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Prince Harry and Meghan – and ‘Megxit’

FILE PHOTO: A person is seen reading the London Evening Standard with the news that Prince Harry has announced his engagement to Meghan Markle, London

LONDON (Reuters) – Prince Harry, grandson of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, and his American wife Meghan give a highly-anticipated interview with U.S. chat shot host Oprah Winfrey which airs on Sunday.

Here is a timeline of the couple’s relationship, culminating in their split from the British royal family.

July 2016: Harry, who is now sixth-in-line to the British throne and Meghan, a divorced actress from Los Angeles best known for her role in TV legal drama “Suits”, go on a blind date after being introduced by a friend.

A few weeks later, the British prince takes her on a romantic holiday to Botswana.

Oct. 2016: British tabloids begin to write stories saying Harry is secretly dating Meghan, whose father is white and mother African-American.

Nov. 2016: Harry formally reveals the couple’s relationship, issuing a statement through his official office to hit out at the media for intruding into his girlfriend’s private life, accusing some papers of abuse and harassment, some of which he described as racist.

Sept. 2017: Meghan gives an interview to Vanity Fair magazine in which she says the couple are in love and happy together.

Sept. 2017: The couple make their first public appearance together at the Invictus Games in Toronto, pictured together holding hands as they watched an event.

Nov. 2017: Harry’s father, heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, issues a statement to say Harry and Meghan are engaged.

Dec. 2017: The couple draw cheering crowds as they carry out their first official engagement together in Nottingham, central England.

May 2018: Days before the wedding, Meghan’s father Thomas Markle reveals he will not attend after it is reported he staged paparazzi photographs. He announces he requires a heart procedure.

The couple tie the knot in the medieval chapel of the queen’s Windsor Castle, with Meghan accompanied down the aisle by Prince Charles in her father’s stead. They are bestowed with the titles of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Oct. 2018: Harry and Meghan announce she is expecting their first child while in Australia on their first overseas tour.

March 2019: In the first indication of tensions behind the scenes, Buckingham Palace announces Harry and Meghan will set up their own household, breaking from the joint operation they had with Harry’s elder brother Prince William and his wife Kate. There are media reports of rifts between the two couples.

May 2019: Meghan gives birth to a baby boy named Archie. The couple invite a small group of media to Windsor Castle for a photocall, prompting grumbling among some parts of the press that had been increasingly critical of the couple.

Oct. 2019: Meghan announces she is suing the Mail on Sunday newspaper for printing parts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father months after the wedding. Days later, Harry announces he is suing other papers over allegations of phone-hacking.

In a TV documentary, Harry discloses a rift with his brother William. He accuses the media of bullying, comparing it to their treatment of his mother, the late Princess Diana, before her death in a Paris car crash in 1997.

Meghan says life had been hard as a new mother dealing with intense scrutiny, saying friends had warned her not to marry Harry because of the conduct of the British tabloid press.

Jan. 2020: The couple stun Queen Elizabeth and the royal family by announcing their intent to step back from senior roles, become financially independent and spend more time in North America.

After 10 days of talks between senior family members, it is agreed the couple will no longer be working royals and will give up their “Royal Highness” titles.

March 2020: Harry and Meghan carry out their last official engagement at the annual Commonwealth Day service in London. They move to California in what papers dub “Megxit”.

Sept. 2020: Streaming service Netflix, which made the hit TV drama “The Crown” based on the life of Queen Elizabeth and her family, announces the couple have signed a multi-year deal to produce films and series ranging from children’s shows to scripted content.

Feb. 2021: Harry, who served in the armed forces for a decade, wins an apology and damages from the Mail on Sunday over an article claiming he had turned his back on the military.

A London High Court judge rules the same paper breached Meghan’s privacy by publishing extracts of her letter to her father, with the Duchess saying it had been held to account for its “dehumanizing practices”.

Days later, the couple announce they are expecting their second child. The following day, it is announced that they will give an in-depth interview to U.S. chat show host Oprah Winfrey.

Four days after that announcement, Buckingham Palace announces the couple’s split as working members of the monarchy is permanent and they will lose their royal patronages.

Feb. 2021: Harry tells James Corden, British host of the U.S. TV programme “The Late Late Show”, that he stepped away from royal duties because the “toxic” British press was destroying his mental health and he wanted to protect his family.

March 2021: Buckingham Palace says it is “very concerned” about a report in the Times newspaper detailing allegations of bullying made by former staff of Harry and Meghan and will launch an investigation.

March 7, 2021: “Oprah with Meghan and Harry: a CBS primetime special” due to be broadcast.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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