Prince Harry has officially announced his engagement to American girlfriend Meghan Markle, and already preparations for their royal wedding are underway. The announcement on Monday set in motion a chain of events that will culminate in the couple's nuptials next spring. So what happens next? HELLO! Online takes a look at what's in store for the newly-engaged couple…
Harry and Meghan are expected to pose for engagement photographs, when the world will get the first glimpse of Meghan’s all-important engagement ring. And we might not have to wait long; Prince William and Kate appeared together on the same day of their big announcement, with Kate wearing the beautiful sapphire and diamond band that belonged to William's mother, Princess Diana. It's also thought that Harry and Meghan will appear in a pre-recorded television interview, and that a set of official engagement photographs will be released at a later date. William and Kate's photos were famously taken by celebrity photographer Mario Testino.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry in Spring 2018
The wedding date
The wedding date is likely to have already been chosen, with royal aides working together to sync up royal diaries and find a suitable date that all members of the royal family can attend. Kensington Palace has already confirmed that the nuptials will take place in spring 2018, and it's thought that March is the most likely month, ahead of pregnant Kate's April due date. Royal wedding usually take place just a few months after the engagement announcement; William and Kate announced their engagement in November 2010 and were married the following April, while the Queen and Prince Philip tied the knot four months after their engagement was confirmed.
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The guest list
Harry and Meghan will have already drawn up their guest list to include their friends and family, but there will be a number of dignitaries they will also need to invite. The Queen, however, will be on hand to offer her guidance. Speaking after his own 2011 wedding, William revealed: "I went to (the Queen) and said 'Listen, I've got this list, not one person I know. What do I do?' And she went 'Get rid of it. Start from your friends and then we'll add those we need to in due course. It's your day.'"
Harry and Meghan are expected to pose for engagement photos later on Monday
The job of planning the royal wedding falls to The Lord Chamberlain's Office at Buckingham Palace. Harry's private secretary Edward Lane Fox will also be involved in the preparations, along with the Royal Household staff, who will be charged with everything from the sending of the invites to the schedule of the day. It will be a smoothly-run operation; the Office arranges the Queen's garden parties for 8,000 guests at a time, and is responsible for organising royal funerals and the State Opening of Parliament. Its staff were also tasked for sending out William and Kate's gold embossed invitations and dealing with the hundreds of replies.
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Cake, flowers and honeymoon
Meghan and Harry will have plenty of important decisions to make in the coming months, not least when it comes to adding personal touches to their wedding day, from choosing a wedding cake to picking the flowers. Meghan's bouquet is likely to include myrtle, a tradition for royal brides, while it's thought the couple might choose to honeymoon in Africa – a continent much-loved by the Prince. A new official website will also be launched for the couple after their wedding, as well as one most likely celebrating the special day.
The wedding dress
Designers around the world will be hoping to get a call from the Palace in the coming weeks. Meghan will no doubt have ideas about the type of bridal gown she wants to wear, and may well choose to wear an American design in a nod to her home country. The 36-year-old actress appeared in an Anne Barge ballgown wedding dress for her role as Rachel Zane in Suits, and her own first wedding to TV producer Trevor Engleson saw her wear a sleek, strapless, floor-length white dress with diamante detail. Her stylist and close friend Jessica Mulroney runs the bridal store Kleinfeld Hudson's Bay in Toronto, so Jessica may well be Meghan's first port of call when it comes to picking her dress.
Stay tuned for all the news and details on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's engagement here!