Today is historic, but not for the reason you may think; rather, because a prince made a very public statement about a girl.

When a smitten Prince Harry asked for privacy on behalf of his new girlfriend, American actress Meghan Markle, he did the royal equivalent of changing his Facebook status to "in a relationship," while simultaneously proving we're in the new era of Harry 2.0.

Gone is the cheeky spare heir, the naughty royal who once thought nothing of playing naked billiards in a Vegas hotel room and dressing up in a Nazi uniform for a costume party. Instead, we've been presented with the ultimate gentleman, a man willing to put aside his need for a private life in order to save his girl.

It took years for Prince William to publicly admit his devotion to his university sweetheart, Kate Middleton. But Harry, who wears his heart on his sleeve, isn't afraid of making such a public declaration about his long-distance relationship, even if they're just months in. A knight-in-shining armor gesture that comes across as not just protective, but also romantic.

Whether it's considered a blessing or a curse, Harry has inherited his mother's depth of compassion. To his friends it was always clear when Harry met the right girl, he would fall, and fall hard. "Out of the two brothers, he's the more sensitive one," a family friend once told me. "He was the one Diana would worry about. While William knew he would be king, and carried with him the stoicism that comes with that kind of responsibility, Harry always possessed a more sensitive nature. He's incredibly intuitive and understanding of other people's needs."

Prince Harry, Ollie Carroll

Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

Princess Diana's untimely death in 1997, in a car crash in Paris while fleeing paparazzi, cannot have been far from Harry's mind when he made the decision to go public about his feelings toward Meghan today.

While on the surface this new romance might seem like a simple tale of boy meets girl, it's way more than that. The interest in his mother's relationship with Dodi Fayed led to an insatiable hunt for pictures of the new couple. The cat-and-mouse chase that ensued is exactly what Harry wants to avoid.

Just a few months ago, Harry admitted to London's Sunday Times that dating was something that filled him with "massive paranoia."

"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," he explained. "The other concern is that even if I talk to a girl, that person is then suddenly my wife, and people go knocking on her door."

Meghan Markle

SOLO via ZUMA Press

And he was right. Since news broke about Harry and Meghan, her world has been turned upside down. Her family and friends have been harassed, every aspect of her life analyzed, no stone has been left unturned in the race for every detail about the girl that might one day become a member of arguably the most exclusive family in the world.

Today showed that Harry is willing to cast aside his own needs to stand up for his girl. His statement is unprecedented and sets Meghan apart from his previous love interests, Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas. Harry's official statement from Kensington Palace also implies that the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William are supportive of his new romance (he would never have released a statement without their blessing).

Whether he can actually protect her from the seemingly inevitable intrusion is yet to be seen. In some ways, William and Kate had it easy. They were able to date in a time when social media was in its infancy. Ironically, Harry's confirmation has now guaranteed the public's fascination will only increase. The price on Harry and Meghan's heads, and that first snap of them together, is even higher than before because Britain's most eligible bachelor, our favorite party boy, is finally ready to settle down.

And it seems Meghan Markle is the lucky girl he's been waiting for, for all these years.

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