LOS ANGELES (AFP) - American actress Meghan Markle has opened up about her relationship with British royal Prince Harry in a candid interview published on Tuesday (Sept 5), confirming the couple are "in love".
Markle, a star of US legal drama Suits, told Vanity Fair that she and the Prince dated for months before going public about their relationship last year (2016).
"We're a couple. We're in love. I'm sure there will be a time when we will have to come forward and present ourselves and have stories to tell, but I hope what people will understand is that this is our time," she said.
"This is for us. It's part of what makes it so special, that it's just ours. But we're happy. Personally, I love a great love story."
The 36-year-old, speaking publicly for the first time about the couple's relationship, said she met Prince Harry in July in London, introduced by mutual friends.
"We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news, and I was working during that whole time, and the only thing that changed was people's perception," she added, although it was actually four months later, in November, that Prince Harry confirmed the relationship.
"Nothing about me changed. I'm still the same person that I am, and I've never defined myself by my relationship."
Markle acknowledged the situation was sometimes difficult and that "some days it can feel more challenging than others".
"Right out of the gate, it was surprising the way things changed. But I still have this support system all around me and, of course, my boyfriend's support," she said.
A grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and the second son of Prince Charles and the late Diana, Harry is fifth in line to the throne.
News of the relationship sparked a tabloid frenzy, prompting the royal to issue an angry statement in November blasting racist "abuse and harassment" directed towards the mixed race actress.
The Toronto-based Californian's mother is black and her father is white.
Tabloids were quick to point out that the actress, three years Harry's senior, is divorced, unearthing pictures of her first marriage (2011-2013) with an American producer.
Markle, who plays ambitious paralegal turned lawyer Rachel Zane in Suits, says she doesn't read press stories about her private life or work.
"I haven't even read press for Suits. The people who are close to me anchor me in knowing who I am. The rest is noise."