Meghan Markle dropped a huge hint she and Prince Harry were ‘already engaged’ at the Invictus Games in Toronto – two months before their official announcement, it has been claimed.
The games was the couple’s first official outing together, and the now Duchess of Sussex, 38, wore a £137 blouse by her fashion designer friend Misha Nonoo dubbed the ‘Husband’ shirt for the occasion.
At the time many royal watchers hoped the wardrobe choice was a sign of Meghan’s intentions towards the prince.
And now Finding Freedom, a new bombshell biography written by journalists Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, who are supporters of the couple, claims they were already ‘secretly engaged’ at the event, after Harry popped the question in August 2017.
That month the pair had taken a romantic trip to Botswana – where they are said to have celebrated both Meghan’s 36th birthday and their first year as a couple.
Harry and Meghan didn’t announce their intention to marry until November 2017, where the Duke said he popped the question ‘earlier this month’ while they were ‘roasting a chicken’ during a ‘cosy night in’.
Former Suits star Meghan said it was ‘an amazing surprise’, adding: ‘It was so sweet and natural and very romantic. He got on one knee.’
In the interview given to the BBC’s Mishal Husain at Kensington Palace, Harry added: ‘She didn’t even let me finish, she said, “Can I say yes, can I say yes” and then there was hugs and I had the ring in my finger and I was like, “Can I, can I give you the ring?” She goes, “Oh yes the ring”.
‘So no, it was – it was a really nice moment, it was just the two of us and I think I managed to catch her by surprise as well.’
A friend of the couple told Scobie and Durand that Harry was so ‘obsessed’ after their first date in summer 2016 it was as if he was ‘in a trance’.
A friend of Meghan’s added: ‘He definitely didn’t hide the fact that he was keen. He wanted her to know he was very interested.’
The book also claims that Harry was the first to say ‘I love you’ in his relationship with Meghan, with friends revealing the couple were ‘immediately obsessed’ with each other.
The couple felt a ‘palpable attraction’ after their first date, with Harry reportedly left in a ‘trance’ and Meghan telling friends ‘this could have legs’.
Harry had a beer, while Meghan drank a martini as they discussed their work, so engrossed with each other that their nibbles lay neglected.
The 2017 trip to Botswana was not the couple’s first visit to the African country. In their 2018 engagement interview, Harry recalled how he ‘convinced’ Meghan to fly out there to join him on a trip and said they spent a romantic five days camping out under the stars.
‘It was I think about three, maybe four weeks [after their first date] that I managed to persuade her to come and join me in Botswana,’ he said at the time.
‘And we, we camped out with each other under the stars, we spent, she came and joined me for five days out there, which was absolutely fantastic.’
The country has a special significance for Prince Harry, who first visited Botswana shortly after his mother Princess Diana’s death, when he travelled there with his brother and father.
Harry fell in love with the country on that first trip and has since returned regularly, getting increasingly involved with wildlife conservation efforts in Botswana.
When it came to finding the perfect engagement ring for Meghan, Harry even chose to source a diamond from Botswana – which he has previously referred to as his ‘second home’.
The stone was paired with two diamonds from a tiara that belonged to Princess Diana.
Finding Freedom provides an intimately detailed and personalised version of the events leading up to the Sussexes’ dramatic departure from royal life, with co-authors Scobie and Durand insisting ‘all information in this book has at least two sources’.
The Sussexes say they did not contribute to the book, but Scobie and Durand’s account is based on extensive insight from friends of the couple.
The explosive biography has claimed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ‘hurt’ the Queen by unilaterally mapping out their future royal roles without her approval.
Her Majesty is said to have been ‘blindsided’ by the launch of the SussexRoyal website which accompanied their Megxit announcement in January.
Meanwhile, The Sun previously reported that royal aides fear the new book could ‘paint Prince William as the bad guy’ and cause a fresh rift within the Royal Family, as well as result in potential repercussions for the future monarch.
Writing for Vanity Fair, royal expert Katie Nicholl added: ‘There have been claims that the book will further deepen the rift between William and Harry, who fell out around the time Harry and Meghan got engaged when William voiced concerns that the relationship was moving too quickly.
‘At one point things were so dire between the brothers that they weren’t speaking. While it is not known if the brothers have discussed the book and its findings, William will be understandably nervous about airing their grievances in public.’
Calling the level of detail in the book ‘quite remarkable’ and ‘unprecedented’, Katie went on to say it was ‘clear’ the authors had spoken to ‘numerous sources’.
The book’s revelations have led to suggestions that there is no way back for the couple, who have moved to California with their one-year-old son Archie after stepping back from royal duties in January.
The couple have ‘torpedoed’ any chance of creating a new position with the help of the Queen and senior royals when their ‘trial period’ in the US ends, sources believe.
The biography is already the bestselling book on Amazon UK, two weeks ahead of its release.