Prince Harry got down on one knee

Britain’s Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle after announcing their engagement in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace in London on Monday.
Britain’s Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle after announcing their engagement in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace in London on Monday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON • Even a prince has to get down on one knee to propose.

Earlier this month, Prince Harry did just that when he and Meghan Markle were having a "cosy night" at his cottage in Kensington Palace, trying to roast a chicken.

That was when he popped the question to the American actress, whom he had been dating for 16 months after they met on a blind date.

In their first joint interview on Monday, Markle, 36, said he did not have to finish the sentence before she said yes, describing the occasion as "so sweet and natural and very romantic".

Prince Harry, 33, said: "I had the ring in my finger... (It) is obviously yellow gold because that's... her favourite and the main stone itself I sourced from Botswana and the little diamonds (on) either side are from my mother's jewellery collection to make sure that she's with us."

When Markle noted that "he designed it, it's incredible", he added: "Yeah, make sure it stays on that finger."

Asked what his mum, Princess Diana, would have thought of Markle, he said: "I think she would be over the moon, jumping up and down. "

Fans of the British royal family are now in a tizzy over what Markle will wear at the wedding next year.

The United Nations women's agency also found reason to cheer.

On Monday, it voiced hope that the actress would continue to use her voice for women.

In 2015, Markle had spoken at a New York event marking the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Women's Conference.

She recounted how at 11 she managed to convince consumer products giant Procter & Gamble to change a slogan for dish soap that said "women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans".

She founded a lifestyle blog called The Tig in 2014, drawing a robust following with posts about political and social issues.

But news of her relationship with Prince Harry drew criticism too as she did not quite fit the archetype of a would-be princess.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, she is older than him.

She is biracial, with an African-American mother and white father.

And she has been divorced.

The onslaught of racist and sexist attacks was intense enough to prompt a rare rebuke from Kensington Palace last year.

"Prince Harry is worried about Ms Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her. 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. This is not a game - it is her life and his."

After the announcement of their engagement on Monday, the couple's names ranked among the top trending Google searches.

In response to one common question - what will Markle's title be? - the British press reported that she will likely soon be officially known as the Duchess of Sussex.

More details about the wedding venue and timing are expected this week, the Guardian reported.

Fans of the royal family will now have months to ponder over the upcoming nuptials - What will she wear? Who will be invited?

Markle herself will no doubt mull over how her new role can grant her an even more prominent platform for philanthropic work.

Last year, she wrote an essay for Elle magazine about the challenge of balancing the glamour of Hollywood with her commitment to humanitarian work.

"Reflecting on where I came from helps me to appreciate and balance what I have now," she wrote, adding that her parents emphasised a sense of compassion and responsibility.

"With fame comes opportunity, but it also includes responsibility - to advocate and share, to focus less on glass slippers and more on pushing through glass ceilings. And, if I'm lucky enough, to inspire."

WASHINGTON POST, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2017, with the headline 'Prince Harry got down on one knee'. Print Edition | Subscribe