A few weeks ago, Prince Harry and girlfriend Meghan Markle were rumoured to be engaged, and these rumours have since been disproved. And while the couple seem to be enjoying each other’s company and a ring may be on the way, the 32-year-old royal has a few things to settle first.
The couple has gone on vacations together and Meghan has reportedly been introduced to both Prince William and Kate Middleton, but Harry cannot take his relationship further without first getting approval from Queen Elizabeth. As Vogue has reported, he is actually required by law to get the queen’s permission. And the act of doing so is a tradition that has been with the royal family for centuries.
In the 18th century, King George III passed The Royal Marriages Act 1772. The act stated that all of his direct descendants would need to be granted permission by the ruling sovereign before marrying. If the permission was not granted and the wedding still happened, the marriage would be considered null and void. In effect, the marriage of three out of King George’s seven sons were blocked or eventually deemed illegitimate.
And while the law may seem a little outdated, it has still strictly followed the British royal family. The queen never formally prohibited Prince Margaret from marrying Group Captain Townsend, but their marriage never actually took place. Prince Ernst August of Hanover, on the other hand, asked for the queen’s permission to marry Princess Caroline of Monaco in 1999.
In 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron proposed the Perth Agreement, which limited The Royal Marriages Act to the next six people in line for the throne. And because Harry is fifth in the royal line of succession, he will still need to get his grandmother’s permission to marry Meghan. But as the publication noted, the reigning royal has never denied a request.
This is good news for the royal, particularly because a source told Life & Style Magazine that an engagement is a definite possibility for the couple. “They are head over heels in love and [are] looking forward to spending the rest of their lives together,” the source had said.
Rumours about Harry dating Meghan began last year, but this was only confirmed in November when Kensington Palace issued a statement. It criticized how the media had been treating Meghan and her family and correspondingly confirmed that she and Harry were in a romantic relationship.