2018 is shaping up to be a pretty huge year for the British royal family. Not only will the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcome their third child, but there's also another royal wedding to plan! In case you've been living under a rock, Meghan Markle became the most Googled woman of 2016 after news broke that she was in a relationship with Prince Harry, who will give up his status as the UK's most eligible bachelor when he weds the American actress in May.
During their first joint interview with the BBC, Harry revealed that he got down on one knee and popped the question during a cozy evening at his Kensington Palace cottage, presenting Markle with a ring of his own design. The wedding band includes diamonds from Princess Diana's collection, and Harry said that his late mother would have been "best friends" with Markle had the two been able to meet.
But what about the rest of Harry's family? Here's what the royals really think about Harry's true love.
Kate has been 'wonderful' to her
As soon as it became apparent that Markle was here to stay, royal enthusiasts began to speculate on what the American's relationship with Kate Middleton would be like. The two clearly have a similar fashion sense, but little was known about their friendship until recently, when Harry revealed that both the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge approved of his relationship.
The royal pair had reportedly been dying to meet Markle as soon as they found out about her, and they all hit it off in a series of private meetings. Harry told the BBC (via Hello!) that that living on the same grounds as his brother and sister-in-law meant Markle could meet them in a relaxed and private environment. "So you know, being our neighbours, we managed to get that in quite a few times," Harry said. Markle–who already appears to be finishing Harry's sentences for him–added that Kate had been "wonderful" to them.
She's a regular at Prince Charles' house
It wasn't only William and Kate who were dying to meet Harry's new partner, his dad was apparently keen to make her acquaintance, too. The Prince of Wales reportedly gave Markle his blessing after hosting her at his home. "[We had] a handful of teas and meetings and all sorts of gatherings over at his place," Harry said (via The Sun.) "The family together have been absolutely, you know, a solid support."
Charles (who is next in line to the throne) and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, recently made their opinion on Harry's engagement public: "We're thrilled," they said in a joint statement released via their official Twitter. "We're both thrilled. We hope they'll be very happy indeed."
Camilla called her 'a star'
The Duchess of Cornwall didn't stop at an official statement. Camilla was on a royal visit with her husband recently, and she just couldn't contain her glee when it came to Markle. When asked by the Daily Mail what she thought about the Suits actress joining the royal clan, the 70-year-old said that she was "a star" and that the family were "absolutely delighted" to have her.
"As you can see, they are so happy," Camilla told reporters. "Sometimes, you know, in a climate where we are surrounded by a lot of bad news, it's a real joy to have a bit of good news for once. As I said before, we are delighted."
Camilla also said that "America's loss is our gain," referring to the announcement that Markle would become a British citizen. Prince Harry's communication's secretary, Jason Knauf, told members of the press (via the BBC) that the California girl "intends to become a UK citizen and will go through the process of that," though it could take years to finalize. Knauf confirmed that Markle's case will be "compliant with immigration requirements at all times," despite the royal status of the family she's marrying into.
William and Kate were thrilled about the engagement
William and Kate have also gone public with their well-wishing, echoing the sentiments made by Charles and Camilla. "William and I are absolutely thrilled," the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge told the Associated Press as she arrived at an event in London. "It's such exciting news. It's a really happy time for any couple and we wish them all the best and hope they enjoy this happy moment." This followed a joint statement in which the royal couple said that it had "been wonderful getting to know Meghan and to see how happy she and Harry are together."
Prince William was away on a royal visit to Finland at the time, but he too was able to express his happiness via reporters. While his wife had been as polite and respectful as always with her words, William answered questions about his brother's engagement with some brutal honesty. "For me personally, I hope it means he stays out of my fridge," the Duke of Cambridge joked according to Evening Standard. "It will stop him scrounging off all my food [as] he's done over the last few years."
The Queen is breaking the rules for her
The royal family has a complicated history with divorce, and divorced American women, in particular. When the British public found out that Markle had been married before, comparisons were immediately drawn to notorious socialite Wallis Simpson, whose affair with Prince Edward, the Duke of Windsor, in the 1930s was a huge scandal. The Church of England would not allow Edward to marry the two-time divorcee after becoming king, and so he gave up the throne for her, causing outrage in London.
Unlike her uncle, Queen Elizabeth towed the Church of England line hard in the early years of her reign. She is widely believed to have stepped in and stopped her sister, Princess Margaret, from marrying divorced comptroller Peter Townsend in the early '50s.
Fortunately, the Queen is willing to break those unofficial rules for Markle. A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said the Queen and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, "were delighted for the couple and wished them every happiness."
Her Majesty is even attending the wedding
Allowing Harry to marry a divorcee is one thing, but attending the ceremony herself is another entirely. The Queen didn't even show at her own son's second wedding because both he and his new bride were previously divorced. Her Majesty felt that her presence would have been incompatible with her role as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. "I am not able to go," she told a close friend at the time, according to The Telegraph. "I do not feel that my position permits it."
The reason that Harry and Markle's wedding date seems so sudden may have something to do with Prince Philip's ailing health. Prince Harry and the Queen's 96-year-old husband have always been close, so the arrangements have likely been made with him in mind.
"Harry really wanted to have something a little bit more intimate," royal expert Kate Nicholl told Entertainment Tonight, referencing the decision to wed at the Queen's Windsor Castle. "The second reason is that he wanted something close to home for the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen."
The Queen is paying for the wedding
Choosing a venue outside of central London will help keep the wedding costs down, according to London-based luxury event planner Aimee Dunne. The overall bill is still going to be a huge one. "I can't imagine Harry and Meghan would be able to achieve the wedding they would be looking at on anything less than $670,000," she told CNN. "Security at such a historic building would also no doubt be a big consideration, especially with recent security threats and terrorist concerns."
Traditionally, the family of the bride foots the bill for the wedding (even Kate Middleton's parents contributed to their daughter's big day,) but the Queen has reportedly decided to put in on her tab in order to welcome Markle into the family with a bang. The royal family confirmed that it will absorb the cost of the church service (Markle will be baptized and confirmed into the Church of England beforehand) as well as the music, the flower arrangements, and the reception.
She's reportedly spending Christmas with the Queen
Another royal tradition the Queen is reportedly prepared to overlook in favor of her new granddaughter-in-law is the guest list for her Christmas bash. In the past, partners needed to be married into the family before they were allowed to attend this annual gathering. England rugby star Mike Tindall wasn't invited after his engagement to the Princess Royal's daughter Zara Phillips, and even Kate Middleton once got snubbed for the event because she hadn't yet married William.
According to royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams, Queen Elizabeth is making another exception for Markle. "It is expected Meghan will join Harry and the rest of the royal family for Christmas on the Queen's estate in Sandringham in Norfolk this year," Fitzwilliams told the Express. "Harry and Meghan will be living together at Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace and her family are in the United States," he said. "The monarchy relies heavily on precedent and tradition, but it also makes its own."
Even the Corgis love her
The Queen's famous dogs are notoriously picky with house guests, and Harry is no exception to this rule. During their joint interview, the Prince and his bride-to-be revealed that Her Majesty's Pembroke Welsh Corgis have never taken to Harry, despite his repeated attempts to befriend them over the years.
"For the last 33 years, I've been barked at," Harry told the BBC (via Vogue). That apparently wasn't the case for Markle. "This one walks in, absolutely nothing," the prince said. "Just wagging tails."
"[They were] just laying on my feet during tea," Markle said. "It was very sweet." The bride-to-be didn't reveal which of the Queen's dogs she met, though she'd be hard pressed to remember all of their names—Her Majesty has more than 30 dogs.