family was what he would share with me, and vice versa. So for both of us it was a very authentic and organic way to get to know each other.

BBC: Was that quite refreshing for you in the way that you have been brought up, you know, with a lot of people knowing a lot about you?

Prince Harry: Or thinking they know…

BBC: Or thinking they know?

Prince Harry: It was hugely refreshing. To be able to get to know someone who isn’t necessarily within your circle, doesn’t know much about me, I don’t know much about her. To be able to start almost afresh right from the beginning in getting to know each other step by step and then taking that huge leap of only two dates and then going effectively on holiday together in the middle of nowhere and sharing a tent together and all that kind of stuff. It was fantastic. It was absolutely amazing to get to know her as quickly as I did.

BBC: Starting a long-distance relationship — You were working on Suits. You had, I imagine, a packed filming schedule. You have got lots of commitments on your own. How hard was it to keep things going?

Markle: It was just a choice. Right? I think that very early on when we realized we were going to commit to each other, we knew we had to invest the time and the energy and whatever it took to make that happen. So yes, with the filming schedule, it was not the easiest (laughs) because it of course included a lot of travel back and forth.

Prince Harry: I don’t think you had any idea what time zone you’ve been on for the last year and a half.

Markle: No (laughs)

Prince Harry: Coming over here four days or a week, and then going back and straight into filming the next day, 4 a.m. wake up calls on a Monday, straight into set…

Markle: Right off the plane and straight to set and just coming back and doing it again.

Prince Harry: Trying to stay as close as possible, but on two different time zones and five hours apart does have its challenges. But, you know, we made it work and now we’re here, so we’re thrilled.

BBC: In the case of your relationship, unlike for most people, there is this whole layer of what it means to get involved with someone from the royal family. How much of a sense did you have, Meghan, of the enormity of what you were getting into, what it might mean for your life?

Markle: I think I can very safely say, as naive as it sounds now, having gone through this learning curve in the past year and a half, I did not have any understanding of just what it would be like. I don’t think either of us did. We both said that, even though we knew that it would be…

Prince Harry: I tried to warn you as much as possible, but I think both of us were totally surprised by the reaction after the first five, six months we had to ourselves. You can have as many conversations as you want and try and prepare as much as possible, but we were totally unprepared for what happened after that.

BBC: The scrutiny?

Prince Harry: Well, all sorts (laughs)

Markle: There is a misconception that because I have worked in the entertainment industry that this would be something I would be familiar with. But even though I had been on my show for I guess six years at that point, and working before that, I have never been part of tabloid culture. I have never been in pop culture to that degree and lived relatively quiet life, even though I focus so much on my job. So that was a really stark difference out of the gate. And I think we were just hit so hard at the beginning with a lot of mistruths that I made the choice to not read anything, positive or negative, it just didn’t make sense. So instead we focused all of our energies on nurturing our relationship.

Prince Harry: On us.

Markle: On us.

BBC: Some of that scrutiny — and you ended up making a very public statement about it — was centered on your ethnicity, Meghan. When you realized that, what did you think?

Markle: Of course it’s disheartening. It’s a shame that that is the climate in this world to focus that much on that or that that would be discriminatory in that sense. But I think, you know, at the end of the day I’m really just proud of who I am and where I come from and we have never put any focus on that. We have just focused on who we are as a couple. So when you take all those extra layers away and all of that noise, I think it makes it really to just enjoy being together and tune all the rest of that out.

BBC: But now that it is all official, Prince Harry, do you have that sense that the combination of the two of you, your different backgrounds, that you together represent something new for the royal family?

Prince Harry: I don’t know if it’s something new. I think, for me, it’s an added member of the family. It is another team player as part of the bigger team. For all of us, all we want to do is be able to carry out the right engagements, carry out our work and try and encourage others and the younger generation to be able see the world in the correct sense rather than perhaps being — having a distorted view. The fact that I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly was sort of confirmation to me that all the stars were aligned, everything was just perfect. It was this beautiful woman just sort of literally tripped and fell into my life, I fell into her life. The fact that she — I know the fact that she will be unbelievably good at the job part of it as well is obviously a huge relief to me because she will be able to deal with everything else that comes with it. We’re a fantastic team. We know we are. And we hope to, over time, try and have as much impact for the things that we care about as much as possible.

Markle: I am very excited about that.

