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Exclusive: James McVey reveals he's engaged to Kirstie Brittain - and Harry Redknapp had a part to play

A big congratulations to the happy couple!

james mcvey engaged
Updated: 18 February 2019
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I'm A Celebrity star James McVey has revealed he is engaged to girlfriend Kirstie Brittain in an exclusive interview and photoshoot with HELLO! magazine – and tells how he secretly took King of the Jungle Harry Redknapp along with him to buy the ring. The Vamps lead guitarist and vocalist proposed to Kirstie during a romantic weekend in the Lake District, where he presented her with a platinum and diamond cushion cut ring. "Harry said he knew a really good jeweller whenever I was ready to do it and I thought, I may as well just do it," said James of the proposal. James, 25, told HELLO! how he arranged to meet Harry a few days after Christmas at Franses, a jeweller in Bournemouth, where James grew up and which is close to Harry’s home in Sandbanks, Dorset. "By the time Harry arrived I had already chosen the ring; as soon as I saw it I knew it was the one. And Harry loved it too," he shared.

james mcvey and kirstie© Photo: Getty Images

A big congratulations to James McVey and his fiancée Kirstie

Showing us the stunning platinum and diamond cushion-cut ring, Kirstie, who is studying for a master's degree in environment, politics and society, told us how her boyfriend took her by surprise a few days into the new year as they admired the view at a beauty spot in the Lake District. "We'd talked about marriage but in my mind it wasn’t anywhere in the near future. I wanted to finish my degree first," she said. But as Kirstie sat on a bench gazing out at Derwentwater in Keswick, James pulled the ring from his pocket. "It was very misty and atmospheric and I had asked James to stand behind me to take a picture of the view. He went quiet so I turned around to see what he was doing and he was down on one knee, crying, with the ring, saying: 'You make me a better person, you make me so happy.' At first I said: 'What are you doing?'I thought he was holding a sock because he had the ring box at an odd angle. I kept saying: 'Are you joking?' And he hadn’t actually asked me to marry him because he was in tears. She said: 'Aren’t you going to ask me then?' So I did," said James. "And I said: 'Yes, obviously,'" smiled Kirstie.

MORE: Prince William and Kate's secret royal engagement revealed

The couple hope to tie the knot in the New Forest in the autumn of 2020, with James’s bandmates Connor Ball, Brad Simpson and Tristan Evans as ushers and as many of James’s I'm a Celebrity campmates as possible. He treasures the close bond he built with the group during their intense experience and they remain in regular contact. “I’m going to invite them all,” he said. “I don’t know who will be able to come: John [Barrowman] is in America, and Noel [Edmonds] might be in New Zealand. But it’s not too far for Harry so I hope he’ll come, and Fleur [East] and Rita [Simons] probably will. “We were so close in the jungle I was kind of worried that some people might disappear, but that hasn’t happened. We have a WhatsApp group chat and every day someone is speaking. “The day I got the ring, Kirstie and I went for lunch with Harry, Nick [Knowles] and Fleur. Harry was worried he was going to let the secret slip out because usually he just says what he wants.”

James and Kirstie spoke to HELLO! about their engagement

For James and Kirstie, Harry’s 51-year marriage to his wife Sandra is something to aspire to. “Harry says they have never had a proper argument and neither have we,” said James. Another great couple in James and Kirstie’s opinion are the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and on the day of our shoot they learn that Meghan has become royal patron of animal welfare charity Mayhew, for which they are both ambassadors. “It’s a small group that does exceptional work. They don’t get any funding so it’s incredible news. It will raise so much attention. Alongside William and Kate, Harry and Meghan are making the royal family a lot more relevant,” said James, who has played with The Vamps at Prince Harry’s Invictus Games and for The Royal Foundation’s Heads Together mental health campaign.

It was at one of William and Harry’s old haunts, Mayfair nightclub Mahiki, that James and Kirstie first met more than four years ago, at her model agency’s London Fashion Week afterparty. “For me it was love at first sight, but she wasn’t bothered,” said James. "I was a bit drunk and told James: ‘I’ve got your songs on my phone,’ and started playing them to him,” laughed Kirstie. “But I wasn’t really interested in him. I had never had a boyfriend before, ever, so I thought: ‘I’m not going to go out with someone in a famous band.’” Nevertheless, they arranged to meet at Mahiki the following night, but James’s efforts to make a good impression failed spectacularly. "I was so nervous I drank a bottle of champagne in the hotel room beforehand. By the time I got to the club I could hardly see. I went to the bar to get a drink for Kirstie then I ran outside to be sick and never came back."

READ: The real reason Harry Redknapp was so emotional seeing Sandra on I'm A Celebrity

Despite the inauspicious start to their relationship, James eventually won Kirstie over, something he insists has never come easily to him, even though he’s a pop star with legions of female fans. "I was never that confident with girls," said James, who will hit the road with The Vamps in May for a UK tour, followed by a European one later in the year. "I’m lucky that Kirstie and I met, because I would be useless if I was single." Now, as they plan their wedding, the couple are looking forward to spending the rest of their lives together. “My mum says I couldn’t have met someone better for me,” said Kirstie. "If anything, James is too caring – he couldn’t be more conscious about how I feel. At first I thought he was too good to be true and it was all an act, but this is him." Said James: "Kirstie has made me a better person in every aspect of my life. I have struggled with my mental health in the past and had a negative relationship with food, and it was Kirstie who talked me through and got me back on track. She has done so much for my confidence. Having someone you can say anything to and be vulnerable with is what I think is right for any partnership."

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