by Natalie Finn | Mon., Mar. 13, 2017 12:08 PM
After being one of the most eligible bachelors in the world for the last decade, Prince Harry may be on the verge of settling down.
At least that seems to be the consensus among those who've seen the royal up close with Meghan Markle, his girlfriend of now more than six months. This is the royal's first serious relationship in years and, for a litany of reasons, it would appear as though this could be it for Harry.
He's 32, which is pretty young by most standards, but as a member of the royal family he's long since abandoned his bad-boy ways in favor of becoming a man befitting his lineage—and considering what a to-do it is for him to spend an evening out, let alone go on dates, he must be quite smitten with Markle.
And she's not a good match for Prince Harry just because she's a beautiful woman who will look suitable by his side at all of the events they'll be expected to attend as a representative of Her Majesty, the Queen.
To be sure, she cuts a stunning figure, but if you take a look at how Markle has been living her life—she'd be the most independently successful civilian to marry into a royal family since Grace Kelly—it becomes apparent just how much she would complement the type of life that Harry has been lately striving to live.
Namely, a life that builds upon the legacy left behind by his mother, Princess Diana.
Harry was only 12 when his mother died in a car crash two decades ago—she herself was only 36, which has to be extremely weird for her sons as they both approach that age.
This August will mark the 20th anniversary of Diana's untimely passing, and only recently have both Harry and Prince William, 34, opened up more about the effects losing their mother so young will forever have on their lives.
Tim Graham/Getty Images
"I never really dealt with what had actually happened, so there was a lot of buried emotion and I still didn't even want to think about it," Harry says in the 2016 ITV documentary Harry in Africa, which followed him on a trip to Lesotho where his Sentebale foundation works to educate the population about HIV/AIDS, fight the disease and end the stigma still attached to it—a cause especially close to Princess Diana's heart.
In addition to meeting patients around the world, she was the first member of the royal family to visit with pediatric AIDS patients in Africa and hold infected children in her arms without gloves or other medical covering, to insist upon the fact that at the end of the day they were simply kids who needed love and proper care.
"Her wasted hand reached out for help and support," Diana said in a 1993 address to the First Management Forum Conference in London, describing the first AIDS patient she had ever met. "She had been abandoned by her family, seen by them as an unbearable embarrassment and disgrace. And still, I am meeting patients like her, rejected by family and past friends. It is hard to find words to express the aching loneliness and rejection I have found them experiencing as I approach the end of their lives...AIDS is no respecter of color, class or creed, nor does it hold international boundaries in high regard. All too soon, we will all know someone with AIDS...How will we treat them? With compassion and care, or fear and rejection?"
Whenever she spoke about such things, it was never about Diana, it was always, tirelessly, about those in need. And while she would have been heartened to see the progress the world overall has made with prevention, treatment and managing the disease, the situation in Africa remains dire for far too many.
"I want to do something really constructive with my life," Harry recalled his inspiration for starting Sentebale ("forget me not" in Sesotho) with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho. "I want to do something that makes my mother proud."
Tim Graham/Getty Images
In her sprawling 1995 interview with BBC1's Martin Bashir, Diana talked about exposing William and Harry to the plight of those less fortunate and to the existence of suffering in the world, and expressed hope that they would forge their own paths in tackling the world's most pressing humanitarian issues—a stance that was seen as daring on her part at the time.
Asked what she was doing to effect change with the way the monarchy interacted with the rest of the world, she said, "Well, with William and Harry, for instance, I take them round homelessness projects, I've taken William and Harry to people dying of AIDS—albeit I told them it was cancer. I've taken the children to all sorts of areas where I'm not sure anyone of that age in this family has been before.
"And they have a knowledge—they may never use it, but the seed is there, and I hope it will grow because knowledge is power."
William's once rather rambunctious kid brother also reflected on some of his questionable decision-making in the past and said that his desire to honor Diana helped him snap out of his rebellious face.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
"I now view life very differently from what it used to be. I used to bury my head in the sand, and let everything around you tear you to pieces," Harry said. "I was fighting the system, going: 'I don't want to be this person.' My mother died when I was very, very young and I don't want to be in this position. Now I'm so energized, fired up, to be lucky enough to be in a position to make a difference."
