How Prince Harry met Meghan Markle

Last Updated May 18, 2018 2:01 PM EDT

As Prince Harry ties the knot with American actress Meghan Markle on Saturday, about 100,000 people are expected to fill the streets of Windsor, hoping to catch a glimpse of the royal couple. Their wedding will take place less than two years since they met on a blind date, reports CBS News correspondent Roxana Saberi.

When Prince Harry popped the question, "She didn't even let me finish. She said, 'Can I say yes? Can I say yes?' And then was hugs and I had the ring in my finger and I was like, 'Can I give you the ring?' She goes, 'Oh yes, the ring,'" he recounted last November in a BBC interview with his bride-to-be. 

Their engagement announcement captured the hearts of the world.

"It was so sweet and natural and very romantic. He got on one knee," Meghan said.

The couple said they met on a blind date, fixed up by a mutual friend whose name they wouldn't reveal.

"When she said she wanted to set us up, I had one question: 'Well, is he nice?'" Meghan said.

Tina Brown on the "modern appeal" of Harry and Meghan's royal wedding

Some believe be the mystery matchmaker is PR director Violet Von Westenholz.

I think it was Violet that initiated the meeting," Vanity Fair executive editor Krista Smith said. "Her father was a great friend of Prince Charles. Still is."

"She is also a great friend of Harry's. … She knew Meghan because she's in PR at Ralph Lauren, and Ralph Lauren was collaborating with Meghan on something," Smith added.

Von Westenholz won't say whether she paved the way for the royal romance.

It may have all started at the members-only club SoHo House on London's Dean Street. In the summer of 2016, Meghan, a tennis fan, was in town for Wimbledon. 

"What appealed to him is that she was her own person," Smith said.

Harry said it was practically love at first sight.

"The fact that I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly was sort of confirmation to me that… everything was just perfect. It was this beautiful woman just sort of literally tripped and fell into my life. I fell into her life," Harry said.  

On only their third date, Prince Harry took Meghan to the secluded wilderness of Botswana.

"We camped out with each other under the stars," Harry said.

Back in London, the couple tried to keep their budding romance under wraps, away from the prying eyes of the world's tabloid media. While visiting Harry in Kensington, Meghan tried to keep a low profile, disguising herself with a baseball cap when she slipped out to buy groceries.

"They wanted to have that time with each other, away from the public glare to figure out if it was going to go somewhere," royal correspondent Roya Nikkhah said. She has interviewed Prince Harry three times.
"Having those first few months… without anyone knowing was probably the making of their relationship," Nikkhah said.

Last summer, Meghan confirmed the relationship in a cover story for Vanity Fair, saying, "We're two people who are really happy and in love."

"That was the moment you knew it was headed for marriage," Nikkhah said.

They announced their engagement last November.
Beyond the walls of Windsor Castle, you can also find the site of one of the couple's secret romantic getaways. Frogmore House in Windsor has long been a private retreat for the queen and her family. The evening of the wedding, Prince Harry and Meghan will celebrate there with 200 close friends and family. It was also the backdrop for the couple's official engagement portraits.

Photographer Alexi Lubomirski on royal couple's engagement shoot

"I said to them, 'It's not about the location. It's about you guys,'" their engagement photographer Alexi Lubomirski told CBS News. He remembers capturing the couple's intimacy.

"And I said, 'Just-- just, you know, wrap her up.' And then she turned around to him. And there was this beautiful moment. And they were just-- they were hugging, and looking at each other, and smiling… it's just that beautiful, young love moment," Lubomirski said. Lubormirski is also the official photographer for the royal wedding.

After they marry at Windsor, the newlyweds will go home to Kensington Palace. They'll live on the palace grounds, in Nottingham Cottage, where Prince William and Duchess Kate lived before they started a family and moved out. Maybe one day, Meghan and Harry will need to upgrade their home, too.

CBS News will bring extensive and live coverage of the wedding between Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle starting at 4 a.m. ET (9 a.m. GMT) on Saturday, May 19. "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King and "Entertainment Tonight" co-host Kevin Frazier will anchor the coverage from Windsor Castle. The coverage will also be streamed live on CBSN as well as CBS News' social media platforms.