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Inside Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's love story

Royal Romance: When Harry married Meghan

How did the fairy-tale romance of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle come so far, so fast?

Married for only hours….They already seem like an eternal couple. Yet Harry and Meghan have only known each other two years.

It was on a blind date when Prince Harry says "the stars aligned." And he knew, the minute he walked into the room and saw Meghan sitting there, that she could be the one.      

"They are saying it was love at first sight. And-- yes, I mean-- it-- it sounds as though it was," says royal biographer Penny Junor.

By the third date, they were sleeping under the stars in one of the few places Prince Harry can escape public scrutiny: Botswana.

Prince Harry engagement video: "It was fantastic. It was absolutely amazing to get to know her as quickly as I did."

Markle returned to Toronto and her job on the TV drama "Suits," but they continued to meet every couple of weeks.   Amazingly enough, no one leaked their romance to the press -- even though Harry was known to drop by the set. Unfortunately, says actor Wendell Pierce, he missed the prince's big entrance and had to hear about it from one of the guys in the crew.  

"I said … 'I heard I missed the prince. I heard he came to the set. Is it true?' Said, 'Yeah, yeah. The guy came. Helicopter came, [laughs] you know?'" says Pierce, who plays the father of Meghan Markle's character on the TV show. "I said, 'You sure it was him?' He said, 'It was a helicopter,'[laughs] you know? … He's, like, 'Do you come to work in a helicopter? No. All right, so. Yeah. I'm sure it was him.'"

"And he -- then he had red hair, " added Gayle King.

Word spread through Harry's inner circle in London, as well. Journalist Tom Bradby remembers hearing the news from one of the prince's close friends.

"And he said, 'Oh, Harry's got a new girlfriend,'" says Bradby. "I said, 'Oh really?' He said, 'I think it's really serious.' And I said, "Oh, OK, well, who is it?' And he said, 'Oh I can't remember, it's some American actress.' I said, 'Oh man, you can't say some American actress and then say you can't remember. You text me -- you text me in the car.' So I get in the car and I get a text saying, 'Meghan Markle.'  'You mean he's going out with Rachel Zane from "Suits?" That's really, really cool.'"

Inevitably, a romance involving a beautiful American actress and everybody's favorite prince couldn't stay secret for long. Roughly four months after their first date, the news broke in Britain.

"How has the British press received her?" "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King asked Vanity Fair's Sam Kashner.

"Well respectfully, but the tabloid press has exploited it terribly," Kashner replied. "They were snide and -- racist, frankly."

Asked if Markle seemed affected by it, Brown tells King, "I think is was painful for her. I do."

Vanity Fair writer on goes one-on-one with Meghan Markle

Markle later told the BBC how she dealt with it: "I made the choice to not read anything, positive or negative," she said.

But clearly, the prince had a different response. An open letter was published on Harry's behalf, warning the press to back off.

"Yes, he -- Harry really declared himself when he spoke out in a fury about the way she was suddenly being tormented by the press," said Brown. "I think it shows he was in love."

"I'm sure there was huge physical attraction for them both, but I think beyond that, they clearly both share an interest in humanitarian issues," said Junor.

"It's not like she met the prince and said, 'You know, I need to get some philanthropic causes.' She's been doing this for awhile," King pointed out.

"She has. And I think her speech on behalf of UN Women, when she talked about how she became-- an activist, very, very appealing and clearly heartfelt," agreed Brown.

The year before she met Harry, Meghan Markle addressed the UN Women's conference on gender equality: 

"Women need a seat at the table … it isn't enough to simply talk about equality. One must believe it. And it isn't enough to simply believe in it. One must work at it. Let us work at it. Together. Starting now."

Working at it, she is.  In 2016, Markle travelled to Rwanda as a global ambassador for World Vision Canada on a clean water campaign where a lot of girls spend their days fetching water rather than going to school.

Meghan Markle: Global Ambassador

Meghan Markle | World Vision Canada video: It's keeping her out of school and making her sick as well so it's time to build some wells and make things a lot better than what we're seeing here.

"There's just a tremendous amount of warmth in those pictures, isn't there? Like, a real caring of Meghan for those kids," said Lara Dewar, chief marketing and development officer, World Vision Canada. "And as a result, the joy of that experience is kind of undeniable

Meghan Markle | World Vision Canada video: "It feels really good at the end of the day being a part of that … I got to get these kids home … I'm going to go take a picture with them."

"Watching her interact with everybody," says Dewar, "was incredibly inspiring."

World Vision's Dewar went with Markle to India the following year.

"Her love for people, her love of culture and her deep desire to make a difference was just evident in everything that we did," she says.

"I think both of them have a very strong desire to make the world a better place," says Junor.

For Harry it's the forgotten children of the world and the forgotten wounded veterans of war.

Prince Harry TV interview: "I'm hugely proud to be a British soldier, to walk alongside these guys."

And quite a walk it was -- to the top of the world with wounded vets.

In 2014, he launched the hugely successful Invictus Games, an Olympic-style competition for injured veterans.

"It heals the physical wounds, it heals the mental wounds, it heals all the stigma surrounding it," Harry told  "CBS This Morning co-host Norah O'Donnell  during a May 2016 interview in Orlando, where the games were making their American debut.

He has helped raise more money and attention to this issue than most governments.

"Do you realized what you've created?" asked O'Donnell. 

"Yeah. I do. I do," the prince replied. "…we've created …a platform for them to be able to choose the sport they want to give themselves a second chance at life to prove to themselves, to prove to everybody else, that they're exactly the same person inside. 'Do not define me by my injuries. Define me by my actions.'"

Harry chose the 2017 Toronto Invictus Games to officially introduce his girlfriend, a clear sign that this was serious. Shortly after came another indication. He took Markle to meet the queen.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend Invictus Games

The next month, Markle quit "Suits," then moved into Harry's cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace. Last November, after a year-and-four-month courtship, Prince Harry asked for Markle's hand in marriage while roasting a chicken on a cozy night in.  

Once upon a time, a little American girl's game of make believe came to pass. She really did find her handsome prince.   

"This is a real love story. This is a fairy-tale," said Junor. "She adores him. He's so impressed with her. It is so sweet."

But for Royals, "true love" wasn't always a plus. In fact, 80-some years ago it was scandalous, forcing King Edward to abdicate the throne, so he could marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

It was an amazingly big deal," said Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of  Majesty Magazine. "And It's a different world."

Yet, since Harry and Meghan announced their engagement, that racist hatred, that is the trademark of a few individuals, refused to go away.

A suspicious white powder and racist letter was sent to Harry and Meghan.

"There are people in Britain who are violently and aggressively hostile to the idea of a woman of color marrying Prince Harry," said Afua Hirsch, author of "Brit(ish)."

"I feel sorry for Meghan Markle that she has had to be the person that has drawn some of this ugliness out.  and I think in a way it took the hallowed institution of the monarchy becoming more diverse to reveal some of these sentiments that do still exist in Britain," Hirsch continued.

Meghan Markle told the BBC: "Of course it's disheartening. You know it's a shame that that is the climate in this world … you know at the end of the day I'm really just proud of who I am and where I come from."

And as for the House of Windsor and its current monarch…

"The Queen is delighted with this match, mostly because she just wants her grandson to be happy," said Kashner.