Every detail had been meticulously planned. Ahead of their August 4 arrival in Botswana, Prince Harry arranged “a small, surprise celebration” for girlfriend Meghan Markle’s 36th birthday, reveals a Harry pal.
And since it was the first time the Suits actress would be meeting his friends in the African nation, the besotted royal went all out. “He was thrilled to bits that he could introduce her to them,” says the pal. “The celebration began almost the minute they touched down.” With a barbecue set up at his friend’s house (“Lots of local foods were prepared,” says the friend) and music playing, everyone partied into the night, says the pal: “Meghan was speechless and so touched.”
And that was only the opening act. Two sources reveal in the new issue of Us Weekly that the 32-year-old intended to ask Markle for her hand in marriage during their three-week stay.
While a royal insider says Harry refused to share the details with pals, both the timing — a friend notes he wanted to propose near the anniversary of his mom Princess Diana’s death “so he can associate August with something joyful” — and the location are dear to his heart. Harry has described Botswana, a place he visited soon after Diana passed, as his “second home,” adding, “this is where I feel more like myself than anywhere else in the world.”
So for months, says the royal insider, Harry’s known this is the trip on which he’d ask his love of more than a year to be his bride. To craft a ring worthy of a princess, Harry worked closely with a jeweler, notes the royal insider, and took a cue from big brother, Prince William. While William used their late mother’s 18-carat sapphire engagement ring to pop the question to Duchess Kate, Harry, says the insider, “had diamonds taken from a brooch he inherited from Diana.”
But a source predicts Markle will keep the sparkler under wraps for awhile. “Harry said he would want to enjoy the news between the two of them before word starts spreading out,” says the source. They have plenty of memories to bask in. Adds the source, “This has really been the trip of a lifetime.”
For more details on their romantic vacation — and how they’re preparing for their shared future — pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands now!
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