Over the weekend, The Times published a series of excerpts from royal reporter Omid Scobie and ELLE.com royal contributor Carolyn Durand’s upcoming book Finding Freedom. The book includes reporting and interviews with sources close to the royal family and Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, and it’s given the clearest picture yet of why the Duke and Duchess of Sussex chose to step down from the royal family, along with what Meghan and Kate’s relationship is actually like. The two also got detail on how Meghan and Harry’s relationship started, how quickly and deeply they fell in love, and how they managed to keep the first six months of their dating out of the British tabloids.
Meghan and Harry didn’t kiss during their almost-three hour first date at London’s Soho House, Scobie and Durand wrote, but they made plans later that night for their second date, which would be the next day. They had a romantic dinner at Dean Street Townhouse, full of chemistry and flirting. They went their separate ways after, but “Harry knew they would be together at that point,” a friend told Scobie and Durand. “She was ticking every box fast.”
Meghan began following Harry’s secret Instagram account—@SpikeyMau5—and posted a photo of a Love Hearts candy with “Kiss Me” written on it. She captioned it, “Lovehearts in #London.” Harry saw it and, according to Scobie and Durand, “got the message.”
The next night, Harry invited Meghan to his home in Kensington Palace for the first time, where they talked more. Six weeks later, he invited her on the trip—what would become their big third date vacation to Botswana.
At the end of that date, things really began taking off between them. Meghan, Scobie and Durand reported, told a friend, “I’ve never felt that safe, that close to someone in such a short amount of time,” adding she could talk to Harry about things she couldn’t talk to most people about.
A friend said that after the Botswana trip, “they were each already dancing around the idea that this just may be a for ever thing.”
Harry told Meghan shortly after they met and began dating that the press would eventually catch onto their relationship. “Make the most of this time we have,” he said, the authors reported. So they did.
Harry started making secret visits to Toronto, where Meghan was filming Suits. The authors wrote, “Harry took commercial flights. (Although he was usually the last on the plane and the first off.) But in an effort to maintain a low profile, he flew into Toronto with just one plainclothes protection officer instead of his normal two. A generic-looking sedan would be waiting just outside the terminal to whisk him the 12 miles to Meghan’s two-story townhouse.”
After three months, they were saying “I love you,” a friend of Meghan’s said, adding Harry said it first, and Meghan reciprocated. Then three months later, at the six-month mark of their relationship in October, their private romance became public.
Harry was in Toronto with Meghan and received word from the Palace that a tabloid was going to break news of their relationship. Meghan’s life drastically changed, with paparazzi starting to follow her in Toronto. It also marked the beginning of the British tabloids’ attacks on her, with Daily Mail’s infamous and racist “Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton” story appearing on November 2, 2016. Years later in 2019, Meghan and her legal team would later cite that story as one of the libelous pieces the Daily Mail published about her in her lawsuit against their publisher, Associated Newspapers.
“The statement that the Claimant lived or grew up in Compton (or anywhere near to it) is false,” her legal team wrote. “The fact that the Defendant chose to stereotype this entire community as being ‘plagued by crime and riddled with street gangs’ and thereby suggest (in the first few days of her relationship being revealed) that the Claimant came from a crime-ridden neighborhood is completely untrue as well as intended to be divisive.”
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