Before Harry and Meghan: A History of Royal Engagements

Playing Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are the Latest to Celebrate Royal Engagement Publicly

Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle announced their engagement Monday, becoming the latest royal couple to stand before a phalanx of cameras and reporters and answer the call to "show us the ring!"

Markle, 36, presented her ring, designed by Harry and made with two stones from Princess Diana's personal jewelry collection, as well as a larger diamond from Botswana. The couple stood in his mother's memorial garden at Kensington Palace.

The Los Angeles-born actress is a global ambassador for WorldVisionCanada, having traveled to Rwanda as part of a clean water campaign and speaking on gender equality while traveling to Afghanistan on a USO tour.

The couple will wed next year.

Markle is not the first divorced woman to join the royal family.

Camilla Parker-Bowles became engaged to Harry's dad, Prince Charles, in 2005, years after the death of Princess Diana. Both had been divorced when they announced their plans to marry in a private ceremony.

The engagement of Harry's brother, William, to Kate Middleton in 2010 was a far more publicized affair, with the couple appearing before a blinding flash of camera lights. She was wearing a royal blue dress and showing off her shining sapphire ring, which once belonged to Diana.

Kate Middleton and Prince William announced their engagement in 2010.
Kate Middleton and Prince William announced their engagement in 2010. Getty

"Well, as you may recognize now, it's my mother's engagement ring, so of course it's very special to me, and Kate's very special to me now as well," William told journalists who descended on St. James' Palace. 

"It was only about the two put together," he said. "But it was my way of making sure that my mother didn't miss out on today and the excitement, and the fact that we're going to spend the rest of our lives together."

The sapphire surrounded by diamonds was given to Diana by Charles in 1981. 

Charles' younger brother, Prince Edward, became engaged to Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999. He proposed with two-carat oval diamond ring surrounded by two smaller, heart-shaped diamonds.

Edward bragged that he was able to pop the question in relative privacy, despite his family's constant presence in the spotlight.

"I managed to take her completely by surprise," he said at the time. "She had no idea that it was coming. Trouble is, everybody always speculating made it very difficult. Every time there was another round of speculation, I had to go very quiet again."

The Queen's younger sister, Anne, was not able to escape the media's glaring spotlight when she showed off her engagement ring in 1973. She, too, had a sapphire and diamond ring. Capt. Mark Phillips married her that same year, but the couple divorced in 1992.

Princess Anne became engaged to Capt. Mark Phillips in 1973.
Princess Anne agreed to marry Capt. Mark Phillips in 1973. Getty

Just last week, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip celebrated 70 years of marriage with a lavish party. 

Elizabeth and Phillip announced their engagement in 1947.
The future queen of England was engaged to Prince Phillip in 1947. Getty

At Buckingham Palace, the pair announced their engagement in 1947, with Elizabeth wearing a square-cut diamond in a platinum setting. Phillip had the ring made with stones from one of his mother's tiaras.

They delayed publicly saying they were engaged until after the heiress to the throne turned 21. Five years later, Elizabeth ascended to the throne following the death of her father, King George VI.