Reports that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are poised to imminently announce their engagement may be wide of the mark, sources say, with some insiders speculating that the couple will want to live together full time for up to a year before making any permanent, public commitment.
Despite there being little doubt that the couple have privately made a serious commitment to each other, the theory that Meghan’s Vanity Fair interview (which would not have been conducted without Harry’s agreement) was going to be swiftly followed by an announcement is starting to look less likely, as October rolls inexorably into November and the careful choreography of the royal Christmas impends.
“There won’t be any announcement until at least after Kate has had her baby in April,” one source with excellent contacts in the palace confidently tells The Daily Beast. The source said that they expect Harry and Meghan may even want to live together for as much as a year—as is normal among their peer group—before taking the next step.
There is, theoretically, a window over the next three weeks in which an engagement could be announced, but if there is no announcement by the end of the month there is unlikely to be one this year.
Harry may have a reputation as a royal iconoclast, but he cares deeply about not upsetting his grandmother, and would be wary of appearing to seek to upstage the carefully planned royal Christmas schedule with an announcement any time after late November.
There is little sign of any chatter in Harry’s royal office at Kensington Palace which would suggest a major announcement is in the offing.
Says another source: “The signs of seriousness are there—her VF cover, appearing together in public—but there is always room for doubt because he is a serial commitment-phobe. He is said to be a ‘love addict’ and his parents’ example is far from encouraging.”
Prince Harry’s representatives declined to comment.
Prince Harry’s biographer, Penny Junor told The Daily Beast that she is doubtful there will be any rush to the altar: “The bottom line is, only the two of them know. But, personally, I am not 100 percent convinced. The longer it doesn’t happen, the more doubt I have about it, not least because her biological clock [Meghan is 36] means that if they were going to marry and have children, they would need to get going sooner rather than later.”
But it’s not just Meghan’s age that feeds Junor’s caution: “It is one hell of an ask for her to give up everything she is and has achieved to marry into the British royal family.
“As an actress, we can assume that she enjoys publicity, and likes to be in the limelight, and that is one of the reasons the relationship has thrived. But the attention that comes with being a British royal is very different to the attention that comes with being a Hollywood star.
“Harry is impetuous and he does make decisions quickly—unlike William who ponders and ponders—but he is not foolish. He knows, of course, exactly what a royal marriage break up is like and how much attention it gets.”
The only thing all the experts—yes, including me—can agree on is that all we really know is that nobody knows anything.
Richard Palmer, a veteran royal correspondent for Britain’s Daily Express, told The Daily Beast that his money was still on a 2018 wedding, saying: “The truth is, like everyone, I don't know. All I do know is that someone close to Harry told me that the time for him and Meghan to start thinking about an engagement would be when they had been dating for a year and that has since passed.
“My guess is they will get engaged towards the end of this year or early next with a view to a summer wedding, perhaps in July. But that is just a guess.”
Christopher Andersen, the royal author, concurs with Palmer, saying: “I am still being told that an engagement announcement will occur before the end of the year, and that a Summer of 2018 wedding is the most likely timeline. Harry is something of a loose cannon, but, right now, all systems are go.”
However it is notable that as of last week, tea with the queen notwithstanding, Meghan Markle was still living in Toronto filming the legal drama Suits, and appears not to have moved to London as many reports have speculated she will do.
The second half of season seven will air in the New Year, and Meghan will be in it. Which raises the other big question: What do they both want to do with their lives?
Despite his success with the Invictus games project, Harry hasn’t “solved that problem yet” says one source—and Meghan’s continued apparent commitment to her acting career suggests maybe she hasn’t either.
Until they do, wedding bells may have to wait.