By Olivia Bahou
Mar 16, 2018 @ 6:00 pm

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s road from dating to engagement was quick by any standards, never mind royal ones. Harry got down on one knee just a year and a half after meeting his future bride—and almost a year to the day after he publicly confirmed their relationship. To put that in context, Prince William and Kate Middleton were dating for about eight years before they announced their engagement.

Clearly, Harry knew rather quickly that Markle was the one. The couple wasted no time getting serious, and the former Suits actress met Queen Elizabeth in October 2017, just over a year into their romance. By November, the two were engaged—with the queen's blessing, of course.

Alexi Lubomirski

Meghan Markle wasn’t Prince Harry’s first serious girlfriend though. The royal had lengthy relationships with Chelsy Davy, who is Zimbabwean, and Cressida Bonas, who is English—neither of which ended in engagements—before meeting his bride-to-be. So why was he so quick to propose to Markle? According to royal expert Katie Nicholl, author of Harry: Life, Loss, and Love, it has to do with the American actress’s life experience as well as the timing of their first date.

“I think that she’s probably right for him because she’s got experience in the limelight, because she’s older (she's 36 to Harry's 33), because she’s got life experience as an actress, as a divorcee. She’s not a new kid on the block,” Nicholl told InStyle.

“She’s a very smart, accomplished, independent woman who knows her mind, and Harry likes strong women. If you look at that very first relationship with Chelsy: Chelsy was a very strong woman. She knew exactly what she wanted. She was feisty and she was opinionated and she was [not British] as well. So you know, they’re quite similar women in many ways,” she said, pointing out Harry’s type.

So why, then, was Chelsy and Harry’s relationship fated to fail? It likely had to do with timing. “Meghan was probably the right woman at the right time, and I think that’s the point. She came into Harry’s life at a time when he was looking for someone to settle down with. He’d spoken very publicly about that. He was looking for someone to share the load with, as he has said in his own words. And really someone to spend the rest of his life with, and she was single at the time. It just all seemed to fall into place,” Nicholl said.

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“Harry himself said it was as if the stars were aligned, and I think there does seem to be a bit of destiny playing at hand in this relationship. But she certainly ticks all the boxes in terms of what Harry looks for in a girlfriend.”

Call it destiny, or a wise mutual friend who set up the blind date, but these two really do seem to work well together.