Prince Harry to marry Northwestern University alum Meghan Markle

EVANSTON, Ill. -- On the steps of Kensington Palace, Prince Harry told reporters he was "over the moon" to publicly announce his engagement to his girlfriend of a year-and-a-half, American Meghan Markle.

The 36-year-old actress from Los Angeles stars on the TV series Suits, and is a 2003 alum of Northwestern University. While there, she was an active member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, and studied theater and international relations.

Prince Harry and the Markle met through mutual friends in London in July 2016, and the pair are planning a spring wedding, which will be the first royal wedding since William and Kate married in 2011.

The couple met with the press in England Monday to officially make the announcement. They also showcased the engagement ring, which Prince Harry designed himself, and includes a stone from Botswana and two diamonds from Princess Diana's personal collection, according to a royal correspondent.

Meghan Markle was raised in Los Angeles and is an actress on the television series Suits. She's also known as a humanitarian with a focus on gender equality.

Professor Harvey Young has followed Markle's career. She started out working odd jobs in Hollywood, was a model on the show Deal or No Deal, and worked her way up to larger roles on shows like CSI, The League and Castle. All the while - a humanitarian at heart - focusing on global gender equality.

"She's typical of our students. She's hardworking, she's smart, she's driven and passionate about the arts. But that groups of students was also interested in how the arts can reflect society at large. So you can look at Meghan's professional career as not only what happens on screen but also how she can be a force for good within society," Young said.

Markle is also bucking the trend, being accepted into the royal family as a bi-racial, divorced woman. Prince Charles says the engagement is "marvelous," and Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip say they are "delighted" for the couple and wish them every happiness.

Markle has been back to visit and speak with students at Northwestern twice over the years, and faculty and students say they'd love to have her back again.