Speculation that a Royal wedding is in the offing has heightened after Prince Harry took girlfriend Meghan Markle to see the Queen for afternoon tea, according to reports.
The widely anticipated announcement of an engagement between the 33-year-old and the US actress appears to be a step nearer following the development.
The Daily Mail reported that Harry took Markle to Buckingham Palace last Thursday, with the couple arriving in a people carrier with blacked-out widows.
The news comes in the same week reports emerged that Markle quit her high-paying role on the US TV drama Suits, which widely seen as a precursor to a Royal engagement.
The late afternoon meeting meant the 36-year-old actress was treated to tea with the Queen in her private apartments.
Speculation about an engagement is likely to increase as the meeting with the Queen will be seen as the Prince seeking his grandmother’s approval.
Many bookmakers have already stopped taking bets on the couple getting engaged this year and are only accepting wagers on what month next year the announcement will be made.
Harry and Markle’s public show of affection at the Invictus Games in Canada in September prompted comments that a wedding announcement could be imminent.
The Prince was pictured kissing his girlfriend on the cheek during the closing ceremony in Toronto.
Earlier in the Games, royal fans watched in amazement as the pair strode hand-in-hand into a venue to watch a wheelchair tennis match.
The couple have been together for more than a year and even former US president Barack Obama was overheard quizzing Harry about Markle when the two men met at an Invictus event.
Kensington Palace declined to comment on the reports.
Markle’s decision to leave Suits was seen by royal watchers as the removal of last impediment to a potential engagement announcement.
“Meghan knows she can’t really act at the same time as being a princess and is happy to make this career sacrifice,” a source told The Daily Star.
“She really enjoys her charity work and will broaden out her charity commitments when she becomes a full-time royal.”
The seventh season of Suits has around four weeks still left to film.