What we’ve learned from the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle royal biography, including details from their first date to the name of their dog

A new royal biography about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has been released. Finding Freedom, written by royal journalists Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, has charted details from when the couple first met in 2016 to the Sussexes stepping back from royal life in March 2020. 

A spokesperson for the couple previously told HELLO!: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed and did not contribute to Finding Freedom. This book is based on the authors’ own experiences as members of the royal press corps and their own independent reporting.”  

HELLO! takes a look at what we’ve learned from some of the reports in the book. 

Harry and Meghan’s first date

The couple were set up by a mutual friend and enjoyed a first date at Soho House’s Dean Street Townhouse London in summer 2016. According to the authors of the book, conversation between the pair flowed easily as they enjoyed drinks together – a beer for Harry and a martini for Meghan. Tellingly, they were so engrossed in each other, they ignored the nibbles that had been left out for them.

Harry and Meghan’s first public appearance at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto

That first meeting lasted three hours, and the next day the couple reunited at the same Soho establishment for dinner. This time, further efforts were made to keep their date private. They entered via the staff entrance and were served by just one waiter the entire night. “Harry knew they would be together at that point,” a friend shared. “She was ticking every box fast.”

Later that summer, Harry whisked Meghan away on a surprise trip to Botswana.

How Meghan told her friends about engagement

The book claims that the bride-to-be shared her exciting news with a “handful of close friends by texting them a photo of the ring.” Harry proposed with a three-stone engagement ring, which consists of two diamonds from his late mother Princess Diana’s personal collection, as well as a large central diamond sourced from Botswana. The couple broke the news to the world in November 2017.  

How Meghan spent her wedding eve

Meghan and mother Doria on the eve of the royal wedding

The bride-to-be stayed at Cliveden House the night before her wedding to Harry with her mother Doria Ragland. She relaxed by getting a facial from skincare guru Sarah Chapman and distracted herself from family problems by FaceTiming one of her friends while she was in the bath.

Harry and Meghan’s first dance

While the royal wedding was televised, the wedding reception took place privately with family and friends at Frogmore House in Windsor. New details about the party have been unveiled in the book, including Harry and Meghan’s first dance as husband and wife. It says that the couple “were joyful on the big day – with their first dance to ‘I’m in Love’ by ’60s soul singer Wilson Pickett. Meghan also delivered her own toast at the reception.”

American soul singer Wilson Pickett had a number of hits, including In the Midnight Hour, Mustang Sally and Funky Broadway.

Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family, £13.60Amazon


The name of Harry and Meghan’s dog finally revealed

After much speculation, the name of the Sussexes’ rescue dog has finally been revealed in Finding Freedom. The couple adopted a black Labrador in August 2018 and the pup’s name is called Pula! The name has a particularly special meaning for Harry and Meghan. Not only is it the currency of Botswana, it also means “rain” in Setswana, because rain is very scarce in the country and is therefore seen as valuable and a blessing.

Harry and Meghan’s sweet gifts for Prince George and Princess Charlotte

According to the biography, Prince Harry gifted Prince George an electric SUV and Princess Charlotte a tricycle while he was living close to his brother and sister-in-law at Kensington Palace, back in 2017. The Duchess of Cambridge, meanwhile, is said to have sent Meghan flowers for her birthday after she tied the knot to Harry.

Meghan and Kate exchanged some sweet gifts

Meghan is also said to have bought a present for Kate during their first meeting. The book states: “The soft leather Smythson notebook helped to break the ice, as did Meghan’s cooing over then 20-month-old Charlotte.”

Harry’s private Instagram account

The Prince is said to have had a secret Instagram account at the time he started dating Meghan. According to Finding Freedom, shortly after her very first meeting with Harry, the actress started following a mysterious-looking account by the name of @SpikeyMau5 – belonging to Harry. The profile itself had no photo, rather a mouse-shaped helmet. The name was inspired by Harry’s love of house music, and adopted part of the name of one of his favourite DJs – DeadMau5.

Meghan is said to have secretly communicated with Harry through her public Instagram posts. Following the couple’s first solo dinner date together, she shared a photo of a Love Hearts sweet with the inscription ‘Kiss me’ and the caption, “Lovehearts in #London.”

Meghan questioned over personalised necklace

When the couple were in the early months of their romance, Meghan stepped out wearing a £164 delicate 14-carat gold chain bearing the initials “H” and “M” in December 2016. This piece of jewellery is an important piece of history in their relationship as at the time it confirmed to the world that the couple were indeed dating – and it was serious.

Whilst these pictures of the former actress excited fans, it seems it caused a bit of worry amongst palace aides, Omid and Carolyn write.

“She was advised that wearing such a necklace only served to encourage the photographers to keep pursuing such images — and new headlines,” the duo reveal in their book.

The excerpt continues that Meghan “said little during the call, choosing instead to simply listen to the counsel. But after hanging up, she felt frustrated and emotional. While she knew the aide had good intentions, the surreal experience of having someone from her boyfriend’s office tell her what kind of jewellery to wear or not to smile at a photographer was too much.”

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