The writers of the new book Finding Freedom, out August 11, are revealing how Prince Harry and Meghan Markle kept the early days of their relationship a complete secret from the rest of the world.
By now it's common knowledge that the Prince and Suits star were introduced by a mutual friend at the exclusive SoHo House in London. But details of that first meeting are scant—until now.
Royal experts Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand share in their book the various details of their meet-cute.
On their first date, a source said Harry and Meghan particularly bonded over their "passions for wanting to make change for good," with Harry detailing his work on the African continent. Meghan is reported to have said this was a matter of importance they "connected on" right off the bat.
As Meghan previously stated in their engagement interview with the BBC, they made plans that same night to meet again for dinner the next day. Knowing secrecy was of the utmost importance, they used a staff entrance to escape notice, as they would for much of their dates in those early months.
From that point on, a friend of the couple said to Scobie and Durand, "Almost immediately they were almost obsessed with each other." And so their love story began.
The next notable date of theirs was a spontaneous trip to Botswana, where they got to know each other without the pressure of being discovered. A friend said that were it not for their jobs and other obligations, "they would have happily spent the entire summer there together."
By that point, a source told Scobie and Durand, "They were each already dancing around the idea that this just may be a forever thing."
The trip, however, made it abundantly clear Harry and Meghan were in it for the long haul.
Following their getaway, the couple flew back and forth from London to Meghan's home in Toronto, where her show Suits was filmed. According to the book, Harry flew under the radar by solely flying commercial with one plain-clothed security guard instead of the usual two.
In private, the duo was already saying, "I love you," but only a select group of people knew how committed they were to each other.
Of course, there were subtle clues of their burgeoning romance. For one, Meghan, an influencer of sorts, posted messages of love to her Instagram when in London, seen by Harry who was using a secret account. (The Prince went by the name @SpikeyMau5, a tribute to his Scotland Yard code name Spike and his love for the house DJ DeadMau5). "Harry got the message," Scobie and Durand share.
And though Harry traveled as low-key as possible, his use of a sleek black SUV when in Toronto became a focal point of conversation for a Facebook group organized by those who lived in Meghan's community.
In October 2016 rumors of the Prince's relationship with the Suits star first began to swirl beyond the Facebook group, with two outlets warning that they were about to go to print with their story, writes Scobie and Durand. Kensington Palace tried to keep the story under wraps for as long as possible, but, as Harry told Meghan, it was "inevitable" that people would find out.
News of Harry's love interest was eventually published and just like that, their secret romance became public knowledge after months of dating.
According to Finding Freedom, Meghan said of the reveal, "We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news... And right out of the gate it was surprising the way things changed."
The actress soon thereafter traveled with a security guard, finding herself and her mother hounded by paparazzi, in addition to her mother.
Over a year later, Harry and Meghan announced their engagement and the rest is history.
Scobie and Durand are said to have interviewed numerous individuals with intimate knowledge of the Duke and Duchess' relationship for Finding Freedom. Through these sources they were able to piece together what really happened over the course of the past three years, including the events that are rumored to have caused Meghan and Harry to step down as senior members of the Royal Family.
A spokesperson for the couple said: "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed and did not contribute to Finding Freedom. This book is based on the authors' own experiences as members of the royal press corps and their own independent reporting."