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Meghan Markle’s Friend Describes Actress’ First Date With Prince Harry: There Was An ‘Instant Connection’

Every love story has a beginning, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s is no different! The future duchess’ friend Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne spoke with TODAY’s Georgie Gardner to share the details of the couple’s first date in London in July 2016.

Related: Meghan Markle's Inner Circle

“Meghan and I had a lunch planned and we were actually going on to a meeting. And she said to me that she’s meeting someone that evening, she’s got a blind date that evening, which turned out to be really not such a blind date because she knew who it was, but she didn’t know him as a person, she had never met him before,” Nelthorpe-Cowne said during the interview on the Australian morning show, which aired on Monday, May 14.

Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne Prince Harry Meghan Markle First Date
Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne talks about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s first date.

“I could see she was obviously very excited. So I said to her, ‘You look fantastic. Who is this person? Do I know him?’” she continued. “And she said, ‘Yeah, I’m sure you know him. It’s Prince Harry.”

Related: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: A Timeline of Their Relationship

“We spoke the next day and she said he was wonderful and there was that instant connection. And I said to her, ‘Are you going to see him again?” Nelthorpe-Cowne added. “And she said, ‘Yes, I’m sure I will.’”

See him again, she did — and then some. Palace officials announced the couple’s engagement in November 2017, after Prince Harry proposed at Kensington Palace’s Nottingham Cottage. The former Suits actress, 36, and Prince Harry, 33, will become husband and wife at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in England on Saturday, May 19.

However, there has been headline-making drama ahead of the big day. Markle’s father, Thomas Markle, told TMZ on Tuesday, May 15, that he will no longer be going to the nuptials — or walking her down the aisle — because he was scheduled to have heart surgery on Wednesday, May 16. The actress’ dad had previously stated he wouldn’t be going after being caught seemingly staging photos for paparazzi.

Prince Harry Meghan Markle First Date
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for photographs in the grounds of Kensington Palace after their engagement announcement in London on November 27, 2017.

Related: Meghan Markle's Family: Everything We Know About the Royal In-Laws

But the bride will have some family in attendance for the televised ceremony: her mother, Doria Ragland, departed Los Angeles to head to London on Tuesday, May 15.

Despite the family scandal ahead of her nuptials, Meghan does have someone very important supporting her: fiancé Prince Harry. The royal “is super protective over Meghan and isn’t happy unless she is happy,” a source told Us Weekly exclusively. “Any time there is or has been negative press about Meghan, he always blows it off and acts as though it’s them two against the world.”

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