- Meghan Markle’s relationship with Prince Harry looks a lot different than Kate Middleton’s relationship with Prince William.
- For example, Middleton and Prince William knew each other for longer before getting engaged. And their wedding was much more traditional than Markle and Prince William’s will be.
- We asked relationship experts to weigh in on what these differences might mean for the two marriages.
It’s hard not to compare Meghan Markle – Prince Harry’s fianceé – to Prince William’s wife Kate Middleton.
At least on the surface, the two royal courtships couldn’t appear more different. Most notably, Markle and Prince Harry met in 2016, when they were both in their 30s. Just about a year later, they announced their engagement.
Middleton and Prince William, on the other hand, met in college. They didn’t get engaged until 2010, five years after they graduated.
What’s more, while Middleton is British, Prince Harry broke with tradition in some ways by choosing to spend his life with an American.
Finally, Prince Harry and Markle's pending nuptials will hew less closely to tradition than Prince William and Middleton's did, according to Vanity Fair.
We asked two relationship experts to explain what these differences might mean for the two marriages, and for the two women's lives. Andrea Syrtash is a relationship expert and the author of "He's Just Not Your Type (And That's A Good Thing)." Rachel Sussman is a relationship therapist in New York City.
There's no saying what will transpire over the course of either relationship. But as Sussman said, "When you're aware of potential pitfalls, you can really work on the relationship and try to make sure that those don't happen."
Prince William and Middleton have built a life together, having known each other since college. 'What's wonderful is that they have a history,' Syrtash said.
'They know so much about each other,' Sussman said of couples who met when they were young. 'They have a lot of the same friends. They have shared cultural references and memories.'
Prince Harry and Markle, on the other hand, met in their 30s, meaning they brought more wisdom and self-knowledge to their relationship. In fact, Markle has been married before.
'Our early and mid-20s are a time of discovery, not only of who we are and what we want, but who we want to be with. It's good to evolve into that. I think it's a positive sign that Harry and Meghan had experience on their side,' Syrtash said.
'Usually in your 30s you know what you like; you know what you don't like,' Sussman said.
Now for the potential downsides. Prince William and Middleton may potentially grow apart, Sussman said. 'Sometimes someone will feel that they've matured more or they're growing apart or that one is changing and the other one is the same.'
Meanwhile, Prince Harry and Markle may have a hard time relinquishing some of their independence. 'You're more set in your ways by the time you're in your 30s,' Sussman said. 'You've been dating [other people] and living independently for 15 years already. It might not be as easy to set up house. It might not be as easy to share expenses and to have financial disclosure.'
Syrtash pointed out that if Prince Harry and Markle do want to have children, fertility may or may not be an issue. 'William and Kate probably didn't have that on their minds,' she said.
Prince Harry and Markle may also have less time to enjoy together before they have children. It can be nice to have that foundation, Sussman said, so that when a baby comes and things get stressful, the couple can say, 'We can pull through this.'
That said, Sussman recommends that couples who met later in life, as Markle and Prince Harry did, remind themselves: 'The best is yet to come. I'm committed to spending my life with this person.'
As for weddings, Prince William and Middleton were married at Westminster Abbey, in line with tradition. The couple 'always have to be watching for what kind of image they present,' Sussman said.
Prince Harry and Markle, however, are in some ways bucking royal wedding tradition. They will wed at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, a considerably smaller venue. And Markle is reportedly giving a speech.
According to Sussman, Prince Harry and Markle can be more flexible because they're farther down in line for the throne (though they're still in the public eye constantly). Generally speaking, that's a good thing. She said, 'The more you can be yourself, and the less scrutiny you have, the healthier that is for a relationship.'