BBC: Meghan, given your acting and the profile you had you had already been involved with various causes. You had been an ambassador for UN women. What about this new role? You are going to have a bigger platform, a bigger voice. What do you want to do with it?

Prince Harry: Sing (laughs)

Markle: (laughs) Can you imagine? (laughs) No, I’m not a singer. I think what’s been really exciting is we talk about the transition of this out of my career, but into the role is that, as you said, the causes that have been really important to me, I can focus even more energy on because very early out of the gate you realize that once you have access or a voice that people are willing to listen to with that comes a lot of responsibility, which I take very seriously. And at the same time, in these beginning few months and now being boots on the ground in the UK, I’m excited to really just get to know more about the different communities here, the smaller organizations who are working on the same causes that I have always been passionate about under this umbrella, and also being able to go around to the Commonwealth. I thin it’s just the beginning of a…

Prince Harry: There is a lot to do, there’s a lot to do (laughs).

BBC: It is an immense change. You are getting a new country out of it. A husband obviously…

Prince Harry: Sounds nice, doesn’t it (laughs)

Markle: Yes, that does sound nice (laughs)

BBC: But also giving up your career?

Markle: I don’t see it as giving anything up. I just see it as a change.

Prince Harry: It is a new challenge.

Markle: It’s a new chapter, right? Also keep in mind I had been working on my show for seven years. So we were very, very fortunate to be able to have that sort of longevity on a series. For me, once we hit the 100 episode marker, I thought, you know what, I have ticked this box, and I feel very proud of the work I had done there and now it’s time to work as team with you. Yeah..

BBC: Do you have that sense of responsibility, Prince Harry, for what you are asking Meghan to do?

Prince Harry: Of course, that sense of responsibility was essentially from day one, or maybe a couple of months in, when I started to realize actually this is, I feel I know that I am in love with this girl and I hope that she is in love with me but we still have to sit down on the sofa. You know, I still have to have some pretty frank conversations with her to say what you are letting yourself in for it’s a big deal. It’s not easy for anybody. But I know at the end of the day, she chooses me and I choose her, and therefore whatever we have to tackle together or individually, it will always be us together as a team.

Markle: That’s so nicely said, isn’t it?

Prince Harry: I don’t know, but she is capable of anything…

Markle: Thank you

Prince Harry: … and together, as I said, there is a hell of a lot of stuff and work that needs doing. At the moment, for us, it is going to be making sure our relationship is put first. Both of us have passions for wanting to make change, change for good. With lots of young people running around the Commonwealth, that’s where we are going to spend most of our time hopefully.

Markle: It was really one of the first things we connected on. It was one of the first things we started talking about when we met was just the different things we wanted to do in the world and how passionate we were about seeing change. I think that was what got date two in the books probably (laughs).

Prince Harry: Plenty to talk about.

BBC: Children? Plans?

Prince Harry: Not, not currently, no (laughs). Of course, one step at a time and hopefully we will start a family in the near future.

BBC: You have met each other’s families, I imagine?

Markle: Yes, his family has been so welcoming.

Prince Harry: You’ve met quite a few of them actually.

Markle: I have — on both sides of his family. On his mom’s side as well, which has been really important to me too. The family has been great, and over the past year and half, we’ve just had a really nice time getting to know them and progressively helping me feel a part of not just the institution but also part of the family, which has been really, really special.

Prince Harry: Trying to track them down to make sure that they are around at the same time she is popping in without telling too many people — we’ve actually done incredibly well to ensure you’ve met all the key people.

BBC: So does that mean a lot of the time you have been together in this last year and a half, you’ve been at home a lot?

Prince Harry: Yes, we had to sort of reverse the whole process. Cozy nights in in front of the television, cooking dinner with just the two of us by ourselves in our little cottage rather than going out for dinner and being seen in public. So we reversed the whole process. It has provided different opportunities. And it has made us a hell of a lot closer in a shorter space of time.

Markle: That’s true.

Prince Harry: Without question. If there is anyone at home listening, maybe slow down on the dates and maybe spend more time at home. For us, it’s an opportunity to really get to know each other without other people looking or trying to take photos on their phones and all that kind of stuff. That comes with the job, comes with the role, but where possible…

Markle: We were able to really get to know each other that way. But also then to go and have friends over for dinner or to go to his family for tea. Any of those sort of things. Just to take the — take the time to be able to go on long country walks and just talk.

Prince Harry: We’ve been — we’ve been all over the place.

BBC: Have you met the Queen?

