Prince Harry's Africa Trip With Meghan Markle Was Only Their 3rd Date, New Book Claims

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's romance has been a whirlwind roller coaster since it first began. According to a new book about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the pair's connection was immediate, and one of their earliest trips together saw the couple camping out in Botswana.

A new book, Finding Freedom, written by royal reporters Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, takes a look at the couple's decision to break free from the monarch and make a name for themselves, as well as the reported fallouts they had with Harry's family.

An excerpt from the forthcoming book was published in The Times on Saturday, claiming that Harry and Meghan's highly publicized trip to Africa was actually their third date, and details their early flirtations.

While the book makes striking claims, a spokesperson for the couple tells ET: "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed and did not contribute to Finding Freedom. This book is based on the authors’ own experiences as members of the royal press corps and their own independent reporting."

According to this third excerpt from Finding Freedom, Harry and Meghan's first date proved to the prince that his future wife wasn't going to be as easily charmed by him as so many of his past romantic partners.

"On that first date at Soho House’s Dean Street Townhouse, Harry quickly realised that impressing Meghan was going to be tougher than just giving her one of his big smiles," the book claimed. "Perhaps she sensed his nervousness, because the couple were somewhat bashful at first. However, it didn’t take long for them to start chatting easily."

The book claims the pair were totally engrossed in their conversation, enjoying a few drinks and largely ignoring their food, distracted by their chat.

"At the end of the evening, which had lasted almost three hours, Harry and Meghan went their separate ways," the excerpt states. "Despite the palpable attraction between them, there was no goodbye kiss, no expectation, just a hint that something was there and they hoped to see each other again soon."

The pair then reportedly met up again the next night, at the same location, and ate in private, served by a single waiter to protect their anonymity from prying eyes.

The following evening, Meghan was taken to Kensington Palace by a hired car, and driven through the discreet employee's entrance and escorted to Harry's abode.

"When Harry opened the door, the prince towered in the small hallway with lots of coats hung on hooks and his boots by the door, just like any regular home," the excerpt states. "Meghan had enough dating experience to know a charmer when she saw one, and Harry was obviously not at all that. If anything, he was unfiltered. While it was clear he wanted to impress her with details about his work, he spoke without overthinking — and he never mentioned anything about being a royal or a prince."

"Six weeks later Harry said he wanted to take her on a trip. He told her to arrive in London and he would handle the rest. Having flown in from Toronto, Meghan spent one night with Harry at Kensington Palace before boarding a flight to Johannesburg the next morning. That was followed by two hours on a private light airplane to Maun International Airport," the excerpt continued. "Then they jumped into a 4x4 to Okavango Delta — a stunning 5,800 square mile wetland in Botswana’s safari country. They stayed for most of the trip in one of the $1,957-a-night deluxe tents."

According to the book, when Meghan returned her phone was filled with snapshots, showing "the nature they had seen, candid snaps of herself, and selfies with Harry."

Ever since that trip, the book claims their romance was "on a fast track."

"Three months into their relationship, a Meghan friend said, they had already begun swapping the words 'I love you'. It was Harry who said it first, but Meghan immediately replied, 'I love you, too.' From there it didn’t take long for them to begin talking in non-oblique terms about their future," the except stated. "While Harry and Meghan kept a low profile, the prince’s presence could not go unnoticed in her neighbourhood. It didn’t take long for Harry’s visits to become an open secret among the residents."

Soon, tabloids got word of their romance, and they were besieged by photographers and paparazzi, blasting the news of their romance across the world. Apparently, Meghan felt "bittersweet" about the secret getting out.

"On the one hand, she was disappointed that their secret was out. It was no longer just the two of them. While Meghan, before she met Harry, had occasionally set up a paparazzi photo here and there or let info slip out to the press, she did everything in her power to protect the privacy of her relationship with the prince. She knew that keeping things quiet meant that they could get to know each other without pressure or further worries that came from reporters covering and commenting on their burgeoning romance," the book states. "But there was also a part of her that was relieved. She had struggled to keep the secret from friends and colleagues and didn’t like lying about the purpose of her trips to London."

"After they were outed, Meghan received close to 100 messages in 24 hours from people she hadn’t spoken to in months, even years. Everyone wanted to know: is the news true?," the book claims. The relationship also faced racist and elitist scrutiny and criticism, which Harry vehemently opposed and was reportedly enraged by.

"When he first started seeing her, Harry, sensitive to even the slightest hint of prejudice, had fallouts within his own circle. When some questioned his new relationship, and whether she was suitable, he would wonder, 'Is this about race? Is it snobbery?'" the book states. "An old friend of Harry’s spent an afternoon gossiping about Meghan, making disparaging remarks about her Hollywood background. Word got back to Harry, and the prince immediately cut him off. If he was willing to confront those close to him, when it came to the media, Harry was poised for outright war."

Harry released a statement condemning the racist tone of the conversation, both in the press and online, regarding their burgeoning relationship. However, the statement reportedly caused problems for Harry's father, Prince Charles -- not due to the content, but to the timing.

"On a diplomatic tour in the Middle East, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall had just arrived in Bahrain to meet the country’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. It was a critical moment that had been in the works for months. A statement from Kensington Palace condemning the press and, in the same breath, confirming Harry’s new girlfriend would all but eliminate coverage of Prince Charles’s tour of the Gulf," the book states. "The Palace decided to go ahead with the statement nonetheless, much of which was drafted by Harry himself. Charles learnt of it just 20 minutes before it went out. Sure enough, as soon as Harry put out his declaration, the statement dominated the news cycle."

"While disappointed that his son didn’t wait for him to come back, Charles also understood that the situation with Meghan had reached a tipping point. Harry had felt the need to prioritise the woman he loved over duty to the greater royal family," the excerpt concluded.

Harry and Meghan officially stepped down as senior royals on March 31. They have since relocated to Los Angeles with their 1-year-old son, Archie. Check out the video below for more.

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