Understandably he'd want a partner whose outlook on life resembles his own and is eager to make a difference.
Enter Meghan Markle.
While the Suits star would ultimately have no choice but to board the philanthropy train should she marry into Great Britain's royal family, giving back in the United Kingdom and all over the world being a large part of what the family does, Markle has already been active in various causes for years on her own.
Which makes it ironic that all of the attention heaped upon her since she was outed as Prince Harry's girlfriend forced her to cancel a planned trip to India with World Vision Canada, a humanitarian aid and development nonprofit that counts her as an ambassador for its clean water program, due to security concerns.
Kate Middleton can regale Meghan for days with tales of how being Prince William's significant other cut into her alone time whenever she dared venture outside.
Moreover, the same thing happened to Diana, and we all know that the paparazzi never let up as long as she lived.
"When I have my public duties, I understand that when I get out the car I'm being photographed, but actually it's now when I go out of my door, my front door, I'm being photographed," she said in 1995, when she was separated from Prince Charles but before their divorce was finalized. "I never know where a lens is going to be.
"A normal day would be followed by four cars; a normal day would come back to my car and find six freelance photographers jumping around me."
But regardless of the ironies of not being able to carry on the sort of work that presumably helped endear Markle to Harry in the first place, the royal must be particularly attracted to what the actress has shown to be in her heart, as important as it was to his mother and now to him to always be giving back.
"I think I've always had a really strong sense of responsibility and I think a lot of that comes from my upbringing," she told Miami Living last year, before she had met Harry, as the magazine makes no mention of his existence in her life. Markle grew up in the Los Angeles area, shuffling between divorced parents; she has described her mother as a "free-spirited clinical therapist," while her dad was a TV lighting director, "the most hardworking father you can imagine," providing her first glimpse of life on set.
World Vision/Splash; Anwar Hussein/Getty Images
After graduating from Northwestern University with a double major in theater and international relations, Markle went to work at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, her interest in politics as avid as her desire to pursue acting. She spent her last two breaks from shooting Suits to travel for World Vision and The United Nations Women to better educational opportunities for girls around the world.
"My focus has always been on women's rights and educating and empowering young girls," Markle "When a community doesn't have access to clean water, then those young girls have to walk three hours a day to get water, then they can't be in school. They're subject to violence, abduction, all sorts of predatory things...If they just had access to fresh water in their community, these girls could be in school."
She went with World Vision's Color of Water campaign to help build a well in Rwanda—and then showed the children in the village how to use water colors using a cup of water from their new well. The paintings were auctioned off to raise funds to build more wells.
"They all painted what they want to be when they grow up and what their dreams are," Markle told the magazine. "Oh my god, it was amazing."
And while her future on Suits or in Hollywood in general is already the subject of much will-she-stay-or-will-she-go speculation should her relationship with Harry progress to the altar, Markle—who maintains a picture-perfect Instagram account and her own lifestyle site, The Tig—credits her acting success to date for building her a platform to get the message out about the various causes she has worked on.
"The moment that social media came into the mix and people started listening to what I have to say, I feel even more of a responsibility to say something of value," she told Miami Living, "so being able to do that and to talk about those projects has been important to me."
Like Harry, she has credited her very different parents for making her the woman she is today.
"My mother raised me to be a global citizen, with eyes open to sometimes harsh realities," Markle wrote on The Tig in October. "I must have been about ten years old when we visited the slums of Jamaica. I had never seen poverty at that level and it registered in my glazed brown eyes. 'Don't look scared, Flower,' she said. 'Be aware, but don't be afraid.'"
"I've never wanted to be a lady who lunches—I've always wanted to be a woman who works," Markle . "And this type of work is what feeds my soul, and fuels my purpose."
Her maturity and grace under pressure are obviously qualities that Harry must admire as well.
Asked the one word she'd use to describe herself, Markle replied, "Thoughtful—in everything. In my friends. In my work. In my philanthropic work. I give things a lot of thought and I try to be as sensitive and thoughtful as possible to how it'll make someone feel."
Asked what else she wanted for her children, Diana said back in 1995, "I want them to have an understanding of people's emotions, people's insecurities, people's distress, and people's hopes and dreams."
And she couldn't have wanted any less for the women they fell in love in with.