Crikey, what a birthday celebration!
On her 21st birthday, Bindi Irwin accepted her longtime boyfriend Chandler Powell's marriage proposal, revealing the happy news on her Instagram on Wednesday.
"On my birthday I said 'yes' and ‘forever' to the love of my life," the Dancing With the Stars champion wrote. "Chandler, close to 6 years ago I fell in love with you and every day since has been a whirlwind of adventure and true happiness. I'm so looking forwarding to spending our forever together as your wife. Here's to a lifetime of friendship, purpose and unconditional love.—Now let's get married already!"
The Australian wildlife conservationist and TV personality's mother Terri Irwin took two Twitter to congratulate the young couple, adding that Steve Irwin, her late husband who died from a stingray attack while filming a documentary in 2006, would be "so very happy" over the engagement news.
"Best day ever! Chandler asked and beautiful @BindiIrwin said yes," she captioned a photo of herself with Bindi, Chandler and her son Robert Irwin. "I am so very happy, and I know Steve would be too. Congratulations!!"
While Irwin just turned 21 and Powell is 22, the couple has been together for close to six years and now appear together on the Irwin family's hit Animal Planet series Crikey! It's the Irwins.
"Almost 6 years ago we met at Australia Zoo," Powell, a pro wakeboarder, wrote in his Instagram caption about their engagement. "I immediately fell head over heels for her kind and thoughtful heart that radiates so much light. Proposing in her very favorite place in the zoo, surrounded by animals, seemed like the perfect way to embark on this incredible new chapter in our lives. Bee, I love you more than anything in this world and I always will. Happy Birthday."
It's fitting that Bindi would meet the love of her life at Australia Zoo, her favorite place in the world and where she spent her childhood with her late father, the Crocodile Hunter.
Bindi and Chandler first met in 2003, when he was visiting Australia as part of a national wakeboarding competition, and Bindi, whose family lives and works at the Zoo, jut so happened to be giving the tour he was on.
"It just so happened that Bindi was giving tours that day," Chandler told People. "I'm like, ‘Wow she is amazing.'"
The pair had an immediate connection and "haven't looked back since," though Bindi later revealed she didn't hear from Chandler for a few weeks after their first meeting, but he had a pretty good reason why.
"He sent a letter asking my mom if he could stay in contact with me," she spilled to ET. "and then mom gave the letter to me and said, 'Is this person real?'"
However, their young love was immediately tested as they were dating looong distance, with Bindi living in Australia and Chandler calling Florida home. Plus, he had a protective younger brother to earn the trust of, who admitted to wanting to "test" Chandler at first, despite being seven years his junior.
"One of the first times Chandler came to the zoo I wanted to kind of test him," Robert revealed to People. "Just to see what would happen. So we had him feeding alligators and he did awesome. I'm very impressed. He's great with wildlife so I approve."
It's far from the only time Chandler has been willing to prove he's more than ready to adapt to the adventurous Irwin family lifestyle.
In 2017, he even jumped on a crocodile for his love.
"He actually just came on our annual crocodile research trip," Bindi said on E!'s Daily Pop at the time. "The ultimate test was saying, 'Now you're going to jump on top of a 15-foot crocodile.'"
Of course, it wasn't just about proving how much he cared for Bindi.
"We learn about where [the crocodiles] go and what they get up to. It's really exciting, but the only way to catch them and put a tracking device on them is to jump on top of them," she explained. " Chandler was brave enough to actually jump on top of the crocodile, and I was really proud."
Jumping on Crocodiles. Winning Dancing With the Stars. Starring on a hit Animal Planet series. Bindi's childhood and teenage years were far from ordinary, but her relationship with Chandler has always provided her the opportunities to be just a normal girl; she even got to go to prom in 2015.
"Pre-prom? Check. Awkward pre-prom pictures? Check. Boutonnieres and corsages? You bet," she captioned an throwback Instagram photo in 2016. "1 year ago. We don't really have Prom in Australia but this wonderful human being is American and when his Prom came around he invited me to Florida to go with him. I can't believe this really happened, I felt like I was living in a movie and was a real life Disney princess. Gosh I'm blessed. Thank you @chandlerpowell it meant the world to me."
Just eight when her father tragically died in 2006, Bindi has carried on his legacy of tireless wildlife advocacy, and paid an emotional tribute to him when she appeared on Dancing With the Stars in 2015.
For her final dance, Bindi had the entire ballroom in tears when she performed to Leona Lewis' "Footprints in the Sand" in honor of her dad with pro partner Derek Hough, with the then 16-year-old saying during her rehearsals that she felt the late Crocodile Hunter's presence.
"Sometimes during rehearsals it feels like there are three people in the room," Bindi said. "Derek put that in this freestyle, and I feel that Dad is with me every day."
And when he was filming his beloved Animal Planet series, Bindi was with her father every day, as he revealed in a 2003 Australian Story segment that he carried a photo of the two of them with him on every adventure.
"You know what? I never wanted to be a dad, I couldn't really give a rip, and now I am the proudest father, I gotta tell ya. I can't dwell on her for too long or I start bawling my eyes out," he said in the old clip Bindi posted to her Instagram account in March 2019. "When I got into the field, mate, I have a photo, I have a photo f me and my daughter, I can just sit there and start crying just looking at her."
