Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s First Christmas While They Were Dating Almost Exposed Their Secret Relationship

Though they are one of the most high-profile couples on the planet, when Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry first began dating, no one knew. In fact, the philanthropist was able to keep their relationship out of the spotlight for six months.

By the time Christmas 2016 rolled around, there had been buzz about their reported relationship status. However, a trip to get a Christmas tree almost exposed them to the world.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex | Chris Jackson – Pool/Getty Image

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry began dating in 2016

Meghan and Prince Harry met on a blind date in London during the summer of 2016. Meghan was in town doing press for her TV show Suits, and the pair were set up by their mutual friend, fashion designer Misha Nonoo.

Though neither of them had any idea what to expect, they were both smitten after meeting one evening at the exclusive Soho House’s Dean Street Townhouse.

“Harry knew they would be together at that point,” a friend shared. “She was ticking every box fast.”

RELATED: Meghan Markle’s Relationship with Prince Harry Is Very Different Than Her First Marriage

One of Princess Eugenie’s royal staffers leaked the Sussexes’ relationship

Though Prince Harry and Meghan were able to date in private, keeping their relationship under wraps from the time they began dating in the summer of 2016 until Oct., the duo were exposed before they were ready to go public.

The Sussexes had remained very close to Princess Eugenie and her now-husband, Jack Brooksbank. The pair even double-dated. “Harry had always confided in his cousin when it came to the women in his life,” Omid Scoobie and Caroyln Durand write in Finding Freedom. “Not only did he trust her implicitly, but friends say that she gives great advice and has always been ‘beyond wise’ for her year. She was nothing but encouraging about his new relationship. In fact, Eugenie, who’d long wanted to see her cousin settle down and be happy, told friends she loved Meghan and that she was ‘just the tonic’ for him.

Unfortunately, one of the princess’ staff members leaked the prince’s relationship with the actor to the press.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s relationship was nearly exposed during their first Christmas together

After their relationship was exposed, the Sussexes had to stay super lowkey to prevent any photos of them from getting leaked. Their secret relationship was nearly visually exposed when they went shopping for a tree in Dec. 2016.

Scoobie explained via Elle,

There was so much talk about their relationship, and the couple had actually—so they had gone out in London to buy their first Christmas tree together, and we later found out about that through one of the papers. But what we didn’t know is that someone had actually taken photos of the couple, and this was going to, much to their sort of surprise, this was going to be probably the first pictures that we saw of them, but because it was so dark when they went shopping, those photos never saw the light of day, and they were able to enjoy a few more months of privacy beforehand.

The first public photos of the Sussexes did not leak until Feb. 2017.