Getty Images

Prince Harry, 33, and Meghan Markle, 36, are set to be married in early 2018. The Prince reportedly proposed to his girlfriend of 18 months Suits actress Markle a month ago. The royal announcement – from Prince Charles’ official residence – came Monday night AEDT. Both families – including the Queen – gave their blessings.

“His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms. Meghan Markle. The wedding will take place in spring 2018.” said the statement. “Prince Harry has informed Her Majesty The Queen and other close members of his family. Prince Harry has also sought and received the blessing of Ms Markle’s parents.”

Markle’s parents have released their own statement: “Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person,” it read. “To see her union with Harry who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents. We wish them a lifetime of happiness and are very excited for their future together.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also offered some words. “It has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and to see how happy she Harry are together.”

The couple will address the world in a television interview – their first together – shortly.

Markle, a one-time divorcee and half African-American, sparked controversy when her relationship with the Prince became public. The palace issued a stern warning to the media, particularly to those publications who they said “crossed the line” with their “racial undertones”.  The wedding will take place close to the birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s third child.

Credit: Getty Images

Perhaps the most sure-fire clue that a royal engagement was imminent happened last week when Prince Harry confirmed he’d be a guest announcer on BBC Radio 4’s Today program in the lead-up to Christmas. “Is this the announcement we’ve been waiting for?” British bookmakers pondered. The news came amid confirmation Markle’s contract would not be renewed for season 8 of U.S. television series Suits.

It is now being reported that the filming of the final scenes of season seven took place on a closed, black-out set in Toronto. Security was amped up and, according to one publication, call sheets were only issued to those absolutely necessary. It wasn’t only to protect a leaked script but its alleged Prince Harry is used the occasion to double as an engagement party for Markle before she officially moves to Kensington Palace.

Bookmaker Ladbrokes actually stopped taking bets of the timing of the engagement as they reportedly believed it was too obvious and would happen soon. Royal watchers were speculating a ring will be on Markle’s finger by week’s end. The actress addressed her relationship publicly for the first time in an interview with Vanity Fair. Talking about the magnitude of fame she has encountered since Suits became a global sensation – and her high-profile relationship – Markle admitted the lack of anonymity has had its hurdles.  “It has its challenges, and it comes in waves—some days it can feel more challenging than others,” she said. “And right out of the gate it was surprising the way things changed. But I still have this support system all around me, and, of course, my boyfriend’s support.”

Congratulations to the happy couple! More to come.