Prince Harry's new girlfriend, Meghan Markle, was still dating a Canadian chef when she reportedly met the Prince for the first time, it has been suggested.
Markle, 35, an American actress, had been in a relationship with Cory Vitiello for two years when they broke up in May, the month the Prince is understood to have asked for her phone number after meeting her at a function.
Asked whether the Prince was a factor in Markle's break-up with her boyfriend, a source close to Vitiello said: "I can't comment on that." Prince Harry, 32, is said to be smitten with divorcee Markle, who plays the role of Rachel Zane in the US legal drama Suits.
He was in Canada in May to promote the Invictus Games, for wounded service personnel, which will be held in Toronto next year. He then travelled to Orlando, Florida to watch this year's Invictus Games.
Markle was still, at that stage, the girlfriend of Vitiello, a celebrity chef and restaurateur whose latest venture is a chain of rotisseries in Canada called Flock.
Vitiello yesterday declined to discuss the reasons for the end of his relationship with Markle.
Within weeks of them splitting up, the actress is understood to have been in contact with Prince Harry.
At around the same time, the Prince started following Markle on the social media site Instagram, using a pseudonym. He is now one of her one million followers, and she also follows him after he gave her details of his secret social media accounts.
They began dating in the summer and sources have said they were "definitely an item" by August.
The Prince was reportedly booked on a flight from Heathrow to Toronto, where Markle lives, on Sunday morning but cancelled the trip after news of the relationship broke in a Sunday newspaper. The Prince's relationship with Markle is said to be serious, but there are obstacles, not least that she lives in Canada, where her career has taken off.