Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Kate Middleton, Prince William

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2017 is shaping up to be the year.

As in, the year in which Prince Harry—heretofore one of the most eligible bachelors in the world—officially removes himself from the market.

He and Meghan Markle aren't engaged yet as far as anybody knows, but they may as well be, considering the various steps that have been taken on Markle's part to align her lifestyle more closely with the palace ideal. And while a proposal seemed imminent for a variety of reasons anyway, the actress' appearance on the sidelines of the royal's polo match over the weekend added a heightened sense of inevitability to their relationship.

Markle even missed friend Serena Williams' baby shower in Miami on Sunday because she had promised Harry that she'd attend, so long as she could get the time off of work (and we have a feeling the betrothed tennis star understood). The Suits star is due back on the Toronto set of the USA drama on Wednesday, so hers was a brief jaunt across the pond.

"Harry was the one that encouraged her to come," a source close to the prince tells E! News. "He hates doing these things by himself and it felt great to have someone he loves cheering him on. With Meghan, he feels like they're a team. It gives him so much energy."

What it sounds like, is that Harry's gearing up to propose to his best friend—rather like how his big brother, Prince William, proposed to his best friend in least a month before they revealed to the public that they were engaged.

Kate Middleton, Prince William

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Will and Kate Middleton, clad in a blue dress that instantaneously sold out and sporting the engagement ring that once belonged to Princess Diana, announced their engagement in November 2010; it turned out that Will had popped the question while they were on holiday weeks beforehand at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya, the very place Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philipwere staying when she found out her father had died in London and she was, in fact, queen. 

Cue the hindsight!

All of a sudden the smiles that Will and Kate were flashing at a friend's wedding shortly after their trip to Africa took on a whole new meaning: the lovebirds were keeping a secret.

Coincidentally, Meghan and Harry are about to attend, not their first wedding, but their first hotly anticipated wedding, together.

Kate's sister, Pippa Middleton, is marrying James Matthews a week from Friday, and Markle is invited (to all of it, not just the reception), never mind the rumored "no ring, no bring" policy the betrothed couple supposedly had in place. Even if Meghan could wear an invisibility cloak, she and Harry would attract quite their fair share of attention—and since she'll just have to go in a regular old outfit (albeit new and perfectly tailored), all eyes will be on them.

Brides toss the bouquet in Britain, too...

Meghan Markle, Kate Middleton

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Not to mention, the world has waited patiently but soon will be demanding a photo of Kate and Meghan together—or at least anywhere near each other. After lots of conflicting opinions on just whom Meghan had met from Harry's family and when, it appears that she finally met Kate in January, presenting the duchess with a dream journal for her 35th birthday.

According to The Sun, Kate was happy to meet her possible future in-law, knowing how important she is to Harry. Moreover, Harry is said to really value Kate's opinion when it comes to his love life.

Just as William must have been heartened by how well Kate and Harry got on, so Harry wants his brother and sister-in-law to embrace Meghan.

Moreover, they all get to benefit from being grownups now!

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Jamaica


Having not met until their 30s, it's looking as if Meghan and Harry are going to get to skip the relationship growing pains that briefly plagued Will and Kate's not-always-fairy-tale romance, which started when they were in college and understandably hit a few bumps before the prince ditched any commitment jitters for good.

Harry's last serious relationship, with Cressida Bonas, ended in 2014, and Markle divorced Trevor Engelson in 2013. So, they had a comfy window in which to heal and re-prioritize. But much like William and Kate, who acquired an unsolicited paparazzi escort after leaving university, Harry was compelled to reveal just how serious he was about Meghan in order to protect her from the tabloids' (and a bunch of online trolls') disregard for her privacy and disregard for civility in general.

As the palace once stuck up for Kate, entreating the press to quit harassing her in 2007, so it stuck up for Meghan last year just months after Harry had started dating her.

While no one has thought of Kate as a "commoner" for a long time, Meghan's emergence on the scene of course prompted everyone to remember that the Duchess of Cambridge was indeed once a "regular person," as was eventual Princess of Monaco Grace Kellyand numerous other women who married into a royal family.

And though sporting one's own title isn't necessary to marry into the monarchy, you do have to clear your plate for the eventual title that's going to come with the territory.

In fact, the more nondescript you are by the time you say "I do," the better.

After graduating from college, Kate worked briefly as an associate accessories buyer for British retailer Jigsaw and then joined her parents' online party supplies business, where she was able to utilize her interest in photography. But just as King George VI advised Prince Philip in The Crown, that "the job is her," as in the queen, so Kate was fully aware by the time she got engaged to William that her future full-time job would be the royal family.

Meghan Markle

James Whatling / MEGA

And so Meghan is none-too-subtly preparing for the job ahead. 

She's still working on Suits, being under contract and all, but a source told E! News in March that Markle was "ready to be done" with "acting in general." Rumor had it that the palace wanted her to be extra careful about her social media posts, and her most recent magazine interview was with Good Housekeepingwhich isn't as ripped from the 1950s as it sounds anymore, but still.

The real harbinger of a farewell to civilian life came, however, when she shuttered her lifestyle website, The Tig, which Meghan used to chronicle her international work with humanitarian aid groups as well as share tips of the trade for a well-curated life.

"After close to three beautiful years on this adventure with you, it's time to say goodbye," Meghan wrote in her farewell letter.

Translation: It's time to say goodbye and divest myself of all ventures that won't fly with the royal family.

But though she won't be revolutionizing the monarchy by remaining a career gal, Meghan will instead fit right in with the youthful, more modern branch of the family tree. She and Harry share a dedication to traveling the world to improve the lives of disadvantaged people and shed light on some of the most dire issues of our time, a gene that Harry inherited from his mother and which proved to be extremely important to him in his search for Ms. Right.

"Even before Harry, she was starting to think about transitioning out of acting," a source told us about Meghan this year. "She wants to focus on other worldly endeavors she is passionate about, like her philanthropy."

She just so happened to find a Prince Charming to take on the world with her.

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