It's no longer a case of if Prince Harry will propose to his girlfriend Meghan Markle, but when.

After three months of living in domestic bliss at Harry's two-bedroom pad in Kensington Palace, just doors away from Prince William and Kate Middleton's home, it's looking increasingly likely we will soon have an American princess in the British royal family.  

"It comes down to timing," says an insider. "Harry is ready to settle down and Meghan feels the same way. They are both in this for the long haul, they've known pretty much from the start. Everything has just fallen into place."

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry

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For the fifth in line to the throne, the path to true love has been anything but smooth. While his role as the spare heir has meant that Harry's been able to live a more colorful life than his older brother (as evidenced by his naked billiards pictures in Vegas), his position still carries a lot of responsibility and can result in an insurmountable amount of pressure for anyone he dates.

"It was so full-on: crazy and scary and uncomfortable," Harry's former girlfriend of seven years, Chelsy Davy, explained to the Times in 2016. "I found it very difficult when it was bad. I couldn't cope."

 

Prince Harry, Cressida Bonas

His two-year love affair with Cressida Bonas suffered from the same malady.

"If or when I do find a girlfriend, I will do my utmost...to ensure that me and her can get to the point where we're actually comfortable with each other before the massive invasion that is inevitably going to happen into her privacy," Harry lamented in the months preceding his introduction to Meghan.

So when, last November, the 32-year-old took the extraordinary step of releasing a statement to protect his new girlfriend from "a wave of abuse and harassment," it became clear he believed Meghan was very different from the girls he'd fallen for in the past. 

And he was right! Dating the world's most eligible bachelor hasn't seemed to faze Meghan in the slightest. In the months since Harry's unprecedented public declaration, the romance has deepened, as has the pressure placed on the 35-year-old actress' shoulders. Yet despite finding herself in the middle of a tabloid frenzy, she has somehow remained resolute and is now Harry's constant companion.

Before meeting the royal, Meghan was, like so many other celebrities, seemingly hooked on the buzz that comes from taking selfies and trying to get as many likes as possible on social media. After news of her budding romance broke, the spotlight immediately shifted to the nitty-gritty of her showbiz resume—she used to be a Deal or No Deal girl and had once stripped naked for a love scene on her TV show Suits. Her nontraditional background led certain royalists to question her motives and suitability for a public role where discretion is still seen as the most important qualification.

But as time has passed, it's become clear Meghan's Hollywood beginnings may have actually provided the best kind of training to prepare her for life within the tight sanctum of the royal inner circle.

Meghan Markle

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Her previous experience with the fame game has equipped her with the skills necessary to handle the worldwide media scrutiny she now faces on a daily basis. And there's been a shift in Meghan herself. She's taken a hiatus from social media, which resulted in an image overhaul. Gone is the fame-loving Ms. Markle of the past.

Meghan's focus has now fallen in line with royal interests. Instead of sexy selfies and fashion shoots, she's using her platform to highlight inspirational messages and draw attention to biracial issues.

It's all part of the inevitable princess makeover that will take place before she can possibly marry into "the firm." Meghan 2.0 has proved she is ready for the life of service any future role within the monarchy will demand.

Harry and Meghan's actions indicate they are both gearing up for a more formal public declaration of commitment. One royal source told me they are expecting an engagement to be announced this summer, possibly August, while another predicts it could come even sooner.  

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Jamaica

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Before then, Harry and Meghan will be forced to spend time on opposite sides of the Atlantic. After months of living an idyllic existence inside their palace bubble of home-cooked meals and nights in with Harry's close circle of friends, Meghan is now having to return to Toronto and fulfill her Suits commitments. Cozy evenings spent in front of the fire will be replaced with long hours, craft services and learning lines.

It's highly likely things will be different when she steps foot on the set this time around, primarily because Buckingham Palace now has a vested interest in what she gets up to. With her future as a possible family member, there's not a chance the royal family will risk Meghan's career creating any sort of scandal (whether on screen or off). Her saucy make-out scene days are likely over, as are any seriously scantily clad moments for her character, no matter what the Suits script writers might envision this season.

While cast and crew are not speaking publicly about her new boyfriend, someone close to the situation says they are expecting her professional life to adapt so she can keep up the momentum of her high-profile relationship. It's inconceivable that Harry would move to Toronto during this time, the price of security alone to protect the spare heir would be phenomenally high. Not to mention, Harry is under more pressure than ever to maintain his royal duties, especially now that William has once again been publicly scolded for choosing to go on a skiing holiday rather than attend a Commonwealth Day service. It means Harry's relationship with the crown has to come before any romantic longings, no matter how long he's waited to fall in love again.

Despite the imminent change in circumstances, from living together to long distance, a source close to Meghan says she is determined to make it work.

"She's at a place in her life where she is ready to settle down and have children," the source says. "She wasn't necessarily there in her previous marriage. Harry and Meghan are very aligned in what they want for their future."

As we approach their one-year anniversary it's clear Meghan understands what life with Harry entails and she's ready to fully embrace it. "She knows that a future with Harry will mean refocusing some of the interests and goals she had before they met but she is ready for that," the source adds.

"She has achieved so much in her life, she's been a huge success and she is satisfied to be by his side while he fully faces the life he was born into. She can't wait to start this next chapter with him."

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