Markle: I have, yes.

Prince Harry: A couple of times.

Markle: Yes, true, a couple of times.

BBC: What was that like?

Markle: It’s incredible, I think, you know, a.) to be able to meet her through his lens, not just with his honor and respect for her as the monarch, but the love that he has for her as his grandmother. All of those layers have been so important for me so that when I met her I had such a deep understanding and, of course, incredible respect for being able to have that time with her. And we’ve had a really — she’s an incredible woman.

Prince Harry: And the corgis took to you straight away.

Markle: That’s true.

Prince Harry: I’ve spent the last 33 years being barked at. This one walks in, absolutely nothing …

Markle: Just laying on my feet during tea, it was very sweet.

Prince Harry: Just wagging tails and I was just like ugh

BBC: That has to be a good sign. Speaking of dogs, have you brought yours to the U.K.?

Markle: Well, I have two dogs that I’ve had for quite a long time, both my rescue pups. And one is now staying with very close friends and my other little guy is — yes he’s in the U.K., he’s been here for a while.

BBC: OK, let’s hope he adjusts well.

Markle: I think he’s doing just fine.

BBC: What was it like introducing Meghan to your father and your brother?

Prince Harry: What was it like? It was exciting I mean I’ve — you know I’d been seeing her for a period of time when I literally didn’t tell anybody at all. And then William was longing to meet her and so was Catherine, so you know, being our neighbors, we managed to get that in a couple of — well quite a few times now and Catherine has been absolutely …

Markle: She’s been wonderful.

Prince Harry: … amazing, as has William as well, you know, fantastic support. And then my father as well, we had a couple of — no, more than that …

Markle: We’ve had …

Prince Harry: … A handful of teas and meetings and all sorts of gatherings over at his place as well. So no the family together have been absolutely, you know, a solid support and my grandparents as well have been — have been wonderful throughout this whole process, and they’ve known for quite some time. So how they – how they haven’t told anybody is, again, a miracle in itself. But no, the whole family have come together and have been a huge amount of support.

Markle: They’ve been amazing.

BBC: And your parents, do you think, you know, while very happy for you obviously…

Markle: Yes.

BBC: … Do you think they have worried at all about the scale of what you’re getting into?

Markle: Well I’m sure the onset, both my parents and my close friends were concerned, because we got very quickly swept up in a media storm that, as I shared, was not part of my life before that. But they also had never seen me so happy. And I think also once my friends — excuse me — were able to really meet Harry, and my mom, who we’ve spent a lot of time with, who is so much fun.

Prince Harry: Her mom’s amazing.

Markle: It was just, you know, it was just obvious that no matter what we were being put through that it was just temporary and that we were going to be able to get through that. So everybody was really happy. And he’s talked to my dad a few times, hasn’t been able to meet him just yet, but it’s all been — it’s all been worth every effort.

Prince Harry: Yeah, yeah it’s been great.

BBC: Your ring.

Markle: Oh yes.

BBC: Tell us about your ring.

Prince Harry: The ring is obviously yellow gold because that’s what — her favorite. And the main stone itself I sourced from Botswana, and the little diamonds either side are from my mother’s jewelry collection to make sure that she’s with us on this crazy journey together.

Markle: It’s beautiful, and he designed it. It’s incredible.

Prince Harry: Yeah, make sure it stays on that finger.

Markle: Of course.

BBC: What does it mean to you, Meghan, to have those stones on your finger that once belonged to Princess Diana?

Markle: I think everything about Harry’s thoughtfulness is — and the inclusion of that, and obviously not being able to meet his mom it’s so important to me to know that she’s a part of this with us. And I think in being able to meet his aunts — and also like Julia — and just different people who were so important to his mom, I’m able to, in some way, know a part of her through them and, of course, through him. It’s incredibly special. And you know to be able to have this,which sort of links where you come from and Botswana, which is important to us, it’s perfect.

BBC: What do you think your mother would have thought of Meghan, or said about Meghan?

Prince Harry: They would be thick as thieves, without question, I think she would be over the moon, jumping up and down, you know, so excited for me, but then, as I said, would have probably been best friends with Meghan. So no it’s, you know, it is days like today when I really miss having her around and miss being able to share the happy news. But you know with the ring and with everything else that’s going on, I’m sure she’s …

Markle: She’s with us.

Prince Harry: I’m sure she’s with us, yeah, you know, jumping up and down somewhere else.

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Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com