Meghan Markle has spoken publicly about her relationship with Prince Harry for the first time, confirming: “We’re a couple. We’re in love.”
The American actress and the soon-to-be-sixth in line to the British throne have been dating since summer 2016. While it has long been common knowledge that they are a couple, neither has spoken to the press about their relationship until now.
But in a new interview with Vanity Fair – in which Markle appears on the cover with the headline “She’s Just Wild About Harry!” – the Suits star is surprisingly candid about her royal partner.
“I can tell you that at the end of the day I think it’s really simple,” she says. “We’re two people who are really happy and in love.”
Markle continues: “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.
“Nothing about me changed. I’m still the same person that I am, and I’ve never defined myself by my relationship.”
The interview was reportedly conducted with Prince Harry’s blessing, and Kensington Palace was aware that it was being published.
Markle, who grew up in Los Angeles, was already famous for her role in US legal drama Suits before she started dating Prince Harry.
However, she has since been catapulted into an entirely more intense spotlight. When news of their relationship first broke, the biracial actress was subjected to such an extreme level of tabloid harassment and dog-whistle racism that the prince felt moved to break from convention and release a statement defending her.
As far as handling the media scrutiny that comes with dating a member of the royal family, Markle says “it has its challenges”.
“It comes in waves – some days it can feel more challenging than others,” she says. “And 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.”
The Vanity Fair profile notes that Markle could potentially be the first American to marry into the royal family since Wallis Simpson wed King Edward VIII in 1937, forcing him to abdicate. A scandalous decision at the time, it resulted in Queen Elizabeth II’s father, George VI, becoming king.
However, Markle is sanguine about the pressures of operating in the royal family’s orbit. And while she and Prince Harry have mostly kept their relationship private until now, she says that there may come a time when they feel comfortable being more open.
“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 says.
"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.”
You can read the full interview with Meghan Markle here.
Images: Getty Images / Peter Lindbergh for Vanity Fair / Rex Features