Just before she was crowned the winner of season 21, Bindi cried when Derek surprised her at the end of their performance with the photo of the father and daughter. And after her win, Bindi dedicated her mirrorball trophy to her father.
"For us, we really want to make sure that dad's legacy and message continues," she told E! News. "He always used to say, 'I don't care if people remember me, but I care if people remember my message and what I stood for.' That's what we've dedicated our lives to doing and the three of us—dad first came up with the term 'Wildlife Warrior' and we are Wildlife Warriors. Derek has officially become a Wildlife Warrior now and we're taking on the planet, and just doing everything we can to make a difference."
During her emotional journey on DWTS, Chandler was a constant source of support for Bindi, often traveling to Los Angeles to attend tapings and even helping her nurse her injuries.
"That support is what means the most," she told us at the time, and revealed in an Instagram post that she was grateful to her beau for "helping me to ice my foot when it hurts, making me tea and hugging me when I'm tired. You're amazing."
While he was banned from attending rehearsals as to not provide a distraction, Derek did surprise Bindi when he brought Chandler to their practice session on his birthday.
"She was like, 'Oh my gosh, what are you doing here?' and she starts fixing her hair…it was so cute to see," Derek told E! News backstage after their big performances. "It was great. We got to surprise her and I was so happy."
And his birthday just so happens to coincide with Steve Irwin Day, and it was Bindi's first time celebrating the emotional occasion away from home, making Chandler's surprise visit extra special.
"It was so much fun," Bindi said. "And it was Steve Irwin Day as well, so I got the two greatest days. We got to celebrate Chandler's birthday and then celebrate Steve Irwin Day all together. It was really, really nice."
Even back then, Terri had a feeling Chandler might be the one for her daughter, explaining that Steve would've definitely been "happy" their daughter had found such a nice person and revealed a cute anecdote about his childhood connection to her late husband.
"I think because Chandler's a nice person and really kind to Bindi that he'd be very happy," she told E! News back in 2016. "What's kind of ironic is I was talking to Chandler's mother, and he was an avid Crocodile Hunter fan when he was little. So he used to put on the big khaki shirt and go to school when he was in first grade and pretend to be Steve."
The pair continued to date long distance for years, with Bindi writing how difficult it was to part in a 2017 Instagram post.
"Dropping you off at the airport & waving goodbye, it never gets easier. Thank you for the most wonderful adventures these last few months," she wrote.
She continued, "We even got to celebrate your 20th birthday here in Australia together, hiking through the Great Dividing Range! I've known you since you were 16 and every day, from the very first day I met you, you've been my sunshine."
So in January 2018, Chandler finally made the big move to Australia, relocating from Florida to live with the Irwin family at the Australia Zoo.
"I've got my khaki on and I am loving it!" he told People at the time.
Bindi added, "We're having a great time throwing Chandler into everything. In the afternoon Robert has been taking him out to feed the freshwater crocodiles and the gators."
Chandler even started making appearances on the family's Animal Planet series about their lives living and working on the famous 100-acre property, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020. (He also works as part of the Wildlife Warriors, a conservation program founded by the Irwins.)
While they were no officially living and working together, Bindi shot down engagement rumors in late 2018 during an interview with E! News, though she was quick to gush over how "lucky" the couple was to have found each other.
"We're really lucky, we are sharing our lives together and we're on this amazing journey," she said. "And I think that as human beings we always forget to enjoy the moment. And for us right now we're enjoying doing our conservation work together and filming our brand new series, and it's all happening and we're just enjoying it now."
But she was clear about one thing: "I found my person in life. I mean, Chandler's just amazing."
Just before he popped the question on Bindi's 21st birthday, Chandler hinted at a proposal.
"Beautiful Bee, I love you so much," he posted the day before he got down on one knee. "You're my best friend and whole world. I can't wait to celebrate your birthday tomorrow at #AustraliaZoo. Here's to another year and beyond of life changing adventures together."
Chandler popped the question with a ring featuring an a lab grown diamond and made with recycled rose gold metal, proving just how well he knows his soon-to-be bride.
"Chandler was incredibly thoughtful when he chose it," she explained in the comments of her post. "The ring captures the essence of who I am (with its vintage flare) and our life together, with the twisted band and scattered diamonds."
Jeweler Ira Weissman, the founder of The Diamond Pro, estimated that the sparkler retails for approximately $35,000.
"Bindi's diamond looks to be a beautifully cut 2.5 carat oval shape with a very high color and clarity," he told E! News. "It is paired with a classic rose gold vintage style setting encrusted with micro-pave diamonds on the shank."
Even before they got engaged, Bindi and Chandler had proven their relationship could withstand anything, from crocodiles to 20-hour flights to bad coffee orders.
"A while back I ordered a charcoal latte and @chandlerpowell quietly knew I wouldn't like it at all. I took this picture, tasted my grey drink and said, 'Babe, this isn't great,'" Bindi recently wrote on Instagram. "Without a word Chandler gave me his cup of tea that he had ordered knowing I'd dislike mine. He then drank my fancy, slightly weird beverage telling me that he was glad I tried something new. That right there is love."
Yes, it is.