Prince Harry Looks Back on First Date with 'Heart-Attack Beautiful' Meghan Markle

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had their first date at Soho House in London in July 2016

Prince Harry was smitten with Meghan Markle from the start.

The Duke of Sussex, 38, opened up about his relationship with his wife in his memoir, Spare, published Jan. 10. Part 3 of the book begins with the story of how he first connected with Meghan, 41, after seeing her photo while scrolling on Instagram in 2016.

Meghan and a mutual friend named Violet made a silly video with a Snapchat dog face filter, and Prince Harry wrote that he'd "never seen anyone so beautiful" when her face popped up on his feed. Harry asked Violet to make an introduction, and she shared Harry's secret Instagram account with the Suits star. Meghan messaged him first, and they immediately connected over a shared love of Africa, as Harry's page was filled with photos from the country (a revelation the Duke and Duchess of Sussex first made in Harry & Meghan on Netflix).

WIGAN, ENGLAND - JULY 05: Prince Harry visits The Blair Project at Three Sisters Raceway on July 5, 2016 in Wigan, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images); NEW YORK, NY - JULY 14: Actress Meghan Markle leaves the "Today Show" taping at NBC Rockefeller Center Studios on July 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images)
Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty; Ray Tamarra/GC

The conversation, which quickly turned to text, began on July 1, 2016 — what would have been Princess Diana's 55th birthday. Meghan was coincidentally in London to watch Wimbledon, and she said yes when Harry asked if she'd like to meet before she flew back home to Canada.

meghan markle
Karwai Tang/WireImage

"Great. Now: Where to meet? I suggested my place," Harry wrote. "Your place? On a first date? I don't think so," he recalled that Meghan said, to which he countered, "No, I didn't mean it like that."

"She didn't realize that being royal meant being radioactive, that I was unable to just meet at a coffee shop or pub," he explained.

Meghan had an idea — Soho House at 76 Dean Street, "her headquarters whenever she came to London" — and booked a table for them at the private social club for the following night.

On July 3, 2016, Harry was 30 minutes late for their first date due to bad traffic.

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

"Red-cheeked, puffing, sweaty, half an hour late, I ran into the restaurant, into the quiet room, and found her sitting at a small area on a low velvet sofa in front of a low coffee table," he recalled. Apologizing, he ordered a Peroni and sat by her side.

"She was wearing a black sweater, jeans, heels. I knew nothing about clothes, but I knew she was chic. Then again, she could make anything look chic," Harry wrote. "I'd seen so many photos of her from fashion shoots and TV sets, all glam and glossy, but here she was, in the flesh, no frills, no filter… and even more beautiful. Heart-attack beautiful. I was trying to process this, struggling to understand what was happening to my circulatory and nervous systems, and as a result my brain couldn't handle any more data. Conversation, pleasantries, the Queen's English, all became a challenge."

Harry & Meghan Netflix Documentary
Netflix

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!

Filling the space, Meghan chatted about London and her work. A server came and went to take their order, "and the conversation really started to flow."

"The initial awkwardness was gone, the warmth from our texting returned. We'd each had first dates on which there was nothing to talk about, and now we both felt that special thrill when there's too much to talk about, when there isn't enough time to say all that needs to be said," Prince Harry wrote in Spare. "But speaking of time… ours was up," he said, surprised when Meghan had to dash to dinner plans. After a brief hug goodbye, "Poof, she was gone."

"Compared to her, Cinderella was the queen of long goodbyes," Prince Harry added.

Harry & Meghan Netflix Documentary
Netflix

Meghan FaceTimed Harry later that evening, and they set another date, agreeing to meet again at Soho House the next night. There, the natural banter continued, leading to their first kiss and a snuggled-up selfie, which they shared in Harry & Meghan.

They would meet again later that summer for a camping trip in Botswana.

Related Articles