Prince Harry Recalls Asking Grandmother Queen Elizabeth's Permission to Marry Meghan Markle

The Duke of Sussex said in Spare that he was initially mystified by the Queen's reply

prince harry, meghan markle, queen elizabeth
Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage; Chris Jackson- WPA Pool/Getty

Prince Harry had to get Queen Elizabeth II's blessing before he could propose to Meghan Markle.

The Duke of Sussex, 38, reflects on the emotional moment in his memoir Spare, released Jan. 10. Though many men have traditionally asked their girlfriend's parents for permission to propose, Prince Harry wrote that he was required to get his grandmother's approval before popping the question to the Suits star in 2017.

After confiding in his secretaries Ed Lane Fox and Jason Knauf that he wanted to get engaged to Meghan, Fox (whom Harry nicknamed "Elf") was quick to remind him of the "very real" rule that the Queen had to give it the green light first.

"It didn't make sense. A grown man asking his grandmother for permission to marry? I couldn't recall Willy asking before he proposed to Kate. Or my cousin Peter asking before he proposed to his wife, Autumn. But come to think of it I did remember Pa asking permission when he wanted to marry Camilla," Harry wrote of the expectations his brother Prince William, first cousin Peter Phillips, and father King Charles III faced before getting engaged. "The absurdity of a 56-year-old man asking his mother's permission had been lost on me at the time," he added.

Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
Queen Elizabeth, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

Fox helped Harry choose a suitable time to speak with the Queen: a weekend family shooting trip to Sandringham in late October.

"Shooting trips always put Granny in a good mood. Perhaps she'd be more open to thoughts of love?" Harry wrote.

After struggling to find a moment alone with the monarch, he finally got his chance at the end of the day, when the Queen drove out alone to the middle of a field with her hunting dogs to look for the last of the dead birds. Harry made his way over to help her out, and the Queen frowned when he popped up at the tailgate.

Prince Harry book
The book jacket of Prince Harry's memoir 'Spare'. PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE

"I saw her waiting for me to speak, and not waiting patiently. Her face radiated: 'Out with it,' " Harry wrote. "I coughed. 'Granny, you know I love Meg very much, and I've decided that I would like to ask her to marry me, and I've been told that, er, that I have to ask your permission before I can propose.' "

"You have to?" Prince Harry quoted his grandmother saying.

" 'Um. Well, yes, that's what your staff told me, and my staff as well. That I have to ask your permission,' " Harry recalled. "I stood completely still, as motionless as the birds in my hands. I stared at her face but it was unreadable. At last she replied, 'Well, then, I suppose I have to say yes.' "

Confused by her cryptic reply, Harry said that his mind ran with worry before he accepted the blessing.

"At long last I realized: She's saying yes, you muppet! She's granting permission. Who cares how she words it, just know when to take yes for an answer," he wrote. "So I sputtered: 'Right. OK, Granny! Well. Fabulous. Thank you! Thank you so much.' "

Announcement Of Prince Harry's Engagement To Meghan Markle
Announcement Of Prince Harry's Engagement To Meghan Markle. Karwai Tang/WireImage

"I wanted to hug her. I longed to hug her. I didn't hug her. I saw her into the Range Rover, then marched back to Pa and Willy," he added.

Prince Harry previously addressed the royal rules around getting engaged in the Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan, now streaming on Netflix.

"I wanted to do it earlier, because I had to ask permission from my grandmother," Harry said in a sit-down interview with Meghan, 41. "I couldn't do it outside of the U.K."

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle

Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

Prince Harry and Meghan announced their engagement in November 2017, revealing in an accompanying BBC interview that the proposal happened during a quiet night at home earlier that month when Meghan was roasting a chicken.

"It was just so sweet and natural and very romantic," Meghan said at the time. "He got on one knee. As a matter of fact, I could barely let [him] finish proposing. I was like, 'Can I say yes now?' "

The couple would wed in a storybook ceremony at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in May 2018. The wedding was attended by Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and the rest of the royal family.

Related Articles