meghan markle the queen smiling

A closer look into the Queen's close bond with Meghan Markle

Prince Harry and Meghan will carry out final royal engagements this month

Sharnaz Shahid

Before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex begin their new life in Canada, the couple will reunite with the Queen and other members of the royal family at the annual Commonwealth Day service next week. Here at HELLO!, we've decided to take a look back into Meghan's close bond with her grandmother-in-law before they say their goodbyes for some time. There's no denying that the pair have formed a great friendship over the past couple of years, with Meghan embarking on her first-ever solo visit with the Queen just weeks after her royal wedding in May 2018.

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The Queen and Meghan Markle mark the centenary of the RAF

Meghan, 38, reflected their friendship in a BBC interview after her engagement to Prince Harry. "It's incredible to be able to meet her through his lens, not just with his honour and respect for her as the Monarch, but the love that he has for her as his grandmother," the former Suits actress said in November 2017.

READ: 12 questions answered about Prince Harry and Meghan's future

Opening up about their first encounter, Meghan confessed that the meeting was "surreal". She explained: "All of those layers have been so important for me so that when I met her I had such a deep understanding and of course incredible respect for being able to have that time with her. And she's an incredible woman."

WATCH: The Queen and Meghan Markle's first joint engagement

But it wasn't only the Queen who gave the couple the royal seal of approval, it was her beloved corgis! Clearly besotted with his then bride-to-be, Harry quipped: "And the corgis took to you straight away… I've spent the last 33 years being barked at; this one walks in, absolutely nothing." Meghan then gushed: "[They were] just laying on my feet during tea, it was very sweet."

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Just a month later, the Queen clearly felt the same way for Harry's new love as she allowed Meghan to join the royal family for Christmas at Sandringham. This marked the first time an unmarried partner of a royal family member was invited to attend.

After attending their royal wedding in May 2018, the Queen took Meghan to Cheshire for their first joint outing on their own together – and it was certainly one to remember! The Monarch and the former actress were pictured laughing and enjoying themselves at every turn. After travelling by train overnight together from London, the royal pair opened the new Mersey Gateway Bridge, and visited The Story House and Town Hall. In contrast, the Duchess of Cambridge waited nearly a year before she carried out her first engagement with the Queen, without her husband Prince William.

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Meghan and Harry will now split their time in the UK and Canada

At the start of the year, the Sussexes announced their decision to step back from royal life in January, and while they had hoped to still carry out some engagements for the Queen, they are now completely giving up their roles as senior royals on a 12-month review basis. But Buckingham Palace said the couple have vowed that "everything they do will continue to uphold the values" of the Queen.

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Her Majesty's affection for her grandson and his wife was clear in the statement she released at the time, writing: "Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family ... I support their wish for a more independent life." They will divide their time between the UK and North America and are expected to still attend big family events, such as royal weddings and the Queen's birthday, Trooping the Colour, in June, although their official public appearances will be limited.

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