LONDON — Prince Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and a frequent target of British tabloid attention, is engaged to Meghan Markle, his American girlfriend, the royal family said on Monday.
The prince, 33, got engaged this month to Ms. Markle, 36, a statement from Clarence House said, adding that the wedding would be next spring.
The relationship of Prince Harry and Ms. Markle, an actress, has been the subject of intense media scrutiny, which prompted an unusual statementfrom the prince last year, denouncing the “racial undertones” of news coverage of Ms. Markle, whose mother is black and whose father is white.
The pair have dated for more than a year, and made their first official outing together in September at the Invictus Games in Toronto.
The prince’s reputation has changed markedly in recent years.
He has gotten into trouble in the past, once wearing a Nazi costume at a party, but he has since become a vocal advocate for mental health awareness and has spoken about the difficulties he faced after the death of his mother, Princess Diana. He has also taken an H.I.V. test, broadcast live on the royals’ Facebook page in 2016, to promote the importance of testing for the virus.
The prince, who is fifth in line to the throne, served on active duty in the British military for about a decade, rising to the rank of captain. During that time, he served two tours in Afghanistan, where he co-piloted an Apache helicopter and was a weapons officer.
The announcement of the engagement was quickly followed by messages of congratulations from the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, who recently celebrated 70 years of marriage. The couple said they were “delighted” and wished Prince Harry and Ms. Markle “every happiness.”
Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement: “This is a time of huge celebration and excitement for two people in love and, on behalf of myself, the government and the country, I wish them great happiness for the future.”
The prince’s elder brother, William, and his wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, said in a separate statement that they were “very excited for Harry and Meghan.”
“It has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and see how happy she and Harry are together,” they said. William and Catherine, known as Kate, weremarried in April 2011. The date of Prince Harry and Ms. Markle’s wedding may be close to another major royal event, the birth of William and Kate’s third child, due in April.
Kate’s wedding to Prince William was unusual in the context of the royal family, because she was a commoner — her parents had founded a mail-order party supply company.
Ms. Markle describes herself as biracial. She graduated from Northwestern University in Illinois in 2003, and married in 2011, divorcing two years later.
She is best known for her roles in the television legal drama “Suits” as well as the science-fiction series “Fringe,” and appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in September. Ms. Markle is also notable for her charitable work — she is a global ambassador for World Vision Canada, and has worked for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Her parents — Doria Ragland, a yoga instructor and social worker; and Thomas Markle, a cinematographer — said they were “incredibly happy” for the couple.
“Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person,” they said in a statement. “To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents. We wish them a lifetime of happiness and are very excited for their future together.”