How Meghan Markle & Prince Harry's Engagement Compares to Prince William & Kate Middleton
By Elizabeth Stanton
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Prince Harry is following in his big brother's footsteps!
It's hard to believe that it's already been nearly seven year's since Prince William and Kate Middleton took their walk down the aisle, and now, our favorite, fun-loving royal is about to become a married man himself, when he and Meghan Markle have their own royal wedding on May 19.
While so much of royal marriage remains rooted in tradition, Meghan, an American-born former television actress, has not been afraid to switch things up throughout the planning of the nuptials, and her engagement to Harry has had its own unique charm and feel, not unlike William and Kate's earlier this decade.
With just two months to go before Mehan and Harry tie the knot, we're diving deep into their engagement and seeing how it compares to Harry's brother and sister-in-law.
Harry and Meghan met in July 2016, after being set up on a blind date by mutual friends. They obviously hit it off, because shortly after that meeting, the two vacationed together.
"I managed to persuade her to come join me in Botswana [after only two dates] and we camped out with each other under the stars, and we spent five days out there, which was absolutely fantastic," Harry shared in his first post-engagement interview. "Then we were really by ourselves, which was crucial to me to make sure we had a chance to get to know each other."
"Taking that huge leap of only two dates and going effectively on holiday together in the middle of nowhere and sharing a tent together and all that kind of stuff ... it was fantastic," he added. "It was absolutely amazing to get to know her as quickly as I did."
Harry then proposed roughly a year later in November 2017, and with the wedding later this year in May, that marks a total of two years together as a couple.
William and Kate, on the other hand, have been together for ten years before wedding in 2011. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met in 2001 while attending the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. They broke up briefly in 2007, but reconciled later that year and have been together ever since. William proposed in 2010 after Kate had been dubbed "Waity Katie" by British press for her willingness to wait on his proposal. Patience paid off, as the two are now happily married with two children, George and Charlotte, and a third expected in April.
Harry kept things simple when it came to actually popping the question to Meghan, opting to propose when it was just the two of them at home making roast chicken.
"Just an amazing surprise," Meghan said during their post-engagement interview. "It was so sweet, natural and very romantic." She also revealed that Harry even got down on one knee for the intimate moment, and she barely let him finish the question before she said yes.
Unlike Harry and Meghan's candid revelations, William and Kate have never said much about how exactly the proposal happened. We do know it occurred while the two were on a private vacation in Kenya, but other than that, the details have been kept private by the couple. But they did reveal that they had discussed marriage for a while before the proposal, and Kate was touched by the moment.
"It was very romantic, there's a true romantic in there," she said during their post-engagement interview.
Meghan is supporting a truly unique ring on her finger, seeing as Harry commissioned the design himself! The triad design ring includes two side diamonds with a larger center stone, all in a yellow gold setting (reportedly Meghan's favorite). The smaller diamonds on the band are from the personal collection of Harry's late mother, Princess Diana, while the main stone is from Botswana, the site of their earliest vacation together, and a country Harry often visits. The custom ring is valued at a reported $66,750.
Kate's ring was an inherited 12-carat sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds in a silver setting, that originally belonged to Princess Diana. The ring was worth $47,000 back in 1981, but as of 2014 was reportedly valued at $500,000.
But no amount of money can replace the ring's sentimental value for the princes, and William explained the ring's significance in a later interview.
"It’s my mother’s engagement ring," he said. "So I thought it was quite nice because obviously, she’s not going to be around to share any of the fun and excitement of it all – this was my way of keeping her sort of close to it all."
Meghan also addressed the major lifestyle change she'd be facing, leaving Hollywood behind for life as a royal.
"It was just a choice, right? I think 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 in whatever it took to make it happen," Markle explained. "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 tried to warn you as much as possible, but I think both of us were totally surprised by the reaction after the first five or six months we had to ourselves of what actually happened from then," Harry added. "You can have as many conversations as you want and try to prepare as much as possible, but we were totally unprepared for what happened after that."
Kate and William are a little more formal in their interview, sitting further apart and seeming slightly more nervous. They certainly faced a good deal of pressure, with Will being the oldest son of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, and the expected future king.
"We're like ducks, calm on the surface, but little feet going under the water," William said in the interview, describing their nerves about announcing the big news.
As for joining the royal family, Kate also admitted to some anxiety. "I was quite nervous about meeting William's father," she said. "But he's very, very welcoming, and very friendly. It couldn't have gone easier really for me." She also revealed she had met the Queen earlier, and she was "welcoming" as well.
Kate, more than Meghan, also faced comparisons to Princess Diana, but they were quick to shut those down.
"It's about making your own future, your own destiny, and Kate will do a very good job with that," William said.
THE CONSENT FROM QUEEN ELIZABETH
No royal wedding would be complete without the approval of Queen Elizabeth II. On March 15, the Queen declared, "My Lords, I declare My Consent to a Contract of Matrimony between My Most Dearly Beloved Grandson Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales and Rachel Meghan Markle, which Consent I am causing to be signified under the Great Seal and to be entered in the Books of the Privy Council."
Fun fact from that letter: Meghan's legal first name is in fact Rachel! But Meghan Markle does have a better ring (as does Princess Meghan).
William and Kate received a similarly formal approval, but there was a stark difference that many royal watchers noticed. In both decrees, William and Harry are referred to as "dearly beloved grandson," but while Meghan's simply has her name, Kate's refers to her as "Our Trusty and Well-beloved Catherine."
Was this a royal diss from the Queen? Not at all, as it turns out. A source explained to the website Express "'Trusty' and 'well-beloved' is language reserved for citizens of the UK or Her Majesty’s other realms.” As an American, Meghan's not part of the realm, so she doesn't get the special love in the decree that must be written by the monarch, per The Royal Marriages Act of 1772. The law stipulates that all descendants of George II are obliged to receive the Monarch's approval prior to marriage, and went into affect after George II's grandson married a common widow against the family's wishes. Luckily, Meghan has been welcomed into the family alongside her soon to be sister-in-law, Kate.
So, how will the weddings between the two stack up? We won't know for sure until May 19, when Meghan and Harry officially tie the knot. Until then, click here for ET's countdown to the royal wedding. And for more on Meghan and Harry, watch the video below!