LONDON • Britain needs a distraction. The divorce from the European Union hurts. There has been a sex scandal in Parliament.
Last week, the royals provided some welcome relief as the press went into feverish speculation over when Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle would share some good news.
And they finally did as Kensington Palace announced their engagement yesterday as well as a spring wedding next year.
Markle, 36, is best known for playing Rachel Zane in the well-liked New York legal drama Suits.
It is rumoured that she will quit her acting career and continue her charitable work. She is a global ambassador for World Vision Canada, which tackles poverty and injustice.
The 33-year-old prince is said to have inherited his mum Princess Diana's mischievous side and common touch.
He has had his share of missteps, including wearing an outfit with a swastika in 2005 to a party and playing "strip billiards" in a Las Vegas hotel suite in 2012.
There are no hard and fast rules for royal engagements.
Prince William and Kate Middleton were engaged after a lengthy courtship. The tabloids called her "Waity Katie".
She said he popped the question on an African safari to view wildlife.
They held a "photocall" event with the media and gave an interview to a broadcaster, which was aired later in the day. They were married five months later.
Talk of an engagement between Prince Harry and Markle has been swirling for some time. In November last year, he revealed that they were dating. He also blasted the press then for subjecting her to a "wave of abuse and harassment".
The palace also condemned the sexism and racism of online comments. Markle's mother is African-American and her father is white.
Their relationship has been a source of intense speculation since the statement. Along the way, royal watchers wondered if they were not dropping clues that there was a wedding in the offing.
In April, Markle ended her lifestyle blog, The Tig, after three years. "Something to tell us?" queried the Daily Mail.
It also reported that the couple had tea with the Queen last month, sparking talk that they were seeking her blessing. Apparently, the meeting went well. Under ancient rules, the monarch has the right to refuse a royal marriage.
The duo made their first public appearance together in September in Toronto, Canada, at the Invictus Games, a sporting event for disabled veterans founded by Prince Harry.
They kissed and were snapped with Markle's mum.
Markle has been living in Toronto where Suits is filmed. However, there are rumours she has left the show and is relocating to London, where she could move into Prince Harry's two-bedroom cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace.
She has spoken about their relationship. "We're in love," she told Vanity Fair magazine.
"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. 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."