Alexi Lubomirski / Kensington Palace
She's the best friend anyone would wish for—the mystery matchmaker who set Meghan Markle up on the ultimate blind date with a real-life prince.
Her identity has remained a secret ever since Meghan and Harry admitted their first meeting in 2016 was not by chance, but rather thanks to a mutual friend who played cupid.
In their first joint interview together that aired directly following their engagement announcement, Harry admitted: "We were introduced by a secret friend, who we will protect her privacy."
The exact identity of the newly engaged couple's pal has led to feverish speculation. Many have presumed it is Meghan's best friend, stylist Jessica Mulroney (who works with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife, Sophie, as well as many other clients in high places). Others have suspected fashion designer Misha Nonoo, who used to be married to one of Harry's best friends. Another obvious frontrunner has been Markus Anderson, the mate who accompanied Meghan and Harry during one of their first official outings at the Invictus Games last September.
Now E! News can confirm for the first time that the real heroine of this love story is actually Harry's childhood friend Violet von Westenholz. Her dad is a baron and very close to Prince Charles and she's been in Harry's trusted inner circle of friends for years. Her younger sister, Victoria, was once even touted as a possible girlfriend for Harry among the society elite in London, but Violet had become a confidante for Harry when it came to matters of the heart.
"Harry was having a really hard time finding anyone," admits our well-placed source. "It's hard enough finding someone new to date. He can hardly go on Tinder or a dating app like normal people, but to meet someone that you actually connect with, that was proving to be almost impossible.
"It was something he had confided in his closest friends about; he was ready to meet someone but it was so hard to actually find the right person."
That is until Violet and Meghan's paths crossed. The girls became friends through Violet's PR work with the fashion house Ralph Lauren. Our source explains, "Meghan had been a part of the London social scene for a while and had slotted into the high society set really easily. And so when Harry told Violet he was having trouble finding someone, Violet said she might just have the perfect girl for him."
The rest, as they say, is history. (And expect to see this ripped-from-a-rom-com blind date played out if they get around to making season 7 of The Crown!)
Their first date in early summer 2016 was something Meghan recounted in the couple's engagement interview. "It was definitely a set-up. It was a blind date. I didn't know much about him and so the only thing I had asked her when she said she wanted to set us up was, I had one question, I said 'Was he nice?'"
Harry added, "I'd never, never even heard about her until this friend said 'Meghan Markle.' I was like, 'Right okay, give me, give me a bit of background, like what's going on here?' When I walked into that room and saw her and there she was sitting there, I was like 'Okay, well I'm going to have to really up my game here.'"
Violet's instinct, of course, was spot on. As we now know, the pair immediately clicked and after two London dates they jetted off to Botswana for a magical week-long vacation under the African stars.
"Even with Chelsy [Davy], Harry didn't feel this kind of spark. And they were together for years! Harry just knew immediately, from the moment he spent time with Meghan, that he wanted to be with her. It's a simple case of meeting the right girl at the right time."
Violet has not yet returned E! News' request for comment.
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Friends say, now that Meghan and Harry are just months away from tying the knot, the groom-to-be is just as besotted as ever.
"Meghan really does come first for him. He's honestly absolutely smitten," we're told. "His friends love her too; she's been a really good fit into the group.
"Harry has definitely settled down since they got together. He doesn't go out as much as he used to when he was single, but that's to be expected and his friends understand that. He is preparing himself for married life and what that will bring."
One pal admits, "Meghan did put someone's nose out recently because she was introduced to them at an indoor location and didn't take her sunglasses off. But that's really been her only faux pas." And that flub can be forgiven.
"We are all just really happy that he finally met a woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with."
For more on the dear friend who brought Meghan and Harry together, tune into E! News tonight at 7 and 11 p.m.