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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have today announced they are engaged and will marry early next year after days of fevered speculation that he had proposed to his American girlfriend.

The couple will appear together on national TV in the UK for the first time this evening to discuss their engagement and whirlwind relationship of 16 months.

Harry, 33, who revealed a year ago he had fallen for the actress after a four to six month secret relationship, proposed to Meghan, 36, in London earlier this month.

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Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation

Royal protocol dictated that fifth in line to the throne Harry had to ask his grandmother the Queen for permission to marry and she agreed in the month where she celebrated her own 70th wedding anniversary.

In a statement Her Majesty and Prince Philip said they are ‘delighted for the couple and wish them every happiness’.

Harry and his American fiancee, who divorced her first husband in 2013, will move into Nottingham Cottage in the grounds of Kensington Palace next door to his brother William and sister-in-law Kate.

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PA

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said in a joint statement: ‘We are very excited for Harry and Meghan. It has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and to see how happy she and Harry are together’. The boys’ father Prince Charles said he was ‘thrilled’ and ‘very happy indeed’ for them.

Harry also asked Meghan’s parents Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, who divorced when their daughter was six, for her hand in marriage before popping the question a few weeks ago, it emerged today.

They said: ‘Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person. To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents’.

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