Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Harry & Meghan documentary started by revealing how they met over Instagram and had their first two dates in London in July 2016. Its first episode continued by sharing when the two decided to seriously try dating long distance (Meghan, acting on Suits at the time, was based in Toronto, while Harry was obviously in London), what their third date, five days Botswana, was really like, and how they managed to keep things secret. That time period stretched from summer 2016 to the end of October 2016, when the British tabloids broke the news of their dating.
Here, the biggest reveals from the series on their early days together in private along with the personal photos they shared in the show. You can watch the full series here on Netflix.
Harry knew going in that he was asking a lot of any woman who dated him after seeing what his mother, the late Princess Diana, endured, which is why he sought to keep things private between him and Meghan for as long as possible.
“My mom was harassed throughout her life with my dad,” Harry recalled. “But after they separated, the harassment went to new levels. The moment that she divorced, the moment she left the institution, then she was by herself. Yeah, she may have been one of the most influential, powerful women in the world but she was completely exposed to this. I saw things, I experienced things, I learned things. The pain and suffering of women marrying into this institution. I remember thinking, ‘How can I ever find someone who is willing and capable to be able to withstand all the baggage that comes with being with me?’”
“Every relationship that I had, within a matter of weeks or months, was splattered all over the newspapers and that person’s family harassed and their lives turned upside down,” he continued. “So, you know, I mean, after one or two girlfriends, the third or fourth girlfriend will be like, ‘Hang on a second. I don’t know if I want this.’ So when I got to meet M, I was terrified of her being driven away by the media. The same media that had driven so many other people away from me. I knew that the only way this could possibly work was by keeping it quiet for as long as possible.”
Harry and Meghan FaceTimed often as a long-distance couple, with Meghan calling their early days a “guarded treasure.” The series share screenshots of some of their calls.
“At the beginning, our relationship was this guarded treasure,” she said. “It was long-distance from the beginning. Everything was just texts or FaceTimes and we’d talk for hours. And it just felt exciting, which was so weird because it wasn’t exciting in the way I think people would assume it would be. It was just relaxed and easy. We just got to know each other, truly, like any other couple. You’re figuring out what do you like to eat, what do you like to cook, what kind of movies do you like?”
“As I got to know Meghan more and more, I was like, ‘Now I’m really falling in love with this girl.’ So despite my own fear, I just opened my heart to see what’s going to happen,” Harry added.
Here, the photos the series shared of their chats:
Meghan and Harry shared what happened during their third date, a five-day trip to Botswana a month after they met in London.
“That summer, I was going to be on hiatus from work but I had travel plans and a castmate of mine said, ‘Just make sure in your summer plans that you leave room for magic,’” Meghan recalled. “And then as we were talking about, ‘When are we going to see each other next?’ He said, ‘I have to go to Africa to do some conservation work.’ He said, ‘I have one week off.’ I was like, ‘I have one week off.’ It was the same week. So he said, ‘Do you want to come to Botswana?’ I said, ‘Let me think about it.’ And then I did.”
“I was astonished that she said yes,” Harry admitted. “This woman that I’ve only met twice, she’s coming to Botswana, and we’re going to be living in a tent for five days. Wow.”
Meghan said things were awkward at first but quickly everything was very natural.
“I’m getting on the plane, and I’m going to the middle of the bush. What? What am I doing?” Meghan recalled of her hesitations. “Like, what if we don’t like each other and then we’re stuck in the middle of the bush in a tent?”
“So I get there, this is the first time I’ve seen him in a month,” she continued. “We were very awkward at first. Like, ‘Oh God. Do we kiss? Do we …?’ And I just remember he handed me a chicken sandwich.”
“And then we jumped into a Land Cruiser and off we went,” Harry said. “To start, we were sitting next to each other and then we progressed to holding hands and then we squeeze in a kiss and amid the bumps, and then everything felt totally normal and natural. We had to get to know each other before the rest of the world and before the media joined in.”
The trip really led Meghan to trust Harry—which did again when their relationship became public.
“It was all so overwhelming to be out there in our little tent and in the middle of the night, just hear this rustling and go see a shadow and be like, What is that? It’s like an elephant munching leaves above the tent in the shadow,” she said. “And I’m like, ‘Are we safe? Is it fine?’ And he’s like, ‘We’re fine. I promise I’ll keep you safe.’ And I believed him.”
“You put a lot of faith and a lot of trust in me,” Harry said.
“I did,” Meghan replied.
“It just felt so right and it felt so normal,” Harry said.
“We could both just be completely ourselves,” Meghan said. “There was no distraction. There was no cell phone reception. There’s no mirror. There’s no bathroom. There was no ‘How do I look?’ Thankfully, we really liked each other.”
Meghan says later in the documentary that she thought back to their Botswana trip when their relationship became public. “The next morning [when news of our relationship broke], it was so overwhelming,” Meghan admitted. “I said, ‘Okay, well then, I’ll just treat it like we’re in the bush. Because like, it’s all foreign to me, but I trust that you’ll keep me safe, and you’ll get me through it.”
The series shared a ton of photos from that trip.
Here are some:
Meghan and Harry had a two-week rule when they were dating, and Meghan traveled often to secretly see Harry in London.
Meghan set the rule, Harry revealed. “She had a two-week rule, which was very smart, that said we have to see each other in or around two weeks,” he recalled. “I said, ‘How is that even possible with the stuff that I’m doing? I’m not going to be able to travel to see you that much.’”
“It was much easier for me to go and see him in the UK. I could still just get on a commercial flight and go and see him under the radar,” Meghan said.
“Those first few months when no one knew, it made much more sense for her to come to me. So then she could come and stay with me on Kensington Palace grounds,” Harry said. “We could then jump in the car. We could go up to Windsor and go for walks around Frogmore and do all these things together so that we could get to know each other without someone taking your photograph and and then it becoming like news.”
“Everything had to be so secretive, so it just accelerates your level of getting to know each other when you’re not out in the world in courtship. You’re just together,” Meghan added.
Meghan and Harry would be able to date privately until the end of October 2016. The series would go on to touch on their life after in prolific detail.
Senior News and Strategy Editor
Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.