After a year-long romance peppered with privacy battles and an unprecedented statement from Kensington Palace concerning his girlfriend's safety, Prince Harry has proposed to American actress Meghan Markle.

What began with an introduction in a London club and became a trans-Atlantic love affair, we take a look back on the most poignant moments that have led to "party boy" Prince Harry finally finding his bride.

Late 2016: How Meghan Markle met her Prince

Prince Harry is introduced to Meghan Markle through a mutual friend at a private members' club in West London.

Markus Anderson, a close friend of Markle's, is understood to have set up the first date between the TV star and the royal, with whom he was also on friendly terms.

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From here Meghan and Harry kept up their trans-Atlantic love affair in secret for several months.

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30 October 2016: The relationship is revealed

While keen-eyed royalists have flagged the timing of Meghan's "spooning bananas" post, other media outlets note their relationship was given away by matching friendship bracelets they had both been wearing for months.

Markle shared photos of herself wearing the African-style jewellery on her near monthly trips to London while Harry was snapped at various public events sporting an identical piece.

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4 November 2016: Harry 'secretly' spends week at Meghan's house in Canada

In early November reports are made that Prince Harry has spent a week with new girlfriend Meghan Markle after jetting off to Canada in secret.

Sources said contrary to claims that Harry had cancelled a planned trip to Toronto, where the actress lives and works, he was in fact there when news of their relationship broke.

Read the full story here.

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9 November 2016: Kensington Palace confirms relationship with statement expressing Harry's worry for Meghan's safety

In an unprecedented move by the royal family, a statement was made on Harry's love life. Released by Kensington Palace, the declaration said Harry was "worried about Ms Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her".

The statement continued: "It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms Markle should be subjected to such a storm."

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14 December 2016: The new couple choose a Christmas tree together

While they didn't spend Christmas day together, Harry and Meghan were spotted choosing a Christmas tree together in south London.

When the pair chose a 6ft-tall tree from a firm in Battersea Park, cheeky staff reportedly gave the new couple a bunch of mistletoe.

Staff said the Prince left holding hands with Markle, carrying the tree under his arm and is believed to have taken it to his home at Kensington Palace by car.

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17 December 2016: Harry and Meghan are photographed together for the first time

The photos, published by The Sun, showed the couple walking among thousands of shoppers on their way to West End show Peter Pan Goes Wrong. And as they made their way along Piccadilly, admiring the Christmas lights, they were snapped holding hands.

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8 January 2017: Harry takes Meghan to the Northern Lights

Prince Harry made up for lost time with Meghan Markle after their Christmas spent apart by whisking her away on a romantic trip to see the Northern Lights.

The couple celebrated the new year together before flying out to Tromso, on the Norwegian fjords, where they also whale watched and enjoyed romantic lake trips.

And the pièce de résistance of their first trip away together was looking up into the night's sky at the Aurora Borealis.

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Mid-January: Spotted enjoying a cosy dinner date

The loved up couple were seen hand-in-hand after having dinner at Soho House, the private members' club in West London where they had met the year before.

4 February: Meghan 'virtually moves in" with Harry

As early as February this year, friends reportedly said the pair were "taking things to the next level ... practically living together".

The Daily Mail reported Meghan had "virtually moved in" to Prince Harry's Kensington Palace cottage, where she was thought to have stayed while taking a break from filming Suits in the US and Canada.

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3 March: Meghan meets Harry's friends during trip to Jamaica

Prince Harry headed to Jamaica to celebrate the wedding of one of his closest friends - and took girlfriend Meghan Markle to introduce to his "crew".

His so-called wingman, Tom "Skippy" Inskip, tied the knot with the Hon Lara Hughes-Young, in Montego Bay where Harry and Megan were said to have stayed at one of the most luxurious resorts on the coast.

"This is the first time that she and Harry have socialised so openly as a couple and is a significant step up in their relationship," one source said at the time.

"Make no mistake, he is head over heels about her. This one could go all the way."

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20 May: Meghan accompanies Harry to Pippa Middleton's wedding reception

While she wisely let bride Pippa Middleton have all the attention on her wedding day, Markle's attendance at the lavish reception wearing black was widely criticised as a fashion faux pas.

The happy couple arrived in an Audi at the reception just in time to watch a majestic fly-past by a World War II-era Spitfire plane, during one of many spectacular moments at the society wedding of the year.

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Mid-September: Harry secretly visits Meghan on the set of Suits

Prince Harry secretly visited the set of Suits after quietly flying into Toronto a few days ahead of the 2017 Invictus Games.

According to the Daily Mail, Harry apparently met the cast and crew of the US legal drama and proudly watched Meghan in action.

"Everyone was so excited," a source told Hello! Canada.

"He was super low key, met some crew and was so happy to watch his lady."

Read the full story here.

24 September: Harry and Meghan's first public appearance

Meghan Markle attends the Invictus Games in Toronto. Photo / Getty images
Meghan Markle attends the Invictus Games in Toronto. Photo / Getty images

Meghan joined Harry at the opening of the Invictus Games, the first time she has attended an official engagement with the royal.

Although the couple were not seated together at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, she was just a few feet away from Harry, who was accompanied by US First Lady Melania Trump.

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September 26: Their first official outing as a couple

Meghan spends the day with Harry at the Invictus Games, where the pair openly display their affection for each other. Photo / Getty Images
Meghan spends the day with Harry at the Invictus Games, where the pair openly display their affection for each other. Photo / Getty Images

In a devisive outfit that included ripped jeans, a white shirt and sunglasses that quickly sold out online, Meghan and Harry enjoyed a day at the Invictus Games.

The couple were openly affectionate towards one another, comfortable being snapped holding hands and talking intimately.

1 October: The couple get cosy in VIP box

The pair were photographed getting cosy during the closing ceremony of the games. Photo / Getty Images
The pair were photographed getting cosy during the closing ceremony of the games. Photo / Getty Images

Prince Harry took Meghan to see the closing ceremony of his Invictus Games - but hid her in a dark VIP box in the hope of avoiding attention.

The actress arrived with her best friend, Canadian stylist Jessica Mulroney, wearing a white coat over a black outfit and the two women took their places in the discreet box positioned off to the side of the main stage.

Harry eventually joined Markle, leaning in for a sneaky peck on the cheek.

Read the full story here.

16 October: Meghan quits Suits

Meghan announces she has laid to rest her role as Rachel Zane on the popular Netflix series, Suits. Photo / Getty images
Meghan announces she has laid to rest her role as Rachel Zane on the popular Netflix series, Suits. Photo / Getty images

The American actress found fame as feisty paralegal Rachel Zane on the popular US drama in 2011.But she reportedly told TV bosses she will not be returning for the show's eighth season next year.

A source told The Daily Star: "Meghan knows she can't really act at the same time as being a princess and is happy to make this career sacrifice.

"She really enjoys her charity work with Unicef and will broaden out her charity commitments when she becomes a full-time royal."

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19 October: A secret tea party with the Queen

News of a
News of a "secret" meeting between Harry, Meghan and the Queen is leaked. Photo / Getty images

A Ford Galaxy with blacked out windows was discreetly waved through the gates of Buckingham Palace and cruised to a halt at the Queen's private entrance.

Out stepped Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, sending rumours flying that Harry was finally introducing his American actress girlfriend to his grandmother, the Queen.

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