Harry & Meghan Give Their Engagement Interview [UPDATED]

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Well, that was illuminating. I’m dashing down some first thoughts now, having just watched what aired live, but I’ll fill this post out later in the day and add more images as they become available. It was particularly fascinating to watch this, I think, given that I had just re-watched the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s engagement interview from back in 2010. These are two very different couples – at least from whatever one can tell from brief television interviews – and they have two very different stories.

The interview was handled by the BBC’s Mishal Husain:

Here’s what we learned:

  • The proposal happened at Nottingham Cottage and Harry did get down on one knee (William did not, FWIW). They were having a quiet night in, roasting a chicken and the moment took Meghan completely by surprise. She apparently kept interrupting him to ask him if she could say “yes” yet. Adorable.
  • Meghan wouldn’t characterize their relationship as a whirlwind, though it also sounds like it got serious quickly. They were set up by an unidentified female friend for a blind date and both fell hard immediately. From that point onward, they were never apart for more than two weeks at a time. (Guys, always let your friends set you up. YOU NEVER KNOW.)
  • A few weeks after meeting, Harry convinced Meghan to join him for five days of camping in Botswana – hence the country’s significance to their relationship. They returned this past summer and, of course, the main stone in the engagement ring he designed was sourced there.
  • Meghan says she didn’t know anything about the British Royal Family or Harry before they met, and Harry didn’t know anything about her. Thus, for two public people, they were able to get to know each other in an “organic and authentic way.” Meghan’s words, not mine.
  • Meghan also highlighted that while she was an actress she was never a part of tabloid culture and thus the media frenzy that followed when the relationship became known took her by surprise. After the initial wave, she says that she has stopped reading any press about them.
  • Both said the sheer volume of coverage and scrutiny surprised them. Harry says that he tried to warn her what was coming, but both acknowledged that it had still been a lot to handle.
  • Both momentarily froze at the question about children, however Harry quickly recovered and said yes, someday.
  • Meghan lit up when it came to what work she would take on as a member of the RF and, I have to say, her answers indicated to me that she’s developed an excellent grasp on how to go about marrying her future work with her current interests and passions. She expressed a specific desire to learn more about the Commonwealth and the UK, which I found genuine (and also very well done).
  • Contrary to earlier reports, Meghan’s meeting with the Queen in October may not have been her first. The couple said that she had met Harry’s grandmother on a number of occasions and Meghan referred to her as an “incredible woman.” Harry also pointed out that the corgis adored Meghan, which apparently never happens.
  • She’s also spent a fair bit of time with the Prince of Wales and William and Kate. They both made a point of highlighting how “wonderful” Kate has been – and God knows, if there was ever a woman who understood what Meghan is going through(!)
  • Meghan called out that in addition to the Windsors, she has also met the Spencers, which surprised me. She specifically referenced his aunts. No idea if she’s met Earl Spencer. Fascinating.
  • One of Meghan’s two dogs is here in the UK. Unclear whether the second is due to follow.
  • There was also discussion of the couple wanting Diana to be a part of the day, hence the ring and garden. Harry said that he thought Diana and Meghan would have been “thick as thieves” and “best friends.”
  • Harry  blanching at the use of the word “husband” was also, in a word, adorable.
  • Meghan noted that Harry hasn’t met her father, though the two have spoken several times. Harry was quick to note how much he adores his future mother-in-law, though, calling her “amazing.”

My biggest takeaway, I think, was quite simply their body language and their own communication to each other through the interview. They are clearly in love and think the world of one another. They sat very close, made aside comments to one another and generally seemed relaxed. I hate to use a cliche, but I think Meghan is going to be a breath of fresh air – her style and manner are so very, very different from what we’ve seen before that this is going to be fascinating to watch. Just complete confidence and enthusiasm – and so very American!

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UPDATE: One element that jumped out at me in particular today – and one which I was slightly surprised by (and mentioned in the earlier post on the engagement) – is the extent to which it seemed like Meghan was in the driver’s seat. Kate has always seemed to defer to William in public, which has never struck me as particularly odd given that I think her attitude is to support him in his role first and foremost, and so much of what she was taking on in the early years was so new and foreign. I did not get that vibe from Meghan at all – if anything, it felt a bit like the reverse. She seemed to be guiding Harry at times during the photo call and she did most of the talking during the interview. My surprise, I think, comes from having not gotten that sense during her appearances during the Invictus Games, particularly their joint showing at the tennis match. I don’t have a value judgment to give that, but like I said above, I think this is just going be such a different dynamic.

Another thing I’d like to add is that I’m so glad kind words were said right out of the gate about Kate. There are already comparisons made between the two that are used to discredit the other and it’s unnecessary. It’s inevitable to a certain extent – it happened between the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of York a generation before – but I think it’ll be easier to sidestep some of that if it’s already been established there’s no warring or rivalry. Like Harry outlined in the interview, Meghan is joining a team.

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This was Meghan’s first real introduction to the world as a member of the Royal Family and I think she hit it out of the park. Her appearance in Toronto and her Vanity Fair cover certainly offered some very soft launches – arguably more concrete ones than William and Kate leveraged prior to their engagement, though their relationship was much longer – but today was the big one. In many way, the engagement announcement is almost more life-changing than the wedding itself, at least in terms of how many things change and intensify. I’m excited to see what she does with her role and for all the firsts we’re going to get over the next few months. Paying attention to the current RF can feel a bit fluffy at times, and other times like just a lot of gossip, but there’s something to be said for genuinely happy news events in today’s climate.

And last but not least, here’s a short article from Town & Country quoting royal photographer Chris Jackson, who was on hand for today’s photo session in the garden.

Kate will be carrying out an engagement tomorrow, so we’ll certainly cover that and any and all comments she adds to the mix about today’s exciting news(!)

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