Eager to finally settle down, Prince Harry agreed to fly blind. Following a 2014 split from dancer-actress Cressida Bonas, a failed attempt at rekindling his on-off romance with law firm employee turned jewelry designer Chelsy Davy and a string of short-lived flings the royal doubled down on his efforts to find his perfect princess. Unperturbed by his efforts falling shot, Katie Nicholl writes in her new biography, Harry: Life, Loss and Love, the onetime helicopter pilot went “on blind dates” organized by sister-in-law Kate Middleton and cousin Princess Eugenie.
But one matchmaker bested them both. When Harry, 33, confided in Violet von Westenholz – her father Baron Piers von Westenholz is friends with his dad Prince Charles – that he was having trouble finding someone, a source revealed to E! News, “She said she might just have the perfect girl for him.” By July 2016 she had arranged the date: Harry would meet up with Meghan Markle, an actress von Westenholz had crossed paths with as the PR Director for Ralph Lauren. Ahead of their date, Harry knew little about the then-actress, who enjoyed bit parts on The League and Without a Trace before landing a role on USA’s legal drama Suits in 2011. “I’d never, never even heard about her,” he admitted in their engagement interview last November. Still, the fix-up was an instant success. “When I walked into that room and saw her and there she was sitting there,” Harry recalled. “I was like ‘Okay, well I’m going to have to really up my game here.'”
Up until that point, the prince’s charms had been failing him. Crushed by the end of his on-off relationship with Zimbabwe-born Davy, 32, in 2011 – Nicholl notes it took him “a long time” to move on – he felt he’d finally found his girl when he met Leeds University dance grad Bonas in 2012. As they enjoyed romantic holidays in Switzerland and Botswana, magazine covers crowned the blonde beauty as the next princess. The pair even survived his wild – and well-documented – August 2012 weekend in Vegas that saw him challenge Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte to a race and go fully nude during a late night round of strip billiards.