Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are one of the most famous couples in the world. But it’s easy to forget that at one point, the two were simply dating-in total secrecy. In a new book, Harry: Life, Loss, and Love, author Katie Nicholl reveals how the two kept their relationship under wraps at first-and what made Markle so different from the other loves in Harry’s life.
Nicholl tells Town & Country that Harry is better than you would think at flying under the radar, and so are other royals like Prince William and Duchess Kate. “[Harry is] very, very good at going out and looking incognito when he wants to,” she says. “You’d be very surprised by what the young royals are up to, from just having a pint at the local pub unnoticed to popping into Marks and Spencer to pick up a chicken.”
So Prince Harry used his usual tricks to keep his relationship with Markle a secret. He took scheduled flights, not private jets, and stayed inconspicuous by wearing a baseball cap and dressing casually, with his protection officers also keeping a low profile. It was easier to stay under the radar in London, since Markle could seek protection inside the palace walls.
But in Toronto, they relied on friends Ben and Jessica Mulroney to host them. Ben is the son of a former Canadian prime minister (who once hosted Princess Diana), so he had a unique perspective on what the Prince and Markle were dealing with.
“It’s a great testament to both their groups of friends that they did keep the relationship under the radar,” Nicholl says. “Because quite a few of their friends did know, but the friends that knew were the closest inner circle and the ones that could be trusted.”
Nicholl’s book also gives details on Harry’s past relationships, especially with Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas, and compares his exes to his current relationship with Markle. In Nicholl's opinion, Harry ultimately found Markle to be his match because of both her commitment to charity work and her willingness to give up her acting careerfor a royal life, something Harry’s exes didn’t feel comfortable with.
That may have been because of Markle’s age, Nicholl says. “I think it was quite significant that she is older than him. This is a woman with experience, and I think that was a real call for Harry,” she says. “Up until then, the two big loves of his life who he did truly love were younger, more inexperienced, less willing to accommodate everything his lifestyle brought with it.”
Both Harry and Markle had visited Afghanistan in the past (Harry on active duty as a Captain in the British Army in 2008 and Markle on a USO tour in December 2014) and they both count those trips as turning points that convinced them to focus more of their efforts on good causes. “She resonated with him in so many ways–they wanted to use the platform she had as an actress to put the spotlight on her charity work,” Nicholl says. “That really impressed him.”
Nicholl says that Davy and Bonas both flinched when they saw the media spotlight Kate Middleton faced when she was engaged to Prince William. But Markle seemed able to handle it, because of a combination of her age, maturity, and previous experience with the glare of fame. Plus, Markle had said she felt ready to move beyond acting.
“They were both at the right stage in their lives to meet each other,” Nicholl says. “ It wasn’t the right stage when Harry met Chelsy. I think she probably could have been the right woman, but it was the wrong time in Harry’s life, and I think he found the right person at the right time.”
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