The truth about Harry and Meghan's marriage

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made history when they tied the knot in May 2018. The couple moved very quickly, announcing their engagement after only dating for about a year and a half, and she made some major life changes to accommodate and acclimate to the royal family. About a year after getting hitched, they welcomed son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor

Since then, the couple have been major paparazzi magnets and covered incessantly in the press for various reasons and non-reasons: Markle remains estranged from her father's side of her family and may have crossed some of the Windsors with her alleged lack of respect for some royal protocols, and there are rumors of familial in-fighting sparked by Markle's role in the royal family. 

That said, it seems like Harry and Markle's marriage is a happy one among themselves ... but not necessarily a conventional royal union by any means. Here's what we know about the private life of two of the world's most public figures.

A friend played matchmaker for Harry and Meghan

Meghan Markle was set up with Prince Harry through a mutual pal. The Daily Mail reports that Markle's close friend, Soho House higher-up Markus Anderson, introduced the couple. Anderson reportedly ran in the same Toronto circles as Markle — who filmed Suits in Canada — for years. Markle and Anderson traveled together frequently, which they documented on social media (before she had to close her accounts before the wedding), and he was even called an "uncle" to her beloved rescue dogs. 

It's unclear how Anderson first met Prince Harry, but the prince reportedly was a member of the exclusive Soho House club where Anderson works and curates party guest lists. In fact, Anderson, Harry, and Markle are all so close that Anderson sat with Markle at Prince Harry's Invictus Games in Toronto in fall 2017 — and it's reported that Anderson may have introduced Harry to Markle at the games a year prior.

Harry was allegedly hooking up with a model while wooing Meghan

Though Prince Harry seemed to fall for Meghan Markle quickly, but that doesn't mean he was immediately ready to settle down and ditch his playboy reputation for her. The Daily Mail reported that the prince allegedly dated a British model while he was wooing Markle in the early days of their courtship. Friends of model Sarah Ann Macklin claim Harry bombarded her with texts after meeting her at a party, and he allegedly continued to contact her for months when Markle wasn't visiting London.

"Their fling is an open secret among her friends," a pal of Macklin claimed. "It eventually fizzled out but they are on friendly terms." Another insider dished, "Everything was kept very below the radar ... Harry also seemed a bit non-committal and it never really got off the ground. Things fizzled out before he went to Africa for a month in August."

Meghan's much different from other women Harry's dated

Before meeting Meghan Markle, Prince Harry had a type: The Sun reports that most of Harry's exes came from aristocratic families, like Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas. He hadn't shied away from dating entertainers however, and was rumored to be linked to British pop singers Ellie Goulding and Mollie King (of The Saturdays) and TV presenter Caroline Flack.

By contrast, Markle was a little-known biracial, brunette American actress who, outside of the Suits franchise, seemed more focused on humanitarian work and her lifestyle blog, The Tig, than on partying or high society. She came from humble beginnings and was vocal about her political beliefs before linking up with the ginger prince, even reportedly posting anti-Brexit messages on social media. At three years Harry's senior, Markle was already established as a personality and in her career — though, in fairness to the prince, he is the reason she quickly became a household name.

Meghan Markle gave up a lot for Prince Harry

Meghan Markle left her role on Suits and was forced to shutter her social media accounts and lifestyle blog, The Tig, as she and Prince Harry's relationship grew serious. But giving up her career was on the tip of the iceberg in terms of what normal luxuries Markle would have to sacrifice for her marriage to the royal.

The Sun reports that Markle is also prohibited from ever taking selfies (Queen Elizabeth reportedly finds them "disconcerting" and "strange"), signing autographs, and voting, despite previously expressing her political beliefs (including her opposition to Brexit) on her now-defunct social media accounts. Markle is also supposedly banned from wearing dark nail polish (which the royals deem "vulgar") and wearing skirts above the knee, though she's broken the latter rule at least once since becoming a royal, rocking a short tuxedo dress at a performance of Hamilton in London in August 2018.

Meghan's allegedly 'airbrushing' Prince Harry's reputation

Lady Colin Campbell, a friend of Prince Harry's late mother, Princess Diana, told the Daily Beast that Meghan Markle "is ultra-liberal and that trendy-lefty stuff does not go down well with some of Harry's friends. He has introduced her to them all at parties and weddings and private dinners, but she is very anti- a lot of the things that their world functions upon, such as shooting." It's alleged that Markle's animal rights beliefs and anti-gun stances are part of the reason why Harry has skipped hunting trips with his family and friends since coupling up with the former actress.

A royal insider told the Daily Express that Harry has began to shun his former pals because Markle believes they may have been bad influences on the ginger prince, alleging, "It's all part of Meghan's quiet airbrushing out of Harry's old posse. She doesn't want temptation of any sort being put in his way while they concentrate on starting a family."

This married pair doesn't have a prenup

The Sun reports that Prince Harry is worth a cool $38 million and that the royal family as a whole is worth roughly $89 billion — and that Prince Harry didn't get a prenuptial agreement before his royal wedding to Meghan Markle. There's a reason for that: He doesn't really need one.

"I don't think members of the royal family sign prenuptial agreements," royal expert and author Katie Nicholl told Town & Country. "It's commonplace with celebrity marriage, but this is not a celebrity marriage, it's a royal marriage." Most of the Windsor estate and riches actually belong to Queen Elizabeth, not Prince Harry. Duncan Larcombe, author of Prince Harry: The Inside Story, explained, "You wouldn't need a prenuptial agreement to stop Windsor Castle from being cut in half in the event they divorce, because it's not Harry's."

Meanwhile, a friend of the prince told the Daily Mail, "There was never any question in Harry's mind that he would sign a prenup. He's determined that his marriage will be a lasting one, so there's no need for him to sign anything."

