What to expect if Prince Harry and Meghan Markle become engaged
Prince Harry arrives with his girlfriend Meghan Markle to a wheelchair tennis event during the Invictus Games in Toronto on September 25, 2017. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
Published Friday, November 17, 2017 7:50AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 23, 2017 7:50PM EST
Now that the Queen and Prince Philip have celebrated 70 years of marriage with their platinum wedding anniversary this week, royal watchers will be keeping a close eye on the weeks that follow for news of another royal occasion.
After their first official (and affectionate) public outing together at the Invictus Games in Toronto this fall, Prince Harry and his girlfriend Meghan Markle have fuelled intense speculation that they will be engaged any day now.
As the world awaits a royal announcement, it’s worth considering how a potential engagement and subsequent wedding would go down. To break it down, royal commentators Richard Berthelsen and royal commentator Victoria Arbiter answered CTVNews.ca’s questions about what a future engagement and marriage may look like for the lovebirds.
When would they announce the engagement?
Both Berthelsen and Arbiter agree that it’s highly unlikely the Royal Family will announce Prince Harry and Markle’s engagement before the Queen’s platinum wedding anniversary on Nov. 20.
It’s the first time a British Monarch has reached that milestone and the prince and his girlfriend would be careful not to upstage it, Arbiter explained.
Additionally, the Queen’s family Christmas festivities and annual message to the public on Christmas Day are also important events in her calendar so it’s fair to assume there wouldn’t be an announcement then, Arbiter said.
As for Markle’s schedule, CTV’s royal commentator Berthelsen said there probably won’t be any announcement until the American actor’s television series “Suits” wraps up filming for its latest season. He predicts Markle will give up her role on the show once she’s engaged to Prince Harry.
Recent reports in U.S. media claim that Markle and her Suits co-star Patrick J. Adams won’t be returning for the eighth season of the popular show.
“Once that takes place and there’s a change in her status on the show, I think that will be a pretty clear indication that something’s up,” Berthelsen said. “They may make that announcement fairly quickly after the season wraps up because it will become obvious to a lot of people if she’s not planning to return.”
Berthelsen and Arbiter both suggested that the announcement might be made early in the New Year.
“I do feel a little bit like the world has turned into the world’s worst grandma in the sense of asking, ‘Are you engaged? Are you engaged?’” Arbiter said with a laugh.
How would the engagement be announced?
It’s very likely that Prince Harry will follow in his older brother Prince William’s footsteps when it comes to the actual announcement, Berthelsen said. There will be an official statement from Prince Charles announcing the engagement of his son, just as he did with Prince William.
Following that proclamation, Arbiter said it’s likely the couple will hold a photo call where they can be photographed together. It’s also possible they will participate in a few media interviews as other members of the Royal Family have done on the announcement of their engagements, Berthelsen said. On the day of their announcement, Prince William and Kate gave an intimate interview about their relationship to British broadcaster ITV News.
Does Prince Harry need permission to wed?
Thanks to the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, the Queen only has to approve of the marriages of the first six in line to the throne.
Prince Harry is currently the fifth successor to the throne. He will drop down to sixth once the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcome their baby, who is due in April, which means he requires his grandmother’s permission to marry Markle.
Despite the formality, Berthelsen and Arbiter agree that it’s doubtful the Queen will have any opposition to the union.
“There’s a lot of residual guilt that still lingers over the death of Diana and what William and Harry endured and I think the Queen, like everybody else, just wants to see him happily married,” Arbiter said.
Would Markle’s divorce affect the engagement?
Despite the incessant tabloid gossip pointing to Markle’s two-year marriage to Trevor Engelson in 2011 as a possible obstacle to her future with Prince Harry, the royal commentators believe her divorce will have no bearing on her current relationship.
Berthelsen said the Church of England’s position on divorce was settled in 2002 when it finally agreed to remarry divorced people in its churches. After some initial resistance, attitudes towards divorce have changed dramatically in the 15 years since the decision, including the Queen herself.
“Her own son is divorced, her daughter is divorced, her other son is divorced, her sister was divorced,” Berthelsen said. “Like any family, there’s divorce now. It’s a sad reality and I think the Queen realizes that.”
Arbiter noted, however, that although it’s been a long time since the Queen’s uncle King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936 in order to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, divorce is still a delicate matter for the Queen.
“The last American divorcee to marry into the Royal Family led to an abdication crisis, led to her father becoming king, led to his untimely death as far as she’s concerned and led to what could have been the downfall of the monarchy,” she said.
When would they marry?
Assuming the Royal Family announces the engagement within the next couple of months, Berthelsen and Arbiter expect to see a summer wedding.
Arbiter said Prince Harry and Markle would likely wait for the Duchess of Cambridge to give birth to her third child in the spring before their nuptials. The couple will also have to schedule their wedding around other events in the royal calendar, such as the Trooping the Colour parade marking the Queen’s birthday in June, Arbiter said. She predicts a late June or early July wedding, while Berthelsen suggested a mid-July date.
“Once they’re past Easter until about the middle of July, there’s not a lot of room for adding another major event,” Berthelsen said. “That’s why I tend to think it will be a little more mid-summer.”
If they’re set on a summer wedding, Prince Harry and Markle will have to tie the knot before the Queen sets off on her annual vacation to Scotland in August.
Where would they wed?
Although the Queen and Prince Philip, and more recently Prince William and his wife Catherine, married in the grandeur of Westminster Abbey, the royal experts expect Prince Harry and Markle will settle on a more low-key location, such as St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
Set outside London in the English county of Berkshire, the castle is a convenient hour’s drive from the city for potential wedding guests, Arbiter said.
“Harry loves Windsor. It’s a lovely location. It’s very close to London. It’s easy for dignitaries and various foreign royals to get to if Harry has to go ahead and invite them,” Arbiter said.
The chapel itself is a very contained area which would allow the couple to keep the guest list in check and make it easier to provide security for, Berthelsen said.
Additionally, Arbiter said the public would be able to congregate along a carriage procession route if the wedding was held at Windsor Castle.
“The public will be involved. Harry’s incredibly popular and there’s nothing like a royal wedding to boost morale,” Arbiter said.
Would the ceremony be religious?
Berthelsen said it would be “inconceivable” for Prince Harry to not be married in the Church of England.
“That’s his family’s church and his brother will be head of the church, his father will be head of the church, his grandmother’s head of the church,” he said.
The couple could opt for a civil service, like Prince Charles and Camilla had, but Arbiter said she expects they will have a traditional ceremony in St. George’s Chapel.
Where would they live together after the wedding?
Once Prince Harry and Markle are married, Arbiter and Berthelsen said it’s likely they will live together in Kensington Palace. The prince already has his own cottage on the property, but Berthelsen predicts he will move into one of the palace’s larger apartments with Markle once they’re wed.
The prince and his new bride will probably be given a country home to raise a family, much like Prince William and his wife Kate received after their wedding, Berthelsen predicted.
Would Markle become a princess?
Berthelsen said Markle will become a princess by virtue of the fact that her husband is a prince, but she won’t have the official title of “Princess Meghan” because she wasn’t born a princess, such as the Queen’s daughter Princess Anne for example.
Instead, Markle will take the name of her husband once she marries into the Royal Family. If Prince Harry is given a royal dukedom on his marriage, which is the custom, than Markle will become “Her Royal Highness the Duchess of wherever,” Berthelsen explained. If for some reason the prince isn’t given a new title, Berthelsen said Markle would be called “Her Royal Highness Princess Harry.”
Would Markle have to change her citizenship?
In order for Markle to claim her royal title, she must be a citizen of one of the countries in the Queen’s Commonwealth realm. Berthelsen said it makes the most sense for her to become a citizen of the U.K. because she would be living in London as she carries out her royal duties.
It may be possible for Markle to retain her U.S. citizenship by becoming a dual citizen, but she can’t be an American alone, Arbiter explained.
She suspects the Royal Family is still working out the details for obtaining citizenship for Markle. They have to ensure she follows all of the same citizenship rules as anyone else, Arbiter said.
“Just because she’s marrying into the Royal Family they can’t be seen to have special favours because that would have everyone up in arms,” she said.
Whether or not a royal engagement is announced in a few weeks or a few months from now, Arbiter said it would be a welcome story in a news cycle dominated by negative headlines.
“Everyone is so ready to see Harry have his happy ending and there’s nothing like a royal wedding to boost morale,” Arbiter said. “The world could certainly use that right now.”