The Sussexes' staff may be running for the hills

The Daily Mail reported in November 2018 that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle lost three palace aides soon after their royal wedding, including aide Melissa Toubati, who had only worked for the couple for a few months. "Melissa is a hugely talented person," a source told the tab. "She played a pivotal role in the success of the royal wedding and will be missed by everyone in the royal household." Another palace aide quipped, "To lose one member of the household could happen to anyone. To lose three in a few months is starting to look like a stampede." 

Markle's former agent hinted that the former Suits actress may be the reason for the mass staff exodus, telling the Daily Mail that Markle is "picky" and "likes to move on" from anyone who doesn't share her "vision." Sources also told The Sun that Markle, especially in comparison to fellow royal Kate Middleton, has been "difficult" to work with. An insider alleged, "She has very high standards and is used to working in a Hollywood environment. However, there's a different degree of respect in the royal household and Kate has always been very careful about how she has acted around staff."

Harry and Meghan are increasingly private

Sources told Vanity Fair in August 2018 that Harry and Meghan were shying away from the limelight and spending a lot more time in rural areas of England. "They are in the country way more than they are in London and they are enjoying a low-key and very domesticated start to married life," a friend of the couple said. "...Meghan likes him to keep his diary clear at the weekends so they can be together in the countryside." Locals said Harry and Meghan's Cotswolds property is very secluded and "like a fortress" to keep strangers out.

Even royal press members have noticed a marked difference in their public presence at events, with one writer griping in the Daily Express (via Closer Weekly), "Royal rota journalists are being kept further away from [Meghan] than we were before the wedding. That means we can't hear what she is saying. If you can't get direct quotes from members of the royal family that often makes for dull stories. You go up afterwards and ask what she said."

Of course, that may have been, at least in part, because it was in the early stages of her pregnancy, so it's understandable why they may have wanted time and space away from prying eyes.

They left London quickly before Archie's birth

In November 2018, sources told the Daily Mail that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may move away from the confines of the royal estate at Kensington Palace, in part because the queen's cousin, the Duke of Gloucester, and his wife, Birgitte, refuse to move out of their 21-room apartment on the grounds. (A rep for Kensington Palace denied any rift.)

Still, the couple were on the hunt for some property. "Harry and Meghan want to move, and need more space, but they don't want to live next door to William and Catherine," a royal source revealed. "They will soon have separate offices and separate lives, so it would make sense for them to live further afield. There is no reason why their London home has to be at Kensington Palace. There are plenty of other options, including using their own money to buy their own place." The insider added of Markle and Kate Middleton, "Catherine and Meghan live very different lives and that is likely to become more marked over time."

Indeed, the Sussexes moved to the newly renovated Frogmore Cottage in Windsor in April 2019, about a month before son Archie's birth. The Daily Mail reports that the couple even ditched their Cotswolds country home before relocating.

Meghan and Harry want to raise Archie out of the spotlight

After Meghan Markle and Prince Harry welcomed son Archie in May 2019, sources claimed the couple wanted shrink away from the public eye for the sake of their son. An insider told People that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex "knew they were going to hit the nuclear button" almost as soon as Archie was born. With Archie being kept largely out of the public eye, save for special occasions (including his world debut and a meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu), an insider told People that the Sussexes were intent on "doing what's right for their family." Even the identities of Archie's godparents were kept under wraps until January 2020, when The Sunday Times identified Harry's childhood nanny, Tiggy Pettifer, and Mark Dyer, a close friend of Prince Charles and mentor to Harry, as two of the lucky honorees.

Harper's Bazaar reported in January 2020 that Markle and Prince Harry intended on suing over paparazzi photos taken of the Duchess of Sussex hiking in Canada with Archie and their two dogs. In legal documents obtained by the outlet, Markle and Harry asserted that the photographs were an invasion of their privacy.

Meghan was accused of sparking a royal rift between Princes William and Harry

Meghan Markle has been scapegoated as the reason for a supposed brotherly beef between Prince William and Prince Harry. Royal expert Katie Nicholl speculated in the TLC documentary, Kate V. Meghan: Princesses at War (via Fox News), that William advised Harry that he and Markle may have moved too quickly in their relationship, and Harry didn't take it well.

"William was quite concerned that the relationship had moved so quickly," Nicholl claimed. "And being close to Harry, you know, probably the only person close enough to say to Harry, 'This seems to be moving quickly. Are you sure?' And I think what was meant as well-intended brotherly advice just riled Harry." Nicholl added that Harry has remained "hugely protective" of Markle and took William's warning personally, noting, "I don't think things have ever been quite right since." 

Though none of the royals have confirmed or denied the alleged rift or the cause, in 2019, Prince Harry did confess that he and Prince William had grown apart.

Harry and Meghan are breaking from the royal family

In January 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced that they were stepping down as "senior royals," sending Buckingham Palace into a frenzy. Later, Queen Elizabeth II revealed the details of the Sussexes' exit, oft-called "Megxit": In addition to losing their "His/Her Royal Highness" titles, they would divide their time between Canada and the U.K., their royal duties would greatly diminish, they'd no longer receive public funding, and they would reimburse taxpayers for those Frogmore Cottage renovations.

Speaking about relinquishing his royal titles, Prince Harry said (via People), "It brings me great sadness that it has come to this. The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back, is not one I made lightly. It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges." Adding that "there really was no other option," he said the "media is a powerful force," alluding to his and Markle's intensely negative press.

The pair may have hinted at their itching to get out in their October 2019 documentary, Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, in which Harry slammed the "bullying" Markle faced and expressed distress at the potential of the media threatening the life of his wife like they did to his mother. For her part, Markle said she was "struggling" under the scrutiny of the press and public, and admitted she wasn't prepared for the tabloid attention when she got married.